The 2013 Writers’ Workshop Program may be our strongest and most diverse offering in years. There are eight workshops in all, including courses devoted to biography, poetry, short and long fiction, memoir, narrative nonfiction, and even comedy.
Two workshops are particularly aligned with the theme of the 2013 seminar, “Writers on Writers.” Robert D. Richardson’s Biography Master Class will offer advanced practitioners the opportunity to study with one of the most acclaimed biographers of our time, whose works on Thoreau, Emerson, and William James are placed by John Banville among “the glories of contemporary literature.” Also leading a workshop is Brenda Wineapple, former director of the Leon Levy Center for Biography and the author of White Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson. Wineapple’s Nonfiction Craft will focus on the depiction of character in nonfiction and is open to all levels.
Poetry workshops will be led by acclaimed poets (and veteran KWLS faculty) Jane Hirshfield and Billy Collins. About her workshop, A Permeable Attention, Hirshfield says “we will bring an open, intimate, and tenacious looking to words, worlds, and the craft-informed relationship between them where poetry begins.” Collins’s workshop, Imaginative Travel, will promote writing that can transport the reader from one place to another. “Did I mention that this will be pleasurable and even fun?,” the former U.S. Poet Laureate asks. “It will.” Both workshops are intended for practicing poets and require a submission.
Fiction workshops are offered with Paulette Bates Alden, another veteran KWLS faculty member, and by Jay Parini, a novelist, poet, biographer, and longtime faculty member at Middlebury College. Alden’s workshop, A Matter of Craft, will focus on the short story and especially on technical aspects of the form: point of view, characterization, scene and summary, back story, language, and structure. It is open to all levels. Parini’s Advanced Fiction Workshop will explore the aesthetics of fiction and emphasize the processes of revision that help make a good story better. Mary Morris’s workshop will be useful to writers of either memoir or fiction. The Personal Voice will look at story, plot, and characters, but the primary focus will be on honing a distinctive, recognizable, and natural voice.
Joining our faculty for the first time is Daniel Menaker, former Executive Editor-in-Chief at Random House and a longtime editor and writer at the New Yorker. The Art of Comic Writing is our inaugural humor workshop and has one unusual requirement: at the beginning of the first session, each workshop member must tell a joke. “No, I don’t care if you ‘can’t tell jokes,’” says Menaker. “You have to tell one.”