Workshops

Each faculty member will lead a workshop with a maximum of 10 students for four morning sessions. These workshops will be augmented by craft talks, student readings, and lectures by guest speakers. In addition, students may choose among a variety of planned excursions and outdoor adventures. The event concludes with our annual Gala Faculty Reading, a celebration of the arts open to community members with hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction.


Fiction Boot Camp with Rick Bass

This workshop is for fiction writers who seek to improve their craft through a hands-on critical boot camp. Group sessions will include active workshopping and craft-focused discussion. We will focus on language, imagery and tension at the sentence and paragraph level, which is what helps determine structure in a short story: space and opportunity. We will discuss ways to exploit the space created by certain sentences and images, and examine models that are similar to the pieces being workshopped.


Writing About Environment: A Master Class with Linda Hogan

This environmental master class welcomes students working with nonfiction and fiction. During class sessions, we will examine existing work, generate new writing, and dive into group discussion, all with the goal of helping each student enrich their writing, understand how their creativity works and meet their goals. If conditions allow, some of our writing exercises will be outside because August mornings in Paradise Valley are reliably inspirational. Students will be expected to submit their writing to Linda prior to the workshop.


Writing Through Culture to Get to Wildness with Drew Lanham

How does who we are impact how we see nature? How we define wildness? How we hear bird song or view forests and trees? Does ethnicity or gender/non-gender designation (or how and who we choose to love) make a difference in how we feel toward sunsets or national parks?

Using identity as the conduit for understanding perceptions of nature is the goal of this memoir-oriented workshop. We’ll use who we are to leverage stories (long form essay) about how we “go into” nature. Although place is among the deepest traditions in nature writing, it has lacked color and a depth of diversity beyond patriarchal whiteness.

In this workshop we will write toward inclusion and non-convention using a novel technique of differential reading exposure and group critique to improve our writing and crafting processes. Students will be expected to submit a 5,000 word essay for application and must be willing to read and constructively critique their peers. This workshop requires a willingness to not just write toward intense introspection, but to do so with the vulnerabilities of an open mind and heart. The crafting circle will be a safe space for all and a crucible for creativity and growth.


Writing the Wild/Land: Eco Poetry in a Time of Climate Change: A Poetry Intensive with Pamela Uschuk

This writing intensive will concentrate on eco poetry inspired by the landscape and cultures in and around Livingston, Montana. Each class will include a writing prompt, a discussion of model poems by Linda Hogan, Mary Oliver, Camille Dungy, Joy Harjo, Sandra Alcosser, Patricia Spears Jones, Patti Ann Rogers, Audre Lorde, Anita Endrezze, Sherwin Bitsui, W.S. Merwin, Luis Urrea, Marilyn Nelson, Teresa Mei Chuc, Melissa Tuckey, Rita Dove, Michael Wasson, Drew Lanham, William Pitt Root and others.

Each session will include an encouraging discussion of participants’ poems. The generative poetry writing intensive will focus on writing techniques such as figurative language, sound imagery and uses, line breaks, fresh imagery, erasure techniques as well as how to write eco poems and eco justice poems without being didactic.

The thrust of the intensive is to write poetry concerned with ecological issues such as species loss and climate change as well as to give shape to the wild inside you by observing the wild outside. Come prepared to write and share your work. Learn to create powerful metaphors from the natural world, to use sound techniques to create rhythms as well as various types of line breaks to create a form for your poems, and to illuminate multiple-depths of meaning. Thoreau wrote, “In wilderness lies preservation.” Just as we need to preserve the last wildernesses on our planet, poets need to speak their truths about pressing environmental issues as well as to preserve what’s wild within themselves.

Come howl out powerful poems of your own. I will be on the lookout for poems to publish in Cutthroat, a Journal of the Arts. You can expect to take home 6-10 (depending on length) finished new poems.

Our main texts will include: Native Voices, edited by CM Fuhrman, Black Nature, edited by Camille Dungy, Continental Drift, edited by Drucilla Wall, Eco Poetry, edited by Ann Fisher-Wirth, and Ghost Fishing, edited by Melissa Tuckey.


Poetry and How It Gets That Way with William Pitt Root

Some Topics & Concerns to be Addressed in Workshops

Vision via Revision: We’ll find how abandoned drafts, scratched-out random notes & false starts can be resuscitated using our guide, the sea-going Nautilus snail. We’ll find how “memorable” can be upgraded to unforgettable, even as “OK” evolves into KO. We’ll explore exactly how (and why) to read as creator rather than consumer, as thief rather than head-bobber. And how titles can function in various ways to predict, mislead, illustrate, flavor, fine-tune, undercut, and/or jump-start first lines.

We will of course concentrate primarily on our various responses to your work even as you produce new work in & out of class. Prompts provided as desired. We’ll also exchange information and recommendations about litmags, how contests are judged, websites, book and chapbook publishers, and also discuss advantages/disadvantages of online publication.

But is THAT poetry … or prose? Prose poem … or flash fiction or … ? (Who’s asking?)

Among poets we may reference: C. Forche, Luis Alberto Urrea, Li Young Lee, Tracy K. Smith, Wendell Berry, S. Cisneros, Anita Endrezzee, T. Roethke, Joy Harjo, Pam Uschuk, Neruda, Samuel Ace, Maj Ragain, W.B.Yeats, Linda Hogan, R. Jackson, Yusef Komunyakaa, S. Plath, Ted & Langston Hughes, Emari Di Giorgio, Whitman, Dickinson, Kwame (“when the heart gets lost, let the music find you”) Alexander & co.