the 8th annual
Taos Writers Conference
Sponsored by SOMOS, Taos, NM
Early Bird Registration by end of day 6/17/24:
All workshops (except for the ones designated online via Zoom) are located at SOMOS, 108 Civic Plaza Dr, Taos, NM 87571, unless otherwise specified.
All live events are at SOMOS, 108 Civic Plaza Dr., Taos, NM, with the exception of the keynote reading on Friday, 7/7/23
Key to workshops: P=Poetry; M=Memoir; PR=Prose-fiction/nonfiction; PU=Publishing
INTENSIVES ($175 Early Bird/ $199 Late Registration)
Choose one from the following six, all-day Intensive classes.
Weekend Workshops AND Friday Intensive: $499/$569
July 19, 2024
10:00 – 4:00
Connie Josefs (M) – online only via Zoom
“A memoir isn’t a diary, it’s a curation of past experiences; an intimate collage.“
Tommy Archuleta (P) – Live
Susan Mihalic (F/NF/M) – Live
From the Mind to the Page: A Generative Writing Workshop
What are your writing goals? Are you hitting them? Or are you thinking about your story but too seldom setting words to the page?
“From the Mind to the Page” describes exactly what this workshop is designed to do: Get your story out of your head and onto the page. Whether you’re working on fiction, creative nonfiction, or memoir, whether you’re just starting your manuscript or are mired in the middle, “From the Mind to the Page” will work for you. Rather than thinking about the story you’d someday like to write (or finish), “From the Mind to the Page” will turn someday into now, helping you generate scenes, find your characters’ arcs, and determine the throughline, or plot, of the story. The workshop kicks off with a brief discussion about characters and plot, followed by timed writing assignments that allow you to delve deeply into characters and scenes. You will write in response to a variety of prompts, generating narrative material that may wind up in your final manuscript—or may show you that it doesn’t belong in your story. You may be asked to share your writing by reading it aloud to the group, but this workshop is about generating material and coming to know your story, not critiquing the work of others. By the workshop’s end, you’ll find yourself brimming with ideas and super-charged with motivation.
I will provide you with the following take-home materials:
– character questionnaires and a “physical characteristics” sheet that will help you get to know your characters inside and out
– a list of exercises to try on your own
– a suggested reading list
– a list of favorite quotes about writing
Valerie Martinez (P) – Live
The Art of the Poetry Chapbook
In recent years, prize competitions and publishing opportunities for poetry chapbooks have increased substantially, providing more opportunities for poets to publish smaller collections, either in print or online. The chapbook allows you to introduce you and your recent poetry to a wider audience and explore ideas for a full-length collection. Ahead of the conference, you will share a small collection (12-15 poems) with your fellow poets. During our time together, we will workshop your chapbook, allowing you to hear overall responses to the poems as well as provide constructive feedback for revising and working toward a more compelling final version. We will also discuss opportunities for publishing your chapbook as well as using it to inspire and develop a full-length book. Draft chapbooks will be due (via email or link) to classmates on or before Friday, July 5, 2024, allowing us time to create detailed notes to bring to the class.
Leticia Gomez (Pu) – online only via Zoom
Crash Course in Publishing
This intensive will cover all of the key variables in publishing your manuscript: Traditional vs. Independent Publishing, The Ins and Outs of the Editorial Process with Traditional Publishers, The Submission Strategy (what works, what doesn’t), Defining the role of a Literary Agent, and the Financial Results of Publishing – advances vs. royalties, film & TV options, the sale and licensing of foreign rights in efforts to demystifying the current publishing world.
Sean Murphy (F/NF/M) – live
Dimension in Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, and Memoir
In this course we’ll examine the elements that make up a fully dimensional work of fiction, memoir, or creative nonfiction. Creating strong fiction requires attention not only to primary elements of plot and character, as well as subplot and secondary characters, but attention to aspects such as style and tone, sense of place, sensory detail, and thematic ideas, as well as literary devices like imagery and symbolism, metaphor, personification and foreshadowing… and more. We’ll work together in exploring how varying and combining such elements provide a varied palette of writerly techniques in creating a fully realized piece of writing.
WORKSHOPS ($335 Early Bird/ $385 Late Registration)
Choose one workshop from each time slot for Day 2 and Day 3.
Weekend Workshops AND Friday Intensives: $499/$569
July 20, 2024
9:00 – 12:00
Jamie Figueroa (F/NF/M)- online only via Zoom
Dialogue: Don’t Be Fooled
One of the primary mistakes writers make with dialogue is that they think it is solely where characters talk to each other. It is not. Rather, it is where characters communicate. This communication is done through both verbal and nonverbal expression. In addition, it is a place where the universe of each character flushes more fully into being as they come into greater contact with themselves and other characters on the page. If your dialogue continues to waste time, line after line, instead of creating character intimacy, or, if your dialogue struggles with clearly rendering a character, and/or, if your dialogue reads more like a static script than a woven, intriguing, intricate advancement of scene and narrative, as well as external and internal character drive than this workshop would benefit you, dear writer.
In this 5-hour workshop, we will respectfully discuss 2-4 pages of each participant’s previously written dialogue and celebrate its strengths, ask questions, and give suggestions. In addition, we will discuss primo examples of how dialogue works in the literary fiction of James Welch, George Saunders, and Miranda July. These examples are nothing short of gorgeous-heart-stopping-moments-of-connection-and-disconnection-via-character-communication-and-engaged-authentic-articulation, otherwise known as, yes, dialogue. Something we all should be striving for in our final passes of editing. There will be in-class exercises and take-home must-haves as you consider your next best drafts. This workshop is open to all levels and is for fiction or creative nonfiction writers.
Catherine Strisik & Veronica Golos (P) – live
Love in All its Guises and Disguises
Using Lynn Emanuel’s poem, Frying Trout While Drunk, workshop members will analyze in depth the images that march forth in the chaotic moment in this portrait poem of a mother, daughter, and lover— As poets, how do we plum the depths of the mysterious relationships of love, without using the word love? Can we use the guises/ or disguises of love as springboards for our poems? Prior to the workshop, participants will be sent the poem with suggestions, prompts, and questions to stimulate their own writing. Each poet will bring one resulting poem to be discussed in depth.
Jean-Marie Saporito (F/NF/Memoir) – online only via Zoom
Does Anyone Really Know What Time it is?
Sundials, time pieces, cuckoo clocks, watches—humankind has been trying to capture the essence of time, well, from the beginning of time. As writers, we hurl our characters through narrative, capturing them in story time. Yet, story time rarely happens chronologically. The energy of a piece becomes dynamic when the narrative moves coherently through multiple dimensions. In this workshop, we will identify the craft structuring our characters’ experiences of time by identifying specific techniques used by such writers as Joan Didion, Toni Morrison, Lidia Yuknavitch, and Nick Flynn. From writing we will generate in the workshop, we will employ some of the techniques we’ve learned. This workshop is for prose writers, but poets are welcome, too!
Lauren Bjorkman (F/NF/M) – live
Level Up: Write Deep and Engaging Characters
In this generative workshop, you will learn strategies to develop and transform characters into living beings that readers care about. I will use fast-paced pen-on-paper or fingers-on-keyboard exercises to explore the elements of compelling character arcs, the ins-and-outs of using real people for inspiration, the Enneagram, the first ten actions, creating the secret lives of characters, and the nuances of agency. We will delve into these topics within the context of likeable/unlikeable characters, heroes, anti-heroes, villains, unreliable narrators, and secondary characters. Come prepared to talk and write. The workshop is designed for fiction, nonfiction, and memoir writers. An extensive list of resources will be provided.
Allison Hedge Coke – Dear World – Elegiac & Epistolary Days (P) – live
In the midst of incredible and terrible times the troubadour, the poet, pays tribute, tells the tale, and signals the people how to muster through while taking account of the witnessed, experienced, imagined, mourned; offering threads of portend, kinship, and intimate knowing to the world in which we live.
July 20, 2024
2:00 – 5:00
Faculty Readings Book signings/sales (live)
7PM – 9PM
Lauren Camp (P) – live
Poems are Time and Poems are Conversation
This generative session will ease you toward insights. Come prepared to read and discuss work by established poets. Then we’ll breathe into our own perspectives on contemporary society, landscapes and history. Expect direction, both loose and clear, that leads you to a natural unfolding. We’ll use this time to turn around our typical tone and syntax—and end the class by sharing writing in this supportive environment.
Johnny D. Boggs (F) – live
Minrose Gwin (F) – live
Beginning your first novel can feel like getting on a plane without knowing where you’re going or whether you’ll ever get there. Not to speak of the fact that you’re the pilot (an inexperienced one, perhaps?) and the fate of every passenger—passengers you yourself have created and invited on board–is in your hands. Taking off into that wide blue yonder is a leap of faith. Our workshop is about getting your novel off the ground with those first few sentences and paragraphs, that first chapter where tone, voice, image, setting, character begin to cohere and work their magic. In our time together, participants will do some writing, revising, and talking about beginnings: what makes a novel take flight for the reader and why.
Sawnie Morris (P) – online only via Zoom
Equanimity & The Long Poem
In these days of geo-political, environmental, military, social, and –– for some –– personal upheaval, the grounded feeling of equanimity can be hard to come by. The Buddha said that if we want to be happy, we need to be able to stand like a great tree amid praise and blame, gain and loss, pleasure and sorrow. In this workshop we’ll look at a forest of such trees comprised of ancient and contemporary poems that manage to convey just such equanimity – not by looking away, but by seeing clearly and articulating that seeing onto the page. We’ll consider a range of attitudes and attributes along with detailed strategies poets have used in making such poems, from the observational to the investigatory to the meditative –– and we’ll begin the creative process of writing our own equanimous poems. Time will be made for sharing initial efforts and for receiving feedback from the instructor.
Sharon Oard Warner (F) – online only via Zoom
Writing the Novella
Why write a novella? And why write one before embarking on a novel? Because the novella is the intermediate form: It’s more expansive than a short story, but trimmer than a novel. Novellas used to be considered awkward—too long to fit comfortably in the pages of most literary magazines and too short to be published alone. But, in our current culture, the novella is, to quote Debra Sparks: “Goldilocks form, not too much this and not too
much that but just right.”
Browse any of the dozens of novella listicles online and see what I mean:
60 Short Books You Can Finish in Basically One Sitting
20 Extraordinary Books You Can Read in One Sitting—Esquire
11 Short Novels from around the World That You Can Read in One Sitting—Electric Literature
In this three-hour Zoom class, you will learn about the history and structure of the novella. We’ll sort out the distinctions between short stories, novellas, and novels. Finally, I will propose a method for drafting a novella of your very own. We’ll conclude by brainstorming and sharing ideas.
July 21, 2024
9:00 – 12:00
Sawnie Morris (P) – live
PERCHANCE TO DREAM: CRAFTING OUR DREAMS INTO POEMS
From its earliest known incarnation, poetry has been shaped of dreams. The orchestration of language that creates our experience of a poem shares so much in common with our experience of dreams that what we call a poem may originate in our innate capacity for dreaming. We’ll begin by reading and discussing the work of contemporary poets who write successfully and movingly from their dreams, looking at craft moves that have made an internal experience into an inspiring poem for a reader. We’ll then experiment with shaping our own dream images and traces into a poem. Time will be made for sharing initial efforts and for receiving feedback from the instructor. Bring a dream (or two or three), written or held in memory. It may be from as long ago as childhood, or as recent as last night; it may be yours, or a borrowing from a generous dreaming other.
Julia Goldberg (Essay) – live
In 1997, the Seneca Review surveyed a growing body of work it deemed “poetic essays” or “essayistic poems,” noting that such hybrids “give primacy to artfulness over the conveying of information. They forsake narrative line, discursive logic, and the art of persuasion in favor of idiosyncratic meditation.” And the Lyric Essay was born. Or was it? Since then, the Lyric Essay has continued to defy simple categorization or labeling, and has lent itself to a still-evolving critical discourse regarding form, lyricism and intent.
In this course, attendees will read in advance for discussion several lyric essays by practitioners in different forms—including flash nonfiction, the hermit crab essay, collage work and the braided essay—and consider the ways in which these works conform to, expand and push the boundaries of various established and emergent techniques. Participants will then experiment with writing and discussing their own Lyric Essays, working across forms.
Materials: Essays will be provided in digital form in advance of the workshop to be read prior to the workshop. Attendees should bring: writing materials (notebook, paper or their laptop); one photograph (digital or otherwise) of personal importance.
Susannah Simpson (P) – online via Zoom only
Harness the Power of the Prose Poem
What is a Prose poem? Is it a real poem? How does this hybrid form free us? Can this poetic form enlist more intensity, more layering, and ultimately create a powerhouse of emotional content? Our quest will be to avoid sentimentality, hackneyed phrases and produce fresh imagery and language. The prose poem is one vehicle we may utilize in our poetic writing. We will find clues in contemporary prose poems by Mary Oliver, Sandra Alcosser, Kimiko Hahn and others. Using this exciting hybrid form as a roadmap, participants will review familiar poetic techniques: repetition, rhyme, imagery, metaphor, simile, and compression. We will practice using these tools to find the emotive sweet spot. Participants will also look at examples of the ancient Japanese poetic hybrid form zuihitsu. Using elements of both prose poems and zuihitsu participants will create their own versions of hybrid poems.
Allegra Huston (M) – live
Write What You Don’t Know
Are you thinking of writing a memoir, but you don’t know where to start? Maybe you’ve started but the words aren’t coming out on the page the way they sound in your head. Could the problem be that you’re writing what you know? When you write only what you know, it’s a slog. The result often feels stale and secondhand. Your inner critic sinks its teeth in. And writer’s block lurks on every page.
Mark Lipman(P/F/NF) – online only via Zoom
Developing Your Poetic Voice for Prose: How to Turn Your Story into a Masterpiece… a writing workshop in four parts
Unlocking the Poetic Voice: Through warm up exercises of working with structured verse to tell your story, we expand our use of vocabulary that enhances our unique storytelling voice.
Prompts, Lead-Ins and Idioms: In this section of the workshop we’ll be practicing ways to keep those creative juices flowing by developing prompts, lead-ins and the reworking of idioms into your writing habits, so that you always have something to say.
He Said, She Said: In this hour is where the page explodes with vibrancy and action, where the simplest turn of phrase becomes lightning from your pen. Bring your world alive with characters that jump off the page.
Cliffhangers: In our final hour, we will practice techniques for creating those twists and turns, for making your story exciting, and always on the verge of some great discovery that’s waiting just around the next bend.
The Taos Writers Conference offers lunchtime Roundtables on Saturday, Day 2 only.
These value-added lunch events are informative and free to attend. Bring your brown-bag lunch to the group discussions with local experts on topics of interest in the literary world.
Saturday 12-2 Author Book sales
July 20, 2024
Susan Mihalic (F/NF/M)
Working with Agents & Editors
In this lunchtime roundtable, author Susan Mihalic talks about her process for finding representation for her debut novel, Dark Horses, and how she worked with her agent and her editor to hone the manuscript into a taut, page-turning story.
Early Bird Registration ends 6/17/24. All registration closes on 7/11/24.
PLEASE NOTE OUR CANCELLATION POLICY: 100% refund minus a $35 administrative fee for cancellations dated 6/17/24 or earlier; 50% refund minus a $35 administrative fee for cancellations received between 6/18/24 – 7/10/24 No refunds given for cancellations received after 7/11/24.
Open Tues-Sat 12pm-4pm 575.758.0081 108 Civic Plaza Drive
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 3225, Taos, NM 87571
THANK YOU TO OUR FUNDERS
SOMOS programs are made possible in part by these organizations: New Mexico Arts, a Division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, and by the National Endowment for the Arts • Taos Community Foundation • The McCune Foundation • The National Endowment For The Arts • The Virginia Wellington Cabot Foundation • Taos County Lodgers Tax • TaosNetLLC for high speed internet service • LANL (Los Alamos National Labs) • New Mexico Humanities Council • Nusenda Foundation • Witter Bynner Foundation • Amazon Literary Partnership • Literary Emergency Fund