The Writers Studio’s Craft Class is an eight-week course that meets weekly during the school’s four sessions. All students begin taking it when they enter their third term of the Level 3/Advanced workshop, but it’s also open to students in Level 1 and 2, and even to those who aren’t enrolled in a workshop.
This class, an integral part of The Writers Studio approach to creative writing, teaches students how to read fiction and poetry as writers. By identifying and closely studying the techniques at play in published work — both contemporary and classic — students discover how literary writers have achieved their artistic goals. In the process, students greatly expand their own knowledge of the writer’s craft, which improves their own writing and sharpens their critical skills. We are never content talking in a general way about the power or prowess of a particular celebrated author. We do something much more useful: we pinpoint how that author’s paragraphs or stanzas were put together to achieve such power. We look at how the narrative or verse moves forward, who the narrator is, what is stated directly and what is left out and why, and how the narrator’s tone plays against the underlying emotion.
The Craft Class meets weekly via Google Meet and is taught by various Writers Studio teachers and the occasional author as guest teacher, with participation by advanced Writers Studio students. Each craft class ends with a suggested exercise based on the narrative technique studied that week. These exercises form the basis for the work students bring in to their respective workshops.
Over the years, the reading list for this class has included the short stories, novels and poems of a wide array of venerable and up-and-coming authors, including fiction writers Isaac Babel, Lucia Berlin, Bonnie Jo Campbell, John Cheever, Anton Chekhov, Juno Diaz, Julia Glass, Clarice Lispector, Thomas Mann, Gabriel García Márquez, Lorrie Moore, Toni Morrison, Akhil Sharma, Gary Shteyngart, Colson Whitehead and John Updike; poets Kim Addonizio, Yehuda Amichai, Elizabeth Bishop, Rita Dove, Jorie Graham, Pablo Neruda, Sylvia Plath, Adrienne Rich, James Tate, Walt Whitman, James Wright, and Adam Zagajewski.
If you cannot attend the Craft Class via Google Meet, a recording of the class is emailed to you the day after the class. In addition, you have the option of subscribing to the podcast where recordings are added each week of the term.
February 21: Leonard Michaels, The Collected Stories (FSG) Taught by Marc Frons
Strand: The Collected Stories
Amazon: The Collected Stories
February 28: Jill Bialosky, The Deceptions (Counterpoint) Taught by Jill Bialosky. Discussion led by Philip Schultz
Strand: The Deceptions
Amazon: The Deceptions
March 7: Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven (Knopf Doubleday) Taught by Reneé Bibby
Strand: Station Eleven
Amazon: Station Eleven
March 14: Peter Krass, My Sixties (Finishing Line Press) Taught by Peter Krass. Discussion led by Lisa Bellamy
Strand: My Sixties
Amazon: My Sixties
March 21: Pushcart Prize 2022 Poems, "Midnight is a Beautiful Curse" by Dorianne Laux, "Image" by Louise Glück, "Sleepers" by Arthur Sze, "Mother Won't Buy Polypropylene" by Patricia Cleary Miller, and "Ruthless" by Emily Lee Luan (Pushcart) Taught by Marie Kilroy
Strand: Pushcart Prize 2022
Amazon: Pushcart Prize 2022
March 28: Annie Ernaux, The Years, (Seven Stories Press), Taught by Sylvie Bertrand and Isabelle Deconinck
Strand: The Years
Amazon: The Years
April 4: David Hernandez Hello I Must Be Going: Poems (Norton) Taught by Lisa Bellamy
Amazon: Hello I Must Be Going: Poems
April 11: Amy Bloom, In Love (Random House) Taught by Lesley Dormen
Strand: In Love
Amazon: In Love
*The Writers Studio receives a small referral fee when you purchase through Bookshop or click through Amazon-linked titles. This does not affect the price you pay for the books.
Suggested Reading List
Fiction: Javier Marias, The Infatuations; Paul Beatty, The Sellout; John Jeremiah Sullivan, Pulphead; Tommy Orange, There, There; Jenny Erpenbeck, Go Went Gone; Mohsin Hamid, Exit West; Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Friday Black; Bernadine Evaristo, Girl, Woman, Other: A Novel; Xuan Juliana Wang, Home Remedies; Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous; Albert Camus, The Fall; Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, The Discomfort of Evening; Julie Otsuka, The Swimmers; Richard Powers, The Overstory; NoViolet Bulawayo, Glory; Janet Malcolm, Still Pictures (a memoir); Antoine Wilson, Mouth to Mouth
Poetry: Kevin Young, Brown; Nick Laird, Feel Free; Jericho Brown, The Tradition; Diane Seuss, Frank: Sonnets; Victoria Chang, Obit; Anne Sexton, Selected Poems of Anne Sexton; Solmaz Sharif, Customs,; Nicky Beer, Real Phonies and Genuine Fakes
Craft Classes are being held remotely until further notice.