Craft Talk Series

Generating Ideas

Getting ready for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)? Or embarking on a novel on your own timeline? Is something nagging you about your project? Need to talk through arcs and characters? Here’s a chance to get a running start for November 1st with advice from an experienced editor.

Reserve your spot now! Seating limited to 30 participants.

Haiku, Tanka, and Day Jobs

Raven Mack will give a presentation on his various creative works–-including short forms of poetry, prose writing, zine and book self-publishing, and how to encourage and cultivate rebellious and healing creative acts even while attempting to navigate the mundane day-to-day worlds we sometimes get caught up in. This will be an interactive presentation, with brief free-writing interludes of crowd involvement and sharing. Raven Mack enjoys listening way more than talking, so come prepared to interact. Or just listen.

Parrhesia in a Post-Fact Regime

What is truth, and how does one speak truth in a post-fact, post-truth era? How should poetry, an art form firmly invested in fiction, artifice, as well as multiple types of truth, embrace or look askance at a contemporary moment and modality that no longer adheres to logic? In this craft talk, using the rhetorical figure of parrhesia, which means to speak candidly and boldly in the face of authority even under the threat of death, I will investigate how poetry and poets might utilize parrhesia as both resistance and potential engine for the creation of poems and poetry.

Writing Poetry as Witness

 “What three things can never be done?

Forget. Keep silent. Stand alone.”

            Muriel Rukeyser, “The Book of the Dead” (1938)

Poetry’s imperative, to speak and remember, calls on writers to stand witness to the struggles and crises around us. One technique that poets can employ was pioneered by Muriel Rukeyser in “The Book of the Dead”: the documentary poem.  

Turning Someday into Today

How often have you put off writing because you “didn’t have time,” only to find yourself streaming Netflix or watching cat videos online? It happens to the best of us. However, instead of continually beating yourself up over this behavior, there is a better way. There is a skill-set that can be nurtured where people can move their “Someday” thinking to “Today” thinking.

Ask the Editor 2017

We're bringing back this popular craft talk for 2017! We're also adding a social hour to the event--so bring your dinner and eat with fellow writers before the craft talk begins (at 7 PM). It's a great chance to meet other writers, trade writing tips, talk about favorite books, or even just browse our smALL Press Library. 

Writer's Craft Talk: Got Plot?

This experiential learning opportunity will cover advanced novel-sized concepts that can benefit both the beginner and seasoned authors. We will break down complex master-level concepts into simple and highly accessible lessons. This class can benefit all writers, including novelists, short story writers, screenwriters and playwrights. 

Master the art of plot with seven secrets of successful writers. Learn how to assemble an amazingly effective plot-lovers tool belt by fusing the lessons of seasoned authors and master storytellers. 

Craft Talk: How to Write Endings

“I love the story/novel—but in the end, the end didn’t work for me” is an ironic rejection many a writer has gotten back from an editor. All good things must end, but how do you end a story? What makes an ending feel like the end, what actions, revelations close a story or novel successfully for the reader? We’ll talk about some classic narrative structures, famous endings and, together, brainstorm ideas for your own work. 

This project is funded in part by a grant from the Madison Arts Commission, with additional funds from the Wisconsin Arts Board.

Craft Talk: Dynamic Storytelling

You will learn techniques to mine your life experiences to find stories. Participants will also learn about narrative structure and the essential elements to tell a compelling five-minute story. This will be an interactive workshop.

This project is funded in part by a grant from the Madison Arts Commission, with additional funds from the Wisconsin Arts Board.


Ready to Visit?

Arts + Literature Laboratory is located in Madison’s Schenk-Atwood neighborhood at 2021 Winnebago Street, Madison, Wisconsin 53704.

Gallery hours are Tuesday-Saturday 11am-3pm during exhibitions or by appointment. Please check the exhibitions calendar before planning your visit, as the gallery is closed between exhibitions and other schedule changes are posted here.


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