Flash Classes: 2022–23

This year’s RWW flash classes will be offered starting in September. If interested in participating, please contact RWW Program Director Rick Barot.

  • Saturdays

  • 1–2:30 PM PST

  • Online (Zoom)

In this course, we’ll attempt to understand what is meant by the terms “Lyric Essay,” “Short-Short,” and “Prose Poem.” Often, people suggest that writing in these shorter prose forms is liberating, but what exactly does that mean? Does the lack of line breaks serve a purpose or is it arbitrary for some prose poems? Does the shortness put a strain on the possibility of a narrative? Can a subject be fully explored in such short bursts? What is gained or lost with the addition of line breaks? These are some of the aesthetic ideas we will grapple with during this class as we read practitioners of the form as well as write in the “form” ourselves.

In this 90-minute workshop, we’ll discuss various examples of research-based published work (shared and read before class) that raise questions about research ethics, confirmation bias, and due diligence. After a lecture and discussion, we'll complete several exercises developed to help you think about your own research processes and areas for additional research on a work-in-progress. Students are encouraged to bring a work or excerpt of creative nonfiction of at least five pages to class that has (at least some, or some possible) researched elements.

An imbalance of power between two or more characters immediately brings tension into a story, and drama often hinges on the movement of that power as it shifts from character to character. We’ll look at the way writers use shifts in power to drive dramatic scene, with a particular focus on dialogue, action, and character perception.

Over our in-person residency, we were powerfully reminded how finding a balance between the physical and virtual worlds is a difficult yet very important journey. So how do we take that next step? RWW Creative Director Garrett Brooks and Program Assistant Hannah Comerford will address healthy and effective ways of navigating social media, as well as the basics of website creation. This class is for those with any level of technical knowledge, covering topics such as branding, web design, creating online community, and establishing a professional web presence. Come ready to learn more about best web practices and reflect on ideas gathered over residency.

The poetry world is currently experiencing a formalist renaissance, with several major collections in received form, as well as a proliferation of invented poetic forms. In this class, we will be discussing invented forms by authors including Jericho Brown, Marwa Helal, George Abraham, and more. Students will also dive into the how and why of creating new poetic forms, before attempting to create their own.

Though it tends to be a bad idea to have multiple POVs in short fiction—in fact, some of us have probably been warned away from it—when it works, it’s phenomenal and leaves an impression. Having more than one POV in a story can create a sense of space, possibility, and safety (even at the darkest moments) that is usually only possible in film. If you are drawn to writing in ways that at their outset predict exceptionally low success rates, attempting a short story with multiple POVs may be for you! We’ll look at a couple of genius works of multiple POV and analyze and discuss how they work. *It is tricky to talk about Third-Person Multiple POV vs Omniscient POV; some of these pieces may technically be omniscient but seem more like Third-Person Multiple POV, and to distinguish TPM from “omniscient POV” we will go by Josip Novakovitch’s distinction for it, which is that Third-Person Multiple is a “series of third-person limited POVs minus authorial intrusions.”

Virtually every poem has, at the least, a bare-bones plot. Some poems have two or more narrative threads running through them. While most poems typically establish a predominant narrative arc, they also contain additional narratives to establish greater complexity and resonance. Braiding is therefore a multi-story technique, in which the stories are woven together, each usually giving way back and forth to the other. (Braiding does not simply present individual stories, one after another, in a single poem.) While reading different styles of braided poems by different poets, we’ll discuss: (1) how to transition back and forth between narrative threads, (2) how to establish distinctly different spatial and temporal realities for each, (3) how to use different narratives to create conflict and tension, and (4) how to use the multiple narratives to complicate and support the main theme of the poem.

This class will look at endings in short fiction and the multitudes they contain. Their paradoxical nature of inevitability and surprise. What makes them so difficult to nail down? Why do we often miss the mark completely or write beyond where a story should end? How might we work to craft satisfying endings? And what the hell is a satisfying ending anyway? We’ll have some in-class reading and writing prompts during our meeting.

In this class, we will study several models that show us how to cultivate and sharpen our observational skills to broaden the range of our writing. Advance Reading: Please pick up The Book of Delights by Ross Gay and World of Wonders by Aimee Nezhukumatathil. You don’t need to read these books in their entirety, but please choose at least one essay from each that you’d like to discuss in our class. How do these pieces show us how small observations can lead to larger themes? Come prepared to do some observational writing of your own.

Ezra Pound writes in the Imagist Manifesto, “A Retrospect,”: “An ‘Image’ is that which presents an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time.” The class is based on the idea of “Image” as transformative, not static; as palimpsest, not picture; as instantaneous and fleeting, yet indelible. But how do we make this kind of image in poetry? This class will investigate what transformative imagery is and what it can do in a poem. We will read and discuss several poems that work with this kind of imagery while also playing with transformative imagery in our own writing. We will engage with several writing exercises to inspire and (hopefully!) surprise us.

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