mary volmer

Wednesday, February 25th, 2:35pm, Hagerty Lounge

“The Tourist, the Expat and the Native: A Traveler’s Guide to Writing Historical Fiction” by Mary Volmer 

Here is a baffling truth: historical fiction is almost never solely about the past.  Its subject may take us to another place in time, but the author is a product of the present and very often writes in response to contemporary concerns.  When a historical novel succeeds it does not do so by merely recreating the past, but by telling a relevant human story in a unique and moving way. 

But how do you do that? How do you navigate the past’s lost and often foreign landscape well enough to convey a sense of authenticity?  How do you balance the (sometimes) competing allegiances to character/plot/story and historical accuracy?  What compels a writer to look back in the first place?  This craft seminar will consider these questions and suggest a three part “traveler’s guide” approach to the research, writing and revision process.

Mary Volmer is the author of Crown of Dust. Her non-fiction has appeared in Full Court Press, Women’s Basketball Magazine and NPR’s “This I Believe” series. Her short fiction has appeared most recently in the Farallon Review. Her second novel is forthcoming in spring 2016. 

cristina garcia 

Wednesday, March 18th, 2:35pm, Hagerty Lounge

“Cultivating Chaos” by Cristina Garcia   

From the time we’re quite young, we are inculcated with the notion that to be neat and organized is somehow better than to be messy and disorganized. But how does this serve us as writers? Do we need to outline? To know where we’re going ahead of time? Do we truly believe that we can plan the best moments of our fiction, poetry, non-fiction? This talk will challenge your notions of taking control of your texts and offer strategies for generating the randomness and mystery that enlivens our best work.

Cristina García is the author of five novels: The Lady Matador’s Hotel, (Scribner, 2010); A Handbook to Luck (Knopf, 2007); Monkey Hunting (Knopf, 2003); The Agüero Sisters (Knopf, 1997), winner of the Janet Heidiger Kafka Prize; and Dreaming in Cuban (Knopf, 1992), finalist for the National Book Award. García has edited two anthologies, Bordering Fires: The Vintage Book of Contemporary Mexican and Chicano/a Literature (2006) and Cubanísimo: The Vintage Book of Contemporary Cuban Literature (2003). She is also the author of three works for young readers, Dreams of Significant Girls (2011), a young adult novel set in a Swiss boarding school in the 1970s; The Dog Who Loved the Moon, illustrated by Sebastia Serra, (Atheneum, 2008); and I Wanna Be Your Shoebox (Simon and Schuster, 2008). Her most recent novel, King of Cuba, was released in 2013.

cedar sigo

Wednesday, April 29th, 2:35pm, Hagerty Lounge

“Stalked by Form” by Cedar Sigo

Years of complete involvement with poetry have seemed to result in my being stalked by form. Forms are ways of gaining access to the blinded corners of our voices. Language will always leap out at us and even the most oblique strands of syntax may mesh together perfectly. At times my initial approach feels extremely literal, though once the mind is sparked its speed becomes untraceable and the form takes hold happily. In this lecture I will retrace forms that have appeared (and at times reappeared) in my last two books, including translation, odes, sonnets as well as detailing a few forms I have created on my own. Poets that have inspired and safeguarded my approach will also be discussed including Joanne Kyger, Alice Notley, Tom Raworth, Julian Talmantez Brolaski and Alli Warren. The line between the life of the poet and the apprehension of form blurs beautifully as one begins to investigate or attempt to return to an initial cosmology.

Cedar Sigo was raised on the Suquamish Reservation in the Pacific Northwest and studied at The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at the Naropa Institute. He is the author of eight books and pamphlets of poetry, including Language Arts (Wave Books, 2014), Stranger In Town (City Lights, 2010), Expensive Magic (House Press, 2008), and two editions of Selected Writings (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2003 and 2005). He lives in San Francisco.

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