UNC Asheville's Great Smokies Writing Program (GSWP) will present 12 workshops this fall, in fiction, memoir, poetry, the business aspects of writing, and more, taught by some of Asheville’s finest authors. Classes will be offered in many community locations in Asheville, and in Black Mountain and Burnsville. Classes range from five to 15 weeks.
The Poetry of Politics: A Poetry Workshop with Tina Barr – This course will consider poems on the politics of war, genocide, racism, gender, damage to the earth, and tangentially, religion. The class will study poems by outside writers and devote considerable class time to participant work. Participants will be encouraged to experiment with different tonal registers and forms. The class is open to new and experienced writers. Barr’s poetry volumes include The Gathering Eye (Tupelo Press Editor’s Award) and Kaleidoscope, which was a finalist in the poetry category for the Eric Hoffer Book Award. Class meets for 10 weeks beginning Sept. 11, Mondays, 1-3:30 p.m., at the Black Mountain Center for the Arts, 225 W. State St., Black Mountain.
Stories into Stanzas: Writing Narrative Poetry with Kenneth Chamlee – Narrative poems share the basic elements of fiction but they rely on compression, suggestion, extreme selectivity of detail, and terse or absent denouements to achieve their power. This class will examine the oral origins of narrative tradition—the epic and the ballad—then move into creating poems built on chronology. Chamlee is the I. B. Seese Distinguished Professor of English at Brevard College and directs the annual Looking Glass Rock Writers’ Conference. His poems have appeared in The Asheville Poetry Review, The Cumberland Poetry Review, The Greensboro Review, and many others. Class meets for 10 weeks beginning Sept. 11, Mondays, 2-4:30 p.m., at Biltmore Park Clubhouse, 1067 Columbine Road, Asheville.
The Literary Ecosystem: How It Works and the Writer's Role, with Caroline Christopoulos and Lauren Harr – This course on the business of writing will tackle the idea of literary stewardship, the various roles within the publishing industry, self vs. traditional publishing, and pre- and post-publishing promotion. Writers will work on their elevator pitches, ways to connect with agents, editors, other writers, bookstores, the media and more. Christopoulos and Harr operate Gold Leaf Literary Services which provides a range of publicity and promotion assistance for authors. Both also have years of experience in independent bookstores and publishing. Class meets for five weeks beginning Oct. 18, Wednesdays, 6-8:30 p.m., at the Thomas Wolfe Memorial, 52 N. Market St., Asheville.
The “How To” Class in Memoir: Discovering, Structuring and Enlivening Your Story, with Christine Hale – Designed for those wishing to start a memoir or revive one that is “stuck,” this class will offer techniques and writing exercises in memory-based storytelling. Each participant will have the opportunity to share their writing, to use the workshop to help bring recognition and development of emerging themes that will engage readers. Hale is the author of A Piece of Sky, A Grain of Rice: A Memoir in Four Meditations, which she discussed last fall with Frank Stasio on public radio’s The State of Things. Her debut novel, Basil’s Dream, received honorable mention in the 2010 Library of Virginia Literary Awards. Class meets for 10 weeks beginning Sept. 14, Thursdays, 6-8:30 p.m. at the Thomas Wolfe Memorial, 52 N. Market St., Asheville.
Opening Up to Being a Writer: Fiction and Creative Nonfiction Workshop with Tommy Hays – Hays, the acclaimed novelist and GSWP executive director, often teaches master classes, but this fall his course is for writers of all levels of experience. “One of the hardest things about writing is admitting to others that we do it,” says Hays. “Yet it’s not until we take the next step and offer our work up to our community that we own up to what we’re attempting. And it’s usually not until we seek feedback that we improve.” The class will be in part devoted to craft discussion, but the main emphasis will be reading and responding thoughtfully to participants’ work. Hays won the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award for his novel, In the Family Way. His novel, The Pleasure Was Mine, was a finalist for the fiction award from the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA), and his middle grade novel, What I Came to Tell You, was chosen by SIBA as an Okra Pick. Class meets for 15 weeks beginning Aug. 29, Tuesdays, 6-8:30 p.m. at RiverLink, 170 Lyman St., Asheville.
Heroes, Villains, and the Nutcase Next Door: A Fiction Workshop with Marjorie Klein – Using exercises focused on description, dialogue, voice, point of view and sense place, participants will experiment with ways to create complex and unforgettable characters for their short stories or novels. Klein has just completed her second novel, not yet published. Her first, Test Pattern, was a Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection. She also wrote for the Miami Herald’s Sunday magazine for 20 years. Class meets for 10 weeks beginning Sept. 13, Wednesdays, 4-6:30 p.m. at Hanger Hall, 64 W.T. Weaver Blvd., Asheville.
Synergy Central: An Advanced Creative Prose Workshop with Vicki Lane – This course offers intermediate and advanced students a chance to have up to 54 pages of work—fiction, non-fiction, memoir, or any combination thereof —critiqued by their peers and thoroughly line-edited by the instructor. There also will be brief writing sessions, responding to prompts designed to expand each writer’s range. Lane is the author of the Elizabeth Goodweather mystery series from Bantam Dell: Signs in the Blood, Art’s Blood, Old Wounds, In a Dark Season, and Under the Skin, as well as a standalone, The Day of Small Things. Class meets for 15 weeks beginning Aug. 30, Wednesdays, 6-8:30 p.m. at Asheville School, 360 Asheville School Rd., Asheville.
Rewilding the Language of Landscape: A Workshop on Topography and Place with Mesha Maren – This workshop will explore various ways to use landscape – both urban and rural – to build tension, deepen characters and develop a sense of shared experience. While working on expanding, specifying and regionalizing the language used to write about landscape, the class also will explore participants’ and their characters’ emotional and psychological relationships to past and present places. This workshop is open to writers of fiction, nonfiction and prose poetry. Maren’s debut novel, Sugar Run, is forthcoming from Algonquin Books next year. Her short stories and essays have appeared in Tin House, The Oxford American and other literary journals, and she has won the Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize. Class meets for 10 weeks beginning Sept. 13, Wednesdays 6-8:30 p.m. at RiverLink, 170 Lyman St., Asheville.
Heart of the Story: Workshop on Writing for Young Children with Joy Neaves and Cynthia Surrisi – This workshop is designed for serious writers who are working on a longer piece of fiction intended for children or young adults. Weekly class discussions will cover topics ranging from aspects of craft to ways to approach editors and agents. The course emphasis will be on reading and critiquing participants’ work, as well as revision-focused strategies to evaluate one’s own work critically. Co-taught by a children’s book editor and a middle grade/young adult author, this workshop focuses on distilling the narrative arc to find the core of the story while fostering the heart of the writer’s aims. Neaves, formerly an editor for Front Street, is a freelance editor of children’s books at namelos. Surrisi is the author of a series, the Quinnie Boyd Mysteries and a picture book scheduled for publication in 2018. Class meets for 10 weeks beginning Sept. 12, Tuesdays 6-8:30 p.m. at West Asheville Flat Iron Writers Room, 5 Covington St., Asheville.
Conflicted: Developing Tension in Poems, with Eric Nelson – This workshop for writers of all levels will focus on developing conflict as a driving force to create depth and complexity in poems. Participants will discuss and practice multiple elements, including imagery, figurative language and musicality, and examine how conflict can be used in different poetic forms, from haiku to epics. Nelson’s six books of poetry include the collections Some Wonder, which won the Gival Press Poetry Award; Terrestrials, winner of the Texas Review Poetry Award; and The Interpretation of Waking Life, which won the University of Arkansas Poetry Award. Class meets for 10 weeks, beginning Sept. 11, Mondays 6-8:30 p.m. at RiverLink, 170 Lyman St., Asheville.
Writing a Memoir: Finding the Themes, Shaping the Scenes, with Catherine Reid – For writers of memoir, a key challenge is describing special moments, often small and quiet, in ways that convey their larger context, be it love, loss, grief, joy, awe, or despair. In this course, participants will experiment with techniques for crafting such scenes – making memorable the extraordinary qualities of ordinary moments – using prompts, discussions about published work, and a variety of short and long essay assignments. Reid is the author of two works of nonfiction: Coyote: Seeking the Hunter in Our Midst and Falling into Place: An Intimate Geography of Home (listed as one of “ten books to pick up now” by O, The Oprah Magazine). Class meets for 10 weeks beginning Sept. 13, Wednesdays, 4:30-7 p.m.at the Mountain Heritage Center, 113 Green Mountain Dr., Burnsville.
Prose Master Class with Elizabeth Lutyens – The Prose Master Class is a next step for those seeking an intensive writing and critiquing experience. This small–group workshop is limited to experienced writers who are working on an ongoing project: a collection of essays or stories, a novel, a memoir. The writer should have at least 60 pages ready to submit for three critiques during the semester. Each class begins with a craft session requiring outside reading, sometimes led by a student wishing to share his/her examination of an aspect of craft, or with a writing exercise to practice craft elements and inspire new approaches to ongoing projects. The emphasis is on the review of participants’ work, which includes extensive and in-depth comments from the instructor. Admission to the Prose Master Class is by invitation from Tommy Hays (firstname.lastname@example.org) or from Elizabeth Lutyens (email@example.com), who has led this class for eight years. A former journalist, Lutyens is the editor in chief of The Great Smokies Review, the online literary magazine published by UNC Asheville’s Great Smokies Writing Program. Class meets for 15 weeks beginning Aug. 29, Tuesdays, 6-8:30 p.m. at Asheville School, 360 Asheville School Rd., Asheville.