ADMISSION & SCHOLARSHIPS
FOR ENROLLED PARTICIPANTS
THE INSTITUTE FOR YOUNG WRITERS
Juniper workshops are fertile spaces for exploring the essential questions and many details we grapple with as writers. Workshop members do more than offer feedback about given pieces; each story or poem, line or sentence, can spark conversations about the larger issues of form, style, content, character, language, and process that are significant for all writers.
Every workshop has its own climate and conventions; some lean towards the generation of new work, some towards the honing of existing pieces, others towards a combination of both. Here’s how the 2013 faculty describe their approach to their Juniper workshops. (Details are subject to revision.) Please take a look as you consider what workshop might be the most fruitful for you.
Poetry Workshop with Timothy Donnelly:
Ordinarily when we write a poem we give shape to what’s in our heads, drawing from the reservoir of what we’ve already experienced, thought, or felt, or else from the stream of what we come to imagine, think, or feel in the throes of writing. In this workshop we will experiment with imparting a sense of fixity and focus to even our most rambunctiously emergent material through the use of different kinds and varying degrees of formal regularity. While this won’t be a workshop in traditional forms and meters per se, we will acknowledge how traditional poetic practice has, at its best, served to gratify the mind’s seemingly opposite appetites for stability and surprise, sameness and variety, constancy and change. We will explore new ways of achieving the “unity in multeity” that Coleridge has, like so many before and after him, identified as “the principle of beauty”—but not without asking ourselves whether or not beauty is always our top priority. Perhaps most importantly, we will consider our work as a field of interplay for centrifugal and centripetal forces, as a site where chaos meets containment, and how the struggle to control and to rebel against control can become not merely a compelling formal property of our writing but also a crucial aspect of its significance.
Poetry Workshop with Mark Doty:
This workshop is for poets who'd like to push their work a little further. Whenever we compose a draft, there are doors we haven't opened, avenues we haven't explored. By working with a series of writing exercises, we'll practice digging more deeply into the possibilities a poem-in-progress may contain. We'll also read some exemplary contemporary poems, examine some of the questions that are central to our art, and devote some time to reading and discussing work by each participant.
Poetry Workshop with Matthea Harvey:
In this poetry workshop we will experiment like mad— trying our hands at erasures, inventing graphic poems, writing exquisite corpses, etc. When discussing students’ poems, we will rigorously attend each poem's metamorphosis, paying attention to whether it wants to sprout wings, antlers, both or neither. We will try to plot out the poem's most unique path according to the signposts the rough draft gives us. Our focus will be both minute and broad—examining poems on a cellular level, and then talking about larger issues, like autobiography, imagination and compositional techniques.
Poetry Workshop with Dara Wier:
In our workshop you'll be invited to bring us your best poems, your most difficult poems, your poems in progress, your most questionable poems, your almost there poems, your inklings of poems. And with them your concerns, fears, risk-taking questions, and gut feelings, your instincts, your experience and your understanding of why poems matter, to you, and to us all. You will be invited to bring us poems by poets you admire so we can gain a collective reading experience we can talk about, refer to, and enjoy. You'll be given a chance to tell us about how you happened to come to be writing poetry and what you hope your poetry will be up to as it evolves. You'll be invited to ask questions, tell stories, direct our conversation toward subjects you feel significant to poets gathering over poetry, in order to love it, to question it and to further its life in the future. Your work is the heart and soul and brain of our meetings and it will be our main focus.
Fiction Workshop with Anthony Doerr:
I think the best fiction puts readers into a sort of waking dream. The walls drop away, you slip inside a line of words, and suddenly you’re riding a ferry down the Yangtze, or you’re in a nuclear submarine; you can become a man or a woman, five years old or eighty-five: you can become a sailor or a surgeon, Emma Bovary or Benjamin Franklin. The vast majority of my energy as a writer goes toward trying to create as vivid and musical an experience as possible for my reader. Physical details are the lifeblood of fiction and in this workshop we’ll explore how to resist clichés, maintain pacing, and choose the right details in order to create what John Gardner called “a rich and vivid play in the mind.” Writers are asked to submit a piece of fiction in advance. All levels of experience are welcome.
Fiction Workshop with Noy Holland:
Our time here is short and happily intense. I think you will use it best and hardest by producing new work while you are here, by internalizing—through the act of writing—the varied lessons that arise among us. My idea is to approach the work in units. We might spend a whole workshop, for instance, looking at adjectives and adverbs; another workshop looking at dialogue; another at the angle of perception; another at rhythm and syntax. After each workshop, I ask that you embrace what you’ve discovered by producing work that responds to those discoveries—in direct and meaningful and immediate ways.
Does this mean you are not invited to bring work with you? No, not really. If you are deeply engaged in a project, it may make sense to use your time in active revision; you may want to share not new work but newly revised work. But to get what you can from the workshop, you need to be open, in the moment, to deep changes, to seeing what you have brought as raw material, endlessly malleable. This can be difficult to do in as short a time as we have. Ideally, you will come to see everything you have written through the lens of what you learn while you are here, and this re-seeing takes time, often quite a long, welcome, wrestling kind of time that writers find in the weeks that follow.
Fiction Workshop with Joy Williams:
Participants’ new, raw material will provide the basis for this workshop. We will be working on three to four stories per session; the last session will be devoted to individual manuscript consultation (number of participants permitting). In addition to working with participant’s manuscripts, we’ll also be discussing some (more or less, classic or strange) stories to explore the techniques to make them effective.
Creative Nonfiction/Memoir Workshop with Paul Lisicky:
The ideal writing workshop is a place where a variety of forms are encouraged and respected, where we attempt to create a version of a model literary community: a thriving ecosystem, as Richard Powers might call it, rather than a monoculture. It requires an openness at every turn, a dedicated generosity, and a willingness to consider each piece on its own terms. We'll look at a variety of outside work (Nick Flynn, Peter Trachtenberg, Mary Gaitskill, among others), but your writing will be our primary text. We'll make time for in-class exercises and relevant discussion. Along the way, we’ll work hard, have fun, and make sure delight isn’t an enemy to seriousness.