Craft Class Taken with a Workshop - Spring 2023

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 2023

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 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 (Pitt Poetry Series) Taught by Lisa Bellamy

Amazon: Hello I Must Be Going

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.