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 with the Land: A Master Class with Beth Piatote

How do writers transfer the energy of a living world to the page? In this prose workshop, we will experiment with writing exercises and revisions that draw beauty, energy, and power from the lands, waters, and life around us. As much as possible, we’ll be writing outside, in every sense of the term. During our collaborative workshop time, we will provide structured feedback on existing work and generate new material through writing prompts, in order to enrich our writing, editing, and attunement practices.


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.


Love in a Time of Pandemic, Floods & Flames with William Pitt Root

Having so far survived, we can now approach the wounded hearts of others as well as our own, bearing witness in poetry and prose (plus music, art, dance, film and video)

Among the incandescent events to explore and humanize:

  • The loss of loved ones untouchable in isolation and the further sacrilege of corpses stacked awaiting the closure of autopsies and burial;
  • The current reexamination of historical land grants to Blacks formerly slaves, and to the neglected and broken treatises with tribal peoples;
  • Inexplicably the stresses on unprotected health workers and exposure of cruelly forced labor among Tyson & Co;
  • The effectiveness but also the confusion involved in on-line communications caused by various levels of education among various levels of the poor, the working poor and the elderly;
  • The unfairness of higher pay for men than women (especially for working mothers);
  • Renewed cries for affordable health care;

And adequate care for underage immigrants, the phenomena of local neighborhoods taking it upon their own shoulders to extend care as well as public education of the values various immigrant groups provide for various taken-for-granted aspects of our lives, the healthy mercy of legal gender changes, and we might pay especial attention to the political and economic underbellies exposed by demonstrations for racial equality that have so quickly gone global.

And global fires, global floods, global extinctions, global migrations of refugees, global extinctions. How to humanize such vast circumstances? The late great Barry Lopez, in Horizon, his recent magnum opus, encounters a tribal elder with whom he exchanges versions of such seemingly insurmountable conundrums.  After a pause the elder declares “We must  re-dream the world.” Just that task is among the qualities that I, as Poetry Editor at CUTTHROAT: A Journal of the Arts  have been looking for all along.

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