The Berkshire Writing Workshop 2013
The Berkshire Writing Workshop 2013 — All workshops are July 14 – July 19
The Personal Essay with Alison Lobron
Finding the Story with Joan Wickersham
Fact into Fiction with Brendan Mathews
All three of this summer’s workshops are open to writers of all experience levels. Since the BWW’s focus is on the creation of new work, manuscripts submissions are not required. If you have questions about individual workshops or would like guidance in making a selection, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Personal Essay
“The hallmark of the personal essay is its intimacy,” writes essayist and editor Philip Lopate. Yet how do we create a voice that readers trust and want to listen to? How do we know when we have the makings of a strong personal essay in our hands (as opposed to, say, a rant or a diary entry or an extended Facebook post?) In this workshop, we’ll read and discuss some published personal essays, try out specific techniques and forms through in-class prompts and outside assignments, and work toward a goal of completing and revising at least one polished essay by week’s end. Please bring to the first class a copy of an essay you admire (an excerpt is fine, if the piece is more than a few pages long.)
About the instructor: Alison Lobron is a journalist and the founder/director of the Berkshire Writing Workshop at Bard College at Simon's Rock. A recent transplant to the Berkshires, she is a regular contributor for the Boston Globe Magazine, where she writes often about education, urban life, and relationships. She has also been an editor and writer at CommonWealth magazine, where she won several awards for her political writing. Alison's teaching experience includes work with high school students at Concord Academy, graduate students at Harvard University, and adult learners at the independent Grub Street writing school in Boston.
Finding the Story
What is the story and how do I tell it? Any writer – no matter how seasoned – has to grapple with these questions, day after day, project after project. This workshop for fiction and memoir writers will focus on the challenge of finding the story and telling it in the most frank, compelling way possible. We will look at different techniques used by writers, as well as working from prompts suggested by our own lives and experiences, all with the goal of unlocking the stories that most urgently need to be told. By the end of the week we each will have found rich new resources to draw upon for future work.
About the instructor: Joan Wickersham’s most recent book, The News from Spain: Seven Variations on a Love Story (Knopf) was named one of 2012’s best fiction picks by Kirkus Reviews and The San Francisco Chronicle. Her memoir The Suicide Index: Putting My Father’s Death in Order (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) was a 2008 National Book Award Finalist. She is also the author of a novel, The Paper Anniversary, and her fiction has appeared in The Best American Short Stories, The Best American Nonrequired Reading, and many other publications.
Joan writes a regular op-ed column for the Boston Globe and her pieces often appear in The International Herald Tribune. Her work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on National Public Radio. She has taught at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and at Emerson College.
Fact into Fiction
Fiction writers often draw upon memories, personal experiences, and family history as a source of inspiration. But how do you transform the way things actually happened into engaging and emotionally rich stories? In this workshop we’ll discuss techniques used by fiction writers to blend experience with imagination. During each session, we’ll write in response to prompts that allow you to experiment with character, voice, point of view, and structure. We will also discuss short stories by old masters and exciting new voices, and talk about reading in pursuit of inspiration and instruction – skills that can keep you on track long after the workshop is over. This workshop is designed as a kickstart for writers who need to shake off the rust, as well as for those deeply immersed in their writing but in need of a refreshing change of pace.
About the instructor: An accomplished writer and educator, Brendan Mathews has taught fiction writing at Bard College at Simon’s Rock since 2007. His work has appeared in Best American Short Stories 2010 and in Virginia Quarterly Review, Epoch, TriQuarterly, Southern Review, and other US journals, and in the UK in PORT Magazine and the Manchester Review. He is the recipient of a fellowship from the University of Virginia, where he earned his MFA, and a scholarship from the Sewanee Writers Conference. In 2012, he was awarded an Artist Fellowship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Prior to Simon’s Rock, Brendan taught at the University of Virginia.