January 27, 2010
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History in collaboration with the West Virginia Library Commission will present an intensive creative writing skills workshop on Saturday, Feb. 13, from 9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston. The conference, Writers’ Toolkit, is free and the public is encouraged to attend.
There will be two sessions of two-hour workshops: 10 a.m. - noon, and 1 - 3 p.m. Each session will feature four concurrent classes. The morning session will offer “In Short” with Irene McKinney of Belington, W.Va.; “Creating Three-Dimensional Characters Through Unreliable Narrators” with Anthony Viola of Huntington; “Historical Writing Workshop” with Bob Whetsell of Elkins; and “Demystifying the Poetic Process” with Frank X. Walker of Lexington, Ky.
McKinney will discuss brief creative non-fiction pieces of one to three pages which may be short chapters or sections of a longer work or stand on their own as magazine pieces or radio commentaries. She also will lead participants in exercises to trigger writing. Viola will lead students in studying, exploring and attempting to create an unreliable narrator. These narrators are the ones who master the art of exaggeration and skew the facts so that they cater to their own needs.
Whetsell will explore historical writing styles and techniques used to interpret history and make it more meaningful to the public. His presentation will focus on interpretive writing techniques, developing research skills, types of historical resources available and how they can be applied. Walker will take beginning and intermediate writers through the creative process from original concept to published poems. Participants also will practice new editing and revision techniques.
Afternoon sessions will offer “Memoir: Recovering the Self” with McKinney; “Embracing Brevity by Writing a Story in 120 Words” with Viola; “Historical Writing Workshop” with Whetsell; and “Poetry Workshop” with Kaite Hillenbrand of Morgantown.
McKinney will discuss how people create meaning in their lives by feeling their way through past events while providing the same journey to a reader. “Writing memoirs,” she says, “might be termed a ‘vale of soul-making’” as Keats termed the writing of poems. Viola will lead participants in crafting a complete story in 120 words. By focusing on brevity, writers indirectly base their stories on single events, limited time frames, settings and characters.
Whetsell will conduct his class in the West Virginia State Archives Library, where students will learn basic techniques of historical research and use of archival resources. The workshop also will take a short tour of the West Virginia State Museum to analyze and discuss the effectiveness of interpretive writing. Hillenbrand will have participants make a list of images that have caught their attention recently, and with the help of a “sensory call,” each student will “free write” on one of those images keeping in mind the five senses.
Hillenbrand is the assistant editor in chief of Connotation Press: An On-line Artifact, and she teaches English at Waynesburg University in Waynesburg, Pa. She feels rooted in West Virginia and her poetry reflects that. Her work was recently published in Kestrel.
McKinney is the Poet Laureate of West Virginia and the author of six books of poetry, most recently Unthinkable: New and Selected Poems. She is professor emeritus at West Virginia Wesleyan College and is currently serving as writer-in-residence at Lynchburg College in Virginia.
Viola is an assistant professor of English at Marshall University where he teaches creative writing, literature, and composition. His work has been published in Pleiades, Gulf Coast, and Calliope, and he has had a short story nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He also has completed a novel and two screenplays.
Walker is an award-winning writer and founder of the Affrilachian Poets, the author of four collections of poetry including the soon to be published I Dedicate This Ride: A Portrait of Isaac Murphy, and editor of PLUCK! The Journal of Affrilachian Arts & Culture. He teaches in the department of English at the University of Kentucky, as well as in writing programs like Fishtrap in Oregon and SplitRock in Minnesota.
Participants should bring pens, pencils and writing tablets. They also are welcome to bring a bag lunch to eat from noon - 1 p.m., or visit one of several eateries available within one block of the Culture Center.
For more information about the Writers’ Toolkit workshop, contact Jacqueline Proctor, deputy commissioner for the Division, at (304) 558-0220.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. Its administrative offices are located at the Culture Center in the State Capitol Complex in Charleston, which also houses the state archives and state museum. The Culture Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. The agency also operates a network of museums and historic sites across the state. For more information about the Division’s programs, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.