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.
October 11: Anthony Veasna So, Afterparties (Ecco) Taught by Cynthia Weiner.
October 18: Sean Singer, Today in the Taxi (Tupelo Press) Taught by Lisa Bellamy.
Amazon: Today in the Taxi
October 25: Pushcart Prize 2022, Stories and Poems. Poems: “Old Women Talking About Death” by Jennifer L. Knox, “Finland” by Ron Riekki, “Black Box” by Sandra Lim, “The Description I Carry in My Wallet In Case Eve Goes Missing and I Go Mute” by Box Hicok, and “Aftermath” by Holly Iglesias. Stories: “Leave No Trace” by Daniel Orozco and “Mark on the Cross” by Maria Black (Pushcart Press) Taught by Marie Kilroy.
Strand: Pushcart Prize 2022
Amazon: Pushcart Prize 2022
November 1: Robert Pinsky, Jersey Breaks: Becoming an American Poet (Norton) Taught by Robert Pinsky. Discussion led by Philip Schultz.
November 8: Edward Hirsch, 100 Poems to Break Your Heart, "Old School" by Michael Waters, "The People of the Other Village" by Thomas Lux, "(Dedications)" by Adrienne Rich, "Kindness" by Naomi Shihab Nye, "Degrees of Gray in Philipsburg" by Richard Hugo, and "Simile" by Rosanna Warren (Ecco) Taught by Peter Krass
Strand: 100 Poems to Break Your Heart
Amazon: 100 Poems to Break Your Heart
November 15: Diana Abu-Jaber, Fencing with the King, (Norton), Taught by Diana Abu-Jaber. Discussion led by Gail Ford.
Amazon: Fencing with the King
November 22: Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet (Norton) and The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, both translated by Stephen Mitchell(Vintage) Taught by Philip Schultz
November 29: Jhumpa Lahiri, Whereabouts (Knopf) Taught by Sylvie Bertrand
*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; Ottessa Moshfegh, Eileen; 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; Jen Begain, Pretend I’m Dead; Julie Otsuka, The Swimmers
Poetry: Kevin Young, Brown; Nick Laird, Feel Free; David Hernandez, Hello I Must be Going; John Murillo, Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry; Jericho Brown, The Tradition; Diane Seuss, Frank: Sonnets; Victoria Chang, Obit; Erika Meitner, Useful Junk; Kemi Alabi, Against Heaven
Craft Classes are being held remotely until further notice.