All craft talks are in Hagerty Lounge from 2:15-3:15
“CRAFTING DISCOVERY” by Susan Griffin
Wednesday, February 20
The best writing has an air of revelation. Whatever a work communicates, whether new facts, new insights or a new angle on history, the sense of encountering something new comes as much from the sound and style of the prose as it does from any content. The secret lies in the attitude of the writer. While to write what you know is good advice, it is equally important to go beyond what you know, to discover as you write. Discoveries occur through research of course but also through the craft of writing itself. As you strive for more clarity, beauty, dimensionality and attempt to make an event palpable or a character vivid, new worlds of meaning will open up to you.
Among Susan Griffin’s 19 books, A Chorus of Stones: the Private Life of War was a New York Times Notable Book, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and won the Northern California Book Award.
“THE SOUNDS OF SILENCE” BY KAZIM ALI
Wednesday, March 20
Poems, like the physical universe, are made of vibrations. Consonants shape and release vowels in intentional patterns. Cage explored silence in music, Ryman and Martin in painting, Ohno in dance. Viewing their motions help to see how sound and silence move in the poetic line, for example in Broumas, Howe, Valentine and Graham. But one must experience sound not only externally traveling into the body through the bones and spaces of the ear, but inside the body traveling outward. So in addition to discussing these poems, paintings, music and dances, we will chant vowels and
consonants and do some deep listening of our own.
Kazim Ali is the author of nine books of poetry, fiction, essay and translation. His most recent book is Bright Felon: Autobiography and Cities. Sky Ward: New Poems will be published this spring.
“GENRE IS NOT A FOUR-LETTER WORD” by Lou Berney
Wednesday, April 17
A lot of people, smart people, look down their noses at genre fiction. They consider it, at best, a guilty pleasure, without the potential for any of the transformative artistic value of “real” literature. In this talk Berney will argue that those people are woefully misguided, and that you shouldn’t judge a book by the presence of a detective, a
spaceship or a dwarf with a sword. We’ll discuss how, for a writer, the formulas and conventions of genre fiction can liberate rather than constrain, and how, for the reader, the best genre fiction can both satisfy expectations and explode them.
Lou Berney is the author of the novels Gutshot Straight and Whiplash River. His
short fiction has appeared in the The New Yorker, the Pushcart Prize Anthology
and elsewhere. He has written feature screenplays and created TV pilots for Warner
Brothers, Paramount, ABC and Fox, among others.
September 12 with giovanni singleton
“AMERICAN LETTERS: works on paper”
Sound, as in improvisation, acts upon images and text giving rise to harmonious constructions of silence. It comes down to the desire for liberation through exploring what words, in their essence, can do. The behearer and the beholder approach the world with an attitude of longing. The page is a canvas, a field, a mediation between human nature and the natural world. Writing occurs on and with trees. Knock on wood. What is spoken from the depths of a whisper or said in a scream?
giovanni singleton is a poet, teacher, and founding editor of nocturnes (re)view of the literary arts, a journal dedicated to the work of artists and writers of the African Diaspora. She is the author of Ascension, winner of the eighty-first annual California Book Award for Poetry. She has been a fellow at Squaw Valley Writers Conference, Cave Canem, and the Napa Valley Writers Conference. Her work has appeared in VOLT, Callaloo, Angles of Ascent: a Norton anthology, and What I Say: Innovative Poetry by Black Writers in America. singleton has taught at Saint Mary¹s College and Naropa University.
October 17 with Lisa Alvarez
"What can prose writers learn from poetry?"
What can prose writers learn from poetry? Often, too often, students focus primarily on their chosen genre whether through individual choice and/or institutional pressure. This talk will examine how developing a close relationship to poetry can teach prose writers about line, imagery, form and content in ways that invigorate and inspire. As Edward Hirsch has suggested, "fiction goes to poetry for the intensity of its use of language," as part of the making literature, "something that lasts in language."
Lisa Alvarez's stories and essays have most recently appeared in American Book Review, Faultline, Green Mountains Review and in the anthology Sudden Fiction Latino: Short-Short Stories from the United States and Latin America (Norton). Together with Alan Cheuse, she co-edited Writers Workshop in a Book: The Squaw Valley Community of Writers on the Art of Fiction (Chronicle Books). She is a professor of English at Irvine Valley College and for over ten years has co-directed the Writers Workshops at the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley.
November 28 with Jimmye S. Hillman
“Writing a Memoir of Childhood in Your 80’s”
This talk will outline some of the challenges and joys of starting a memoir later in life. How do you think about what to include and what to leave out? Hillman, who began his memoir after a successful career as an economist, will speak about embarking on a writing career in his 80s, learning to render details of a childhood spent on a subsistence farm during the Depression, making accounts of family and small town life from a distance of 70 years. What are the pitfalls of humor, of writing the embarrassing description or telling it “like it was” about family members? Hillman will muse about how a writer of any age might expand his personal story beyond the individual concerns of a family saga to include historical, religious, and political reflections on a particular time and place.
JIMMYE HILLMAN was born in 1923. He grew up on a subsistence farm in southern Mississippi, the subject of his book Hogs, Mules and Yellow Dogs. He received his Ph.D. at the University of California Berkeley and has been associated with the University of Arizona in Tucson, where he served as Head of Department of Agricultural Economics for thirty years. He also served as Executive Director for the National Advisory Commission on Food and Fiber under President Johnson and as a Consultant on U.S.-Japanese agricultural trade policies during Reagan’s Administration.