the 5th annual
Taos Writers Conference
Friday, July 23 to Sunday, July 25, 2021
Due to COVID restrictions the 2021 Taos Writers Conference will be held online via Zoom. Zoom links for each workshop/event will be forwarded prior to the conference as well as any pre workshop materials. Attendees need to either use their desktop, laptop, tablet or iphone to access the Zoom links.
FRIDAY - July 23, 2021
10:00 – 4:00 One-Day Online Intensives
Darryl Wellington: Writing Fiction and Nonfiction about Racism
Connie Josefs: How We See: Description in Memoir
Bob Arellano: Six Sudden Starts
Levi Romero: Form Follows Content
Veronica Golos & Catherine Strisik – Breaking Out!! Year Two!
Online keynote with Luci Tapahonso
SATURDAY - July 24, 2021
Registration and coffee
Jeremy Paden: Writing Alongside History
Ari Honarvar: Developing a Sustainable Writing Practice Through Joy
CMarie Fuhrman: Writing Tight: Flash Memoir
Jasminne Mendez: The Best of Both Worlds: Welcoming Poetry and Poetic Elements into Your Prose
Johanna DeBiase: Writing the Imaginal
Lunch (on your own), book sales, and roundtable brown bag lunch discussions
Mary Oishi: Transforming Scars to Art
Jenn Shapland: The Art of Research in Nonfiction
Margaret Garcia: Finding Authentic Stories
David Meischen: Fictional Mastery: The Short-Short Story
Linda Addison: Poetry Forms for All Writers
Panel Discussion – “Writing about Race, Class, Culture & Gender”:
Moderator: Juan Morales
Panelists: Frank X Walker, Mary Oishi, Stephanie Han, David Meischen, & Jenn Shapland
SUNDAY - July 25, 2021
Coffee and book sales
Stephanie Han: Identity and Voice: The Narrative of Group and Self
Juan Morales: Writing the Poems of Our Land
Eddie Tafoya: Allowing the Reader to See: How to Bring more Dynamism and Movement into your Prose
Frank X Walker: Harvesting History & Headlines
INTENSIVES ($175 Early Bird/ $199 Late Registration)
Choose one from the following five, all-day Intensive classes.
Each class runs from 10:00 – 11:30 and 1:00 – 4:00 on Friday only.
Weekend Workshops AND Friday Intensive: $429/$479
July 23, 2021
10:00 – 4:00
Writing Fiction and Nonfiction about Racism
I will lead a six hour intensive. The class will be divided into 2 parts. In the first part, I will draw on my experience as a journalist and essayist to talk about many issues involved in handling racial themes. In the second half, we will respectfully discuss manuscripts.
Participants will need to pre-submit a manuscript (20 pages max) to be shared beforehand between the group.
This workshop is for writers who want to develop material related to their personal experiences ( or the experiences of their characters) in a multi-cultural and often racist society. It may be helpful to writers dealing with how to honestly describe their own cultures, or writers aspiring to deal with cultures outside of their own, and wondering: How do I facilitate my personal path towards dealing honestly with this volatile subject? And write complex stories that fulfill an anti-racist commitment? What are the boundaries? What should I think about first ? What do I have permission to say? Or write?
How We See: Description in Memoir
“How we see the world reveals who we are.” —Ocean Vuong
Memoir is an imagining of the past, a re-creation of sights, sounds and experience.
When we write, the details of scene also reveal the one who is looking. The way the
narrator sees, hears and feels lets us know who they are. In this workshop we will
explore how description illuminates the character of the narrator and offers access to
their inner world.
Labels or description
Depicting the inner life
Language and intimacy
Workshop format includes advance readings, discussion, writing exercises and
6 Sudden Starts
Over the course of one day, Arellano will guide you through six quick generative-writing sessions designed to mine the unconscious and unearth valuable raw material for stories, novels, screenplays, new media, or hybrid forms of literary art. Writing will be interspersed with flash-feedback forums less intended for critique than to catalyze ideas for continuing to work on the day’s starts. This workshop is great for writers of all levels and all genres, as well as for teachers of writing and the arts to take strategies back to their own classrooms. Among the special, secret recipes for creativity that he has refined over the years, Bob promises that you will write about something — and perhaps six things — you never before imagined. At the end of the day, Bob will offer tips gleaned from his 30 years of experience in publishing for getting your work considered by magazines, literary journals, and anthologies.
Forms Follows Content
Poems rarely come to us as structured stanzas with enjambment, end-stop, and other poetry devices. They sometimes first reveal themselves as snippets of stories. The mistake we can make is to discard a good story, thinking that it should have been a poem. But the last thing in poetry is the poem. Form Follows Content is a workshop designed to inform the process of crafting poems out of stories. The workshop will also address the relationship between the spoken and the written word, using poetic structure to find the sound, rhythm, pacing and emotional heartbeat of the poem. Bilingual writing is welcomed.
Veronica Golos & Catherine Strisik
Breaking Out! Year Two!
Taos poets Veronica Golos and Catherine Strisik are at it again co-teaching during the Taos Writer’s 5th Annual Conference.
We call this Breaking Out because we want to explore breaking from the usual way we write, into something untested, yet inspirational. We will send a packet of poems before the workshop, to inspire, involve, and to perhaps imitate. Take a chance on a different form, or idea, burst through with trust and courage!
We will begin with your poems opened and set free, and celebrated!
You will have the opportunity to work with each of us within the group as we alternate between prompts and the stimulation of suggested poets/poems shared prior to the workshop.
Here’s an opening line and window: I looked like someone else;
We look forward to having you join us!
WORKSHOPS ($299 Early Bird/ $325 Late Registration)
Choose one workshop from each time slot for Day 2 and Day 3.
Weekend Workshops AND Friday Intensives: $429/$479
July 24, 2021
9:00 – 12:00
Writing Alongside History
In this three hour workshop we look at strategies to write poetry that engages with history. We will consider a number of approaches: direct retelling of historical moments and narration from the margins, persona poems, ekphrastic poems that take up historical and cultural objects, and erasure poems. A packet of poems will be sent to participants that illustrate the various approaches we will discuss, as well prompts. The first hour will consist of discussing the poems from the packet and the rest of the time we will review and workshop participant poems.
Developing a Sustainable Writing Practice Through Joy
What is pleasurable is sustainable. Often, when writers get stuck, it’s because the joy has evaporated. Unwelcomed anxiety about the future of the project, guilty feelings when not writing, or resentment about competing responsibilities, subsume the writer’s joy.
In this 3-hour workshop, we’ll explore orienting toward what is pleasing in the moment through the channels of the imagination, the five senses, memory, and movement with music. This type of meditative exploration helps us become more resourced so we can access deeper wells of creativity and problem-solving. Besides orienting and writing exercises, we’ll tune in to our own temperaments and natural rhythms—what type of writing schedule suits us, how to cultivate sufficient conditions for creative writing, and discovering our own balance between productivity and pleasure.
Writing Tight: Flash Memoir
What can we say in under 900 words that opens entire worlds? How much can we compress a memory before it explodes? This course is designed for writers of all levels who want to develop new work and explore the forms of memoir vignettes/flash memoir and personal essays for the purpose of storytelling. We will examine memoirs and essays in the short form and generate a variety of drafts through writing prompts and share some of our experiences and highlights of our drafts. Students will come away with a better understanding of the structure of flash memoir/vignettes as well as a handful of starts to energize their nonfiction writing practice.
The Best of Both Worlds: Welcoming Poetry and Poetic Elements into Your Prose
One of the greatest pieces of advice I received from a mentor once was: “You don’t have to give up being a poet to write prose.” In this generative writing workshop, we will explore the lyric and braided essay form and how poetry and poetic elements can be integrated into the narrative of a piece in creative and interesting ways. We will look at examples of essays that incorporate poetic strategies such as repetition, alliteration, imagery and even rhyme, and we will use prompts to create our own lyric or braided essays.
Writing the Imaginal
Writing is an intellectual art form and over-intellectualization can often lead to such struggles as writer’s block or writing that feels unnatural and overwrought. In this class we will leave our egos at the door and call on the subconscious, the emotional body and energetic space to generate fresh writing and revelations. Students will be guided into relaxed theta states using visualization. From this place, we will draw on divination, dreams, imagery and archetypes to explore deeper realms of creativity. We will also discuss ways in which rituals can be used to enhance our writing practice and explore physical embodiment methods that will add more depth to our language. Students will depart class with new writing, inspiration and techniques. This three-hour workshop is for writers of all genres and at all levels.
July 24, 2021
2:00 – 5:00
Transforming Scars to Art
We have endured collective trauma in recent years. How do we write about these sudden jolts to our day-to-day habituated comfort?
In this workshop, community agreements will be established at the outset to create safe space to discuss difficult events and topics. Together we will learn:
- Why it is important to transform traumatic events into artful words.
- Pitfalls in trauma writing, and how to avoid them.
- Examples of successful “trauma poems.”
- Methods for addressing trauma writing that facilitate healing, “enoble” the event by highlighting the human spirit; and create understanding, kinship, and hope for others.
Participants may bring a trauma poem and revise during the workshop—or write a new poem using the tools and concepts of the workshop—or both. Respectful critiques will involve the writer and will proceed by peer and instructor questions rather than by statements or judgments.
The Art of Research in Nonfiction
How can you incorporate research into your writing without boring your reader—or yourself? Drawing on her work as an archivist and her research into the life of Carson McCullers, Jenn Shapland leads a workshop on research in nonfiction writing. From interviews to archival research, research can take many forms and doesn’t have to be academic. Each workshop attendee will bring a short sample of a project they’re working on that incorporates research for us to read and respond to. We’ll also consider ways that writers can experiment with form by looking at examples from Claudia Rankine, Layli Long Soldier, Eula Biss, and others.
Margaret Elysia Garcia
Finding Authentic Stories
How will all writers (BIPOC or not), move beyond the tropes and stereotypes and authentically deliver writing that speaks to lived experience? What will those stories be? How can all of us be better listeners and observers when we create characters out of the ‘real’ world? When we look around our worlds are we truly seeing all the stories that are out there? How do we get readers to see the vast diversity within any given ethnic group, class, or culture?
The three-hour workshop would be broken down into a lecture on my struggle to find voice among the clamor for tired tropes, pushing through labels with a short example from my new work, a guided writing exercise on finding authentic characters that voice an experience not in the realm of stereotypes, discussion and a sharing of work among willing participants. At the end of the workshop, attendees should have the beginning of something to work on that demonstrates centering a character in a new way, with new eyes and perspective.
Fictional Mastery: The Short-Short Story
A short-short story has all the elements of other forms of fiction—the short story, the long short story, the novella, the novel. Mastering the short-short, however, offers writers invaluable insight into the art of condensation: how to establish setting and character, how to engage readers in a moving arc, how to select effective details, how to arrive quickly at a satisfying close—all in the space of two to five pages. In this three-hour class, participants will read and examine two or three short-shorts, including a jewel by Tobias Wolff. The presenter will include one of his own published short-shorts, along with his insights into the process that achieves successful compressed fiction. Participants will write and share exercises designed to elicit effective short-short stories. Please have a laptop or tablet computer with you.
Poetry Forms for All Writers
Not just for poets: a workshop to play with the different poetry forms to use less words to say more; heighten readers’ emotional reaction, clarify your style/voice and handle writing blocks. We will explore several poetry shapes (ex. Haiku, Cinquain, Fibonacci, Concrete) and their rules to understand how they are created. There is also an exercise that takes a couple of sentences and converts them to poetry, as a method to get unstuck when feeling blocked and show how compression of words can create interesting writing. Attendees will practice writing for each form, including creating writing “seeds” to start the workshop. There will be time, depending on the number of attendees, for each person to share their work for feedback, if they choose.
I write with attendees, as the exercises are done, to show some of the methods I use to make my work more engaging to the reader.
July 25, 2021
9:00 – 12:00
Identity and Voice: The Narrative of Group and Self
This workshop will cover both the process and craft of writing fiction. How does an individual’s voice determine how stories are shaped, which stories are told. How do we write ourselves into being? What are the limits and possibilities of the stories of the group and the stories of the individual—how do fiction writers wrestle with the paradox of belonging and emotional truth telling? Why does authorship of life affect story?
This workshop stresses voice and participants will be asked to both write and share as we engage with approaches to solving issues that arise when writing fictional narratives. Exploration about how voice shapes story will enable students to approach their work with a new lens and confidently author the stories that only they can write. Writers will leave with a different idea about their writing process as they engage with the craft of fiction.
Writing the Poems of Our Land
In this generative workshop, Morales will focus on place, the diverse voices that preserve it, and the make-up of our cultures, foods, communities, and homes. With careful exploration, the workshop will look at the poets like Jake Skeets, Natalie Diaz, Kevin Young, Ilya Kaminsky, and others that use forms, stanzas, and lines to teach us how we protest, acknowledge, and protect our geographies with our words and poems.
Allowing the Reader to See: How to bring more Dynamism and Movement into your Prose
Writers of novels, short stories, articles, and essays must compete with primarily visual media like films and television. This workshop is designed to assist writers in stepping up to the challenge by exploring ways to craft individual sentences, paragraphs, and scenes in order to make the one’s prose more visual, fluid, and dynamic—and therefore more engaging.
In the first half of the class we examine techniques and strategies including
- Choosing the most effective point-of-view, from the wide-angle, to the mid-range, to the close-up;
- Finding the perfect verb;
- Bringing movement and dynamism into every sentence.
In the second half of the workshop we will discuss individual pieces, assess what is working and we will explore ways to polish, refine, and create dynamic scenes. Participants are encouraged to bring their own works-in-progress.
Frank X Walker
Harvesting History & Headlines
Interrogating some of American history’s most troubling moments, participants will separate truth(s) from authenticity on the page (screen). Utilizing research, memory, empathy, and imagination, Professor X, master of the persona poem, will lead workshop participants through original writing and thinking exercises designed to generate new work grounded in historical truth(s) or pulled directly from the evening news.
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.
July 24, 2021
Demystifying the traditional publishing industry
This forty-five minute talk will cover necessary steps from inception to publication and then take questions, including querying an agent, preparing for publication, editing, the submission process, and all the elements and people who go into a finished product.
July 24, 2021
SOME THINGS TO THINK ABOUT WHEN PREPARING A POETRY MANUSCRIPT
Open Tues-Fri 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 • Taos Community Foundation • The McCune Foundation • The National Endowment For The Arts • The Virginia Wellington Cabot Foundation • The Peter And Madeleine Martin Foundation for the Arts • The Santa Fe Community Foundation • Taos County Lodgers Tax • The Richard B. Siegel Foundation • TaosNetLLC for high speed internet service • LANL (Los Alamos National Labs) • New Mexico Humanities Council