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.
December 13: Pushcart Prize 2022, Stories and Poems: "To Autumn" by Carl Phillips, "Monarch" by Carol Muske-Dukes, 'Because" by Grace Schulman," and "Muslim with Dog" by Thea Almontaser. Stories: "Housekeeping" by Karin Lin-Greenberg and "The Real Thing"by Olivia Clare (Pushcart Press) Taught by Peter Krass
Strand: Pushcart Prize 2022
Amazon: Pushcart Prize 2022
December 20: Kemi Alabi, Against Heaven (Graywolf Press) Taught by Lisa Bellamy
Strand: Against Heaven
Amazon: Against Heaven
January 3: Danielle Evans, The Office of Historical Corrections: A Novella and Stories (Riverhead Books) Taught by Lucinda Holt
January 10: Grace Schulman, Again, the Dawn: New and Selected Poems, 1976-2022 (Turtle Point Press) Taught by Grace Schulman. Discussion led by Philip Schultz
Strand: Again, the Dawn
Amazon: Again, the Dawn
January 17: Jen Beagin, Pretend I'm Dead (Scribner) Taught by Cynthia Weiner
Strand: Pretend I'm Dead
Amazon: Pretend I'm Dead
January 24: Rainer Maria Rilke, The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Stephen Mitchell, (VIntage), Taught by Philip Schultz
January 31: Melissa Febos, Abandon Me (Bloomsbury) and (Vintage) Taught by Sylvie Bertrand
Strand: Abandon Me
Amazon: Abandon Me
February 7: , Patricia Lockwood, No One Is Talking About This (Riverhead Books) Taught by Reneé Bibby
Strand: No One Is Talking About This
Amazon: No One Is Talking About This
*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; Antoine Wilson, Mouth to Mouth
Poetry: Kevin Young, Brown; Nick Laird, Feel Free; Jericho Brown, The Tradition; Diane Seuss, Frank: Sonnets; Victoria Chang, Obit; John Koethe, Beyond Belief; Anne Sexton, Selected Poems of Anne Sexton
Craft Classes are being held remotely until further notice.