What to Prepare for Workshops

Bring two selections of prose or poetry and send one of the two to Richard Katrovas by May 25th; he will disseminate that work ahead of everyone’s arrival in Prague so that the workshops may be focused and productive from the outset. The second will be workshopped later or discussed in conferences. While we will be able to print materials during the program, we welcome your editing on your laptop and sending your comments electronically (in which case, bring a laptop, USB, and adaptor for use in class – see “what to pack.”)

Guidelines for Workshop Submissions

Formatting

  • 12-point font
  • double-spaced
  • 1-inch borders
  • preferably Times New Roman (i.e. no funky fonts)
  • header which includes page numbers and your last name  
  • Word document (not PDF or other format which cannot be edited)

Length per Submission

  • Prose: 15 pages
  • Poetry: 3 pages

Two notes from the director, Richard Katrovas:

On the PSP workshops as such:

By the middle of the second week, the workshop will transition from addressing past work to addressing work composed over the first ten days or so of the program. Such “fresh” material will likely be inchoate, unfinished, indeed, “raw.” It will be evaluated as such; workshop members will be asked to speculate as to an unfinished, “fresh-from-the-noggin” piece of writing’s potential, and to venture advice regarding both form and content, as well as tone and attitude. Over the past twenty-five years, it is such material that has been the most exciting to watch develop and which has subsequently been most often polished into published work. (Note: See our blog post which talks about writing during the program.)

The PSP workshop will be but one aspect of our PSP 2018 community, and I’m reminded of my favorite paradoxical assertion, that the goal of humankind should be the achievement of “maximum individuality within maximum community” (Ernest Becker’s formulation of a Kantian sentiment.)

Each mentor will deploy her or his own teaching style. The workshops will be intense yet comfortably so, and all sensibilities will be honored.

There’s more to say about workshop etiquette and structure, and each member’s responsibility. We´ll address these concrete particulars at orientation on July 2nd.

On the multi-genre workshop:

For the PSP workshops to function optimally, we have to agree that all good, effective forms of creative writing share salient features. Further, we must agree, as literate citizens, to recognize the intertextuality of all texts, and that prosody, which we shall define as rhythmic cognition, is no less a concern for prose writers than for poets.

This is fancy talk for the simple fact that one of our two workshops will be composed primarily of prose writings, and the other primarily of poets.

Unlike in most other workshops, I would like us to begin each critique (at least implicitly) with a simple, though to my mind profound, question: Why is this particular piece of writing in prose, and why is this other one in verse form?

Further, is verse the most propitious form for this particular material? Is prose? And what do we make of such forms as “flash fiction” and “prose poems”? What, indeed, is the difference?

And what is the difference between prose “fiction” and “memoir,” say, or between discursive, more or less autobiographical narrative and shorts stories grounded in memory?

The choice as to what forms we express ourselves in, I submit, should not be pro forma. Most of us do take for granted the literary forms in which we express ourselves, and the PSP, by organizing workshops as we do, seeks simply to render that choice more delightfully problematic.

Self-identified poets and memoirists, essayists and novelists, short-story writers and composers of mixed-genre texts (however that is defined) will comment on one another’s work from the perspectives of the genres with which they identify, and this in itself may engender very interesting and informative commentary otherwise unavailable to mono-genre workshops.

Folks, we should all keep in mind how important it is that we read soulfully one another’s work and comment thoughtfully, compassionately, and with as much rigor as time and decorum will allow. My colleagues are all seasoned professionals who bring very different temperaments and mentoring styles to the creative-writing workshop. Patricia Hampl, Stuart Dybek, Jaimy Gordon and I bring strong and varied backgrounds in poetry to the workshop even though we have worked primarily in prose in recent years. Mark Slouka publishes essays as well as fiction in some of the most prestigious English-language venues, and though (as far as I know) he claims no expertise in poetry, he is an intellectual who has contemplated, as have we all, the relation of lyric poetry to all forms of verbal expression. I submit that the ethos of lyric poetry infuses every piece of prose writing that aspires to anything like transcendence.

For a deeper look at the multigene workshop, see Richard Katrovas´s essay from the Associated Writing Programs Chronicle below (if the essay does not show, you may simply open it as a PDF with the green download button).