Flash Classes: 2021–22

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 newly updated class, we’ll look at some of the fresh ways writers have found to further their careers in the last year and a half, from teaching online workshops to making guest appearances on podcasts. RWW Creative Director Garrett Brooks and OE Coordinator Hannah Comerford will discuss the basics of establishing your web presence as well as ways you can increase your audience and develop your career using your website, social media, and more. Whether you are tech savvy or not so savvy, come prepared to explore how you can grow as a professional writer.

The essayist who creates a book from independent pieces encounters challenges that the writer of a single-arc narrative does not. Though each essay can stand alone, each should also relate to the other essays in significant ways to form a whole greater than the sum of its parts. In other words, the writer (and, later, the reader) needs to see the forest, not just the separate trees. In this workshop, we’ll explore basic shaping principles and combine our discussion with brief in-class writing prompts and take-away exercises.  You are encouraged, though not required, to bring to the workshop: 1) A list of your essays or drafts (in-process or completed) that you imagine could be part of a book of essays or a memoir-in-essays.  And/or: 2) Notes on essay collections or memoirs-in-essays that you admire, paying close attention to how the books are structured to create an effective whole.

Swan-dive into the strange through techniques and games used by surrealist writers and artists. The poems we will write will have less to do with “making sense” and more to do with the mystery and mindfulness of our subconscious and dreams. Here we will allow our imaginations to run wild. We will look at past and current surrealist poems to discover new unexpected ways to create original work and to explore new and imagined worlds all while celebrating the fantastic, the otherworldly, and the strange.

The transition from one stage of life to another—from childhood to adolescence, from adolescence to young adulthood, from young adulthood into what Jane Smiley calls “the age of grief”—is a universal experience with endless variation. In this class we’ll look at some different approaches to the coming-of-age narrative, thinking in particular about structure and narrative distance.

Many poets put together a chapbook before they publish their first book. We will discuss the following questions: What is a chapbook? How does a chapbook differ from a full-length collection? What are the ways a poet may consider structuring a chapbook?

So you’re working toward (or have earned) your MFA and you feel called to teach.  What next?  It can be difficult to know how or where to begin an academic career.  This session, led by tenured community college professor and English department coordinator Rhiannon Hillman (Highline College) and tenure-track college professor and literary magazine coordinator Matt Young (Centralia College), will look at the practical steps of getting a foot in the door in higher education.  We’ll discuss: gaining work experience, job searching, application packets, and what hiring committees are searching for.  We’ll also provide examples of application materials, links to pedagogical resources, and discuss potential future flash classes.

In this flash workshop, we’ll isolate common elements and techniques of the personal essay with the goal of annotating a draft for thematic clarity, cohesion, and possible expansion. You’ll complete several passes of your essay to identify the architecture of your writing, with a particular focus on memory, time, research, structure, and arc. At the end of class, you’ll leave with a road map for potential revision. Participants will need to come to the workshop with a print or digital copy of a personal essay draft or draft in progress (preferably at least 5 pages).

While the lyric poem can distill a moment and the long poem can be a container for abundance and sprawl, the sectioned poem and serial poetry can both unite and differentiate, trace the evolution of thought or experience, provide a method for leaving and returning to subject matter, and emphasize ongoing-ness over closure. In this class, we’ll look at sectioned poems and serial poetry to consider what such poems can do that the brief, self-contained lyric and the long, uninterrupted poem cannot. We’ll consider work by Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Aracelis Girmay, and Donika Kelly to ask and answer questions like: What kinds of subject matter require the sectioned poem or suites of poems? When is the sectioned poem the best container for subject matter, and when might a series of related poems be more suitable? What is the role of time, silence, and open space in these forms? What formal strategies for continuity, disruption, and evolution of engagement with subject matter are available to us? The class will conclude with generative exercises designed to draw forth subject matter and strategies for your own sectioned and/or serial poems.

In 2018, The Atlantic declared: “The Hottest Trend in American Literature Isn’t from the U.S.” That same year, the National Book Award for Best Translated Literature was reinstated, after having been discontinued in the late 1980s. Most literary translators are also writers. Perhaps you, dear writer, will become a translator, as well? In this workshop, we will explore our relationship(s) to language loss, from the global to the personal levels. Linguists predict that more than half of the approximately seven thousand languages currently spoken in the world will fall silent by the end of the twenty-first century. What does this massive, global extinction mean for us as writers, readers, and lovers of language? Even as we face this planetary extinction, many of us have also lost the languages of our grandparents or other ancestors, as our families have migrated across national borders and between continents and/or experienced colonization. In this workshop, we will complete some literary translation experiments—proficiency in a language other than English is optional! We’ll also talk about how to get started as a literary translator, for the multilingual among us.

This class will look closely at ways writers use summary – aka “telling” – to control the readers’ intimacy with the characters and story’s environment, speed up the momentum in their experience, and adjust the order and degree by which their senses are activated, all while remaining, for the most part, invisible. We will have in-class reading and writing prompts.

A hybrid of science-fiction and fabulism that has its roots in both European and Chinese folklore, Salt Fish Girl imagines a near-future Pacific Northwest where corporations have absolute power and where social classes are marked by genetic engineering and video games that oppress the middle class. The novel weaves between a shapeshifter, Nu Wa, in 19th century China, and Miranda, in the walled city of Serendipity in 2044, with the two timelines slowly converging through the strange smell of durian fruit and a dreaming disease that offers Miranda tokens of a strange, long-ago life. Exploring themes of social class and gender identity, Salt Fish Girl is a rich platform for discussing genre play, weaving narratives, and world building.  Students must acquire and read the book prior to the flash class.

Harjo’s work aspires to healing and reconciliation—to help us all, and our fraught and diverse histories, understand each other. How can poetry do this kind of work? Her 2019 collection, An American Sunrise, brings to light the too-long suppressed history of Mvskoke and Southeastern peoples while also experimenting with the limits and possibilities of poetry to illuminate our shared humanity. This is a book that operates as a hybrid poetic text and can open the doors to discussions of genre and craft. It also serves as an example, thus may provide us insight, into the potential of poetry to revise and heal our national and cultural narratives.  Students must acquire and read the book prior to the flash class.

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