2019 Gathering of Writers Schedule and Class Descriptions


9:00 - 9:25 a.m.

Check-in /Coffee & bagels available

9:30 - 10:30 a.m.

Welcome and Introduction- Barbara Shoup

Ross Gay Keynote
"The Practice of Looking"

10:45 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Break Out Session 1

Memoir and the Meaning of the Spaces We Inhabit
Chris Forhan

Our lives take place in physical spaces, whether indoors or out: bedrooms and backyards; schoolrooms and highways; attics and apple orchards. We exist in those spaces, but they also exist in us, and as we carry them with us through the years they give shape and meaning to our memories. In this workshop, we will look at how memoir writers depict physical spaces to illuminate their understanding of their experience, and we will engage in writing exercises designed to reveal the symbolic significance of the places we can’t shake from our memories.

Location: Young Readers Center


"Art Reflects Life"
Allyson Horton

Our imagination is informed by our culture, our history, and the issues of our society. Poetry of resistance reflects on and questions the headline issues, while creating the space where we fit. We don’t hide behind others’ stories, but illuminate them through our personal lens, creating work that is informed by our lived experience. The anxieties of our current days are confronted through our poet’s toolbox: woven through with music, celebration, and careful contemplation of the self in the historical and cultural moment. In this workshop we will read examples, and write poetry grounded in cultural memory, and poetry which reflects our life, and all of life’s possibilities.

Location: Indiana Authors Room


Start it finish it!
Larry D. Sweazy*

You've got that story in your soul; now it's time to get it onto paper. An invitation to overcome procrastination, writer’s block and all the shiny things that keep you from starting and finishing your novel.

Location: History Reference Room

*Unfortunately Saundra Mitchell is unable to present at the Gathering of Writers as originally scheduled.  Larry D.Sweazy will be teaching in her place.


12:00 – 12:45 p.m.

Lunch & Open Mic Sign-Up
Great Hall


12:45 – 3:45 p.m.

Sold Out Master Class (pre-registration was required)

Master Class: Making a Way Together
Ross Gay

In this three-hour generative poetry workshop, we will stoke our imaginations by (often collaboratively) writing and making a way together, exploring new approaches of looking at our connection to each other and the world.

Location: 401—4th Floor Board Room

12:45 – 2:00 p.m.

 Break Out Session 2

Finding Your Inner Conflict
Silas Hansen

Conflict is at the center of great narrative. In memoirs and personal essays, this often takes the form of tension between different facets of the writer’s personality, background, and/or belief systems. This session will focus on identifying—and interrogating—these tensions as a starting point for your essays. We will begin by studying short examples of writers addressing these kinds of conflicts, complete several exercises to get started, and then have a conversation about the writing process, the work you generated, and next steps for turning those conflicts into essays.

Location: Young Readers Center


‘Raid the other world’: Writing Prose Poems
Callista Buchen

Marianne Moore suggests that the problems of definition, of “trying to differentiate poetry from prose,” are the “wart[s] on so much happiness.” In this workshop, we’ll happily blur boundaries and focus on writing prose poems. We’ll look at and try out different kinds of prose poems, exploring how the prose poem can “borrow” the strategies of nonpoems, what Michael Delville calls the prose poem’s “propensity to transcend traditional distinctions.” As we’ll see, all genres are full of contradictions, and recognizing and exploiting these contradictions will help us create exciting new work

We’ll write lots of our own pieces, using the prose poem form to challenge boundaries. We’ll think about both the boundaries of form and the perceived boundaries of content, since as Delville argues, “what is at stake here is the extent to which poetry, like any other discourse or cultural practice, can have claims to larger concerns in the world outside the text” (x).

Location: Indiana Authors Room


Small and Mighty
Kate Gehan

No matter what we call them--short shorts, flashes, microfiction, or something else--stories at 1000 words or less can hold our attention with their astonishing power. Character desire or plot in flash requires compressed description and resolution without wasting a word. We'll read examples of lyrical, breathless monologues, arresting moments in time, as well as experimental pieces, and we'll investigate what makes them successful. Writing prompts designed to tap into some fiery 500-word, risk-taking, writing will help generate 1-2 pieces of our own.

Location: History Reference Room


2:15 – 3:30 p.m.

Break Out Session 3


The Pitch, The Quote, The Lead, The Deadline:
How to Make the 4 toughest moments in a Writers Life Work
Tom Chiaralla

 Working in nonfiction is half business and half art.  This class will look at two business processes involving connecting with editors and getting them to trust you (making the pitch and providing a quote) and two matters of crafting a better story (nailing the lead, hitting the deadline) for your editor and your reader.  The session will involve exercises, read backs and Q and A on his to build your contact list.

Location: Young Readers Center

Seeing the Big Picture: A Holistic Approach to Playwriting
Angela Jackson-Brown

As the playwright Sarah Ruhl puts it “when you’re writing a play, you’re creating a template for people to do things together.” In that spirit, this class will focus on how to write material that gives actors, directors, and designers the tools they need to bring your words to life. We will pay special attention to the importance of scene, utilizing everything in the scene from the dialogue to the mannerisms of the actors to the way in which the set is designed. Although it is always good to give the director room to bring his/her/their vision to your work, you also want to be able to conceptualize your work in its entirety, which includes all parts of the play. The goal is for you to leave the class with the beginning of a vision for an old work or a brand new creation.

Location: Indiana Authors Room

The Agriculture of Character
Chris White

We all know that writing only happens when we write. Still, we understandably hope to get to a final draft as quickly and efficiently as possible. But though we may fight against the notion, the more we write—even about aspects of our story worlds we can’t imagine will make the cut—the more choices we have in revision, and the more layered our end result. To build compelling characters, we must write more about them than our readers will ever read, secure in the knowledge that it is only through gathering the chaff that the wheat can be harvested. In this fiction writing workshop, Chris White will guide participants in utilizing their intuition and individual storehouses of knowledge, observation, and experience to respond to various prompts, amassing material that, when blended, edited and polished, can start to shape (or expand) a character of interest and complexity.

Location: History Reference Room

3:45 – 4:30 p.m.

Open Mic – up to two pages of poetry or one page of prose; three minutes or less.








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