Workshops

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The Saturday workshops are each two-hour sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Some are offered in both sessions, others just once. The workshops are positive and generative—our goal is to inspire you to write and share your stories, whether as poetry, fiction, or non-, and encourage participants of all skill levels. Because this is a small retreat, the breakout groups will be even smaller, allowing for a great deal of one-on-one interaction.

Morning Session (10 a.m.)

The Essay as a Revolutionary Tool – SOLD OUT!

Essay writing is a blood sport. It’s a place to reveal feelings and secrets you have no business revealing. It’s permission to write through shame and land in a soft place of radical empathy. It’s an act of service. It’s a way to write about people you despise with gobs of love—it’s the guts to uncover a personal or political revelation by standing in the dark hallway of despair and illuminating your truth with as much humor and sincerity as possible. And, most importantly, it amplifies the voices of marginalized groups, pulls back and says something beautiful about the world. Currently, the essay has legs and fists in our cultural, literary landscape. It wakes you up. It churns your heart. It’s a call to action. Answer the call and get ready to blaze with your truth with author and activist Antonia Crane. Bring a notebook and something to write with.
Note: This workshop has sold out.

Let’s Make a Scene – SOLD OUT!

Storytelling is tough. In this course with author and essayist Melissa Chadburn we will learn to negotiate our plots and scenes with our craft, making narratives as compelling as we can without compromising the art of storytelling. We will play with form and structure through establishing a clear narrative goal, creating a spine for our narratives, writing an emotional ramp that slowly ratchets up the stakes until we get to the height of the emotional impact of the piece. This workshop aims to explore and settle on the form by which the reader is forced up against her deepest fears/desires. Bring a notebook and something to write with.

Naming a Poem

After going through the (often arduous) process of writing and polishing a poem, the poet must then give it a name. Join poet, novelist and essayist Raquel Vasquez Gilliland as she leads a workshop on titling poems. Participants will study how titles can reinforce, transform or contradict poems. The workshop will cover various poem-titling methods with tips on how to make your poems’ titles as compelling as possible. Participants should bring an unpublished and polished poem in need of a name.

Nature, Art, and Soul Walking

FrankIn respect to nature, where does our life begin and where does it end? The tree we pass by gives us our very breath and we give it ours. We eat from nature and nature eventually eats us. Walk, write, sketch, and be inspired with homeopath and horticulturist Ron Frank on a holistic journey experiencing just a small breath of our relationships only available within our unique location of Wrightwood and you … Natural relationships to be explored: Beauty, Food, Healing, Natural Systems, Flora and Fauna, Earth, Water, Sky, Energy, Social Impacts, Creative Expression, and our very Existence.

Instagram Poetry

What are Instagram poets, and how did they find an audience via a social media app? Pavana Reddy, a poet who has found success by sharing her work on various sites such as Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter, discusses the growing popularity of poetry and its rising influence on the literary world. By exploring certain trends such as poetic responses to political issues, we will discuss the qualities that make up a popular poem, and if those are held to a different degree than poetry taught in a traditional classroom. What makes a poem on Instagram “good”? Is there a formula for the perfect “insta-poem?”, and why is there so much push back on authors who have found publishers through the online world? For the first half of this talk, Pavana will share her favorite poets and discuss what makes a poem really stand out, while comparing them to today’s best sellers. For the second half, she will be hosting a poetry workshop where audience members can write their own Instagram poems! Do you think you have what it takes to be an insta-poet? Let’s find out. Get ready for a lot of reading and writing!
Note: This workshop is also offered in the afternoon session.

Polishing for Publication – SOLD OUT!

GreenWriting your story is only half the battle—if you want to share your voice and vision with the rest of the world, you need to engage and entertain an audience of strangers. Poet and editor Timothy Green leads a workshop on honing craft in ways that will catch an editor’s (and so an audience’s) eye. Green has spent more than a decade as editor of one of the largest and most prestigious literary magazines in the country. He’ll insights into how editors and audiences respond to both poetry and prose, and valuable tips on pursuing publication. Participants should bring two pages of prose or two poems, with copies to pass around, and prepared to make them shine.

Writing and Dreaming – SOLD OUT!

Investigates the aesthetic intersection between poetry and dreaming with Kim Dower! Explore the rich territory of ideas, people, places, and emotions living in our dreams, and consider how to tap into that world to create art. Participants will examine how dreams can inform and affect our writing, inspiring surprising scenes, and providing us with a window into our subconscious. Participants will learn how to “steal” from their dreams to create fresh, delightful, imaginative work. The workshop will be a mixture of lecture, reading classical and contemporary poetry based on dreams, analyzing poetry and its use of dreams, hearing the dreams of students, practicing the writing tips and methods offered in class, and finally molding our dreams into poems. Although geared for poets and writers, this workshop will also be of value to non-writers by showing how we can capture and utilize details and knowledge from our subconscious to use as inspiration no matter what our discipline. We will practice “automatic” or “fevered” writing—writing without stopping or editing, in one continuous flow—to tap into a dream like state, and revive memories from recent experiences. Bring a notebook, something to write with, and a dream log. Dream log: Participants will be required to keep a dream log for one week prior to class. Write as many sensory, specific details as you can, including the people in their dreams, colors, shapes, feelings, smells, places, fears, excitements, etc. These can be snippets, unfinished sentences, fragments of memory, or they can be full stories and recollections. The more material in this dream log, the more resources we have to pull from in class. Students should record what emotions they felt during a particular dream as well as all specific details of their surroundings. Who are you while you’re dreaming? What people from your life were in your dream? Why were they there? These logs are required but do not need to be handed in.
 

Afternoon Session (2:00 p.m.)

A Conversation with Janet Fitch

Writer and professor Victoria Barras Tulacro sits down with bestselling author Janet Fitch, to discuss her life in writing. After a while, we’ll open up the floor and give the audience a chance to answer any questions they’d like. Feel free to pick Janet’s brain for any literary advice you’d like, and even bring some samples of your writing or story pitches if you’d like some feedback.

The Essay as a Revolutionary Tool (Sold Out)

Essay writing is a blood sport. It’s a place to reveal feelings and secrets you have no business revealing. It’s permission to write through shame and land in a soft place of radical empathy. It’s an act of service. It’s a way to write about people you despise with gobs of love—it’s the guts to uncover a personal or political revelation by standing in the dark hallway of despair and illuminating your truth with as much humor and sincerity as possible. And, most importantly, it amplifies the voices of marginalized groups, pulls back and says something beautiful about the world. Currently, the essay has legs and fists in our cultural, literary landscape. It wakes you up. It churns your heart. It’s a call to action. Answer the call and get ready to blaze with your truth with author and activist Antonia Crane. Bring a notebook and something to write with.
Note: This workshop has sold out.

Lyric Hiking (Sold Out!)

McCandlessGreenFormer Yosemite park ranger and Wrightwood resident Joan McCandless will lead a beginner-level hike through the trails of the 200-acre Camp Mariastella property. Learn about the the flora and fauna of the San Gabriel Mountains and breathe-in the pine-scented air. Timothy Green, poet and editor of Rattle magazine, will co-lead this hike and nature poetry workshop. During the walk in the woods, participants will use their senses and what they learn about the local environment to write a lyric poem using subconscious leaps through associative memory. Bring a set of sturdy shoes, a notebook, and something to write with.

Instagram Poetry

What are Instagram poets, and how did they find an audience via a social media app? Pavana Reddy, a poet who has found success by sharing her work on various sites such as Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter, discusses the growing popularity of poetry and its rising influence on the literary world. By exploring certain trends such as poetic responses to political issues, we will discuss the qualities that make up a popular poem, and if those are held to a different degree than poetry taught in a traditional classroom. What makes a poem on Instagram “good”? Is there a formula for the perfect “insta-poem?”, and why is there so much push back on authors who have found publishers through the online world? For the first half of this talk, Pavana will share her favorite poets and discuss what makes a poem really stand out, while comparing them to today’s best sellers. For the second half, she will be hosting a poetry workshop where audience members can write their own Instagram poems! Do you think you have what it takes to be an insta-poet? Let’s find out. Get ready for a lot of reading and writing!
Note: This workshop is also offered in the morning session.

Intro to Songwriting

Gayle Dowling has been writing and recording her original songs for over a decade. Many of her songs have been played on radio stations such as NPR’s KPFK and nationally syndicated KFROG. She taught literature and history for twenty years where she got many of her writing and song ideas. This workshop will help students develop ideas for songwriting. They will learn lyrical composition and song structure. Students will also learn how to bring music to their lyrics. The workshop will end with a demonstration by Gayle and Fred Stuart, a Senior Master Builder at Fender guitars, who will share some of the guitars that he built. Time will be allotted for a short Q and A session at the end.

It’s Not What You Say, It’s How You Say It! – SOLD OUT!

Every successful presentation, talk, poetry reading, prose reading, book signing, must be a combination of content and delivery. Often it’s our delivery, more than the work itself, that “sells” the audience. Let’s be honest: we’ve all been to book readings where we feel ourselves nodding off. We’ve all given presentations where we feel we’re losing our audience. The endless reading. The head that stays locked onto the page. The writer’s face that we never see. The reading that never ends. When a writer gets up in front of a group of people, the writer has a chance to make a connection with his and her audience. Learn tips, tricks, methods, of how to make a lasting connection. Learn from poet and publicist Kim Dower how a reading can be fun for both the writer and the audience. It’s like a good date—both parties have to enjoy themselves. Bring a poem or a page or prose and Kim will work with a few volunteers from the audience. Your presentations will never be the same again!

Poems as Origin Myths

Humans have long told stories about the origins of most everything, often to give meaning and place to our environment and lives. In this workshop, poet, novelist and essayist Raquel Vasquez Gilliland guides participants on the ways in which a poem can capture the creation myth. Participants will study contemporary poems that inhabit Western creation story styles, and then they will write their own. Bring writing materials and an idea you’d love to craft into an origin myth poem.

Publishing 101

What are the basics of getting published? What does a query letter look like? What’s the difference between a pitch an a query letter? Do I need an agent? Where do I send work to get published? Melissa Chadburn will answer all of those questions, and also address some barriers to finding time and space to honor our craft of writing. Bring all of your publishing questions, a notebook, and something to write with.