FRIDAY, June 9

4:00-8:00 p.m.            REGISTRATION AND CHECK-IN                      


7:00 p.m.                    OPENING DINNER

Introduction: Carol Swartz, Director, Kachemak Bay Campus-KPC

Keynote Address: Jane Smiley The Life of a Writer 



8:30 a.m.                     WELCOME                                                                  

8:45-9:45 a.m.


Moderator: Peggy Shumaker

Panelists: Kate Carroll de Gutes, Thomas Larson, Linda Martin, Don Rearden

A 2013 study proved that reading literary fiction enhances the ability to detect and understand other people’s emotions—that is, that reading at least certain texts can improve social empathy. In a troubled world where empathy can be a real asset in personal and global relationships, how can writers of all genres lead us toward greater understanding and compassion? Panelists will offer examples from their work or that of others.


9:45 a.m.                     BREAK


10:00-11:30 a.m.


Nina McConigley

We will discuss the issues that arise when authors represent foreign spaces in fiction – such as other countries, cities, states, and landscapes – they themselves have not traveled to or are not originally from. We will look to what extent a writer can “know” a place he or she did not grow up in; we will discuss/write how to deal with the social and factual issues innate to representing unfamiliar territories, sharing observations from our own work and experience. This class will illuminate the sometimes ethically sensitive process of writing about places/people we do not intimately know.


WRITING FROM HOME                                                                          

Susan Fox Rogers

Writing about the familiar has its particular challenges. Often we forget the details that make a place unique, that make it vibrant. In this workshop we’ll push our senses to bring out what we know best in order to bring readers into our world. We will write together to create a complex portrait of the place you call home then share these writings



Kevin Clark

Write what you know, they always say… And so, since childhood, most of us have written poems that are about what we know best — i.e., the Wonder of Me. After a while, however, we may have become a bit bored with the ever-present highway of our interior lives. Maybe we’ve always preferred the sound of someone else’s voice, anyone’s voice not our own?  What then? Writing persona poems about people we make up or people who actually exist (or once existed) can liberate us and juice up our imagination. While reading persona poems by several contemporary poets, we will examine helpful ways to begin poems that engage the first person voice of the Other.



Richard Chiappone

Raymond Carver said, “I like it when there is a feeling of threat or a sense of menace in short stories. I think a little menace is fine in a short story. For one thing it’s good for the circulation.”

Nothing keeps a reader reading fiction like the implied threat of danger to the main character (physical or emotional). And narrative tension is especially critical in short stories. Yet there is rarely room in the short form for elaborate plots of the kind found in novels. Join in this discussion of ways to instill a little instant menace in your short fiction. It’ll be good for your circulation. Bring some pages of your own work.


11:30 a.m.                   BREAK


11:30 a.m.       Check-in for Open Mic for Saturday readers                    


11:45 a.m.                   Luncheon                                                                


12:30-1:30 p.m.           OPEN MIC                                                                   

Readings by conference attendees

                        (Sign up on-site at Conference Information table)

Facilitator: Richard Chiappone


1:30 p.m.                     BREAK


1:45-3:15 p.m.


Rebecca McClanahan

Whether you’ve inherited boxes of artifacts or only a few stories passed down to you, this multi-genre workshop will help you begin to shape the materials of family history into an artful essay, poem, or segment of a larger work. Specific topics include selecting significant details, fleshing out characters, providing historical or cultural context, employing multiple literary moves, and choosing the best structure. Optional: bring to workshop a photo, object, letter, postcard, document, or a brief draft related to family history.



David Huddle

Consciousness itself is the basic material of fiction, and point of view is the tool fiction-writers use to bring their characters to life.  Accomplished fiction-writers become adept using both the limitation and the opportunity provided by point of view.  In this workshop, we’ll read and discuss short stories and novel scenes that employ point of view technique in particularly bold and illuminating ways.


REPETITION IN POETRY                                                                        

Rachel Rose

Repetition has power; repetition makes us believe; it stays with us; it comes back and back to haunt us. Spoken-word artists, speechwriters, actors, advertisers and musicians know this; they’ve never stopped using rhyme and repetition for maximum effect. In this workshop, we’ll look at various ways poets use repetition effectively, whether in formal verse like the villanelle, or in blues or incantation. Writing exercises will offer opportunities to feel the force and flexibility of repetition as a transformative tool in any writer or poet’s toolkit.


THE ART OF DESCRIPTION                                                                         

Nancy Lord

Description, Mark Doty has said, is “like a balance between terms, saying what you see and saying what you see.” That is, it gives us not just the world but the inner life of the witness. This workshop will examine description in that light, share literary examples, and offer prompts for writing distinctive descriptive passages.


3:15 p.m.                     BREAK


3:30-5:00 p.m.  

WHAT’S A PITCH, PROPOSAL, AND QUERY?                                      

Jane von Mehren

Learn the key points in how to form and pitch your idea to an agent, how to write a query that will get an agent to respond and request the material, and whether you need a proposal or completed manuscript. We’ll go over the key elements of what you need to include in a proposal—from the overview of the book through the competitive titles and everything in between. And we’ll explore how to best present yourself as the perfect author for the book you are writing. It is harder than ever to connect with agents as they are faced with hundreds of queries a week. This session will give you a clear understanding of the dos and don’ts of getting an agent’s attention.



Brendan Jones

Endings plague us, be it for short stories, essays, novels. How to tie together all those individual threads? The end must leave readers with that ineffable feeling of loss, satisfaction, sadness, and contentment – all at the same time! We’ll briefly discuss a few famous endings (as well as the ending I laboriously arrived at for my novel) before writing to prompts tailored to creating surprising conclusions.



Erin Coughlin Hollowell

The archetype of depressed poet wasting away in a garret has its adherents, but what of the joyous poet? What of the poet of awe and praise? In this workshop, we’ll read the work of Ross Gay, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, William Stafford, Gregory Orr, Mark Doty, Peggy Shumaker, Mary Oliver, and more, to see how they express joy and awe without falling into cliché or sentiment. Get ready to explore on the page what brings you joy.


5:00-6:30 p.m.            RECEPTION GATHERING                                         


5:15-6:15 p.m.

WRITING CIRCLE                                                                                       

Guide: XXXX

Join others for an informal hour dedicated to individual writing. A guide will offer a prompt, or you can devote the time to your own ideas. No sign-up necessary; just show up prepared to write.


8:00 p.m.   READING: Jane Smiley                            Homer High School Mariner Theater

      Open to the public. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Book signing will follow in Commons.


SUNDAY, June 11

8:15-10:00 a.m.           Kachemak Bay Boat Cruise

Enjoy beautiful Kachemak Bay and a continental breakfast with visiting faculty and fellow

participants. (Optional. Space limited; sign up and pay fee by Saturday noon.)


8:30-9:30 a.m.            KUNDALINI YOGA                                                 

Stretching and meditation with Anna Raupp from Many Rivers Alaska are great ways to stimulate your creativity and focus.          (Complimentary, limited space; first come, first served)


9:45-10:45 a.m.

Writing Circle                                                                                     

Guide: Jessica Ryan

Join others for an informal hour dedicated to individual writing. A guide will offer a prompt, or you can devote the time to your own ideas. No sign-up necessary; just show up.
10:45 a.m.-11:45 a.m.

THE CHANGING NATURE OF PUBLISHING                                       

Jane von Mehren and Daniel Smetanka

Veteran agent and editor discuss the changing nature of publishing. Topics to be covered include: What is the significance of the ever increasing role of small independent houses? How do authors and agent assess which are the best homes for literary work? Should authors be thinking about self-publishing? If so, what are the pros and cons?


11:45 a.m.                   BREAK


12:00 p.m.                   LUNCHEON                                                                

                              “Q and A” with Jane Smiley


1:30 p.m.                     BREAK


1:45-3:15 p.m.

LOAD, LESSEN, LEVEL                                                                           

Thomas Larson

Nonfiction writers makes choices with style, grammar, mechanics, word choice, rhythm, placement, and other rhetorical features to emphasize one element over another, to de-emphasize less important elements, and to balance competing and contrasting elements. Using readings and in-class exercises, we will explore the tools to mark their reading and to employ in their revisions the arts of highlighting, pulling back, and stabilizing narrative and expository prose.


THE UNRELIABLE BODY                                                                        

Peggy Shumaker

We live in amazing containers.  We exist as mysterious and complex organisms and systems.  What happens when our bodies, trusty workhorses, no longer function? We’ll look at writing in all genres that explores the human body as a way to think about the world, the body as a way to tap into our bewildering inner lives.  Authors we may read include Lucia Perillo, Stephen Dunn, Paul Guest, Stephen Kuusisto, Rigoberto Gonzalez, Natalie Diaz, Nancy Mairs, Marie L’Esperance, Ross Gay, Ernestine Hayes, Linda Hogan, Eva Saulitis.


BEYOND THE ANECDOTE                                                                      

Linda Martin

We all have stories that come to mind again and again. When one of these memories becomes a narrative poem, the poet must write clear down to the truth, removing nostalgia, uncovering whatever is behind the memory that makes it matter to others. We’ll look at poems by Seamus Heaney, Ted Kooser, Jane Kenyon, Richard Hugo and others with an eye for lines of truth discovered in personal narrative. We’ll write to some prompts designed to uncover our own truths.


A CO-WRITER’S GUIDE TO SURVIVAL                                                       

Don Rearden

Are you considering working with another writer on a memoir, novel, or screenplay? Or perhaps you are thinking about co-writing someone else’s story? This workshop will delve into the nitty-gritty of co-authorship, from story conception to publication. Along with your sanity, there are legal issues to consider. Learn what it takes to get started on a project as a co-writer, and then learn how to survive the pitfalls of shared authorship. Whether you’re working with a best friend or interviewing a complete stranger, discover a few approaches to use on your journey towards publication. Who said writing has to be a lonely and solitary endeavor?


3:15 p.m.                     BREAK


3:30-5:00 p.m.

REJECTION AND RESILIENCE                                                              

Moderator: Richard Chiappone

Panelists: Rebecca McClanahan, Susan Fox Rogers, Kevin Clark, Nina McConigley

Many workshops deal with craft, but few deal with protecting the writer’s spirit. You can’t become a published writer without learning how to persevere through rejection. How do you know whether a rejection means you just weren’t a good fit for that publication or editor, or that your project has a serious problem? What are the opportunities that rejection provides to you as a writer? Most importantly, how do you create the kinds of support and community you need to persevere?



Kate Carroll de Gutes

Illness, death, divorce, money—these are all loaded subjects to talk about, much less commit to the page.  And if you make a joke about your mother’s Alzheimer’s or how Ikea facilitated your divorce, is it even more inappropriate?  Not necessarily.  Humor can be used to navigate tricky subjects, give your readers some breathing room, and make a lasting point without sounding like you’re on a soapbox.



Nancy Lord

On a bet, Hemingway wrote what has become a famous six-word story—“For sale, baby shoes, never worn.” In this workshop, we’ll consider (and practice) short forms of storytelling, from “sudden” (750 words) to “micro” (300 words), the “dribble” and “drabble” (50 and 100 words), “hint” (25 words), “twitterature” (140 characters), and the six-word story. Our writings can be either fiction or nonfiction.


5:15-6:30 p.m.            RECEPTION GATHERING                                         


5:15-6:15 p.m.

WRITING CIRCLE                                                                                        

Guide: Amy Holonics

Join others for an informal hour dedicated to individual writing. A guide will offer a prompt, or you can devote the time to your own ideas. No sign-up necessary; just show up prepared to write.


7:30 p.m. Readings BY CONFERENCE FACULTY          Alice’s Champagne Palace

                        Open to the public; book signings will follow.

Kevin Clark Linda Martin
Kate Carroll de Gutes Rebecca McClanhan
Erin Coughlin Hollowell Nina McConigley
David Huddle Don Rearden


MONDAY, June 12

7:30-8:30 a.m. WRITING CIRCLE                                                         

Guide: Richard Chiappone

Join others for an informal hour dedicated to individual writing. A guide will offer a prompt, or you can devote the time to your own ideas. No sign-up necessary; just show up.


8:00-8:20 a.m. Check-in for Open Mic for Monday Readers                   


8:30-9:30 a.m.                                                                                                     


Jane von Mehren and Daniel Smetanka

Professionals in the business will analyze the first page from book-length fiction and nonfiction manuscripts written and previously submitted by conference attendees, giving an honest reaction to the first page of a novel, the first page of a proposal for a nonfiction book, or the first page of a nonfiction book. Panelists will explain why the page at hand would encourage them to read more (or not) in the context of their jobs. Selected “first pages” representing a variety of types and qualities will be distributed and publicly evaluated. The writers will be anonymous, and each first page will be discussed for 5-10 minutes.


9:30 a.m.                     BREAK


9:45-11:15 a.m.


Nina McConigley

Writing about the American West has moved well beyond literature of American Old West/ Frontier narratives that were typically set from the late eighteenth to the late nineteenth century. A new understanding of contemporary western writing is emerging. Sometimes referred to as Postfrontier literature, the more recent literary output of the region tends to engage in a reinterpretation of the region, calling into question the ways in which it has been defined in the past. We’ll talk about how the “West” is portrayed in seminal texts. Then, we’ll work on our own fiction and essays.



Kate Carroll de Gutes

Consider the ways changing point of view from first to second person can transform an essay from something that is simply about the writer’s experience to a piece that completely engages the reader and encourages them to enter fully into the story. Second person also can radically alter a text for a writer, too.  Subject matter that seems too loaded to write about can often be approached obliquely through second person–and sometimes the piece stays that way, other times it’s merely a portal that lets the writer find her way towards the truth.



David Huddle

In this workshop, we’ll read and discuss poems in free verse and poems that use poetic form (e.g., blank verse, sonnet, villanelle, etc.).  We’ll consider the work of poets who write both formal poems and free verse; we’ll look at a single topic addressed by poets using drastically different approaches.  More particularly, we’ll look at the flexibility of poetic form, and we’ll take up the question of to whom form is of more value–readers or poets.



Don Rearden

The answer of how to create conflicted and complex characters might be awaiting you just outside your doorstep. Find out how nature can help you learn more about your characters and your story, whether you are writing fiction or non-fiction. Rain or shine, this workshop will get you outside (and writing) to learn how the natural world can help you open your senses to a heightened level of awareness of yourself and your writing. Uncover your characters’ inner conflicts by venturing out for a walk along the shores of Kachemak Bay and into a realm of discovery that might just catch you by surprise.


11:15 a.m.                    BREAK


11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m. OPEN MIC                                                                   

Readings by conference attendees

                        (Sign up on-site at Conference Information table)

Facilitator: Richard Chiappone


12:15 p.m.                   LUNCHEON                                                                


1:00-1:45 p.m.  The writing process:  Jane Smiley


1:45 p.m.                     BREAK


2:00-3:30 p.m.

FROM ME-MORE TO MEMOIR                                                             

Rebecca McClanahan

Unlike autobiography, memoir “assumes the life and ignores most of it,” writes William Zinsser. Yet many writers struggle with what to include, what to exclude, and how to shape a life-based narrative that invites readers in. This session explores how to read your life for clues, select the most essential elements, and shape the material for your audience. Whether you’re writing a personal or lyric essay or a book-length narrative, this session will suggest ways to begin the journey from “Me-More” to memoir.


THE ART OF SEEING                                                                             

Susan Fox Rogers

Taking as our starting point the nature writer John Burroughs’ essay, “The Art of Seeing Things,” we will explore how we can become better observers of the natural world. Any art requires both inspiration and craft. What techniques can we foster to become better at seeing and then translating those sights to the page?


WHAT ON EARTH IS A PROSE POEM?                                              

Erin Coughlin Hollowell

What constitutes that Push-Me-Pull-You creature of a prose poem? If we are to take the American Academy of Poets’ word for it, a prose poem “essentially appears as prose, but reads like poetry.” Further, “While it lacks the line breaks associated with poetry, the prose poem maintains a poetic quality, often utilizing techniques common to poetry, such as fragmentation, compression, repetition, and rhyme.” Let’s examine some recent prose poems and experiment writing some of these little gems for ourselves. For those of you who are more prose oriented, this workshop might be a fun way to see how far you could push your writing towards the poetry end of the continuum.



Richard Chiappone

Characters in fictions usually need to speak in the language of their own classes, tribes and microcultures. Grammar, word choice, diction, and sentence structure all carry connotations that should reflect the world of the characters in an authentic seeming way. You might not want your fictional college professor is to say, “We ain’t got no assignment tonight.” And your backwoods drug dealer probably shouldn’t say, “I would that it were catfish season!” That is not to promote clichés and stereotypes; intentionally writing across types can produce surprising and stimulating dialog too. Join in our hands-on discussion and do some exercises in writing fresh, credible dialog.


3:30 p.m.               BREAK


3:45-5:15 p.m.


Moderator: Nancy Lord

Panelists: David Huddle, Brendan Jones, Rachel Rose, Peggy Shumaker

For writers who have attempted to compose in only one or two genres, attempting to write in a new genre can lead to the discovery of new material.  A panel of writers who’ve worked in multiple, cross, mixed, and hard-to-categorize genres will discuss the trend away from genre specialization and how they decide whether a particular idea becomes fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama, performance, song, or some odd hybrid.


WRITING ABOUT INTIMATE MOMENTS                                          

Thomas Larson

Have you ever wondered how a narrative author gets his or her emotion into the writing? Why is it that some writers can make us feel more in our bodies than in our minds, render more about love and pain than abstraction and ideas? In our workshop, we’ll focus on writing intimate moments by appealing to the senses, reading published excerpts, and completing exercises. Such work is the hallmark of scenic and sensory narration. Intimacy involves bodily proximity with another—a kiss, a slap, an arm wrestle, a lifting off the ground, moments of shared awe, fear, joy, ecstasy, sex, triumph, loss when bodies are close. We’ll concentrate on our own experience, whether now or in the past, and on those close to us whose experience we know or must imagine.


AN IMPULSE TOWARD UNITY                                                                

Linda Martin

The poet Pattiann Rogers uses litanies of naming to create unity among nature, science and spirit, a trilogy she calls “the grand array.” Adrienne Rich mourns the separation of poetry, science and politics in her book What is Found There. Muriel Rukeyser wrote of the way imagination creates unity, becomes “the meeting-place between science and poetry and between one man and another.” We will look at poetry that unifies seemingly disparate fields. We will write our own litanies of naming, seek our own versions of unity.


5:15-6:15 p.m.             Reception Gathering                                         


5:15-6:15 p.m.                                                                                                                        

WRITING CIRCLE                                                                                       

Guide: Linda Martin

Join others for an informal hour dedicated to individual writing. A guide will offer a prompt, or you can devote the time to your own ideas. No sign-up necessary; just show up prepared to write.


7:00 p.m. SILENT AUCTION                                                                       

Bid on literary and book-related items to benefit scholarships for the conference. Bidding closes at the end of the faculty reading.


7:30 p.m. READINGS BY CONFERENCE FACULTY                              Quarterdeck

                                    Open to the public; book signings will follow.


Rich Chiappone Susan Fox Rogers
Brendan Jones Rachel Rose
Thomas Larson Peggy Shumaker
Nancy Lord  


10:00 p.m.              After-Hours Beach Gathering

                                                     (For Adults Only)


TUESDAY, June 13

8:30-10:00 a.m.

BUILDER OR STITCHER?                                                                         

Brendan Jones

Characters are not merely fabricated impersonators of real life, they are the infinitely complex products of our imaginations, experiences, descriptive abilities, and the necessities of our plots and themes. We write our characters knowing they will be perceived through the psychological filters of our readers. In this workshop we will examine the process of deciding what we want and need from characters, and secondly, how we go about getting it from them.



Daniel Smetanka

So many writers think the work stops once they get a contract with a publisher -but the work is just beginning! This can cover what to expect from a publisher, the editorial process, how you make $ as a writer (surprisingly, few know how this can occur), sales, marketing and publicity, book tours, etc. Everything that comes after the struggle to obtain and agent and sign with a house.



Kevin Clark

Elegiac poems often gain power from measured pacing. Other poems—urgent, angry, soaring, etc.—often survive on speediness. What are the goals and methods of each of these types of poems? How does tone influence style? In an interactive class, we’ll discuss the different aims and techniques of both types, while reading model selections by contemporary poets, including Barbara Hamby, Bob Hicok, C Dale Young, and Susan Wood. Ultimately, we’ll try to identify the devices that might best apply to our own work, and, if we have time, we’ll start our own slow-moving or fast-moving poems.


10:00 a.m.                   BREAK


10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.                                                                                   

PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE                                                 

Moderator: Erin Hollowell

Panelists: Richard Chiappone, Kevin Clark, David Huddle, Nancy Lord

Each writer’s habits, rituals, and quirks might change given a particular project. In this panel, writers will discuss what allows the writing for a particular project to take place, what allows the writing to change shape, what allows the writing to go live its life in the world. And what happens when we break our patterns?



Rachel Rose

This workshop will guide participants to write poetry and memoir that is inspired by food. We will read the work of great writers and investigate how they develop and share their own deep personal memories about food, hunger, nourishment, and longing. Then we will do some group exercises that will inspire participants to shape their own personal food histories, experiences, appetites and recipes into poems and memoir.



Peggy Shumaker

When we link human emotion to water (or land or sky), what’s the effect?  When does an image diminish both the beach and the beloved?  When does an image improve our ability to see, think, feel?  We’ll look at examples from nonfiction, fiction, and poetry.  Then we will write, using techniques we’ve adapted from the examples at hand.  This writing workshop is open to writers in all genres and at all levels of experience.



Introduction: Andrea Noble-Pelant, Executive Director, Alaska State Council on the Arts

Closing Remarks: Tom Sexton, Former Alaska Poet Laureate

                                   “Levitation and other Wonders” 

Farewell: Carol Swartz


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