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Let the Workshop Begin!!!

Hype has found itself working long hours this past month as both Yessus and Magna Carta Holy Grail were dropped on the public with a barrage of pseudo-documentary style ads and Bret Easton Ellis inspired videos. While I won’t argue the merits of either album, I will say collectively they are a pool of melted Otter Pops when compared to the chill Smörgåsbord that is the 2013 Tin House Writer’s Workshop.

Starting July 14th, Tin House and its band of merry writers will be offering up a bevy of mind-altering craft talks and spirited evening readings at Reed College, all of which are open to the public.

We hope to see you there!

$15 per lecture (or $20 for an entire afternoon session). Please plan on paying at the door.

Monday, July 15th

2:00 pm
Structure Yourself, with Dana Spiotta
Do you have to invent a form for a novel? How do you avoid making the novel too schematic? By examining various novel structures and closely looking at their organizing principles, I hope to show how important it is to violate or complicate the structural rules you invent. Vollum Lecture Hall

Dana Spiotta

3:00 pm
The Agent Game,
A panel with Claudia Ballard, Meredith Kaffel, Ayesha Pande, moderated by Rob Spillman
Finding an agent to represent your work can be a time-consuming and hair-raising endeavor. Ideally, the relationship between agent and author is both professional and personal, providing a writer with much-needed support and encouragement. In this seminar, New York agents talk about what writers should know before seeking representation and offer unique insight into their profession. Vollum Lecture Hall

3:00 pm
We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Agents, with Matthew Dickman
Our world famous poetry editor will be discussing his own history as a poet, as well as leading a conversation on how to negotiate the business and practical side of your own poetic career. Chapel

Tuesday, July 16th

2:00 pm
The Running Beatbox: Appreciating the Flow of the Long Sentence, with Karen Russell

Our syntactic patterns can feel so ingrained, like tics sometimes, that I often wonder, especially when I am in a rut, if I can recharge my creative drive by altering my syntax. As someone who has been married to the short sentence for most of my writing life, I marvel at those who can scaffold meaning inside a longer sentence. By examining a few of the best practitioners (MC’s) of the paragraph-length sentence, I hope to explore how much suspense can be generated clause to clause, how all those micro-turns of tone and emotion, those rhythmic elaborations of a central image or idea can help establish the sentence as a microcosm of the larger work. Vollum Lecture Hall

Karen Russell

3:00 pm
The Metamorphosis of the Dead & Documentary Poetry, with Brandon Shimoda
In The Life of Poetry, Muriel Rukeyser writes about “the buried, the wasted, and the lost”—the exiles of history—and the “submerged continent of song” that rises to take their place in memory. What is the life (and/or afterlife) of the stories and experiences of the living and dead (including us), and what, for this, is the task of poetry? This will be a conversation about the making, consciousness, and possibilities of research-based, documentary poetry, with a mind toward the metamorphosis and revelation of fact, experience, and memory, incl. glances into such ideas as Werner Herzog’s ecstatic truth, Susan Howe’s factual telepathy, Black Sabbath’s massive empathy, and Wallace Stevens’ interdependence of imagination & reality. Chapel

The Research Seed: Growing Fiction from Facts
A panel with Lan Samantha Chang, Karen Shepard, and Pauls Toutonghi, moderated by Meg Storey
Research is often intoxicatingly fruitful and fun, but it can also be paralyzing. As information piles up, you’re forced to answer the question: what facts do I really need? And how do I integrate them within my story without them becoming cumbersome, tedious? Our panelists will discuss how they’ve sifted through research in order to craft a world and characters that feel seamless and alive. Vollum Lecture Hall

Wednesday, July 17th

2:00 pm
Get Me To The World On Time, with Luis Alberto Urrea
You don’t come from a place, you come from a story. Every place you know, every place you try to create, means something because there is a story attached, even if you haven’t recognized that yet. Many fiction writers seem to have trouble now evoking the character of place. Place isn’t a setting. Place is an elder in the family. We are not describing landscapes: we are writing biographies. Vollum Lecture Hall

Luis Alberto Urrea

2:00 pm
The Metaphysical I, with Dorothea Lasky
This lecture will explore the idea of the Metaphysical I, a concept that an I in a poem can be a shapeshifter, have no center, with no definite purpose or form, and can emerge from an interaction between the speaker and its environment. It will look closely at poems by Horace, Catullus, Plath, Myles, Mayer, Notorious B.I.G., Ovid, Tate, Nicki Minaj, and Sexton, among others, to give guidance to poets to open up spaces for their personas to use unexpected language and images, be inconsistent, frightening, funny, wild, and most importantly, beyond the idea of a singular self. Chapel

3:00 pm
Doing Time, with Jess Walter
It might be the most important element in fiction, yet if writers think of time at all, it’s as an afterthought, a simple device or a frame. A host of narrative problems can be solved through a sharper understanding of time—pacing and orienting, flashing forward and back, telescoping and truncating. But time is more than a device in a story. Time IS the story: “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia would recall that distant day when his father first took him to discover ice.” Vollum Lecture Hall

3:00 pm
Genre To Be Named Later: A Conversation with Maggie Nelson
Maggie Nelson, a writer whose virtuosic body of work is splendidly difficult to categorize, will be joined by writer Leni Zumas to discuss genre borders and how to cross them. Chapel

Thursday, July 18th

2:00 pm
In the Beginning, God Created Opening Paragraphs, with Steve Almond
Let’s face it: great stories and novels almost inevitably signal their greatness from word one. But how? In this fast-paced lecture, we’ll examine some of the most kickass openings in all of literature in an effort to establish the exact nature of their kickassitude. Warning: this lecture will include a brief exercise that may blow your mind. Vollum Lecture Hall

Steve Almond

3:00 pm-
Thinking Inside the Poem, with Major Jackson
Putting taste aside, the poems that most impact us, that lodge themselves in our bodies are those whose formal dimensions along with the sheer authenticity of their utterances work in tandem to present some unique vision about human feeling, suffering, joy, or oblivion. However, this talk concerns itself with how “thinking” serves as both engine and source of pleasure. In poetry, the movement of thought can be its own reward. We will look at a handful of poems with hopes of discovering some of the kinds of thinking poets employ in the effort towards rhetorical distinction. Chapel

3:00 pm
Why Am I Reading This?: Making Your Material Matter to the Reader
A panel with Charles D’Ambrosio, Karen Karbo, Elissa Schappell, moderated by Michelle Wildgen
Say you’ve been dogged by an event and its ripples for years. You’re driven to ponder it, question it, and finally write it down, but then you receive the most dreaded response of all: “I can see why you needed to write this, but not why I need to read it.”What does this nebulous evaluation really mean? Are readers looking for broad, societal themes or rich detail and specificity of experience? Or is it simply a question of prose being good enough to justify its own existence? Our panelists will discuss their approaches to making their own story matter to others. We’ll talk about specific ways to evaluate your own nonfiction and autobiographical fiction for relevance and broader urgency, red flags that tell you it may be missing, and ways to fix it. Vollum Lecture Hall

Friday, July 19th

2:00 pm
On Failure, with Anthony Doerr
Sometimes things cave in, fall apart, wilt. Sometimes we can’t manage to pull it all together.  Language, after all, the medium we’ve chosen to work in, is a system of semblances and symbols; we’re using little black marks on a white page to articulate the inarticulable, capture the ineffable, impose order on that most disorderly of things: human life.  You can never get language to say everything you want it to say. Here’s an attempt—one that will probably fail—to address the role of failing in making pieces of writing.

Dorianne Laux

3:00 pm
The Controlling Image in the Poems of Larry Levis, with Dorianne Laux
Larry Levis was born in Fresno, California in 1946 and died, too early, at the age of 49. His father was a grape grower, and in his youth Levis drove a tractor, pruned vines, and picked grapes in Selma, California. He was one of Phil Levine’s students, and became like a son to him. Levis is famous for his long, rangy, free verse narrative poems that take us quickly and effortlessly through time and space. It is said that no one writes quite like Levis, but one thing we can learn from him is how he utilizes structure in his poems, something I call “the controlling image”, wherein he constellates a discursive narrative around a recurring image as a way to give the reader something to hold on to while he takes her for a ride. Psy 105

3:00 pm
The Indelible Image: Moments Make Movies, Moments Make Stories, with Benjamin Percy
The shower scene in Psycho, the train station shoot-out in The Untouchables, the escape from the booby-trapped cave in Raiders. These set-pieces are what audiences gaspingly recall three hours, three months, three years after they leave the theater. We will discuss their timing and arrangement with regards to fiction and nonfiction, so that you might include similar crescendos that will transform your stories from merely memorable to iconic. Chapel

Saturday, July 20th

2:00 pm
And Nothing Was Ever the Same Again: The Art of Revelation, with Cheryl Strayed
It’s been said that the implied, invisible last line of every story—whether fiction or nonfiction—should be “and nothing was ever the same again” and I think that’s about right. I want to feel that something is at stake in the stories I read and write, that the main character in fiction or author in memoir has, in the course of the narrative, come to understand something new about the self, others, the world, or all three. This sense of transformation is achieved through the well-crafted and considered art of revelation, which I consider the emotional plot of a story or memoir, a cascade of truths that allow writers to narrate not just what happened but what it meant. In this lecture I’ll discuss how we create meaningful and credible revelations in prose forms both fictional and nonfictional. Vollum Lecture Hall

Jim Shepard

3:00 pm
The Lights Are On in the House, But No One Lets Us In: Junot Diaz’s “Edison, New Jersey,” with Jim Shepard
A consideration of the challenges and opportunities involved in writing about that immense and rapidly growing category of those on the short end of the stick, when it comes to class, through a close reading of Junot Diaz’s “Edison, New Jersey” as an exemplary text. Vollum Lecture Hall

To be held in Cerf Amphitheater ($5 for the public)

Sunday, July 14th 2013

8pm: Reading and signing with Jodi Angel, Brandon Shimoda, Matthew Specktor

Monday, July 15th 2013

8pm: Reading and signing with Lan Samantha Chang, Maggie Nelson, Jess Walter

Tuesday, July 16th 2013

8pm: Reading and signing with Steve Almond, Dorothea Lasky, Benjamin Percy

Wednesday, July 17th 2013

8pm:Reading and signing with Charles D’Ambrosio, Karen Karbo, Karen Shepard

Thursday, July 18th 2013

8pm:Reading and signing with Karen Russell, Matthew Dickman, Luis Alberto Urrea 

Friday, July 19th 2013

8pm: Reading and signing with Cheryl Strayed, Major Jackson, Jim Shepard

Saturday, July 20th 2013

8pm: Reading and signing with Anthony Doerr, Dorianne Laux, Dana Spiotta



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