Craft Class Taken with a Workshop - Spring-2022

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.

Craft Class Reading List - Spring 2022

Tuesdays 6:30 – 8:00pm EST

Our dedicated Bookshop store, already populated with the current Craft Class reading list, is here.* You can also purchase Craft Class books from the Strand Bookstore in NYC, where we hold many of our readings and events, or Bookshop or Amazon. Links for the Strand and Amazon are included in the list.

February 15: Sandra Lim, The Curious Thing (Norton) Taught by Sandra Lim. Discussion led by Lucinda Holt.

Strand: The Curious Thing

Amazon: The Curious Thing

February 22: Pushcart Prize 2022, Stories and Poems. Stories include "The Loss of Heaven" by Daniel W. Moniz and "Biology" by Kevin Wilson. Poems include "False Teeth" by Tom Sleigh, "Contender" by Traci Brimhall, "Father's Belt" by Kurt Luchs, "A Small Needful Fact" by Ross Gay and "Sleepers" by Arthur Sze. (Pushcart) Taught by Peter Krass.

Strand: Pushcart Prize XLVI: Best of the Small Presses, 2022 Edition

Amazon: Pushcart Prize XLVI: Best of the Small Presses, 2022 Edition

March 1: Ellen Bass, Indigo (Copper Canyon Press) Taught by Ellen Bass. Discussion led by Gail Ford.

Strand: Indigo

Amazon: Indigo

March 8: Deesha Philyaw, The Secret Lives of Church Ladies (West Virginia University Press) Taught by Reneé Bibby

Strand: The Secret Lives of Church Ladies

Amazon: The Secret Lives of Church Ladies

March 15: Nick Flynn, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City (Norton) Taught by Sylvie Bertrand

Strand: Another Bullshit Night in Suck City

Amazon: Another Bullshit Night in Suck City

March 22: Michele Herman, Save the Village, (Regal House Publishing), Taught by Michele Herman. Discussion led by Lucinda Holt.

Amazon: Save the Village

March 29: Edward Hirsch, 100 Poems to Break Your Heart. Poems include "Halley's Comet" by Stanley Kunitz, "Song" by Brigit Pegeen Kelly, "Obit [The Blue Dress]" by Victoria Chang, "The rites for Cousin Vit" by Gwendolyn Brooks, "The War Works Hard" by Dunya Mikhail, "Essay" by Hayden Carruth, and "I am" by John Clare. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) Taught by Lisa Bellamy

Strand: 100 Poems to Break Your Heart

Amazon: 100 Poems to Break Your Heart

April 5: Joan Didion, The Last Thing He Wanted (Vintage) Taught by Lesley Dormen

Strand: The Last Thing He Wanted

Amazon: The Last Thing He Wanted

*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.