The Workshops for Summer 2018 at Realm Academy in Berkeley
VONA Faculty

A Week at VONA

–Workshop Descriptions Below–

Session One: June 17-June 23, 2018 

Fiction with Shay Youngblood
Poetry with  Willie Perdomo
Poetry with Patricia Smith
Memoir with Elmaz Abinader
Genre Fiction with Marjorie Liu
Prose Residency with David Mura
Political Content in Story, Poem and Memoir with Jeffrey Renard Allen

Session II: June 24-June 30, 2018

Fiction with M. Evelina Galang
Travel Writing with Faith Adiele
Memoir with Beth Bich Minh Nguyen
Poetry with Samiya Bashir
Essay with Kiese Laymon
Speculative Fiction with Tananarive Due
Poetry Residency with Craig Santos Perez 

Class Descriptions

Fiction:  Writers-of-Color exchange work and explore stories generated from our often unrepresented narratives. We focus on craft, our authority and voice. We define strategies and techniques to help us develop our art. We talk about our challenges and our impact on literature and culture.

Poetry: The poetry workshops examine the writer’s work as writers exchange and talk about their poetry. Poets also have opportunities to generate new writing with daily writing practices. Discussions include craft and content, style and substance. Poets share information on navigating the literary world.

Memoir: Telling the story of lives, your own, your family’s, your community’s rewrites history, creates a voice and a presence of the underrepresented, the unseen and the  silent. We exchange work and share ideas on how to shape and represent without being representational.

Genre Writing:  In this workshop, writers explore popular fiction from urban romance, science fiction, mystery, fan fiction to graphic narrative. How genre fiction translates our world and addresses issues of political and cultural importance are part of the discussion. Additionally, writers will hone their techniques in characterization, plot, form and creating worlds. We exchange about ideas about craft and publishing.

Travel Writing:  Travel Writing invites writers of any genre concerned with (internal) cultural encounters or (external) physical journeys to exchange and develop their work. This includes journeys of moving back and forth between language and culture; embarking on roots journeys or road trips; living as an expat or multicultural family member; being a nomad; climbing from working to middle class; our family’s escape / exile / emigration / immigration; leaving home or dropping out of college; setting out on pilgrimages or spiritual quests; going abroad; walking the road to recovery every day.

Essay Writing:  Writers are invited to develop meaningful essays that push past rhetoric and polemics. This workshop develops the voice of the essayist and discusses strategies for thoughtful commentary and analysis. Working on every form of essay from the lyric to the editorial, writers morph their ideas into vital insights. Reading, writing exchange and evaluation are at the center of this workshop.

Speculative Fiction: This workshop cultivates writers of speculative fiction. Aliens, monsters and magic are welcome. The primary emphasis is literary quality—particularly characterization, story structure, use of details, and point-of-view. Additionally, writers strengthen skills in world-building, fantasy logic, integrating science within their fiction, and other genre-specific issues that emerge over the course of the workshop.

Residency—Prose: A residency for prose writers—fiction or memoir. Students spend extensive one-on-one time with the instructor. This is not a traditional workshop. Students receive readings and material written from the faculty before the class. This reading covers issues facing writers of color, the writing process, writing techniques, and questions about the student’s own writing.

Residency—Poetry: Poets who take residency intensive focus one-on-one time with the faculty as well as participate in group work. While this is not a traditional workshop, the writer receives personalized attention and gets the opportunity to generate writer and to exchange with their residency colleagues. The class direction is determined by the group and guided by the faculty member. Some discussion on voice, technique, quality, style among other topics are explored.

Political Content in Story, Poetry and Memoir: Writers of any genre are encouraged to shape their work with an emphasis on translating, witnessing, transforming, nuancing and impacting perceptions—sometimes with the backdrop of a particular political moment; other times by distilling and deconstructing ideals and practices. We exchange our writing and develop voice and authority while working on techniques to elevate the richness and toughness of our form and move toward transcendence.

This workshop was not just about writing and memoir–it was also part philosophy, ethnic studies and the basics of human goodness.

Memoir 2017