Summer Community of Writers | Bios | Chatham University, Pittsburgh, PA

Chatham University

MFA in Creative Writing Program presents
Summer Community of Writers

Craft Lectures

Ira Sukrungruang:

"The Telling Part of Writing"

We spend a lot of time talking about scene, the showing part of writing. But good creative writing is about showing and telling. In this lecture we will explore the various ways writers think and analyze, how to be intelligent but humble, how the telling part of creative writing heightens the state of tension and drama of storytelling.

BK Loren:

"Time and Emotion in Prose and Poetry"

Brain science shows us that the human brain has not adapted to be able to read. Any human who reads has changed the natural brain, and writers who wish to reach readers will do so more powerfully once they glimpse how the brain works in reading and writing. This craft lecture is the intersection of art and science, and—because we all have brains—it is applicable to writing fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. Take a peek inside the human mind and see how the written word is literally making us evolve into more compassionate beings.

Julia Spicher Kasdorf:

"Chants, Charms, Songs of Love and Lamentation"

In the American musical "West Side Story," the lyric impulse erupts in that moment when gang members meet in a tense encounter on the street, and instead of fighting, break into an elaborately choreographed dance and song. In that moment, the narrative halts and something larger than everyday life and logic takes over. Although the lyric is traditionally associated with poetry, this presentation will trace its presence and use in all literary genres, focusing especially on its political function now. How does an impulse associated with emotional excess and personal experience enable writers to transcend the limits of their own lives? How do authors transform their own powerful feelings into texts that touch others? And finally, how can we cultivate and use lyrical strategies to enlarge our own writing practice?

Dave Housley:

"Description, Distraction, Disruption, Destruction"

Are you stuck writing the same stories/poems/essays again and again? Having trouble breaking out of your shell? Trouble getting your work noticed by editors/agents/publishers? Let's get weird! This workshop will look at the role weirdness can play as a structural element in your work and, maybe more importantly, in your approach to writing. Weirded out? Don't worry! This workshop will focus on some truly weird stuff, but we know not everybody rolls that way, so this we'll look at aspects of the "weird" and how we can all push ourselves into whatever new spaces we can, in order to push our own work to be as unique and interesting places and publishable as possible

Sheila Squillante:

"Pro-tips: Things I Wish My MFA Program Had Taught Me about Being a Working Writer"

Do I really need a website? A head shot? How and when and why should I apply to a residency? Which are the brass-ring journals and contests for my genre? Assuming we still have an NEA, when will I be eligible to apply for an NEA grant? (hint: sooner than you might think!) This nuts and bolts session will attempt to cover a myriad of insider tips meant to demystify the professional writing world for new MFA graduates.

Sheila Squillante & Paul Bilger:

"Collaboration as Artistic Risk & Reward: A Talk & Gallery Show"

It's exhilarating to feel so inspired by someone else's art that you want to join forces for your next masterpiece. But how to begin? And who gets to lead? What happens if you disagree? And what happens to the product when it's complete? We will talk about collaborative theory and praxis and the pleasures and pitfalls of working together toward a new artistic vision.

Rachel Ekstrom, Nick Courage, Dave Housley & Sheila Squillante:

"I Wrote a Thesis! Now What? "

What should I do with my manuscript? What are some pathways to journal and book publication? What does and agent do? Do I need one? How do I get one? How do I market my book once it exists? This panel of publishing professionals will answer these questions and others in a session meant to give you practical, applicable information and tools to use to support your work in the world. Participants may send specific questions they would like addressed to the SCW director by June 1.