Reed College Catalog

Samiya Bashir

Poetry.

Sara Jaffe

Fiction and nonfiction.

Peter Rock

Fiction and nonfiction. On leave 2014–15.

Creative writing courses at Reed are taught as workshops by practicing writers. Students write works of poetry and fictional and nonfictional prose, which are distributed to other participants in the workshop for review and critique. In addition to the workshops, occasional discussions and meetings with visiting writers are part of the program. Students are encouraged to participate in literary events both on and off campus and to create such events of their own.

Admission to creative writing courses requires consent of the instructor based on a writing sample. Creative theses are possible when faculty supervision is available and when the student’s work gains approval from the creative thesis committee.

Creative Writing 201 - Introduction to Creative Writing

The Short Story
Full course for one semester. In this course students will write short stories, and read the work of their classmates as well as that of published authors. Close attention will be paid to the narrative strategies used by writers such as Denis Johnson, George Saunders, Jamaica Kincaid, Lydia Davis, Percival Everett, and Junot Díaz to help the students in writing their own fiction. We will consider these various strategies when reading and responding to the work of peers. Class sessions will be used for discussion of assigned readings and work in progress. Enrollment limited to 15. Prerequisite: a writing sample of three to five pages, at least sophomore standing, and consent of the instructor. Conference.

Writing Creatively
Full course for one semester. This genre-free creative writing course is generative in nature and will focus on stimulating creativity. Students will do intensive in-class writing each week but very little “workshopping” in the traditional sense. We will focus on the basics of writing creatively: storytelling, image, rhythm, sound, metaphor, and character. Enrollment limited to 15. Prerequisites: a writing sample, either prose or poems, and consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2014–15.

Creative Writing 207 - Introduction to Creative Nonfiction: The Personal Essay

Full course for one semester. In this workshop students will write personal essays that cover a range of genres (such as memoir, analytic meditation, and portrait); they will also read and discuss published essays and the work of their peers. Class sessions will be used for discussion of assigned readings and work in progress. Enrollment limited to 15. Prerequisites: a prose writing sample of three to five pages and consent of the instructor. Conference.

Creative Writing 224 - Poetry Studio I

Rearranging the Mirrors
Full course for one semester. In Cole Swensen’s poem “The Painter Rearranges the Mirrors,” she writes: “You open a little door. The door could be anywhere.” This line will serve as our governing mantra in creating an entry point for approaching poetry and, in particular, for writing poems. We will examine the poem as portal, as a backstage all-access pass of our own making; and any other door left ajar will be ours to enter as figuratively as we please. In practical terms, this will translate to rigorous reading, writing exercises, and in-depth class discussion designed to hone the critical skills and strategies necessary to the craft. Heavy emphasis will be placed on encouraging and examining student work within a workshop format, but we will also cover a wide range of published poetry, contemporary and otherwise, from poets aligned with our thinking and poets diametrically opposed. Enrollment limited to 15. Prerequisites: a writing sample of three to five poems and consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2014–15.

Awakenings and Connections
Full course for one semester. According to Lucille Clifton, “Poetry began when somebody walked off a savanna or out of a cave, looked up at the sky with wonder and said, ‘Ah-h-h!’” In this introductory poetry studio students will engage in writing exercises designed to help them strengthen their poetry-writing skills. We will read, listen to, and analyze poetry written by nationally recognized authors in an attempt to find a common critical language that we will use while discussing student work. To that end, students will write poetry, both in and out of class, and will workshop that poetry with their peers. Enrollment limited to 15. Prerequisite: a writing sample of three to five poems and consent of the instructor. Conference.

Creative Writing 274 - Poetry Studio II

Full course for one semester. Variable topics. Enrollment limited to 15. Writing sample required. See specific listing for other prerequisites. May be repeated for credit. Conference.

The Ekphrastic Poem (Refractions in the Field)
Full course for one semester. In this course, the ekphrastic poem (a poem based upon another work of art, often in a different medium) will serve as the primary method by which we explore our writing. Ushering in influence from paintings, sculpture, film, photography, and other fields, we will study the refraction of image into word and the relationship between visual and verbal modes of expression. Collaborative investigation will include weekly writing exercises designed to strengthen general poetry-writing skills, as well as rigorous reading of a wide range of published poetry and essays, from Plato to Marcel Duchamp to Frank O’Hara to Claudia Rankine. Heavy emphasis will be placed on encouraging and examining student work within a workshop format, in addition to museum and gallery visits and group projects with local working poets and artists. Enrollment limited to 15. Prerequisites: a previous creative writing workshop course, a writing sample of three to five poems, and consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2014–15.

Writing
Full course for one semester. This studio is for students who have had experience in a poetry workshop. This workshop is directed at students interested in strengthening their general poetry-writing skills. We will focus on deep revision and will spend much of our time assessing student work. Prerequisite: a writing sample of three to five poems and consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2014–15.

Writing Place
Full course for one semester.  In this course we will read twentieth- and twenty-first-century poetry that is grounded in landscape and location, including texts by poets including William Carlos Williams, Gwendolyn Brooks, Fred Wah, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, and others. We will discover, through their considerations of form, history, and community, where and how their work, grounded in their particular environment, might be considered alongside our own work. Students will choose a place in which to focus their poetry as they work through writing exercises and workshop the poetry of their peers toward the making of a 12–20-page poetry chapbook. Enrollment limited to 15. Prerequisite: a previous creative writing workshop course is preferred although not required, a writing sample of three to five poems, and consent of the instructor. Conference.

Revision
Full course for one semester. This studio will focus on the craft of revision by concentrating on rhetorical strategies, point of view, logic, tone, subject matter, and the “why” of the poem. Students will be presented with a series of tools with which to tackle the often confounding, mysterious, and very gratifying task of revising poems. Students should have at least four poems they want to revise on the first day of class as our focus will be on revising current work, not generating new work. Enrollment limited to 15. Prerequisites: a writing sample of three to five poems by the published deadline and Creative Writing 224. Conference. Not offered 2014–15.

Creative Writing 321 - Special Topics Studio

Action
Full course for one semester. What does it mean for something to “happen” in fiction? What counts as “action”? In her essay “Telling Tales,” fiction writer and critic Lynne Tillman writes, “I think, thinking is an activity. An emotion may produce an action, be an action or a reaction.” In this course, students will write short fiction that explores the relationship between action, event, narrative, and plot. Students will write highly plotted stories and stories where “nothing” happens. Students will explore methods for creating tension in a story that moves beyond the exigencies of the conventional plot curve. The goal of this course is to deepen students’ understanding of how action works in fiction, and for students to explore and refine their approach to action in their own work. Readings include fiction, as well as some narrative theory, by authors including Viktor Shklovsky, Jane Bowles, Renee Gladman, Samuel Beckett, Patricia Highsmith, Teju Cole, and Paula Fox. Enrollment limited to 15. Prerequisite: a writing sample of three to five pages, one 200-level creative writing course, at least sophomore standing, and consent of the instructor. May be repeated for credit. Conference.

Creative Nonfiction
Full course for one semester. In this course, students with considerable experience as writers and an interest in the aesthetic and ethical issues involved in the practice of creative nonfiction will divide their time between a detailed, reading-as-writers consideration and discussion of essays and memoirs by a wide range of writers and a workshop in which the group carefully considers and critiques student essays. Enrollment limited to 15. Prerequisites: a writing sample of three to five pages, one 200-level creative writing course, at least sophomore standing, and consent of the instructor. May be repeated for credit. Not offered 2014–15.

Economy
Full course for one semester. This workshop is designed for students with considerable experience in writing short prose. Students will read stories and essays by published authors in order to learn how to manage effects economically, and to write with maximum efficiency and suggestion. Students will write one short piece of prose per week; critically responding to others’ work, and the revision of one’s own stories, will also be emphasized. Class sessions will be used for discussion of assigned readings and work in progress. Enrollment limited to 15. Prerequisites: a writing sample of three to five pages, one 200-level creative writing course, at least sophomore standing, and consent of the instructor. May be repeated for credit. Conference. Not offered 2014–15.

Fact to Fiction
Full course for one semester. This workshop is designed for students with considerable experience in writing short fiction. Students will read nonfiction, source material, poetry, and other documents along with fiction that is based on or inspired by these sources. Readings will include work by John Edgar Wideman, Angela Carter, Andrea Barrett, Maggie Nelson, and others. Students will choose and explore personal and factual sources and, over the course of the semester, write fiction that takes these sources into account. Special emphasis will be given to critical response to others’ work, and the revision of one’s own stories. Class sessions will be used for discussion of assigned readings and work in progress. Enrollment limited to 15. Prerequisites: a writing sample of three to five pages, one 200-level creative writing course, at least sophomore standing, and consent of the instructor. May be repeated for credit. Conference. Not offered 2014–15.

Linked Short Stories
Full course for one semester. This workshop is designed for students with considerable experience in writing short fiction. Students will read published stories by writers such as Munro, Hemingway, Joyce, Dybek, Díaz, and Porter that are linked by theme, character, plot, setting, and so on. Our goal will be to understand such connection as a generative device that lends dimension to fictional worlds. Student work will also focus on writing stories that are linked. Special emphasis will be given to individual voices, critically responding to others’ work, and the revision of one’s own stories. Class sessions will be used for discussion of assigned readings and work in progress. Enrollment limited to 15. Prerequisites: a writing sample of three to five pages, one 200-level creative writing course, at least sophomore standing, and/or consent of the instructor. May be repeated for credit. Conference. Not offered 2014–15.

Mentors
Full course for one semester. This workshop is designed for students with considerable experience in writing short fiction. Students will read several stories by one published author, such as O’Connor, Hemingway, Cheever, or Gaitskill, in order to learn from these writers by investigating their range. Special emphasis will be given to individual voices, critical response to others’ work, and the revision of one’s own stories. Class sessions will be used for discussion of assigned readings and work in progress. Enrollment limited to 15. Prerequisites: a writing sample of three to five pages, one 200-level creative writing course, at least sophomore standing, and consent of the instructor. May be repeated for credit. Conference. Not offered 2014–15.

Race and the Creative Imagination
Full course for one semester. Does race “matter” in creative writing? If so, how does it matter? How do we write about race—critically, reflectively, lyrically, politically? What needs to happen on the page in order to activate a piece of writing as being concerned with race? As individuals writing in a society deeply invested in race and racial identity (whether it admits it or not), are we always, automatically, writing about race? In this open-genre course, students will explore these questions and produce writing in response to them. Please note: though your writing itself may not be strictly autobiographical, this course will ask for you to allow yourself to be vulnerable, open, and critically self-reflective. Readings will include work across an array of literary genres, as well as critical texts, by writers including: Claudia Rankine, Hilton Als, Flannery O’Connor, Sarah Schulman, Etel Adnan, Samuel R. Delany, Jonathan Lethem, and Ronaldo V. Wilson. Enrollment limited to 15. Prerequisite: a writing sample of three to five pages, one 200-level creative writing course, at least sophomore standing, and/or consent of the instructor. May be repeated for credit. Conference.

Creative Writing 331 - Special Topics Studio

Advanced Poetry Workshop
Full course for one semester. The focus of this course is to provide an intensive critical forum for students to engage deeply with the practice of poetry. We will work to further each individual poem and the development of each poet, exploring various strategies to generate new work, reapproach revision, and extend our sense of what a poem can do. Enrollment limited to 15. Prerequisites: Creative Writing 224 and one other poetry workshop, a writing sample, and consent of the instructor. Conference.

FLASH MOB—Considering and Making Multimedia Poetries
Full course for one semester. This course will be an inquiry into craft and discovery of the multimedia poetries around us and within us. We examine the recent landscape to understand how these poetries and poetics work, how and where they succeed (and fail), and how they might move into the future. Through workshop we will study the work of others, including our peers, toward the completion of a larger poetic project. Enrollment limit to 15. Prerequisite: Creative Writing 224 and/or one other poetry workshop, a writing sample, and consent of the instructor. Conference.

Found Poems
Full course for one semester. This class will focus on finding poems in unusual places—on political blogs, in newspapers, in music lyrics, in movies, in want ads, in advertisements, by process of collaboration—everywhere. A large part of this class will be generative: we will spend a good deal of class time on in-class writing exercises, watching and listening to generative materials, all in an effort to broaden our sense of where we might find and how we might compose poetry. By course end students should have a series of poems composed by using and/or referencing nontraditional sources and materials. Enrollment limited to 15. Prerequisites: a writing sample of three to five poems by the published deadline, Creative Writing 201 or 224, or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2014–15.

Identity
Full course for one semester. Identity is an obsession for every writer. We attempt time and time again, and never quite to satisfaction, to decipher, elucidate, and shake a self into a sensible, determinate thing; but Identity is crafty, protean, and so yielding as to slip out of grasp. What or who is an identity? What are its particulars? Why is Walt Whitman’s sexuality spoken about as much as his poetry? Was William Carlos Williams a doctor or a poet? Who is the “I” speaking in a poem? In this course, we will focus on writing and reading poems that explore these questions and the attendant issues of authenticity, persona, dissemblance, and (auto)biography to stimulate the creative process. Heavy emphasis will be placed on examining student work within a workshop format. This studio is designed for students who have had extensive creative writing workshop experience. Prerequisites: Creative Writing 224, a writing sample of three to five poems, and consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2014–15.

The Family
Full course for one semester. The family is perhaps the most common (and challenging) topic for creative writers. The family is often the root of our most complex social interactions. This writing workshop will focus on the family as an entity against which the writer writes, from which the writer emerges, and through which the writer comes to a better contextual understanding of our world. In this course we will focus on utilizing traditional writing to create worldly, contextual, and poignant poems. We will also examine, discuss, and practice new ways of negotiating memory, privacy, and familial history. Students should expect to read essays, memoirs, and poetry related to the family. Prerequisites: Creative Writing 224, a writing sample, and consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2014–15.

Creative Writing 481 - Independent Study

One-half or full course for one semester. Independent writing projects. Prerequisite: consent of the instructor and the division.