2005 Key West Literary Seminar
2005 Key West Literary Seminar

2005
Writers' Workshops

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Workshop Leaders
Click on the name to read a description of their workshop.

Porter Shreve      Billy Collins      Paulette Alden      Bich Minh Nguyen
Jane Hirshfield      Susan Shreve and Timothy Seldes      Blanche McCrary Boyd


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Fiction Writing Workshop: Comedy, Pathos, and Drama
   with Porter Shreve
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Porter Shreve
Porter Shreve
WORKSHOP
The aim of this workshop in fiction writing is to write what moves you, whether autobiographical or fully imagined, traditional or experimental, funny, sad, or some combination. We will talk about humor ­ what makes a character or situation comic ­ and we will likely do a short writing prompt or two with humor in mind. But the workshop will not be restricted to humorous fiction. You should submit a writing sample and bring to the discussion your own ideas about what constitutes a good story. The atmosphere here will be generous, supportive, and honest. As with any workshop we will focus on craft and narrative technique, including voice, language, dramatic action, point of view, setting, and theme. Among the topics we might discuss are how to create opposing characters; the difference between an ordinary and a significant detail; and the ways in which writers from classic to contemporary combine comedy, pathos, and drama all within the same narrative.

SCHEDULE
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday (January 10-13, 2005)
10 a.m. to 1 p.m. with one afternoon individual consultation

LOCATION
Upstairs Library - San Carlos Institute, 516 Duval Street

COST
Cost is $450 (with Seminar, $775 if paid in full by September 1, 2004; otherwise $850)

REQUIREMENTS
This workshop is open to writers of all levels of ability. Applicants should submit manuscripts of no more than 10 pages at the time of application.

BIOGRAPHY
Porter Shreve grew up in Washington, DC, worked for several years on the night city desk at the Washington Post, and graduated from the MFA program at the University of Michigan, where he studied the novel and short story with Nicholas Delbanco, Charles Baxter, and seminar panelist Lorrie Moore. He has taught at the University of Michigan, the University of Oregon, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and is now an Associate Professor in the Creative Writing Program at Purdue University.

Shreve's first novel, "The Obituary Writer," was published by Houghton Mifflin in 2000 and named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, among other honors. In March 2005 Houghton Mifflin will publish his new novel, "Drives Like a Dream." For Beacon Press, Shreve has coedited the essay anthologies "Outside the Law: Narratives on Justice" (1997), "How We Want to Live: Narratives on Progress" (1998), and "Tales Out of School: Contemporary Writers on Their Student Years" (2000). With his wife and fellow workshop leader Bich Minh Nguyen he is coeditor of "The Contemporary American Short Story: A Longman Anthology" (2003) and "Contemporary Creative Nonfiction: I & Eye" (2004).

Shrevešs book reviews, nonfiction, and short stories have appeared in Witness, Northwest Review, Salon, the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Boston Globe, and the Chicago Tribune. He is currently working on a new novel as well as a collection of short stories titled "A Brief History of the Fool".

This is Porter's second Key West Literary Seminar workshop . We're delighted to have him back.

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The Lens of Humor
   with Billy Collins
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Billy Collins
Billy Collins
WORKSHOP
While our workshop discussions need not always fit neatly under the course title, we will focus mostly on the presence of humor in poetry, not simply as a source of amusement, but as a way of seeing, a mode of perception. Examples will be drawn from our own poems and those of others such as Philip Larkin, John Donne, Diane Wakowski, David Kirby, and even Ogden Nash.

SCHEDULE
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday (January 11-13, 2005)
10 a.m. to 1 p.m. with no afternoon consultation

LOCATION
Conference Room - Ocean Key Resort, 0 Duval Street

COST
Cost is $350 (with Seminar, $700 if paid in full by September 1, 2004; otherwise $775)

REQUIREMENTS
This workshop is open to all applicants. Applicants MUST submit at least five poems (no more than ten, please) with their deposit to be considered.

BIOGRAPHY
Billy Collins was born in New York City in 1941. He is the author of six books of poetry, including Picnic, Lightning (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1998); The Art of Drowning (1995), which was a finalist for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; Questions About Angels (1991), which was selected by Edward Hirsch for the National Poetry Series; The Apple That Astonished Paris (1988); Video Poems (1980); and Pokerface (1977). A recording of Collins reading thirty-three of his poems, The Best Cigarette, was released in 1997. Collins's poetry has appeared in anthologies, textbooks, and a variety of periodicals, including Poetry, American Poetry Review, American Scholar, Harper's, Paris Review, and The New Yorker.

His work has been featured in the Pushcart Prize anthology and The Best American Poetry for 1992, 1993, and 1997. He has received fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation. In 1992, he was chosen by the New York Public Library to serve as "Literary Lion." For several years he has conducted summer poetry workshops in Ireland at University College Galway. He is a professor of English at Lehman College, City University of New York. He lives in Somers, New York.

In the fall of 2001, Collins will assume his duties as the Library of Congress's eleventh Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry.

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Fictional Devices in Memoir:
What the Memoirist Can Learn from the Fiction Writer

   with Paulette Alden
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Paulette Alden
Paulette Alden
WORKSHOP
The memoirist has many of the same challenges as the fiction writer: how to tell a compelling story; how to bring characters to life in all their contradictions and complexity; how to shape experience and material so that they can be interpreted in the way the writer intends; how to balance showing and telling; how to write scenes and dialogue that are convincing and functional; issues of perspective and tense; and last but not least, how to find the voice that can synthesize all the elements that must work together to produce a successful piece of writing. In this workshop we'll explore these topics, examine models of various techniques from published memoirs, and use exercises to practice such craft elements as characterization, writing dialogue and scenes, use of tone, and developing a narrative arc.

SCHEDULE
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday (January 10-13, 2005)
10 a.m. to 1 p.m. with one afternoon individual consultation

LOCATION
716 Love Lane

COST
Cost is $450 (with Seminar, $775 if paid in full by September 1, 2004; otherwise $850)

REQUIREMENTS
Applicants must submit a writing sample at the time of application (no more than 10 pages, please).

BIOGRAPHY
Paulette Bates Alden M.A., Stanford University; B.A., University of North Carolina, is the author of two critically acclaimed books -- a collection of short stories, Feeding the Eagles (Graywolf Press, 1988), and a memoir, Crossing the Moon (Hungry Mind Press, 1996; Penguin Paperback, 1998). Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in The Antioch Review, Ploughshares, The New York Times Magazine, and other periodicals. Alden is the recipient of many awards, including a Stegner Fellowship to Stanford University, Bush Foundation Fellowship, Loft-McKnight Award, and 2003-2004 Minnesota State Arts Board Grant. A sought-after teacher, she has taught at Stanford University, St. Olaf College, Carleton College, and the University of Minnesota, where she received the College of Continuing Education's Distinguished Teaching Award. She is currently the Creative Nonfiction Mentor for the Loft Literary Center. Alden lives in Minneapolis where she critiques individual manuscripts via the Internet at www.paulettealden.com.

Paulette has led workshops at the Key West Literary Seminar many times. We welcome her back after a year off.

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Creative Nonfiction Workshop:
Writing the Strange-but-True

   with Bich Minh Nguyen
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Bich Minh Nguyen
Bich Minh Nguyen
WORKSHOP
In this workshop we will focus on personal essay and memoir writing: stories we want to tell, stories that wonšt leave us alone, strange-but-true stories that need to be told. The workshop will focus on craft, including elements such as style, language, tone, and theme. You need not restrict yourself to humorous writing, though we will discuss what makes a piece funny (and not funny), how and why we might incorporate humor in our work, and how we might balance comedy with a more serious or reflective point of view. Additionally, we will discuss core issues of creative nonfiction, such as the role of the "I," the boundaries of the personal point of view, and the nature of truth. Ultimately, the goal here is to hone your own voice as well as challenge it.

SCHEDULE
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday (January 10-13, 2005)
10 a.m. to 1 p.m. with one afternoon individual consultation

LOCATION
518 Virginia Street

COST
Cost is $450 (with Seminar, $775 if paid in full by September 1, 2004; otherwise $850)

REQUIREMENTS
Participants should submit manuscripts of approximately 10 pages at the time of application.

BIOGRAPHY
Bich Minh Nguyen (first name pronounced like "Bit") was born in Saigon. She left Vietnam with her family in 1975 and grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She received an MFA from the University of Michigan and currently teaches at Purdue University. With her husband (and fellow workshop leader) Porter Shreve, she is coeditor of The Contemporary American Short Story: A Longman Anthology (2003) and Contemporary Creative Nonfiction: I & Eye (2004). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications including Gourmet magazine; Dream Me Home Safely: Writers on Growing up in America; The Chicago Tribune; Tales Out of School: Contemporary Writers on Their Student Years; and Watermark: Vietnamese American Poetry and Prose. She is currently completing a collection of essays titled Stealing Buddhašs Dinner.

This is Bich's second Key West Literary Seminar workshop.
We're delighted to have her back.

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Bring the Deep Self Forward
   with Jane Hirshfield
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Jane Hirshfield
Jane Hirshfield
WORKSHOP
"There is another world, and it is in this one," wrote the French poet Paul Eluard. During these four days of exploration (in which humor--indispensable to any world that includes humans--is welcome, but not the focus), we will search out images, thoughts, rhythms, and words that can bring into view the deep life which is always already within and around us. The morning workshop will include writing experiments, group responses to poems, and conversation on craft; afternoons and evenings offer free time for reading, writing, and exploring Key West.

"Participants in the poetry workshop are expected to maintain a dignified and serious demeanor at all times. If all else fails, meditating on Emily Dickinson has been demonstrated to work in all cases except for one guy who imagined her doing something naughty with Alfred, Lord Tennyson and had to be shot."

SCHEDULE
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday (January 10-13, 2005)
10 a.m. to 1 p.m. with no individual consultation

LOCATION
Ocean Key Resort, 0 Duval Street

COST
Cost is $400 (with Seminar, $725 if paid in full by September 1, 2004; otherwise $800)

REQUIREMENTS
Please bring paper and pens, four or so poems not your own (and not too long) which you particularly admire, and copies of one or two recent poems of your own for possible workshop discussion the first day.

BIOGRAPHY
Jane Hirshfield's poetry, called "radiant and passionate" by the New York Times Book Review, expresses the interconnection of human and natural worlds. Through five collections of poems, her work addresses the life of the passions, the way the objects and events of everyday life are informed by deeper wisdoms, and the darkness, losses, and fracturing that are also our shared fate. Whether writing about aging, ink, the Velvet Revolutions of Eastern Europe, or the heart as an origami-like field assuming ever different shapes, Hirshfield searches continually for the points where new knowledge of the world and self may appear. Resonantly clear and shapely, her poems hold penetrating feeling and insight in a clean and moving marriage of image and statement. Hirshfield's essays on "the mind of poetry" have been called by The Japan Times "an indispensable manual for any writer"; Ploughshares magazine has said that Hirshfield's prose "reinvigorates our thinking about art" and called Nine Gates "surely one of the most eloquent books ever written about poetry." In addition, by compiling two widely read anthologies collecting the work of women poets from the past, Hirshfield has helped create a widened awareness of the long literary record of women's spiritual and emotional lives. As writer, public reader, and teacher, Hirshfield demonstrates an intimate and profound mastery of her art, and both her readings and workshops are much in demand. A former visiting associate professor at UC Berkeley, Elliston Visiting Poet at the University of Cincinnati, and lecturer in University of San Francisco's Masters in Writing program, Hirshfield is currently on the faculty of the Bennington MFA Writing Seminars; she has served as a guest poet at the Universities of Alaska, Minnesota, Alabama, and Michigan, as well as summer conferences and writers centers throughout the country.

"Hirshfield's poems renew, reaffirm the power of language to move deeply, to articulate experience precisely . . . Her poems are meant to endure." --- The Antioch Review

Jane Hirshfield is the author of five collections of poetry: Given Sugar, Given Salt, The Lives of the Heart, The October Palace, Of Gravity & Angels, and Alaya, as well as a book of essays on poetry, Nine Gates. She also edited and co-translated two poetry anthologies: The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems by Komachi & Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Court of Japan and Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women. Hirshfield's honors include The Poetry Center Book Award, fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations, Columbia University's Translation Center Award, the Commonwealth Club of California Poetry Medal, and the Bay Area Book Reviewers Award. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New Republic, The Nation, The American Poetry Review, and many other Publications.

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(The description of this workshop will be updated shortly.)
The Writer, the Editor, the Agent, and the Teacher
   with Susan Shreve and Timothy Seldes
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Susan Shreve
Susan Shreve
Timothy Seldes
Timothy Seldes
WORKSHOP
Susan Shreve and Tim Seldes have each given very successful workshops at the Seminar. This year they have agreed to teach a workshop together. Tim was Susan's agent; Tim is now Susan's husband. They know the business inside out. And even more amazing, they like working together.

We will focus on workshop submissions and discuss with writers the various ways of looking at manuscripts from the point of view of a teacher, an agent, and an editor. In the process we will also explore the ways in which writers, editors and agents interact and provide practical suggestions for manuscript improvement and placement. We do not anticipate doing in class exercises.

SCHEDULE
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
(January 10-13, 2005)
10 a.m. to 1 p.m. with one afternoon individual consultation

LOCATION
807 Elizabeth Street

COST
Cost is $450 (with Seminar, $775 if paid in full by September 1, 2004; otherwise $850)

REQUIREMENTS
This workshop is intended for advanced writers only, though previous publication is not a prerequisite. Applicants MUST submit 10 pages of a work in progress.

BIOGRAPHY
Timothy Seldes has spent most of his professional life in book publishing; beginning with 17 years at Doubleday where he was the Managing Editor of the Trade Department. He also worked at Harcourt Brace, the New American Library and Macmillan. Outside of book publishing, he was Assistant Publisher of The New York Post and the Public Information Officer of The Welfare Island Development Corp. He was Chairman of the Board of Poets & Writers for many years. Since 1972, he has been the President of Russell & Volkening, Inc., a literary agent which represents such authors as Annie Dillard, Marian Wright Edelman, Nadine Gordimer, Jim Lehrer, George Plimpton, Howell Raines, Dan Schorr, Ntozake Shange, Anne Tyler and Eudora Welty.

He is married to the author Susan R. Shreve (who was with the Seminar in 1999 for the American Novel, as a moderator and workshop leader) and divides his time between Washington, D.C. and New York City.

Biography:
Susan Shreve was the founder of the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing at George Mason University and served as its director for three years. She has been a Professor of English Literature at George Mason for twenty-two years.She has been a Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at Princeton, Columbia, Bennington and George Washington University, as well as a Bread Loaf Writing Fellow and Staff. In addition to her works of fiction, Susan has written twenty-three books for children published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. and William Morrow, among others. From 1985-1995 she wrote and delivered short documentary essays for the MacNeil Lehrer News Hour. Her novel "Daughters of the New World" was seen as a four part mini-series produced by Warner Brothers in the Fall of 1998. "A Country of Strangers" has been optioned for film and "The Visiting Physician" is in development as a new series for NBC.

Bibliography
  • A Fortunate Madness, Houghton Mifflin, 1974
  • A Woman Like That, Atheneum, 1977
  • Children of Power, Macmillan, 1979
  • Miracle Play, William Morrow and Co., 1981
  • Dreaming of Heroes, William Morrow and Co., 1984
  • Queen of Hearts, Simon and Schuster, 1987
  • A Country of Strangers, Simon and Schuster, 1989
  • Daughters of the New World, Doubleday, 1992
  • The Train Home, Doubleday, 1993
  • Editor with Marita Golden of an anthology of essays and stories, Skin Deep: Women and Race, Doubleday, 1995
  • The Visiting Physician, Doubleday, 1996
  • Editor with Porter Shreve of an anthology of original essays on justice, Outside the Law: Narratives on Justice, Beacon Press, 1997
  • The first of a series of books, including How We Want to Live: Narratives on Progress, 1998.

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Humor in Fiction
   with Blanche McCrary Boyd
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Billy Collins
Blanche McCrary Boyd
WORKSHOP
"Irony is the ability to look at yourself clearly and still get the joke."                    ---Blanche McCrary Boyd

In this workshop we will try to figure out what is funny and what is not, and why being funny is so serious. Emphasis will be on exercises intended to develop comic timing and narrative voice.

SCHEDULE
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
(January 10-13, 2005)

LOCATION
Ocean Key Resort, 0 Duval Street

COST
Cost is $450 (with Seminar, $775 if paid in full by September 1, 2004; otherwise $850)

REQUIREMENTS
Manuscripts (10 page maximum) welcome, but not required.

BIOGRAPHY
Blanche McCrary Boyd, the Roman and Tatiana Weller Professor of English and Writer-in-Residence at Connecticut College, may hold an endowed chair, but as a mother of twins, she is not sitting down as much as she would like. She does, however, have a few laurels to rest upon. Her academic credentials behind her (a B.A in English from Pomona, an M.A. in English from Stanford in 1971) and her teaching career well-established, she concentrates on writing, between teaching and the twins.

A native of South Carolina, the source of her "redneck" roots, Boyd has taught at Connecticut College since 1982. She is a member of P.E.N., the Authors Guild, the Writers Guild of America and of Phi Beta Kappa. She has written four novels, Nerves, Mourning the Death of Magic, The Revolution of Little Girls and Terminal Velocity, as well as a collection of essays titled The Redneck Way of Knowledge. She also has a large body of published articles, short fiction and screenplays to her credit. Among her more recently published articles are essays on Susan Smith in The Village Voice (July, 1995) and the Oxford-American (May, 1996), and two essays in Ms. magazine (September/October, 1995 and August/September, 2000). The latest article, Ms.'s cover story, examines some of the reasons why feminists and the general public have conflicted feelings about Hillary Clinton’s run for the New York Senate.
Among the awards Boyd has won are a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1993-1994, a National Endowment for the Arts Fiction Fellowship in 1988, a Creative Writing Fellowship from the South Carolina Arts Commission in 1982-1983 and a Wallace Stegner Fellowship in Creative Writing from Stanford University in 1967-1968. She was nominated for the Southern Book Award in 1991 and for the Lambda Award for Lesbian Fiction in 1997. Earlier isn 1991, she won the Lambda Award for Lesbian Fiction.

Boyd currently teaches three creative writing courses: "Writing the Short Story," "Narrative Non-Fiction" and the "Seminar in Fiction."


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