UNC Asheville's Great Smokies Writing Program (GSWP) has added new workshops with new faculty to its spring semester lineup of workshops for local writers of all levels. Joining Tommy Hays, Megan Shepherd, Heather Newton and other popular GSWP faculty, will be newcomers Meta Commerse of Story Medicine Asheville, and Dale Neal, formerly of Asheville Citizen-Times. Classes in fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry and more will be offered in community locations in Asheville, Hendersonville and Burnsville. Classes range from five to 15 weeks.
I’ll Have Another: Creating Poems for a Sequence or Series with Kenneth Chamlee – Extended work with a poem’s impulse might yield a memorable series (several thematically related poems), a revealing sequence (poems in progressive relation), or even a full study (book or chapbook). This class will brainstorm many possibilities, both fun and serious, and look at a variety of examples. Students will initiate a poetic series or sequence and commit to completing at least five poems. Chamlee is a professor of English at Brevard College. His poems have appeared in The Asheville Poetry Review, The Cumberland Poetry Review, The Greensboro Review, Ekphrasis and many others. Class meets for 10 weeks beginning Feb. 13, Mondays, 2-4:30 p.m., at Trinity Presbyterian Church, 900 Blythe St. Hendersonville.
Story Medicine for Racial Healing: A Creative Writing Workshop with Meta Commerse – In this class, participants will respond to two African-American voices: James Baldwin representing 20th century questions of race and Ta-Nehisi Coates describing the 21st century experience. Using personal essays crafted to break silence and find language on this topic, participants will create room to imagine and then write about justice as a new concept, justice as water for parched, weary psyches. Commerse, author of the novel The Mending Time, is founding director of Story Medicine Asheville, a program blending writing and healing. She has taught at Haywood Community College, Wright College (City Colleges of Chicago) and East-West University. Class meets for 5 weeks beginning March 15, Wednesdays, 6-8:30 p.m., at Grateful Steps, 333 Merrimon Avenue, Suite A, Asheville.
Writing as Healing: A Creative Prose Workshop with Abigail DeWitt – For those who have experienced a life-changing trauma or are simply dealing with the ordinary stresses of everyday life, certain kinds of writing can have a profoundly positive effect on the overall sense of well-being. This course will explore a wide variety of writing techniques designed to bring access to participants’ own capacity for healing. The techniques are beneficial for everyone – published authors, beginning writers, and non-writers alike. DeWitt is the author of two novels, Lili and Dogs, and is currently working on a collection of short stories. She is the recipient of a 2016 Artist Fellowship from the North Carolina Arts Council, as well as a Michener Fellowship. Class meets for 10 weeks beginning Feb. 16, Thursdays, 6-8:30 p.m., at the Mountain Heritage Center, 113 Green Mountain Dr., Burnsville.
DIY (Do It Yourself) Book Promotion and Professionalism with Christine Hale – Many writers have questions and anxieties about what they must or should do to give their books the best possible chance at finding a publisher and readers in today's rapidly evolving publishing environment. This class is structured as a crowd-source forum for sharing advice and caveats about seeking visibility in the literary marketplace. Students will work on promotion strategies for their writing, identifying connections and strengths they can leverage, as well as those they lack and wish to work on. Hale practiced DIY promotion in launching her book, A Piece of Sky, A Grain of Rice: A Memoir in Four Meditations (Apprentice House Press, 2016). Class meets for 5 weeks beginning March 14, Tuesdays, 6-8:30 p.m., at the Flatiron Writers Room, 252 Brevard Rd., Asheville.
Methodical Madness: Creative Prose Workshop with Heather Newton – This course is for writers of fiction and creative non-fiction who enjoy honing their craft in a workshop setting. Students will submit two pieces of work for group critique and do in-class writing in response to prompts. For the last class, students will submit one piece of work to a publication or contest. Newton’s novel, Under the Mercy Trees (Harper Collins, 2011) won the 2011 Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award, was chosen by the Women’s National Book Association as a Great Group Reads Selection, and was an “Okra Pick” by the Southern Independent Bookstore Alliance. She is a founding member of the Flatiron Writers, a collective dedicated to serving as a resource for the Western North Carolina writing community. Class meets for 10 weeks beginning Feb. 13, Mondays, 6-8:30 p.m., at the Flatiron Writers Room, 252 Brevard Rd., Asheville.
The Art of Prose Revision with Sebastian Matthews – Students in this course will bring current personal essays or memoir chapters to be workshopped and discussed. Students will focus on the “art of revision,” practicing a variety of techniques to re-approach and re-vision their work. To this end, the class will read the work of Joan Didion, Richard Rodriquez, Tim O’Brien, Ross Gay, Fabio Morabito, Annie Dillard, Mary Karr, Michael Ondaatje, Maggie Nelson and others. Matthews is the author of a memoir, In My Father's Footsteps, and two books of poems, We Generous and Miracle Day. His latest book, a hybrid of poetry and creative nonfiction, comes out from Red Hen Press in 2017. Class meets for 10 weeks beginning Feb. 14, Tuesdays, 6-8:30 p.m. at Asheville Bookworks, 428 Haywood Road, Asheville.
Writing Dark Fiction: A Fiction Workshop with Jamieson Ridenhour– “Dark” fiction will be approached not a genre but a mode, a way of approaching unpleasant emotions like fear, shame, brutality, and loneliness. This course intends to explore this darkness, with attention to character, as well as the role of setting, both physical and situational, the creation of atmosphere and the function of fear and anxiety in a variety of narrative forms. Writers are encouraged to bring longer works in progress for workshopping, though having a work in progress is not required. Ridenhour is the author of the werewolf murder mystery Barking Mad (Typecast, 2011) and two award-winning short horror films. His play Grave Lullaby was a finalist for the Kennedy Center’s David Mark Cohen National Playwriting award. Class meets for 10 weeks beginning Feb. 13, Mondays, 6-8:30 p.m. at RiverLink, 170 Lyman Street, Asheville.
The Younger Years: Beginning Writing for Children and Young Adults with Megan Shepherd – This workshop is designed for beginning writers or experienced writers of other genres who are interested in exploring writing for children and young adults, including picture books, short stories, and novel-length works. Sessions will include in-class creative writing exercises, discussions of readings from noteworthy “kidlit” fiction, and critiques of students’ work. Students will be expected to work both in and out of class on a 10-20 page story or novel excerpt. Shepherd’s novel, The Madman’s Daughter, won the 2013 North Carolina Young Adult Book Award. In addition to two more books in the Madman’s Daughter series, she launched a new series with the New York Times bestseller, The Cage, and last year published Secret Horses of Briar Hill. Class meets for 10 weeks beginning Feb. 15, Thursdays, 6-8:30 p.m. at Spellbound Children's Bookshop, 640 Merrimon Ave., Asheville.
The Art of the Small and Obscure in Writing Poetry: A Workshop with Katherine Soniat – This class will be conducted in a workshop setting and is open to writers of all levels as well as artists and photographers. Within this context, "small" is defined as poetry that uses gemlike imagery with many facets. "Small" may indicate the exactly crafted phrase that snaps your reader to attention. "Small" also can imply silence and use of formal white space. Such absence in itself is an elusive art. Soniat's seventh collection of poems, Bright Stranger, is recently out from Louisiana State University Press. Her works, The Goodbye Animals won the 2014 Turtle Island Chapbook Award and The Swing Girl was selected as Best Collection of 2011 by the North Carolina Poetry Commission. Class meets for 10 weeks beginning Feb. 14, Tuesdays, 4-6:30 p.m. at Hanger Hall, 64 W.T. Weaver Boulevard, Asheville.
The 50s – Not Your Typical Cold War Poetry: A Poetry Workshop with Eric Steineger – The 50s were a time of transition particularly in literature, as modernism gave way to postmodernism. The veneer of the clean-cut American was starting to crack and jazz merged with poetry, as did art, and Black Mountain College emerged as a breeding ground for the avant-garde. This course will focus on the New York School, the Beats, the San Francisco Renaissance, Black Mountain College, and other trailblazers in poetry. There will be in-class writing assignments. Steineger is the poetry editor of The Citron Review and his work has been featured in The Los Angeles Review, Tinderbox, Redheaded Stepchild, and Asheville Poetry Review. Class meets for 10 weeks beginning Feb. 16, Thursdays, 6-8:30 p.m. at Spellbound Children’s Bookshop in Merrimon Square, 640 Merrimon Avenue, Asheville.
Memoir as Legacy – Step One: A Creative Nonfiction Workshop with Molly Walling – How does one capture in words the essence of the stories that reside in memory and can be retold generation after generation? In-class exercises will help students become open to new interpretation, forgoing quick and comfortable analysis so as to move away from delusions about the past. Starting with sensate perceptions, students will source stories with relevant details, descriptions, context, timing and dialogue. Walling, author of Death in the Delta: Uncovering a Mississippi Family Secret, has recently submitted the sequel, For Simon, to her editor at the University Press of Mississippi. Class meets for 10 weeks beginning Feb. 15, Wednesdays, 6-8:30 p.m. at the Thomas Wolfe Memorial, 52 North Market Street, Asheville.
The Bare Necessities: An Introduction to the Craft of Creative Prose with Tommy Hays –The more the writer understands the possible approaches to the material, the more likely it is to find a way into the story. This class is for anyone interested in learning the essential elements of writing fiction and creative nonfiction. Each week will be devoted to a particular aspect of craft, explored through discussion and in-class writing exercises. Hays is executive director of the Great Smokies Writing Program and core faculty for the Master of Liberal Arts and Sciences program at UNC Asheville. His middle grade novel, What I Came to Tell You, was chosen as a 2013 Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA). His novel, The Pleasure Was Mine, was a finalist for the SIBA Fiction Award and has been chosen for numerous community reads. Class meets for 15 weeks beginning Jan. 31, Tuesdays, 6-8:30 p.m. at RiverLink, 170 Lyman Street, Asheville.
Writing Your Way Home with Dale Neal – For intermediate and advanced students who want feedback on a work in progress or a new project, this workshop will help students find their voice in fiction or creative nonfiction through risk and reward, draft and revision. The workshop will provide close reading and critique of the first 50 pages of participants’ projects, and ideas and questions from the instructor designed to help students find their best words. Dale Neal is the author of the novels The Half-Life of Home and Cow Across America, winner of the 2009 Novello Literary Prize. His short fiction and essays have appeared in dozens of literary journals. He also was a reporter and columnist for 33 years at the Asheville Citizen-Times. Class meets for 15 weeks beginning Feb. 1, Wednesdays, 6-8:30 p.m. at Asheville School, 360 Asheville School Road, Asheville.
Prose Master Class with Elizabeth Lutyens – The Prose Master Class is a next step for those who are looking for an intensive writing and critiquing experience. This small–group workshop is limited to experienced writers who are working on an ongoing project: a collection of essays or stories, a novel, a memoir. If the work is new, the writer should have at least sixty pages ready to submit for three critiques during the 15-week semester. Each class begins with a craft session requiring outside reading, sometimes led by a student wishing to share his/her examination of an aspect of craft, or with a writing exercise to practice craft elements and inspire new approaches to ongoing projects. Permission from the instructor or from Tommy Hays is required. Lutyens, a former journalist, is the editor in chief of The Great Smokies Review, the online literary magazine published by UNC Asheville’s Great Smokies Writing Program. Class meets for 15 weeks beginning Jan. 31, Tuesdays, 6-8:30 p.m. at Asheville School, 360 Asheville School Rd., Asheville.
The Great Smokies Writing Program is committed to providing the community with affordable university-level classes taught by professional writers. For in-state residents, five-week courses cost $152.50; 10-week courses cost $305; 15-week courses cost $457.50. The costs are higher for out-of-state residents. A $20 non-refundable application fee for new students also is required. For more information or to register, visit unca.edu/gswp or call 828.250.2353.