25th Annual Key West Literary Seminar - January 11-14, 2007



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"Wondrous Strange: Mystery, Intrigue, and Psychological Drama"
January 11-14, 2007


25th Annual Key West Literary Seminar - January 11-14, 2007 - Wondrous Strange: Mystery, Intrigue, and Psychological Drama

2007 WRITERS' WORKSHOPS
January 9 - 11, 2007



• All workshops will be held daily, Monday thru Thursday, January 8 to 11, 2007. (*Except where noted.)
• Enrollment for the workshops is $450.00. (*Except where noted.)
• There will be a workshop orientation dinner on Sunday, January 7, 2007.

Workshop Leaders:
Billy Collins   |    Mary Morris   |    Paulette Alden
Timothy Seldes and Susan Shreve   |    Porter Shreve   |    Bich Minh Nguyen

MOVING FROM THE CLEAR TO THE MYSTERIOUS
   with Billy Collins
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Billy Collins
Billy Collins
WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION
With an emphasis on the poems of the participants, this workshop will focus on how a poem can journey from a simple setting to unusual imaginative realms. We will study how poems develop and what maneuvers they make as they seek out their own destinations. The examples of American and international poets will be imitated in writing exercises. A poem can carry its reader to mysterious places; we will look at how this is done.

SCHEDULE: *Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, January 9 to 11, 2007
COST: *$350.00
REQUIREMENTS: No writing submissions are required.

Billy Collins is an American phenomenon. No poet since Robert Frost has managed to combine high critical acclaim with such broad popular appeal. His last three collections of poems have broken sales records for poetry. His readings are usually standing room only, and his audience — enhanced tremendously by his appearances on National Public Radio — includes people of all backgrounds and age groups. The poems themselves best explain this phenomenon. The typical Collins poem opens on a clear and hospitable note but soon takes an unexpected turn; poems that begin in irony may end in a moment of lyric surprise. No wonder Billy Collins sees his poetry as “a form of travel writing” and considers humor “a door into the serious.”

Billy Collins has published eight collections of poetry, including Questions About Angels, The Art of Drowning, Lightning, Taking Off Emily Dickinson's Clothes, Sailing Alone Around the Room: New & Selected Poems, Nine Horses, The Trouble With Poetry and Other Poems. He also edited two anthologies of contemporary poetry: Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry and 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day. His work has also appeared in such periodicals as The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The Atlantic Monthly, and The American Scholar.

Included among the honors Billy Collins has received are fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He has also been awarded the Oscar Blumenthal Prize, the Bess Hokin Prize, the Frederick Bock Prize, and the Levinson Prize — all awarded by Poetry magazine. In October 2004, Collins was selected as the inaugural recipient of the Poetry Foundation’s Mark Twain Award for humor in poetry. He has been a writer-in-residence at Sarah Lawrence College, and served as a Literary Lion of the New York Public Library. He is a Distinguished Professor of English at Lehman College, City University of New York, where he has taught for the past 30 years. In June 2001, Billy Collins was appointed United States Poet Laureate (2001-2003). In January 2004, he was named New York State Poet Laureate 2004-06.



THE SOURCE OF STORIES: WRITING FROM YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE
   with Mary Morris
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Mary Morris
Mary Morris
WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION
The novelist, John Berger, once said that writing comes l/3 from experience (what happens to us), l/3 from witness (what we see or are told), and l/3 from imagination. It is the mixing and rendering of these three ingredients that give us our material. The every day with its quirks of human behavior, coincidences, and odd psychological turns can have all the mystery and intrigue of the best of thrillers if we know how to mine it the way writers such as Haruki Murakami, Joyce Carol Oates, and Paul Auster do. This class will be geared towards helping the writer draw from his or her own experience, learning how to view it as raw material, then transforming it into subject matter. We will ask such questions as: Where do stories come from? How do we create a persona? And "What if?" The goal will be to push real life material into an imaginative place. There will be exercises, as well as readings, devised towards helping you locate the stories in your own life and turning them into vignettes that will then shape themselves into narratives.

SCHEDULE: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, January 8 to 11, 2007
COST: *$450.00
REQUIREMENTS: No entrance requirements or writing submissions are required.

Mary Morris's fifth novel, Acts of God , the story of a girl whose father, an insurance claims adjuster, led a duplicitous life, was published in September, 2000 by PicadorUSA. Born in Chicago in l947, Morris moved East to go to college. Though she never returned to the Middle West, she often writes about the region and its tug. Morris likes the fact that there is more magnetisim around the shores of Lake Michigan than the North Pole. She feels drawn there and feel an affinity for Midwestern writers such as Willa Cather and Mark Twain who wrote their stories of the Middle West from afar.

In her first collection of short stories, Vanishing Animals & Other Stories , awarded the Rome Prize in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts & Letters, Morris writes about childhood and adolescent memories. The Chicago Tribune called Morris "a marvelous storyteller-a budding Isaac Bashevis Singer, a young Doris Lessing, a talent to be watched and read." Morris's stories often deal with the tension between home and away. Travel is an important theme in many of the stories in her three collections, including Vanishing Animals, The Bus of Dreams , and The Lifeguard Stories . It is also a recurrent theme in her trilogy of travel memoirs, including the acclaimed Nothing to Declare: Memoirs of a Woman Traveling Alone, Wall to Wall: from Beijing to Berlin by Rail , and Angels & Aliens: A Journey West . In her five novels, including The Waiting Room, The Night Sky (formerly published as A Mother's Love ) and House Arrest , Morris writes of family, its difficulties and disappointments, its iron grip and necessity, and ultimately the comfort family can bring.

Whether writing fiction or non-fiction, Morris sees herself as a storyteller, weaving tales. A Japanese critic once, referring to her non-fiction, told Morris that she is not really a travel writer; rather she writes stories that take place during journeys.

Her many novels and story collections have been translated into Italian, Spanish, German, Dutch, Swedish and Japanese.

The recipient of many prizes and awards, including grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the George W. Perkins Fellowship at Princeton University, Morris is currently working on a generational family saga, set in Chicago, during the jazz age. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and daughter and teaches writing at Sarah Lawrence College.

Mary Morris (along with fellow panelist Jan Morris) was with us in 1991 for the Ninth Annual Key West Literary Seminar, Literature of Travel: A Sense Of Place. We are most pleased to have her back.


THE TRUTH SPEAKER: DEVELOPING VOICE IN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL WRITING
   with Paulette Alden
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Paulette Alden
Paulette Alden
WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION
The memoirist Vivian Gornick asks the pertinent question with which all writers of autobiographical material must wrestle: “How does the writer of personal narrative pull from his or her own boring, agitated self the truth speaker who will tell the story that needs to be told?” By truth speaker she means the narrator or persona who knows the story, how to tell it, and what to make of it. But what is the story, and how do we tell it, and what do we make of it?

In this workshop for writers of memoir or essay, we’ll ponder those questions as we work on pieces-in-progress and also new pieces developed from exercises in the workshop. We’ll work specifically on developing this “truth speaker” – because, as Gornick also says, “Get the narrator and you’ve got the piece.”

A lot has to come together before a narrator can speak the story with originality, authority and power. “Voice” is a key component of that ability, because voice is what melds everything together. But what is “voice” in writing? According to Peter Elbow, “writing with no voice is dead, mechanical, faceless,” even if it’s saying something true. Writing that has what he calls “real voice” has “the power to make you pay attention and understand—the words go deep.” Real voice is what the truth speaker has. No one can really teach “real voice,” but you can encourage people in that direction. You can help them hear the parts of their writing that are the most alive, the most urgent, the most necessary. You can give them examples and models of voice and personas in pieces that work, and help them begin to see why. You can give them exercises that will stretch their range, inviting wit, eccentricity, quirkiness, vulnerability, honesty, and maybe even the wondrous strange.

In this workshop we’ll be doing those kinds of things, and undoubtedly more!

SCHEDULE: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, January 8 to 11, 2007
COST: *$450.00
REQUIREMENTS: No entrance requirements or writing submissions are required.

Paulette Bates Alden is the author of two critically acclaimed books, a collection of short stories, Feeding the Eagles (Graywolf Press) and a memoir, Crossing the Moon (Penguin). Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in the Antioch Review, the Mississippi Review, The New York Times Magazine, Ploughshares, and other magazines. Her awards include a Stegner Fellowship to Stanford University, where she taught for three years as a Jones Lecturer in Creative Writing, a Bush Foundation Fellowship, a Loft-McKnight Award and two Minnesota State Arts Board grants. For many years Alden taught creative writing at the University of Minnesota, where she received a University College Distinguished Teaching Award. She has also taught at Carleton College, where she was a Benedict Distinguished Visiting Professor; at St. Olaf College; and at the Split Rock Arts Program. She is currently working on a novel. Alden lives in Minneapolis and critiques manuscripts through her web site: www.paulettealden.com.


WRITING AND THE IMAGINATION
   with Timothy Seldes and Susan Shreve
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Susan Shreve
Susan Shreve
Timothy Seldes
Timothy Seldes
WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION
Writing and the imagination will be at the center of discussions in this workshop which will begin with a class on character--imagining the other--to which students will be asked to bring a short writing assignment. The week will continue as a workshop of individual manuscripts both in class and one on one with agent, Timothy Seldes and novelist, Susan Shreve.

SCHEDULE: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, January 8 to 11, 2007
COST: *$450.00
REQUIREMENTS: Advance manuscript submission required; no more than 10 pages, please.

Susan Shreve is a novelist, essayist and author of thirty children's books. Her twelfth novel, A Student of Living Things, will be published by Viking in May, 2006 and a memoir will be published by Houghton Mifflin in April, 2007. She is a professor in the Master of Fine Arts program in fiction at George Mason University.

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 and divides his time between Washington, D.C. and New York City.


MYSTERY, MANNERS AND THE ART OF THE SHORT STORY
   with Porter Shreve
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Porter Shreve
Porter Shreve
WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION
Flannery O’Connor believed that two qualities are required for good fiction: a sense of mystery and a sense of manners. “Manners” has to do with the environment in which the characters live, the texture and life that evoke a particular time and place. Regarding mystery, O’Connor wrote, “The peculiar problem of the short story writer is how to make the action he describes reveal as much of the mystery of existence as possible. He has only a short space to do it in and he can’t do it by statement. He has to do it by showing, not by saying, and by showing the concrete—so that his problem is really how to make the concrete work double time for him.” In this workshop we will discuss how to give a story layers of meaning, using concrete language, symbol and metaphor, and applying other elements of craft so that our fiction goes beyond mere anecdote to suggest something of the mysteries of life.

SCHEDULE: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, January 8 to 11, 2007
COST: *$450.00
REQUIREMENTS: This workshop is open to writers of all levels of ability. Applicants who wish to workshop their manuscripts should submit no more than 10 pages at the time of application. Others should bring pen and paper and a willingness to create new work.

Porter Shreve has taught at the University of Michigan, the University of Oregon, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and is now Associate Professor of English and Director of the Creative Writing Program at Purdue University. Shreve is the author two novels, both with Houghton Mifflin: Drives Like a Dream, a Chicago Tribune Best Books of 2005 and The Obituary Writer, a New York Times Notable Book in 2000. Houghton Mifflin will publish his third novel, When the White House Was Ours, in 2008. He has coedited three essay anthologies for Beacon Press, and with his wife and fellow workshop leader, Bich Minh Nguyen, has coedited three textbooks for Pearson Longman, including The Contemporary American Short Story. Shreve’s book reviews, nonfiction, and short stories have appeared in Witness, Northwest Review, Salon, the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Boston Globe.


BEWITCHED, BOTHERED, AND BEWILDERED
   with Bich Minh Nguyen
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Bich Minh Nguyen
Bich Minh Nguyen
WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION
What happens when the (seemingly) everyday world is interrupted by the appearance of the mysterious, startling, or even supernatural? Perhaps a dream that came true, a secret revealed, a fortune foretold? Many of the writers on this year’s panels explore in their work the boundary between the real and the fantastic, the familiar and the strange. In this workshop we will focus on craft elements such as narrative and metaphor as we examine the relationship between the ordinary and the extraordinary—how it can shape our perceptions of self and world, and how it can influence our writing.

SCHEDULE: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, January 8 to 11, 2007
COST: *$450.00
REQUIREMENTS: This workshop is open to writers of all levels of ability. Please submit a manuscript (no more than 10 pages) in advance of the workshop. Or if you would like to write new work, come with paper, pen, and imagination.

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 is currently an Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at Purdue University. Winner of the 2005 PEN/Jerard Award in nonfiction, she is the author of a forthcoming memoir, Stealing Buddha’s Dinner (Viking/Penguin), and a forthcoming novel, Short Girls. With her husband (and fellow workshop leader) Porter Shreve she is coeditor of 30/30: Thirty American Stories from the Last Thirty Years; I & Eye: Contemporary Creative Nonfiction; and The Contemporary American Short Story: A Longman Anthology. Her work has also appeared in Gourmet magazine; Dream Me Home Safely: Writers on Growing up in America; Tales Out of School: Contemporary Writers on Their Student Years; and Watermark: Vietnamese American Poetry and Prose.


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