From Poetry and Prose, to Humor and “Short Shorts,” UNC Asheville’s Great Smokies Writing Program Announces Fall 2019 Classes

July 11, 2019

UNC Asheville’s Great Smokies Writing Program (GSWP) will present 10 courses this fall for community writers including a new course on the craft of humor, and classes in “short shorts” or flash fiction, poetry, memoir, fiction, children’s book craft, and master classes with poet Kenneth Chamlee, novelist Tommy Hays and editor Elizabeth Lutyens.

The GSWP features some of Western North Carolina’s finest authors, and the courses – ranging from 10 to 15 weeks and designed for writers of different levels of experience – will be offered in community locations in Asheville and Hendersonville.

“Who writes short shorts?”: A Writing Workshop with Scott Branson – “Short shorts, microfictions, flash fictions, prose poems—or whatever you want to call them, provide an unparalleled opportunity,” writes Branson. “Taking away the need to stick to a determined length, the demands of plot, the prescription of realism, the confines of meter and rhythm and rhyme, the determinations of the market, or even attempts at seriousness, flash fiction can provide writers with a space of breakthrough, a place to find their voice and try it out.” A poet and artist who has taught at Hampshire College, Amherst College and the University of Massachusetts in addition to UNC Asheville, Branson was a key organizer of the university’s 2018 Queer Studies Conference and more recently, Davidson College’s symposium, Breaking Cages, Building Community, Queering Justice. EAH, Branson’s chapbook of words and abstract image, is now available. Class meets for 10 weeks on Tuesdays, 6-8:30 p.m., location TBA, beginning Sept. 17.

Poetry Master Class with Kenneth Chamlee – This workshop is for experienced writers who are ready to take their poems to the next level, or those who are polishing a collection to submit. Working to make every poem “sing its best song,” will be the focus, and Chamlee says, “We will pay close attention to line and flow, sound and echo, titles, exact diction, misdirection and surprise, and, of course, revision.” Chamlee is professor of English emeritus at Brevard College, and he has won the GSU Review (Georgia State University) National Writing Award in Poetry, ByLine Magazine’s National Poetry Chapbook Competition, the Longleaf Press Poetry Chapbook Competition, and the Word Journal Poetry Prize. Class meets for 10 weeks on Mondays, 2-4:30 p.m., at UNC Asheville’s Kellogg Center, 1181 Broyles, Rd., Hendersonville, beginning Sept. 16. Enrollment is limited to 12, and admission is by permission from Tommy Hays (thays@unca.edu) or Ken Chamlee (chamlee_k@brevard.edu). 

Where We Come From – Exploring Personal and Family History: A Creative Nonfiction Workshop with Audra Coleman – “Writers in this workshop will have the opportunity to mine the memories they treasure most and/or free the skeletons that have lurked in the family closet. These are the stories of our lives and our ancestors, the ones that have trickled down through the generations, the ones we hope our children will remember,” writes Coleman. “The goal of this course is to find the particulars that capture the deep significance of these memories and to find the best literary structure for them.” Coleman, a graduate of UNC Asheville’s Master of Liberal Arts and Sciences Program, was recently named the winner of the 2018 Confluence Award for Excellence in Creative Writing by the Association of Graduate Liberal Studies. Class meets for 10 weeks on Wednesdays from 6-8:30 p.m. at the Thomas Wolfe Memorial, 52 N. Market St., Asheville, beginning Sept. 18.

The Poem’s Architecture: A Poetry Workshop with Luke Hankins – “How does a poem’s form serve its intended effect? In this poetry workshop, we will analyze the structure and form of poems in order to gain insight into how poetic craft impacts the effects poems have on their readers,” writes Hankins, who will combine workshops of poems by students in the course, with close readings of selected contemporary poetry collections. Hankins is the founder and editor of Orison Books, a non-profit literary press, and is senior editor of Asheville Poetry Review. He is the author of the poetry collection Weak Devotions, and the editor of Poems of Devotion: An Anthology of Recent Poets. A graduate of the Indiana University MFA in Creative Writing Program, Hankins teaches in the Lenoir-Rhyne University MA in Writing Program, as well as at the GSWP. Class meets for 10 weeks on Wednesdays from 6-8:30 p.m. at Hanger Hall, 64 W.T. Weaver Blvd., Asheville, beginning Sept. 18.

Forty Pages: A Fiction Workshop with Vicki Lane – This workshop is aimed at writers with a novel in progress, almost completed, or completed but in need of a final polishing. Each student will submit forty pages (half at the beginning of the course, the rest during and after the sixth week) of work in progress for discussion and critique by the class and close editing with written comments by the instructor. “We will focus on the effective use of key techniques such as creating an intriguing opening line and a compelling first chapter, creating a likable and/or engaging protagonist, weaving in back story in small, manageable doses, setting up a dilemma that begs to be resolved, making the most of action scenes — in general, producing a page-turner,” writes Lane. “The goal will be to polish those forty pages so they are ready to catch the attention of an agent, an editor, a publisher and make them ask for more.” Lane is the author of the Elizabeth Goodweather mystery series from Bantam Dell as well as a standalone, The Day of Small Things. Class meets for 10 weeks on Thursdays from 6-8:30 p.m., at the Asheville School, 360 Asheville School Road, Asheville, beginning Sept. 19.

Beyond the Sneeze – Writing Humor that Matters: A Creative Nonfiction Workshop with Jennifer McGaha – The course title references the Mark Twain quote, “Laughter without a tinge of philosophy is but a sneeze of humor. Genuine humor is replete with wisdom.” The course, designed for writers of all levels who want to explore humor as an element of craft, will include generative writing, workshops, opportunities for revision, and a final class reading. “How do humor writers generate material?” asks McGaha. “What techniques can writers use to get to convey humor on the page? And, most importantly, when and how does humor become a pathway to deeper wisdom?” McGaha is the author of the memoir, Flat Broke with Two Goats, and her writing has also appeared in The Huffington Post and The Chronicle of Higher Education. Class meets for 10 weeks on Thursdays from 6-8:30 p.m. at RiverLink, 170 Lyman St., Asheville, beginning Sept. 19.

Heart of the Story: Writing for Children and Young Adults Fiction Workshop with Joy Neaves and Amy Reed – This workshop welcomes students at all stages of the writing process who are interested in writing literature for children and young adults, including novels, picture books, and short fiction. It focuses on ways to use all the essential aspects of craft to develop dynamic characters and compelling plots with an emphasis on generating powerful scenes. A portion of the workshop will focus on the business of publishing and the best ways to approach editors and agents when you’re ready to submit your work to the market. Neaves has over 18 years of experience as an editor of children’s picture books, poetry, middle grade, and young adult fiction, for Front Street and at Boyds Mills Press. Reed has published 10 young adult novels including Nowhere Girls, which was recently optioned for a television series by Amazon. She also is the editor of the anthology, Our Stories, Our Voices: 21 YA Authors Get Real About Injustice, Empowerment, and Growing Up Female in America. Class meets for 10 weeks on Mondays from 6-8:30 p.m. at RiverLink, 170 Lyman St., Asheville, beginning Sept. 16.

Poetry and Place: A Workshop with Eric Nelson – “In this workshop we will write and read poems about places, real or imagined, that define and reflect who we are. All poems happen somewhere, but we will focus on poems in which the setting is center stage, not background scenery,” writes Nelson. “We will read and write about paradises gained and lost; about small towns and big cities, about nature in all its beauty and terror; in short, about whatever places speak to and from our truest selves.” Nelson’s six books of poetry include the collections Some Wonder, which won the Gival Press Poetry Award, Terrestrials, and The Interpretation of Waking Life. Class meets for 10 weeks on Thursdays from 6-8:30 p.m at Hanger Hall, 64 W.T. Weaver Blvd., Asheville, beginning Sept. 19.

Keeping Ourselves Company: A Creative Prose Workshop with Tommy Hays This class is for prose writers who’ve been in at least one writing workshop and have projects they are working on or who want to start something new in either fiction or creative nonfiction.  Emphasis will be on reading and critiquing each other’s work. The instructor will respond at length to submissions three times with a limit of 18 pages for each submission. Hays is the author of four books, including the middle-grades novel, What I Came to Tell You, a Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) Okra Pick and VOYA Top Shelf Pick that received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s BooksThe Pleasure Was Mine, which has been chosen for numerous community reads and was a finalist for the SIBA Fiction Award; and In the Family Way, which won the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award. Hays, recently honored with the Carolina Mountain Literary Festival’s Charlie Award, is executive director of the Great Smokies Writing Program and core faculty for the Master of Liberal Arts & Sciences Program at UNC Asheville. This 15-week class meets Wednesdays from 6-8:30 p.m., beginning Aug. 28, at RiverLink, 170 Lyman St., Asheville. Admission is by permission from Tommy Hays (thays@unca.edu).

Prose Master Class with Elizabeth Lutyens – “This small–group workshop is for those seeking an intensive writing experience,” says Lutyens. “It is limited to experienced writers who are working on an ongoing project: a collection of essays or stories, a novel, a memoir. The writer should have at least 60 pages ready to submit for three critiques during the semester. An equally important commitment is for class members to offer the best possible attention to the work of others. For each of the three rounds of workshops, the methods will vary, from traditional craft-based discussions, to free-form explorations of resonance as well as craft, to writer’s choice.” Lutyens, a former journalist who is at work completing a novel, has led this course and served as editor-in-chief of The Great Smokies Review, the GSWP’s online literary magazine, for the past decade. This 15-week class meets Tuesdays from 6-8:30 p.m. at the Asheville School, 360 Asheville School Road, Asheville, beginning Aug. 27. Admission to the Prose Master Class is by permission from Tommy Hays (thays@unca.edu) or Elizabeth Lutyens (elutyens@gmail.com).

The Great Smokies Writing Program is committed to providing the community with affordable university-level classes taught by professional writers. To ensure that students receive individual attention from the instructor, enrollment is limited.

For those who qualify for in-state tuition, 10-week courses cost $314.12; 15-week courses cost $471.18. The costs are higher for out-of-state residents.

Online registration is now available for GSWP courses; students who have already taken a course in 2019 should look for the “current student registration form” link to avoid the application fee for new students. For more information and online registration, visit unca.edu/gswp.

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