Tons of Alaska writers will attend the annual AWP conference in Portland from March 27-31, and a good number of them will be reading on Thursday at Broadway Books. Details here, courtesy of poetry mentor Erin Coughlin Hollowell:
Also, in case you haven't emerged from your hibernation den to hear about this, don't forget to attend the CWLA reception at 7 p.m. on Saturday night at Kimpton Riverplace Hotel. Email the director for more details.
Throughout his MFA studies, nonfiction writer Matt Komatsu worked on an essay about the death of his grandmother in the 2011 Japanese tsunami. With support from the Pulitzer Center, he finished the story about his return to Japan shortly after the disaster. His piece, "After the Tsunami," was published this month by Longreads, which publishes personal essays, investigative journalism, and other longform work from the literary nonfiction world.
Matt also recently interviewed novelist Tim O'Brien for the New York Times magazine on O'Brien's decision to write for the acclaimed television series "This is Us." O'Brien tells Matt, "Most films focus on the suffering of the individual soldier, not how it affects others. When I go silent at the dinner table with my own kids, they know what’s going on inside me. Their dad has been writing about Vietnam for 50 years."
We'll let you know when Matt publishes his first piece in The New Yorker.
Congratulations to nonfiction writer Jennifer Tarnacki, whose application essay was recently published by Zoomorphic. Jennifer's essay, "Looking into the Eyes of a Grizzly," describes how the experience of watching bears inhabit their world at Hallo Bay in Katmai National Park changed how she dreamed, thought about, and responded to the presence of bears in Alaska. "Their power, their vigor, seemed to emanate from them, larger than the confines of their form," she writes. "I felt a strangely fierce and dizzying love of this power. It felt important--a metaphor for wildness."
"Drafting Those Many Drafts"
The bad news is that finishing a novel takes many authors at least 10 drafts. The good news is that Jessica Stilling of The Writer explains what each of those drafts should focus on, from "Could This Be a Book" to "I Have to Cut How Much?" to "Could I Be Finished? Really?" (If the answer is "no," well, you know what to do.)
"The Myth of Plan First and Write Later"
Allegedly, there are two ways to write a novel: Plotting and Pantsing. Writer Louise Tondeur prefers the term "intuitive writing" rather than writing by the seat of your pants, but whatever the label, she believes that the notion of planning, writing, and publishing in that order is a myth. (Unless it works for you, in which case--carry on.) She offers a few other ways to think about the process in a guest post here.
"Perfectionism is the Voice of the Oppressor"
It's also the enemy of the people, says Anne Lamott. For words of wisdom on this topic, as well as any other writing-related inspiration you might need, check in with "Advice to Writers," collected by Jon Winokur. If you'd like your words of wisdom delivered to you personally, you can subscribe to a quote of the day.
Creative nonfiction students were so revved up at the summer residency that they vowed to gather sometime this winter--and they did. The First Annual Creative Nonfiction Winter Residency took place last weekend in Homer and was declared a great success by participants.
The residency included Pam Hays, Jessica Shepherd, Monica Stein-Olson, Ginger Hudson, Pam Simmons, and Jennifer Stone. Alumni Barb Williams joined the group for presentations by recent graduate Annie Van Dinther and mentors Nancy Lord and Erin Hollowell. Mentor Rich Chiappone prepared one of his first-class dinners for the group, who enjoyed the chance to talk with local writer Tom Kizzia. Rich gave his own presentation afterward. In a display of extraordinary dedication, the writers also sent each other manuscripts before the residency and workshopped them throughout the weekend.
The Nonfictionistas are already planning another winter residency for January 2020 in Talkeetna that will be open to creative nonfiction alumni. Sorry, poets and fiction writers--you'll have to organize your own residencies.
Writers in their 20s and 30s who are interested in connections between Jewishness and contemporary culture are invited to apply for a week of workshops, literary seminars, and conversations at the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Massachusetts, from June 2-7. Participants provide their own transportation but receive a scholarship that covers the cost of the workshop, room, and board.
Only 20 writers are accepted to the workshop. The application deadline is Feb. 4. Applicants can be current or graduated MFA students.
The workshops include fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Literary discussions center on classics of modern Jewish literature by such writers as Adrienne Rich and Sholem Aleichem. Past workshop faculty have included Eileen Pollack, Sam Lipsyte, Don Share, Lisa Olstein, and Rivka Galchen. Editors also have participated as visiting speakers.
See the Yiddish Book Center's website for more information and the application.
The short course will be offered in Anchorage on Feb. 8, 9, and 10 for writers of all experience levels. Members pay $185, and non-members $205. The sessions are scheduled in four three-hour blocks. In preparation, participants are asked to read Gornick's short book and a couple of essays they'll receive beforehand.
Frank is a professor emeritus at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, a former State Writer Laureate, and the author of several books, including two collections of short stories (one of which won the Flannery O'Connor Award for short fiction) and two essay collections, Bamboo Fly Rod Suite and Unpleasantries. He also also edited an anthology of northern writers and artists with Kes Woodward and collaborated with his wife, artist Margo Klass, on a book featuring his mini-essays and her box constructions.
See 49 Writers for more details. Registration is capped at 12, so jump online here to claim your spot.
The Mineral School, an artists' residency held in an old elementary school near Mt. Rainier, Washington, seeks writers and visual artists from Alaska and the Northwest for five residency periods open in 2019. Three of their two-week residencies are open to writers of all genres, but screenwriters only are invited to apply for a May residency, and parents of children under 18 can apply for a one-week session in September. The organization also offers several sponsored fellowships open to writers with specific backgrounds and interests. Other residency positions cost between $425 and $550 for the two-week sessions.
Mineral School residencies are a writer's dream come true: a private room outfitted as a writing studio, meals served to them daily, full access to a snack fridge and coffee station (!), and a lovely setting 25 minutes from Mt. Rainier National Park.
More information about application requirements, fellowship details, and residency dates are available here. Applications close midnight on Feb. 15.
Look for Matt Komatsu's moving essay "When We Played" to be included in the upcoming anthology Best of Brevity, drawn from 20 years of the nonfiction journal's relationship with Rose Metal Press. OK, fine, go ahead and read it now.
Fiction writer and playwright Katrina Byrd recently read three guides on how to plot and structure a story and summarizes each book's approach in a post for literary agent Jane Friedman's site. She also addresses the question "But Do Formulas Work for Literary Writers?" by suggesting that it's best to first recognize whether your work is more aligned with the literary or commercial culture of book writing and publishing. Before you leave the post, be sure to check out Friedman's extensive collection of writing resources.
This unofficial site is part of the Low-Residency MFA program at the University of Alaska Anchorage. It is not officially sanctioned by any officials at the official UAA campus.
David Stevenson, Director
Fiction & Nonfiction
Fiction & Nonfiction
Erin Coughlin Hollowell
Fiction & Nonfiction
Fiction & Nonfiction
Department of Creative Writing and Literary Arts
University of Alaska Anchorage
UAA Graduate School
Alaskan Writers Directory
Advice for Writers
Ten Words You Need
to Stop Misspelling
The American Scholar
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