Archive for July, 2010


Yes, there will be a blog for today.

Peggy’s hour was filled up with questionaires.

David gave us an assignment for August: make it into a writing month. Let your memories of the Festival awaken you. He also gave us an exercise for August: while out and about pick out an object. It can be as large as a landscape or a store or as small as a single detail. Consider how that object will be described by characters in different states of mind. He also recommended three books/writers: anything by Virginia Woolf, Toni Morrison, Beloved, and Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury. He talked about point of view–whose head are you inside? Are you in a close or tight POV  where you reveal only what that character is aware of? Or are you more distant. Finally, as an exercise, he handed around what was originally an angel figurine from the transfer station (the class had to explain this for those from out of town–the transfer station is the point to which we haul our trash, but it has a platform for potentially reusable items.) Don took photos of the painted angel, and I’ll post one when he sends it. I’ll also take a digital photo of the recycling platform at the transfer station closest to my house. For more on POV, look at this.

Jeanne, help! My notebook is blank for your section. I think we read our letter poems.

I think all of our authors contributed to this list of books on the craft of writing:

Addonizio, Kim and Dorianne Laux. The Poet’s Companion: a Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry. New York, NY W.W. Norton, 1997

Addonizio, Kim. Ordinary Genius: a Guide for the Poet Within. Neew York, NY, W.W. Norton, 2009.

Behn, Robin, and Chase Twitchell, eds. The Practice of Poetry: Writing Exercises from Poets Who Teach. New York, NY: Harper 1992

Bernays, Anne , and Pamela Painter. What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers. 3rd Edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Longman 2009

Blythe, Will, ed. Why I Write: Thoughts on the Craft of Fiction. New York, NY: Back Bay Books, 1999.

Gerard, Philip, ed. Writing Creative Nonfiction. Cincinnati, OH, Story Press 2001.

Gerard, Philip, ed. Creative Nonfiction: Researching and Crafting Stories of Real Life. Cincinnati, OH: Story Press, 2004.

Hugo, Richard. The Triggering Town: Lectures and Essays on Poetry and Writing. New York, NY W.W. Norton, 2007.

Kooser, Ted. The Poetry Home Repair Manual: Practical Advice for Beginning Poets. Lincoln,NE; Bison Books 2007.

Kowit, Steve. In the Palm of Yolur Hand: The Poet’s Portable Workshop. Gardiner, ME: Tilbury House, 1995.

Lamott, Anne. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. New York, NY: Anchor Books, 1995.

Miller, Brenda and Suzanne Paola. Tell it Slant: Writing and Shaping Creative Nonfiction. New Nork, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2004

Moore, Dinty W. Crafting the Personal Essay: A Guide for Writing and Publishing Creative Non-Fiction. Cincinnati,OH: Writer’s Digest Books 2010.

Rilke. Rainer Maria. Letters to a Young Poet. Trans. Stephen Mitchell. New York, NY; Vintage Books, 1996.

Root, Robert L. and Michael J. Steinberg. The Fourth  Genre: Contemporary Writers of/on Creative Nonfiction. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Longman, 2009

Singer, Daniel, ed. Views from the Loft: A Portable Writer’s Workshop. Minneapolis, MN: Milkweed Editions, 2010.

Teachers & Writers Collaborative Books http://www.twc.org

The “Art of” series by Graywolf Press http://www.graywolfpress.org (click on “creative writing” link)

Wooldridge, Susan. Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life with Words. New York NY: Clarkson Potter 1997.

In the afternoon we each read out something that had moved us or that we had written. Please post your original work you read or the name and author you read as comments. And don’t hesitate to continue posting comments. You can always find the Summer Festival section either by going to July 2010 or by clicking on “writing” and selecting “Summer Festival.” To get to the first two blogs on the Festival, click on “earlier entries.”

P.s.–if you want to edit your work, post the edited version and ask me (at the e-mail address on the sheet Peggy handed around) to remove the old one.

Peggy drew out attention to poems with something happening off the page. She age as examples “Homecoming” by Shane Book, and two poems of her own which she wrote on the board:

“Beyond Words, This Language” (from Gnawed Bones, Red Hen Press, 2010):

The morning I was born
you held my hand.

The morning you died
I held your hand.

What’s left
to forgive?

“After Talking To My Husband’s Lover” (from The Circle of Totems, U of Pittsburgh Press, 1988)

When I take off my dress
I no longer have a secret
Place left in me.

She pointed out the importance of title in the second poem.

She then had us try to write something “off the page.”

David Crouse then gave us an example of having the dramatic action take place offstage in fiction, and invited us to tru to write such a scene.

Jeanne had us look at the letter poems whe gave us yesterday. She pointed out that these poems should be addressed to a specific person rather than a general audience, and indicate what’s going on now and the past, where the people are now, and why, what are their stories, both together and separately, and what gets the speaker to begin the poem. She had us start letter poems, and continue to work on them as homework.

In the afternoon we all read from our work at Schaible Auditorium.

Peggy, if the indentation isn’t correct on your poems, blame WordPress.

Peggy had us work on turns of phase (such as “Go to the broom closet and pick out a stick,”)  that told something about a character or situation.

David had us read our work and promised to do something on point of view.

A good deal of Jeanne’s time was spent putting up Alaskan writer’s conferences (and some Outside.) These included:
The Midnight Sun Writer’s Conference
The Dead Writer’s Conference (October)
The Fairbanks Arts Association, which sponsors Readings, Writing in the Dark, and the Community Writers Group
Poetry at the Dredge
49 Writers
Alaska Writer’s Guild (Conference Sept 10-12)
Skagway Writers Symposium
Kachemak Bay Writers Conference
Wrangell Mountains Writing Workshop
and a magazines, Cirque.
She also suggested we check  the Poets and Writers website.

Jeanne, please comment on good books on writing; I got only partial titles and authors.

Jeanne also gave us four letter poems to study for tomorrow (Homework).

“My dearest Conflict” and “My dearest Regret” by Oliver La Paz,
“to Rose” from Letters to Yesenin(?)  by Jim Harrison.
“Letter to Kathy from Wisdom” by Richard Hugo.
“To Susan Gilbert Dickinson” (letter from Emily Dickensn)

Jennifer Brice talked to us about travel writing in the afternoon.

2010 class members

Back Row (standing): Marie Lundstrom, Althea Nelson, Ela Harrison Jordon, Julie Johnson, Taylor Wilson, James Sterling, Rob Childers, Monte Jordan, Steve Matzker, Crystal Warner, David Crause, Karen Kohout, Don Gray, Mike Welsh, and Jeanne Clark. Front row (sitting or kneeling): Peggy Shumaker, Sue Ann Bowling, Anita Stelcel, Molly Fischner, Kim Williams, Zoe Wildridge, Rhonda Harvey, Bonny Lynn Babb, Stacey Hale, and Mary Fenno.

Peggy started the morning by again propping the two paintings from the watercolor class up and encouraging us to write about them, then copy our writing on cards to be returned to the class. If you haven’t already, you’re invited to post your writing as comments. As a writing exercise in class, she asked us to combine a specific food with action and write about it. Homework: time your reading for Thursday, aiming for 3 minutes or less.

David read us a piece by Jack Bass: “On the daily writing of fiction,” from Why I write: thoughts on the craft of fiction. He then had us move the setting or our conversation to a beautiful place. We are to continue with this for homework.

Jeanne Went over two persona poems with us: “Hood” by C. K. Williams and “Gretel in Darkness” by Louise Glück. She then had us write a persona poem in the voice of the character we’d chosen from fairy tale or myth. Homework: work on reshaping the voice, using sounds and rhythms.

That part of the 2010 class that was here when Bill Kloefkorn taught.

Don took a photo yesterday of those class members who remember Bill Kloefkern, and we will send a copy to him with cards.

Peggy told us it was time we started making up our own prompts. Our homework assignment for tomorrow is to write down an assignment on a slip of paper. (I think I can see where this is going.) In class, she had us write something repeating one of two phrases: I can’t understand or I never understood.

David had us read our direct and indirect conversations from last week. Our homework is to write a third version with no more than 2 lines of dialog.

Jeanne read us a poem in the persona of John Muir, all one sentence. (Peggy suggested we write a one-sentence poem of about the same length–considerable. For homework, we have to find a character from myth or a fairy tale. Our class exercise was to write on “What formed you.” It could be an incident, a landscape, peaple, creatures, experience, trauma, food, institutions, work, play…

Afternoon we spent with those people only taking the single class. Peggy, I don’t have notes on what you did–please comment. David quoted from Flannery O’Conner about mystery and manners being the essential points of a story. He had us invert characters (age, gender, jog, favorite item of clothing, favorite food, contents of refrigerator, the worst thing they’ve ever said, and a secret. Then we had to copy it and excnage extra copies with others in the class, so each had two characters. Finally, write a conversation between the two, starting with “I have to get this off my chest.” Only he kept changing where the conversation was to take place–speeding car, Alaskan woods, inn a very slow drivethrough lane at McDonald’s, in a library with homeless min sitting near the water fountain. The idea was that the setting would change the nature of the conversation.

Finally, Jeanne gave us the poem, “Bike Ride with Older Boys” by Laura Kasischke. She then had us write down several things we hadn’t done, pick one at random, and write about it.

Love Song

No class today, but I thought I’d post a prompt from 2005. Write a love poem that does not use the word “love.”  I cheated a little and put the word in the title.

Love Song
Sue Ann Bowling

I will not possess you
Nor be possessed.
But we will share.

The first, faint light, when sleepy birds arouse
And question whether night is really gone,
We’ll smell the apple blossoms as the sun
Draws back the dew they gathered in the night.

The midday heat, when sun browned children run
Through falling droplets, til a sudden wind
And crash of thunder sends them scurrying
For shelter from the unexpected storm.

The sun descending into flaming skies
And flaming leaves, and both reflected in
The running river bearing off the day
With the first stars aquiver on its breast.

We will go hand and hand beneath the stars,
With snow beneath our feet and in our hair.
The frost may creep into our bones, our eyes
May slowly darken, but I will not leave.

We didn’t have a meeting today (thank goodness I’ll be able to catch my breath) so I thought I’d go over the activities for afternoons next week, especially as the places for them keep moving around.

Monday, July 26: The afternoon activity today is the Mini Class open to all festival registrants, to be held in 104 Brooks. For those not familiar with the campus, that’s the building between Duckering (the one right next to Bunnell) and the library.

Tuesday, July 27: the afternoon activity is individual conferences with the faculty. You should already have your materials to be critiqued to the faculty; they need time to read them. Check with the faculty member you have signed up with for where to go.

Wednesday, July 28: Nonfiction writer Jennifer Brice will be our guest artist at 1:30.  In the evening, Peggy will moderate a panel of poets (Derick Burleson, Cindy Hardy, and Jeanne Clark) at the Alaska Book Festival. It wasn’t on the sheet, but this is at 7 pm in Schaible Auditorium That’s in the Northeast corner ground floor (2 in elevator) of our building, Bunnell.

Thursday, July 29: Readings by Festival Registrants. This will be held in Schaible—invite your friends and for those on facebook, mention it. Everyone in the class should bring something you’ve written, or something you would like to read aloud by someone else. These will be your parting gifts to the class.

Friday, July 30: Farewell class; roundtable with all writers. This will be back in our regular classroom.

By the way, my garden has gotten badly ahead of me this last week. Prepare to take home some zucchini and possibly beans Monday!

Summer Festival 5

Peggy started us out with the lists in The Pillow Book, by Lei Shonagon. She then asked us to make our own list of annoying things, and write on one of them. Homework: Revise something you’ve started.

David started a discussion which rather ran away with us on fiction as opposed to nonfiction.He then gave us a writing exercise–Write a conversation between at least two characters, and make it direct–no talking past each other. Then, as homework, take that same situation, but write it more indirectly–allow the people to talk past each other, conceal their motives, and so on.

Jeanne handed out a poem: “Sacred” by Stephen Dunn and led us in a discussion of the poem. She then had us write something that explored the role of “Sacred” to us. Her homework assignment part 1 was to revise something already started. Part 2 (as she reminded me in a comment) is to write something on “Why I write.” She also thought these should be exchanged, and one way of doing that is to post them as comments to this blog. Just click on “Comment” below the bottom picture if you’re on the general page (without comments on the bottom) or if other comments are showing, fill in the white box with your comments and then click on “post comment.”

As should be apparent from the rest of these photos, we spent the afternoon in the Georgeson Botanical Gardens, where by a minor miracle it did not rain.

Peggy Shumaker

Peggy started the morning talking about declarative sentences. She pointed out the differences between simply saying “I was terrified.” and “I was hoping to grow up to be a teenager,” and how much more the second sentence conveys. Then we discussed a poem by Naomi Shihab Nye: “Flinn on the Bus,” which led us into a discussion both of 9/11 and of how less can be more, and giving overwhelming things a face. Her homework assignment (should we choose to accept it) was to write a declarative sentence that does a lot of work–that develops character, place, time and that emphasizes evocative detail.

David Crouse

David gave us examples of people talking past each other. He read the short stoty, “Viewfinder” by Raymond Carter, and also acted out a conversation where the people were talking past each other–the daughter thinking to persuade her father to give up driving, the father seeing only how much like the aspects he did not like about her mother were coming out in the daughter. No specific homework, but he warned us he’d make up for it tomorrow.

Jeanne Clark

Jeanne recommended a series of books from Graywolf press. I didn’t get the whole list (Help, Jeanne) but they all start with “The art of…  She also recommended “Poetry in Person,” edited by Alexander Neubauer and based on tapes of Pearl London’s classes. Another was “Why do we write” in the July-Aug issue of Poets and Writers Magazine. She then returned to catalog poems, pointing out that:

Each line has an image or elaboration

Each line has the same beginning (or at most only a few phrases are used to begin lines)

Catalog poems can be part of a larger work, and they often help a writer to begin working again. The homework assignment was (guess what) continue to work on our category poems.

No afternoon session today, but our three guest writers are reading  at 5:30 in the UA Museum Education center. The reading is free and open to the public–just tell them at the desk that you’re here for the reading. At 7:00 there will be a book signing in the lobby of the museum.

Peggy suggested we read Rita Dove, “Thomas and Beulah.” and as an exercise (homework) she suggested we find evocative details in something we had written so far and make them work harder. She also listed e-mail addresses for the three faculty. Hers is peggyzoe at gmail dot com. (The form is to evade robot searches for e-mail addresses.)

David pointed out how a detail in a first draft can become the theme around which the story revolves. Homework: revise something you’ve written, keeping this in mind. e-mail:dcrouse1 at alaska dot edu.

Jeanne had several readings from class members and emphasized playing with images. She introduced the catalog poem and had us read three and discuss them:

Snow by W. S. Merwin

Freedom of Love, by André Bretou

Jubilate Agno, by David Lee, in memoriam Christopher Smart, 1722-1770

Not discussed was the pattern for Jubilate Agno, Christpher Smart’s Of Jeoffry, His Cat.

Our homework was to write a catalog poem.  Jeanne’s email address is bellestarrgang at gmail dot com

Theresa Bakker

Our afternoon guest writer was Theresa Bakker. She told us how she was pushed to using walking as a theme, and discussed a number of books on walking. These books were:

Joseph Amato: On Foot: A History of Walking

Geoff Nicholson: The Lost Art of Walking

Chet Raymo: The Path: A One-Mile Walk Through the Universe

Ned Rozell: Walking My Dog, Jane

Rebecca, Solnit: Wanderlust; A History of Walking

Henry D. Thoreau: Walking: Concord 1862

Edmund White: The Flaneur

We also discussed the difference in how we notice things when we are walking as opposed to driving.

We wound up with a discussion of the changes in the publishing industry.

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