Workshops Explore Poetry, Fiction, Memoir

Faculty for the 2014 Writers’ Workshop Program, clockwise from top left: Paulette Alden, Madeleine Blais, Billy Collins, James W. Hall, E.J. Miller Laino, Bich Minh Nguyen, Porter Shreve, Susan Richards Shreve. Not shown: Dara Wier.

The 2014 Writers’ Workshop Program will feature nine unique offerings covering poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and memoir, with courses tailored for writers of all levels. All workshops take place January 12-16, 2014, at various locations in Key West. Workshops are scheduled in the days between the first and second sessions of “The Dark Side”—the 32nd annual Literary Seminar—so that it is possible to attend both a workshop and the Seminar.

Former United States Poet Laureate Billy Collins once again leads the KWLS poetry faculty with a workshop titled “Imaginative Travel.” Admission into the Collins workshop will be based on a required submission of three poems, while E.J. Miller Laino’s workshop is open to poets of all levels with no entrance requirements. Writers interested in Dara Wier’s “Counterintuitive Poetry Workshop” are urged to bring “courage, energetic recklessness, and exquisitely necessary sincerity” to a workshop that will explore and explode preconceived notions of how poetry “should” be written.

Fiction workshops include the “Advanced Fiction Workshop” led by Susan Richards Shreve, the author of fourteen novels and Co-Chairman of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation; and an all-levels workshop with Porter Shreve which will focus on character-building in short stories and novels. James W. Hall’s “Writing a Killer Opening” will focus on particular strategies for beginning a story—whether a crime novel, a thriller, or a literary work of fiction.

Madeleine Blais, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of the acclaimed memoir Uphill Walkers, will lead a workshop focused on memoir-writing titled “Personal Narrative in an Impersonal World.” “At the heart of memoir is a conundrum,” Blaise remarks. “While writing about the most subjective of experiences, your own life, you have to find the most objective of frameworks.” Paulette Alden’s “Writers’ Boost: Taking Your Writing to the Next Level” is a hybrid workshop suitable for writers working on either memoir or fiction. Bich Minh Nguyen’s “Exploring Creative Nonfiction” is similarly innovative, promising a careful exploration of what Nguyen calls “an ‘equal opportunity’ genre suited to poets and fiction writers alike.”

Each workshop takes place over the course of four days, with classes in the morning and optional activities, such as open readings and social gatherings, in the evening. An orientation dinner will be provided on January 12. Admission fee for each workshop is $450; scholarships are available to teachers, librarians, students, and writers who can demonstrate financial need. Advance registration is required.

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