Afternoon Craft Conversations

Celebrating 20 Years of Craft.

All Craft Conversations take place in Hagerty Lounge at 2:35pm.

 Spring 2016

February 17th with Porter Shreve

“The Magnetic Character”

What do Ellen Olenska, Jay Gatsby, Yunior de las Casas, Jamaica Kincaid's fictional mothers and Olive Kitteridge have in common? They're all magnetic, the kind of characters you can build a novel around. Whether they're narrator, protagonist or secondary character they exert such a force on everyone in their sphere as to be unforgettable. In her essay "Notes on Writing a Novel," Elizabeth Bowen says that every novel needs "at least one character capable of keying the reader up, as though he (the reader) were in the presence of someone he is in love with." In this talk we'll look at some especially magnetic characters in literature and discuss various strategies for discovering and bringing them to life in our own work.

Porter Shreve


Porter Shreve is the author of four novels. The Obituary Writer was a New York Times Notable Book. Drives Like a Dream and When the White House Was Ours were Chicago Tribune Books of the Year. And his latest, The End of the Book, published in 2014, was a San Francisco Chronicle Book of the Year.




March 2nd with Sarah Manguso


Some texts move us primarily because of what they don't include. Under what literary circumstances is it more expressive to say nothing than to say something? In this talk I'll present poetry and prose that omits formal, narrative, referential, descriptive, or subjective content, and consider the techniques and effects of those omissions. Examples will include works by Man Ray, Don Paterson, James Wright, Jenny Boully, John D'Agata, Amy Hempel, Kenneth Koch, Donald Hall, Lydia Davis, Jack Gilbert, and others. 

Sarah Manguso

Sarah Manguso
is the author, most recently, of the memoirs Ongoingness, The Guardians, and The Two Kinds of Decay. Her prose has appeared in Harper's, McSweeney's, and the New York Review of Books. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Rome Prize.