The Writing University Podcast

By The Writing University

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The Writing University podcast features recordings of illuminative craft talks from the renown writers, novelists, poets, and essayists who present at the Eleventh Hour Lecture Series during the University of Iowa's Iowa Summer Writing Festival.

Episode Date
Episode 118: The Music of Language, the Language of Music - Sands Hall
2218
Sep 16, 2019
Episode 117: Writing About Family in Nonfiction - Mieke Eerkens
1782
Sep 08, 2019
Episode 116: Transforming Life Into Writing - Eric Goodman
1860
Aug 23, 2019
Episode 115: The Art of Humor Writing - Lyz Lenz
00:33:29
Aug 14, 2019
Episode 114: Mixed Feelings - Lon Otto
3390
Aug 09, 2019
Episode 113: Memoir from the Middle of Things - Zach Savich
3075
Jul 31, 2019
Episode 112: Writing with Death Looking Over Your Shoulder - Lori Erickson
00:47:52
Jul 25, 2018
Episode 111: The Life-Altering Magic of Revision - How Revisiting, Reassessing, and Reframing a Story Just Might Change Your Life - Hope Edelman
00:45:46
Jul 23, 2018
Episode 110: Me, Myself, and I - The Transformative Power of Reflection in Nonfiction - Juliet Patterson
00:34:01
Jul 22, 2018
Episode 109: On the Feminine vs. the Masculine Narrative Voice - Mieke Eerkens
00:32:49
Jul 18, 2018
Episode 108: Making and Breaking Taboos - Charles Holdefer
00:40:20
Jul 16, 2018
Episode 107: Gratitude for Time - Poetry and Moments of Thanks - Zach Savich
00:45:01
Jul 15, 2018
Episode 106: Titles - Diana Goetsch
00:43:45
Jul 14, 2018
Episode 105: Writing Under the Influence - Gordon Mennenga
00:56:09
Jul 11, 2018
Episode 104: Writing Resistance - Suzanne Scanlon
00:37:29
Jul 09, 2018
Episode 103: The Story Lens - Sandra Scofield
00:36:10
Jul 09, 2018
Episode 102: Why Not Quit? Tips for Becoming a Durable Writer - Tim Bascom
00:33:24
Jun 27, 2018
Episode 101: The Small [And Pixelated] Made Large - From Grievance To Groundbreaking Change - Amy Butcher
00:22:04
Jun 20, 2018
Episode 100: Writer as Witness - Katie Ford
00:46:34
Jun 18, 2018
Episode 99: Between a Rock - Hugh Ferrer
00:28:55
Jul 19, 2017
Episode 98: The Everyday Writing Retreat - Mary Allen
00:32:00
Jul 19, 2017
Episode 97: The Crying Room - Reconsidering the Writing Workshop - Sabrina Orah Mark
4402
Jul 17, 2017
Episode 96: Echo, Letter, Tweet - Writing as Correspondence - Michael Morse
00:47:24
Jul 12, 2017
Episode 95: The Novel Continuum - Sandra Scofield
00:44:55
Jul 10, 2017
Episode 92: How to Write the Ten-Minute Play - Kelly Dwyer
00:45:01
Jun 28, 2017
Episode 91: Where Experience Starts - The Image - Juliet Patterson
00:27:09
Jun 26, 2017
Episode 90: Nerve - Some Kinds of Courage Necessary for Writing - Lon Otto
00:55:45
Jun 26, 2017
Episode 89: Same Content / Different Form - Jim Heynen
00:40:29
Jun 21, 2017
Episode 87: The Art of Play: Jeffery Renard Allen
00:59:45
Jun 19, 2017
Episode 86: From Conception to Delivery: The Birth of One Novel w/ Amy Hassinger
01:01:19
Jul 27, 2016
Episode 85: Writing for Strangers: A Question of Audience w/ Lon Otto
00:38:01
Jul 21, 2016
Episode 84: The Poet As Collector w/ Sabrina Orah Mark
01:01:46
Jun 20, 2016
Episode 82: Please, Just Don’t Call It Journaling: Writing for Self Versus Others w/ Sarah Saffian
00:35:04
Jun 08, 2016
Episode 81: The Power and the Place of Place w/ Eric Goodman
00:46:27
Jun 02, 2016
Episode 80: Against Ideas w/ Paula Morris
00:59:48
May 31, 2016
Episode 79: Actually Writing: The Outer, Inner & Secret Practice w/ Diana Goetsch
3853
May 23, 2016
Episode 78: Writing in the Digital Age w/ Ned Stuckey-French
00:56:48
May 19, 2016
Episode 77: Hybrid Writing w/ Elizabeth Robinson
00:31:19
May 09, 2016
Episode 76: Mysteries of Love and Grief: The Long Way from Impulse to Family Story w/ Sandra Scofield
2089
May 04, 2016
Episode 75: Ghosts, Battlefields and Hallucinations: Creative Writing from Research w/ Lauren Haldeman
00:40:06
May 02, 2016
Episode 74: Clarity and Depth: Writing between the Lines w/ Venise Berry
00:22:58
Apr 26, 2016
Episode 73: Tim Bascom—As I See It: What Essayists Can Learn from Visual Artists
01:00:00
Until the early 20th Century, almost all literary artists, including essayists, felt compelled to picture recognizable figures and images that seemed “factual.”
Jul 30, 2015
Bonus Episode: Beau O’Reilly — Finish the Thing
01:00:00
A single lecture compressed from a popular weekend workshop: you have your favorite story, poem, limerick, song, theater piece, and you keep getting close—so close—to completing it.
Jul 21, 2015
Episode 72: Hope Edelman and Naomi Jackson—Writing Family and Grief
01:00:00
In this Eleventh Hour, authors Hope Edelman and Naomi Jackson will engage in an informal conversation about the joys and challenges of writing about family relationships.
Jul 20, 2015
Episode 71: Amber Dermont—The Joke Is Always on Me: A Writer Walks into a Bar (Again) and Other Tales of Repetition, Juxtaposition, Self-Deprecation and the Understated Power of Stealing from Stand-Up Comedy and Deploying Humor to Reveal, Heighten and Distract or Is This Craft Talk Just One Long Practical Joke (Yes, But It’s on Me)
01:00:00
While some people don’t realize just how much of a joke they are to us, the vast majority of people who consider themselves to be funny are not funny.
Jul 16, 2015
Episode 70: Ned Stuckey-French—Moving Pictures, Moving Words: The Arrival of the Video Essay
01:00:00
We will review the elements of composing your own essay, including how to develop a script, edit, use animation, sound, incorporate found footage, and chose a strong title.
Jul 15, 2015
Episode 69: John Dalton—Ten Ways of Thinking about Character
01:00:00
All good fiction is built around a writer’s fascination with made-up people. And as practicing writers, we’re well aware that our characters should be more than “talking heads”; they should have depth and range and complexity. But how does this happen?
Jul 13, 2015
Episode 68: Mary Allen—Edit Like a Zen Master
01:00:00
Writing is neither good nor bad; it’s only finished or unfinished. It’s in the finishing that it becomes fully realized.
Jul 08, 2015
Episode 67: Margaret Patton Chapman—The Craft of Enchantment: What Fairy Tales Can Teach Us about Writing
01:00:00
Drawing from the ideas of Kate Bernheimer and Bruno Bettelheim, among others, we’ll investigate the history of fairy tales, their story structures, the ways in which they’re rooted in a knowable world, and the elements that give them a sense of urgency, surprise, and wonder.
Jul 07, 2015
Episode 66: Juliet Patterson—Alternative Fuel Sources: Powering the Non-narrative Essay
01:00:00
When story is not the main concern, what keeps us reading?
Jun 18, 2015
Episode 65: Michael Morse—Metaphor as Building Block: Idea to Image and Image to Idea
01:00:00
Michael Morse explores how ideas and images work off of and with each other.
Jun 16, 2015
Episode 64: “Please, Just Don’t Call it “Journaling”: Writing for Self Versus for Others”
01:00:00
There’s often a crucial distinction between our whole life experience and the narrower story, or stories, that we create from it.
Jun 15, 2015
Episode 63: Lon Otto—When Bad Bets Pay Off
01:00:00
It’s worth remembering, however, that sometimes things normally worth avoiding perversely succeed.
Jun 11, 2015
Episode 62: Susan Taylor Chehak — Self-Publishing and the Small Press
01:00:00
Susan Taylor Chehak will discusses the who, what, why, where, when and how of doing it yourself.
Jun 10, 2015
Episode 61: Elizabeth Robinson -- You Can Start a Press/Publication
00:16:49
One of the best ways to participate in, and help define, contemporary literature is to start your own press or literary publication. This may sound intimidating, but you might be surprised to find that such projects need not be prohibitively expensive or overwhelmingly difficult. This talk will discuss a variety of media (print and electronic) and a variety of projects (magazine, blog-zine, chapbook press, and full-length book publications) and how to make your project sustainable, enjoyable, and meaningful.
Jul 24, 2014
Episode 60: Juliet Patterson -- How Poets See the World: The Art of Description
00:55:42
“It sounds like a simple thing say what you see,” Mark Doty has written. “But try to find the words for the shades of a mottled sassafras leaf or the reflectivity of a bay on an August morning." In this hour, we’ll take refuge in the sensory experience found in some contemporary poets, as a way of thinking about a number of questions: How does description contain or convey meaning? What do we do when we describe something? Reproduce, account for, portray, trace, parcel out? How does one take the measure of the external world and what can it mean for our writing?
Jul 23, 2014
Episode 59: Kelly Dwyer -- Better Talky Talky: The Art and Craft of Strong Dialogue
00:50:39
Many book editors say that they read the first paragraph of a manuscript, and if they like it, they skip ahead to read some dialogue. If the dialogue is strong, they go back to page one and keep reading. If the dialogue is weak, the editor sets down the manuscript, and the chances for publication (with that particular house, anyway) end there. Knowing how to write good dialogue, then, is crucial to publication—and readership. In this hour, we’ll explore what makes strong dialogue. Bring your laptops or pencils and notebooks with you, as Kelly will put you to work in responding to an exercise. (Sharing optional.)
Jul 22, 2014
Episode 58: Sarah Saffian -- The Politics of Writing About Loved Ones
00:55:29
A novelist has it easy—his characters, sprung from his imagination, don’t talk back when they’re not happy with the way they’re depicted on the page. But what if your character is your ex-husband, your twin brother, your mother? Are familial loyalty and literary integrity necessarily at odds? How can we most effectively navigate this touchy terrain, to maintain our real-life relationships without compromising the stories we need to tell? In this lecture/ discussion, we’ll grapple with such prickly issues as: the possibility of multiple “truths”; altering identifying characteristics; inviting loved ones into your writing process (or not); the pros and cons of allowing relatives to read your manuscript, and how much to revise per their comments, if at all; determining if what could hurt others truly advances the story. Whether you’re in the midst of a memoir project or are just contemplating one and scared off by this very conflict, let’s explore forms of expression that we can stand behind both as authors and as brothers/ daughters/friends.
Jul 21, 2014
Episode 57: Joyelle McSweeney—Contemporary Gothic(s)
00:47:40
In an age of technophilic positivism typified by the TED-talk, the smartphone, and the MOOC, why do we still need a shadowy, cobwebby, grave-y form like the Gothic? What darker truths about contemporary life—economic, environmental, political, bodily—can the Gothic mode bring up to the surface? This talk will look at the way authors from around the globe—Korea, Mexico, Chile, Sweden, and the US—make use of Gothic forms and tropes to make literary conventions split apart like the House of Usher and bring other bodies, truths and vistas rushing into view.
Jul 17, 2014
Episode 56: Éireann Lorsung -- ‘Productivity’ and ‘Failure’ for Writers
00:38:22
Over and over I hear my students, my peers, and my own interior voice talk about failure as writers. Often this is linked to an idea of ‘productivity’, and in particular to a perception of others as ‘more productive’. As publication online increases the speed at which writing can appear in public, the distance between writing as a process and writing as a product closes. Consequently, the concept of productivity is measured more and more in terms of visible, finished objects, muddling the relation of publication to the act/process of writing. I’ll question the usefulness of these ideas—failure and productivity—for writing, and suggest ways of reframing our writing processes to accommodate work that ‘fails’ or is not visibly ‘productive’. In addition to talking about how what seems like ‘failure’ is an integral part of making writing that’s worthwhile, I’ll offer strategies and concepts—the multiple, the telescope—that help me keep writing despite unhappiness with my work or the feeling that others are ‘better writers’ (meaning ‘more productive’) than I am.
Jul 16, 2014
Episode 55: Hope Edelman -- The Story Behind Your Story
00:55:42
When we write narrative, both sides of our brains ideally work together: the left brain controls linear thinking, logic, and language skills, and the right brain creates context and inserts emotion. This Eleventh Hour Lecture will emphasize the importance of using both sides of the brain when writing fiction and nonfiction, to push beyond an episodic recounting of events into territory that reveals your story's deeper truths. Nonfiction author Hope Edelman will give you with tips for identifying universal themes and archetypes in your stories, and methods for articulating them to readers.
Jul 10, 2014
Episode 54: Kate Aspengren -- Who Are These People and Who Invited Them?
00:12:04
Sometimes when we look at what we’ve written we realize we’ve created characters who are basically all some version of ourselves. It’s like multiple clones of the writer only with different haircuts. Or we find that we have a group of wonderful, quirky characters but that our protagonist is dry and uninteresting, exactly the kind of person you’d dread getting stuck next to at a dinner party. In this session we’ll talk about some of the problems inherent in constructing character and some of the strategies that are useful in crafting characters who are unique and real and three-dimensional.
Jul 09, 2014
Episode 53: Nancy K. Barry -- The Sixth “W” in Nonfiction Writing and Research
00:16:14
From its beginning in the 1960s, literary journalism and its writers typically acknowledged their contextual debt to the traditional questions journalists ask about the five “W's”—the who, what, where, when and why that lie at the heart of any good reportage. The difference for creative nonfiction writers lies in their ability to create a narrative arc that describes how those 5 “W’s” come into focus, which means that virtually any memoir or nonfiction work becomes a type of quest story. This lecture will describe why and how nonfiction writers should always be on the lookout in the midst of their quest for the mysterious sixth “W”—what it is and why it matters.
Jul 08, 2014
Episode 52: Carolyn Lieberg -- Write What You Know: The Scary Truism That Haunts Writers
00:02:14
What you know is the here and now and past of your own life, your own family, your own travels and some things about your friends. What you don’t know is everything else, which is a lot. What exactly are we to make of those oft-tossed words: “Write what you know.” They can feel like a stop sign, but let’s look behind them.
Jul 07, 2014
Episode 51: Faculty Reading: Sabrina Orah Mark, Michael Martone, Beau O'Reilly, Robin Hemley, Elizabeth McCracken
00:52:02
Sabrina Orah Mark, Michael Martone, Beau O'Reilly, Robin Hemley, Elizabeth McCracken
Jun 28, 2014
Episode 50: Mary Allen -- Harnessing Time: The Key to Writing
00:47:50
One of the biggest challenges, and imperatives, of writing is finding the time—making time—to sit down and do it. It’s something like that moment in the movie Field of Dreams, where a mysterious voice says to Kevin Costner, If you build it they will come. Except that in the case of writing, ‘building it’ means not creating a ballpark to attract ghostly baseball giants, but creating a little window of time in which to write. We can’t make the writing come to us, but if we make a space for it in our day, it will inevitably show up. And if we don’t make space for it, writing definitely won’t come. Mary Allen will share her experiences and struggles with finding time to write, and will pass along the workable solutions she’s arrived at over the years.
Jun 26, 2014
Episode 49: Talk Pretty, Talk Turkey—Just, You Know, Talk To Me
00:57:46
“Find your voice”—the most natural thing a writer should do, right? Somewhere inside me is my voice! Yet, the search tends to proceed like a grail quest, only trickier, because ‘voice’ pops up everywhere on the page, appearing now in the style, now in the sound, now in the stance, now in the details. So, is it the bedrock DNA of great writing, or a will-o-the-wisp? Should we follow the fiction writer Sylvia Watanabe’s advice, “Don’t try to find your voice; write a story”? In this Eleventh Hour session we’ll try to un-confuse an elusive all-inclusive concept, and we’ll start by looking at what ‘voice’ means to poets and what it does and doesn’t mean to fiction writers. Bring paper, we’ll be experimenting with a few exercises!
Jun 25, 2014
Episode 48: Stephen Lovely—Marathon Training for the Fiction Writer: Conditioning Your Mind and Body to Go the Distance
01:02:11
There are innumerable workshops you can take to help you write your first novel or book of stories, workshops in which you’ll focus on developing characters and plot and structure, establishing narrative pace and point of view, refining dialogue. But what about the character of you, the writer doing all that hard work? How will you plot and structure your life? What kind of dialogue will you carry on with yourself during the years you spend writing? What kind of pace will you set? What point of view should you adopt toward your fellow writers? Toward the world of publishing? In this Eleventh Hour lecture, novelist Stephen Lovely, who spent over ten years writing his first novel, Irreplaceable, will focus on a too-often neglected aspect of writing, which is the mental and physical health of The Writer: the brave, battered athlete of language.
Jun 25, 2014
Episode 47: Michael Morse -- Rebel With a Clause: The Prose Poem
00:57:42
In this Eleventh Hour presentation, poet Michael Morse will discuss the prose poem, a literary hybrid with evocative potential. We’ll look at a brief history of the form, some model examples of writing that blend the lyricism of the poem with the syntax of the sentence, and try our hand at exercises that will yield early drafts of work to take home and develop.
Jun 23, 2014
Episode 46: Jim Heynan: “Same Content/Different Form”
00:43:11
In this podcast, recorded on 6/19/07 at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival Elevenses novelist and poet Jim Heynen discusses the relationship between content and form. Heynen advises writers to revisit thematic "obsessions" and to attempt "re-exploring the
Jun 19, 2014
Episode 45: Hilary Plum -- Approaching Fact in Fiction
00:39:13
This lecture will explore recent moments and new possibilities in the age-old relationship between nonfiction and fiction. We’ll discuss contemporary works of fiction built around documentary material: photographs, testimony, reportage. Through an examination of how fiction frames, interacts with, and creates and resolves tension with its documentary sources, we’ll glimpse just what’s happening today at the border where fiction and nonfiction meet.
Jun 10, 2014
Episode 44: The Art of Juxtaposition | Carol Spindel
00:56:50
Creative nonfiction is an art of selection, omission, and juxtaposition. Decisions, decisions, decisions… Not only what to leave in and what to take out, but also how to artfully arrange the parts. When just the right elements are juxtaposed, a spark flies up from the space between. In this Eleventh Hour, Carol Spindel will lead a workshop on how to write a personal essay that derives narrative strength and power from juxtaposition. She will get you started with writing exercises and leave you with a template for an essay to be completed later.
Jun 09, 2014
Episode 43: Stephen Lovely—Marathon Training for the Fiction Writer: Conditioning Your Mind and Body to Go the Distance
00:58:02
In this Eleventh Hour lecture, novelist Stephen Lovely will focus on the mental and physical health of The Writer: the brave, battered athlete of language.
Jul 25, 2013
Episode 42: Jim Heynen—Write What You Don’t Know About
00:51:25
Jul 11, 2013
Episode 41: Mary Allen—Working with Time, the Key to Writing
01:01:23
One of the biggest challenges, and imperatives, of writing is finding time—making time—to sit down and do it. It’s something like that moment in the movie Field of Dreams, where a mysterious voice says to Kevin Costner, If you build it they will come. Except that in the case of writing, ‘building it’ means not creating a ballpark to attract ghostly baseball giants, but creating a little window of time in which to write. We can’t make the writing come to us, but if we make a space for it in our day, it will inevitably show up. And if we don’t make space for it, writing definitely won’t come. Mary Allen will share her own experiences and struggles with finding time to write, and will pass along the workable solutions she’s arrived at over the years.
Jul 10, 2013
Episode 40: Susan Taylor Chehak—Going Graphic: What the Storytelling Secrets of Comics Can Tell Us About Narrative Technique
00:55:33
In this Eleventh Hour, Susan Taylor Chehak will use Powerpoint to take a graphic look at comic book storytelling conventions and how they can be applied to your own written narratives. Through examples and discussion, she will explore the magic of words summoning pictures and pictures inspiring words.
Jul 09, 2013
Episode 39: Robert Siegel—Haiku for Prose Writers: Exploring the Power of the Image
01:00:05
One of the key elements in successful fiction is imagery—the word-pictures that directly transmit what the writer sees. But while writing students get a lot of help with things like plot and structure, imagery often goes unmentioned, in part because it is so hard to talk about how to make better images. Therein lies the value of haiku for prose writers. The short, imagistic form of poetry imported from Japan offers a clear (and very fun) way to practice making images. Over the course of the hour, Robert will lead a workshop in reading and writing haiku. This workshop aims to deepen your understanding of the role of imagery in your own writing, and to enrich your visual imaginations.
Jul 08, 2013
Episode 38: Robert Fernandez -- The Language of Music, the Music of Poetry
00:25:53
As part of the free, weeklong 2012 MusicIC Festival (featuring art music inspired by literature), poet Robert Fernandez and MusicIC chamber musicians will discuss the musical works that inspired Marcel Proust and the creative connections between music and literature. The series of discussions—with musical illustration—begins during Wednesday’s Eleventh Hour, setting the stage for the Friday night concert.
Jun 13, 2013
Episode 37: Juliet Patterson & BK Loren -- Poetry as Foundation of Fiction and Nonfiction
00:58:59
In addition to being omnipresent on the planet (every culture has a conception of lyric) poetry appears to have been written and composed in every ancient and historical cultural we’ve been able to investigate. And yet, many people (including writers) never read poetry. Why? Or perhaps more importantly: why not? In this two-panelist conversation fiction and creative non-fiction writer B.K. Loren and poet Juliet Patterson discuss poetry and the personal lyric, as both a source of inspiration and a tool of the writing craft. What’s special about poetry? And how does poetry enlist imagination in the art of story? What can poems teach us about metaphor and language? And beyond matters of craft, how does poetry specifically speak to the heart of the creator as well as find a solace in the reader who finds transcendence in the work?
Jun 11, 2013
Episode 36: Timothy Bascom—Sudden Riches: The Surprising and Satisfying Role of Research in the Personal Essay
01:01:00
In this Eleventh hour, Timothy Bascom will discuss the personal essay in order to demonstrate the ways in which this form, typically focused on autobiographical events, can be driven by research instead. Genre-shaping essayists such as Joan Didion, Annie Dillard, David Foster Wallace, and Eula Biss have demonstrated that what we call “personal” is not limited to what we remember internally. Timothy will show us how sometimes we have to go outside the self and explore our way toward unexpected discoveries, arriving at even-more-rich realities that would have eluded us if we turned inward. He will provide examples of the ways that research can be conducted and integrated into a personal essay, lifting it to a vivid and universally engaging level.
Jun 10, 2013
Episode 35: Sands Hall—Into the Woods, Down to the Underworld
00:52:48
In the simplest of fairy tales or the grandest of myths—“Snow White,” say, or the Odyssey—both Snow White and Odysseus must spend time in the woods, or the underworld. Those of us writing fiction understand that our protagonists must grapple with darkness in order to rise to light; similarly, a descent into difficulty is a necessary element of memoir. Why is going “into the woods” so important to the weaving of a compelling tale? And what other lessons can be drawn from story elements found not only in a mythic “hero’s journey,” but in Snow White’s plunge into the forest, or Jack’s up the beanstalk? Sands Hall addresses these fascinating ideas, and offers ways to fold these strategies into your own, or your protagonist’s, journey.
Jul 26, 2012
Episode 34: Kathryn Rhett & Jessica Handler—The Tough Stuff: Write Well, Feel Better
00:47:23
Kathryn Rhett, author of Survival Stories: Memoirs of Crisis, and Jessica Handler, author of the forthcoming Writing Through Grief, talk about how writing the tough stuff well can be good for you, and for a community of like-minded readers. Everyone will experience difficulty at some point in their lives, and, being writers, we may want to write about the tough stuff, either because we need to, or with the notion that getting it down on paper will be cathartic. The strategies we use for strong literary writing dovetail neatly with the strategies for writing therapeutically. This talk introduces cross-disciplinary research and suggests a variety of compelling writing exercises.
Jul 25, 2012
Episode 33: Christine Hemp—Yikes: A Deadline! Limitation as Liberation
01:00:40
This talk explores the beauty of limitation, whether it be something as simple as a deadline or a self-imposed structure for a scene, a poem, or an essay. Even the constraints of our lives (time! job! space! family!) can serve the muse. Many Writing Festival participants say, “I write more here in Iowa than I do all year—how can I do this at home?” or “In doing the assignments for this class, I actually found my real story. Why doesn’t this happen more often at my own desk?” Sometimes we forget that pragmatic practices lead to surprising creative leaps. Come discover how perceived obstacles can become tools to help our writing flourish.
Jul 24, 2012
Episode 32: Amber Dermont, Blueberry Morningsnow, Nick Twemlow, & Vinnie Wilhelm—Influence & Inspiration
00:57:39
In this panel discussion Dermont, Morningsnow, Twemlow, and Wilhelm will discuss poetry and fiction in conjunction with specific and intimate outside influences, inspirations, imitations, and inquiries. They will present examples of the ideas, authors, forms, and practices which have helped them generate their own most recent work, as well as discuss how writers might discover creative motivation in the world around them. Participants will leave with a list of recommended art, literature, music, film, and other imagination-sparking influences. Amber Dermont is the author of the novel The Starboard Sea, and teaches creative writing at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia. Blueberry Morningsnow is the author of a book of poetry, Whale in the Woods, and has published poems in Thermos and notnostrums. Nick Twemlow is a poet and filmmaker; his first book of poems, Palm Trees, will be published in 2012 and he co-edits Canarium Books. Vinnie Wilhelm was a recent Fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA and is the author of a collection of short stories, In the Absence of Predators.
Jul 19, 2012
Episode 31: Cheryl Fusco Johnson—Shy Writers Do It, Too: Enlivening Writing by Harnessing the Power of Effective Interviewing Techniques
00:58:14
Enrich poetry, fiction, nonfiction and blog posts by unleashing people’s innate desire to share what they know. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! This presentation will help you identify potential interviewees, pose questions that elicit intriguing responses, assess technological pros and cons, and evaluate the material your interview produces. We’ll also discuss how to recognize and weave the juiciest kernels of information into your writing project, whatever it is. Cheryl Fusco Johnson honed her interviewing skills in courts of law while serving as a public defender in Washington State. Currently, she interviews newsmakers for The Iowa Source and authors—including Natalie Goldberg, Larry Brooks, and Anne Lamott—for the radio show, Writers Voices.
Jul 18, 2012
Episode 30: Kate Aspergren -- Playwriting: from Page to Stage
00:55:57
Do you need to have a background in theatre to write plays? What’s the difference between a playwright and a screenwriter? How is it possible to develop characters and tell a story without passages of description and exposition? Is it up to the playwright to determine who does what and when they do it? How do you decide if the story you want to tell can best be told on stage? Once you write the play, how do you get it produced? Published? Kate Aspengren answers these questions (and more!) in this discussion of the craft of playwriting.
Jul 16, 2012
Episode 29: Susan Taylor Chehak -- Storytelling and Time
01:01:25
What, then, is time? If no one asks me, I know; if I wish to explain to him who asks, I know not. –Augustine of Hippo, Confessions In this hour I’ll explore the possibilities and the limitations of storytelling in the context of time, moving from concept to craft, principle to process, the phenomenon of time in the real world to our own recreation of it on the written page. We begin with our heads in the clouds, exploring the physics and philosophy of chronos, before turning inward for a look at our own human experience of biological and psychological kairos, where we encounter our memories of the past and our dreams of the future, even as we struggle to keep up with the eternal ineffable now. From there we emerge onto the page to find Discourse Time, Story Time, Reading Time, and Real Time, using techniques of plotting and pacing and tense to create the narrative and historical chronologies that will take us from that promising tick of our tale’s first line to the satisfying tock of its last word.
Jul 12, 2012
Episode 28: Elizabeth Robinson—Giving a Good Reading and Why it Matters
00:48:47
Most often we encounter work on the page, but haven’t we all had the experience of being transported by hearing the author give a reading of his or her own work? What happens when we have the opportunity, as listeners, to hear literature presented directly by the author? And what happens, as writer, when we have the opportunity to embody our work before an audience? This talk will give practical advice about preparing a public reading of your work: how to select and edit work for a public reading, how to approach the audience, and how—imagine this!—to enjoy the special energy of presenting your work to an audience. In addition, this talk will suggest ways that public readings are effective ways of promoting your work and entering more fully and deeply into a literary community.
Jun 27, 2012
Episode 27: Michael Morse—Lost and Found: Reading and Writing the Elegy
00:50:14
The elegy offers one of poetry’s most appealing consolations: it can transform loss—and even the threat of loss—into an artful presence. This session will explore how reading contemporary elegies and engaging in elegiac writing can help us reflect on the lives we’ve led (and will lead). Expect a moving and invigorating session—one that isn’t afraid to laugh, either—as we look at some poems that generate presence even in the absence of loss. We’ll also talk about potential exercises for poets and fiction writers that might yield new writing.
Jun 26, 2012
Episode 26: Eric Goodman—Place, Race, and History: Writing About Subjects That Compel and Terrify Us
00:56:08
Jun 26, 2012
Episode 25: Diane Goetsch—The Three Poisons
00:53:41
The Three Poisons is a simple and elegant Tibetan Buddhist teaching that identifies three foundational emotions that underlie all others—passion, aggression, and ignorance—much the way the three primary colors combine to make all others. For writers, awareness of the three poisons, which point to the ultimate equality and emptiness of all emotions, can be as profoundly beneficial as Keats’s idea of Negative Capability. Through discussion, examples, and writing exercises, this lecture will seek to convey those benefits.
Jun 21, 2012
Episode 24: Karen Bender—How to Find the Short Story within your Novel
00:39:54
In this Eleventh Hour, Karen Bender will address a strategy that she found helpful while writing her first novel—finding a short excerpt within it and polishing it to send out. She will discuss the differences between a story and a novel, what to look for in your novel when trying to shape a good excerpt or story, and how to use the story form to help you revise a nebulous, inchoate novel.
Jun 20, 2012
Episode 23: Robert Siegel—Flash Fiction
00:58:12
What is flash fiction? You’ve read it, perhaps even written it in class: super-short stories, anywhere from a paragraph to a couple of pages in length, sometimes zeroing in on a single moment of experience, sometimes trying to tell a whole life story in a handful of lines. In recent years, flash fiction has moved from the margins to the center, grabbing attention at literary magazines and spawning anthologies. Some of our best contemporary writers do their most challenging work in the form. Nevertheless, flash fiction is hard to define. Look at it one way and it seems to be related to folktale and parable—streamlined forms that know how to cover a lot of ground in few words. Look at it another way and it seems to have its roots in poetry, particularly the prose poem, with its emphasis on the power of language and image to alter the reader’s perceptions in a single magical moment. It’s a hybrid, which makes it great for both fiction writers and poets to explore. In this hour, we will take a look at some examples of flash fiction, considering what makes them work, what makes them different, and what makes them valuable for writers learning the craft. Be sure to bring pencil and paper because we’ll be writing some of our own.
Jun 18, 2012
Episode 22: Carol Spindel—The Art of Juxtaposition
00:52:31
Creative nonfiction is an art of selection, omission, and juxtaposition. Decisions, decisions, decisions… Not only what to leave in and what to take out, but also how to artfully arrange the parts. When just the right elements are juxtaposed, a spark flies up from the space between. In this Eleventh Hour, Carol Spindel will lead a workshop on how to write a personal essay that derives narrative strength and power from juxtaposition. She will get you started with writing exercises and leave you with a template for an essay to be completed later.
Jun 14, 2012
Episode 21: Emily Pettit, Mark Leidner, Madeline McDonnell, & Bianca Stone—Influence & Inspiration
00:53:05
In this panel discussion Pettit, Leidner, McDonnell, and Stone will discuss their recent poetry, fiction, and comic publications in conjunction with specific and intimate outside influences, inspirations, imitations, and inquiries. They will present examples of the ideas, authors, forms, and practices which helped them generate their own most recent work, as well as discuss how writers might discover creative motivation in the world around them. Participants will leave with a list of recommended art, literature, music, film, and other imagination-sparking influences. Emily Pettit is the author of Goat in the Snow, a book of poetry, and the editor of notnostrums and Factory Hollow Press, as well as the publisher of jubilat. She teaches poetry workshops at Flying Object in Hadley, Massachusetts. Mark Leidner is the author of Beauty Was the Case that They Gave Me, a book of poetry, and The Angel in the Dream of Our Hangover, a book of aphorisms. Madeline McDonnell is the author of a tiny collection of short stories, There Is Something Inside, It Wants to Get Out, and teaches for both the Iowa Summer Writing Festival and the Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop. Bianca Stone is the author of the poetry comic I Want To Open the Mouth God Gave You Beautiful Mutant. She recently collaborated with Anne Carson on Antigonick, a comic and translation.
Jun 12, 2012
Episode 20: Anjali Sachdeva—Step Away From the Desk: Experiential Writing
00:52:59
In this Eleventh Hour, Anjali Sachdeva will discuss the effect that getting out into the world and participating can have on your writing. This type of experiential preparation can take different forms—conducting interviews or on-site research, participating in an activity that one will later write about (or that characters take part in during a pivotal scene), or more meditative forms of writing in a natural setting. She will discuss the ways in which these practices can influence and enrich a writer’s work and how she has used them in the past (for her own work and for students). Anjali will also provide examples of specific exercises for participants to try on their own. Anjali Sachdeva is Director of Online Education at Creative Nonfiction and teaches English and Creative Writing at the University of Pittsburgh.
Jun 11, 2012
Episode 19: BK Loren: "Process is Practice: Making Your Writing Matter"
01:05:25
Jun 16, 2011
Episode 18: Dara Wier—Chance, Risk, and “Getting Away With It”
00:49:38
Risk taking, risk evaluation, risk avoidance are all leaned up against when one decides to become a writer and decides how to write what one writes. We hear writers say to one another all the time: how did you get away with that?! Or, I can’t believe you got away with that! We admire how writers “get away” with things in writing. Why is this? What attracts us to this? Obviously, at least partly, because in that expression is implicitly also unsaid: Hmmmmm, I don’t know if I could have let myself do that. Courage, recklessness, intention, all big things writers concern themselves with on a word-by-word basis. We will also expand our conversation into areas that involve Chance, Chance Operations, Generative Procedures, Erasure, Treated Texts, Ouilipian and other contingent constraints and why these are experiencing a renewed popularity. We will also talk about issues of agency and accountability.
Jun 13, 2011
Episode 17: Marcos M. Villatoro: “Finding Inspiration from the Work Itself”
00:58:58
In this Writing University podcast, Marcos M. Villatoro discusses the advantages of writing without waiting for the elusive “muse” to strike. Villatoro claims that inspiration springs from a writer’s own work ethic, the physical act of writing.
Jun 10, 2011
Episode 16: Lon Otto: "Touchstones, Templates, & The Train Tracks Your Mule's On"
00:45:42
No one writes who hasn't read, and we all know, at least vaguely, that reading as a writer is a distinctive as well as essential part of the writing life. This Elevenses tries to sort out some of the very different, even contradictory things that are involved in reading as a writer.
Jun 29, 2010
Episode 15: Katie Ford: "Ghost Forms: Using Traditional Form in Free Verse"
00:54:47
In this podcast, poet Katie Ford examines the usefulness of employing the “ghosts” of classical forms in crafting contemporary poetry. Ford advises writers to look to the sonnet and listen for the “inherent music” of popular and tested literary technologies.
Jun 19, 2010
Episode 14: Lon Otto: "Avoiding Literary Thin Ice"
00:59:22
In this podcast, Lon Otto leads a discussion on how to avoid “literary thin ice”- the insecurities resulting from insufficient originality, tension or authority in a work.
Jun 18, 2010
Episode 13: Tim Bascom: "Picture That: Creative Nonfiction For The Visual Learner
01:02:48
Tim Bascom, using only lines and circles and an array of strange doodles, will attempt to describe the amazing structural options available within the genre of creative nonfiction. No, he won't work blindfolded. However, he will attempt to be entertaining, and perhaps even a bit enlightening. If you like thinking in pictures, not just words, this may be a blessed break from all the verbiage of the week!
Jun 17, 2010
Episode 12: Eric Goodman—Transforming Life Into Art
00:47:08
Through what alchemy do writers take lived life and transform it into art? We all have stories to tell, something from our own life or the life of a loved one, which we believe would make a great short story or novel. All too often, however, when we try to write it down, it’s reduced to an anecdote which lies there on the page, lifeless as an empty glass. In this Elevenses, using failed and successful attempts from his own career, Eric Goodman will discuss techniques for breathing life into life as it becomes art.
Jun 15, 2010
Episode 11: Christine Hemp on Writing About Happiness
00:54:19
In her presentation, "Yikes! Elysium: Writing About Happiness," Christine Hemp tackles what she describes as a necessary tension between "sunlight" and "the underworld" in fiction and nonfiction writing. Hemp examines how mundane objects such as puzzle p
Jul 19, 2009
Episode 10: Marc Nieson, “Making Words Count”
00:57:05
Marc Nieson proposes the free-writing exercise as a disciplined process of seizing inspiration and later tackling revision. Nieson talks about how to reconcile the writer's often opposing mindsets of creator and editor, the journey of refining the "
Jun 30, 2009
Episode 9: David Hamilton: “A Baker’s (Half) Dozen Ways of Looking at a Literary Magazine”
01:13:42
David Hamilton shares his thirty years of experience as editor of The Iowa Review, characterizing the unique world of literary magazines as "ephemeral" and "fugitive." Hamilton compares the mechanics of literary reviews, from local publications to l
Jun 20, 2009
Episode 8: Mary Allen:"Bending the Spoon: Writing as a Path to Mindfulness and Other Spiritual Practices"
01:00:25
In this Writing University podcast, Mary Allen discusses "the mysterious thing" that happens when one sits down to write. She describes her process of finding inspiration and suggests ways to break free of strict "ideas" about writing. She presents examples and ideas on how writers can nurture and cultivate their writing process. Caryl Pagel introduces Mary Allen in this edition of the Iowa Summer Writing Festival lecture series "Elevenses."
Jun 09, 2008
Episode 7: David Bouchier: “The Word Diet - Avoiding Verbosity”
00:54:39
In this Writing University podcast, David Bouchier addresses the struggle of a word-loving writer to be concise. Bouchier discourages "flabby writing" and suggests instead going on a "word diet" to avoid verbosity. Bouchier also advocates a habit of "writing long and cutting ferociously" and editing from the perspective of a potential reader.
Jul 25, 2007
Episode 6: Marcos M. Villatoro: “Finding Inspiration from the Work Itself”
00:58:58
In this Writing University podcast, Marcos M. Villatoro discusses the advantages of writing without waiting for the elusive "muse" to strike. Villatoro claims that inspiration springs from a writer's own work ethic, the physical act of writing, and the work itself. Villatoro also offers advice on using criticism to one's advantage and how to decipher the inevitable rejection letter, suggesting that "inspiration can come from rejection."
Jul 23, 2007
Episode 5: Venise Berry: "Writing with Ethnic Diversity"
00:55:40
Venise Berry offers advice on how to "bring the world into your writing." Berry advises writers to leave their own comfort zone of familiar communities and characters and purposely inject voices from a wide spectrum of experience. Berry asserts that a writer's job is to help the audience learn by making realistic, diverse characters "accountable to society."
Jun 26, 2007
Episode 4: Sands Hall: Building Characters
00:58:03
Sands Hall imparts her unique perspective as novelist, playwright, director, and actor in this lecture on scene and character building. Hall discusses the differences between writing for print and the stage and shares techniques for making "the black marks on the paper jump off the page." Hall offers examples from her career of creating a theatrical or fictional world populated by recognizable and sympathetic characters.
Jun 21, 2007
Episode 3: Jim Heynan: “Same Content/Different Form”
00:43:11
In this podcast, recorded on 6/19/07 at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival Elevenses novelist and poet Jim Heynen discusses the relationship between content and form. Heynen advises writers to revisit thematic "obsessions" and to attempt "re-exploring the
Jun 20, 2007
Episode 2: Christine Hemp on Writing About Happiness
00:54:19
In her presentation, "Yikes! Elysium: Writing About Happiness," Christine Hemp tackles what she describes as a necessary tension between "sunlight" and "the underworld" in fiction and nonfiction writing.
Jun 19, 2007
Episode 1: Dora Malech -- Talking It Out: Writing as Conversation
00:57:26
Although writing is a seemingly solitary and introspective act, this craft talk investigates the myriad ways in which the process of writing is, in fact, always a conversation. This communal take on the writing process can invigorate and sustain writers across genres and at all points in a life of writing, and this talk will provide both inspiration and practical insights. The hour will, of course, include literal conversation.
Jun 18, 2007