Thursday, December 13

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8:00am: Breakfast

9:00-10:30: Guest Faculty Lecture: Ashley Mag Gabbert (P)

She Unnames Them’: Naming as an Invocation of Cross-Cultural Beliefs, Transformative Performance, and Tool for Enacting Social Change within Contemporary Poetry

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “[The poet] knows why the plain was strown with these flowers we call suns…why the great deep is adorned with animals, with men, and gods; for, in every word he speaks he rides on them as the horses of thought. By virtue of this science, the poet is the namer.” In this lecture, we will explore the role of the poet as a namer. We will consider the act of naming as an intersection between history and destiny; as both an element of poetic craft and as a tool for manifesting social change. What can contemporary poetry teach us that we don’t already know about ourselves? How can it affect our identities? Through a combination of interdisciplinary sources ranging from sociology to psychology to philosophy, we will develop the language we need to respond to this question while applying our ideas to contemporary poems by Danez Smith, Ada Limón, Chen Chen, and others. Salon 3

9:00-10:30: Guest Faculty Lecture: Michelle Castillo (All)

Creating Change through Arts & Culture

In this lecture, Castillo will be sharing how the arts and activism can be a vital tool to create social change and the importance of art-making as a form of survival and resistance to help build more inclusive, diverse, accessible, and sustainable communities. We will discuss how writers and artists can use their unique voices to create community-based programming that move communities toward positive change.”One cannot mobilize on one’s own. One needs one’s community.” This space is for discussion, listening, writing, and engagement. Salon 6

9:00-10:30: Faculty Lecture: Bill Rabkin (S)

The Greatest (Television) Story Ever Told: In this age of peak TV, there are nearly 500 new series being made every year… which means there are at least 5,000 episodic stories being told. With so many stories out there, how do you craft and structure one that feels fresh and vital to an audience sated with narrative? We’re going to look at one of the greatest TV stories  of the last decade– by one of the greatest TV writers of all time —   to find out. Salon 5

10:30-12:00 Guest Faculty Lecture: Jeff Meyers (S)

Work For Hire

Of course, you want to write your dream movie or TV show. But, well, it’s not always what happens first. It might not even be what happens, ever. In this talk, we’ll go over how one does work-for-hire in the movie business, how one writes a movie without losing their soul, and how one keeps sane when making changes you don’t believe in, because you’re just the writer for hire. Focus is essentially how you transition from writing a script that’s wholly your own to how you write a script for someone else: incorporating notes, learning how to navigate bad notes, understanding what a director really wants (versus the seemingly crazed changes they sometimes ask for), accepting the limits of your power, getting over yourself, understanding that the script process is about pleasing a whole lot of masters. Salon 5

10:30-12:00 Guest Faculty Lecture: Dan Smetanka (F)

Making Lemonade: Editing a Really Long Bad Chapter Into a Great Much Shorter Chapter

In this talk, we’ll take a look at a really bad, really long chapter cut and re-arranged from a book you might have read…and how it was turned into a completely different chapter all together, that wasn’t so damn awful. [Pages will be available via email and in office] Salon 6

10:30-12:00 Guest Faculty Lecture: Maggie Downs (NF)

The Scent of Travel Writing

Part-discussion, part-hands on exercise, we’ll look at how fragrance can be employed to convey place in essays and articles, with a special focus on travel writing. You’ll read examples of pieces that effectively use scent to transport the reader and discuss how to use this sense to make your writing more engaging. We’ll finish with a brief writing activity in which each participant will receive an individual aroma to describe and discover what the fragrance evokes. Salon 3  

12:00-1:00 Lunch

1:00-1:30: Spring Graduates Meeting – REQUIRED 

1:30-2:30: The Coachella Review

Hey, what’s one more thing that many grads and alums you’ll see speaking this week, like John Flynn-York, Chih Wang, Maggie Downs, David Olsen and Heather Partington also have in common? They’ve all done work for The Coachella Review, UCRPD’s thriving online literary magazine and blog! For a fairly small commitment of time, you too can soon find yourself mastering real world editing and marketing experiences, connecting with working writers and artists, gaining publication opportunities and building your resume. Come on by to hear the current editors, as well as faculty editor Gina Frangello, talk about diverse opportunities for involvement, the ins and outs of working with the TCR team, and how your particular talents can help our program’s magazine continue to grow!

2:45: Graduate Lecture: Leslie Gonzalez

Let’s Cross Over: Character Transformation in Portal Fiction and Facing the Unknown

One of the first stories we think about in portal fiction is C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, how little Lucy enters the mythical realm of Narnia through an old Wardrobe. However, portal fiction is much more than entering one world to another, it is a metaphor for change in the protagonist’s mind, body, and character. They’re forced to face the “unknown” and are pushed to cross over. In this lecture, we will define portal fiction, what makes portal fiction, how to recognize said portal in fiction, and how portals represent change in a hero’s story. Follow us through the proverbial rabbit hole and into a space of the great unknown.

3:25: Graduate Lecture: Jorge Alvarado

The Why and the How of Creative Writing in a Second Language

Due to the individuality of the writing process, it is difficult to describe with precision what happens in the writers’ mind when writing in a second language. But we can identify common elements in literary pieces that tell us something about how second-language writers build their relationship with their writing language and with the reader. Creative writing is—in either first or second language—an individual exploration. Creative writing in a second language is not a new tendency or fashion. Its process has nothing to do with that of translation, but with the paradigm of what it means to find a voice when writing in a second language. The analysis of some passages from literary pieces created by contemporary writers in their second language, and the use of syntax and other literary devices to set up characters and themes, will provide the basis for this discussion.

4:00: Graduate Lecture: Anne-Liisa Larks

What Point of View Can Do For You

What exactly is Point of View? In this lecture we will dig into the intricacies of Point of View – that hard to define but often used writer’s tool. We will examine the works of Kelly Link, F. Scot Fitzgerald, Elizabeth Strout, Joshua Ferris, and Annie Eranaux, among others. In the hands of experts we will see that point of view is more than the eyes of your novel or the perspective of your narrator, it is the brain of the entire operation.

4:40: Graduate Lecture: Laura Jo Brunson

Life is Short. Two American Classics on Living Life to the Fullest.

For nearly a hundred years, two tragic love stories have captured the imaginations of readers and moviegoers around the world. Although Their Eyes Were Watching God and The Great Gatsby are as different as night and day, the similarities they share beyond tragedy are compelling.  Come explore the tension that gives depth and beauty to these American masterpieces from the first half of the 1900s. These love stories leave no doubt that life must be lived in the now because no matter what race you are, no matter how rich or poor, life is short.

5:15: Graduate Lecture: Heather Wehland

Cinderella Again: Retelling Fairy Tales in Modern Literature

As writers we seek our own voice, our own stories, something new and shiny to offer our readers that they’ll never have seen before. Yet we continue to turn—as writers and readers—to the stories we already know. Cinderella. Beauty and the Beast. Snow White. Stories about fairies and magic, mischief and curses, love, monsters, transformation. What is it that draws us to such familiar territory time and time again? Why have fairy tales aged so well? And how can we use them to reward and subvert our readers’ expectations?

8:00 Evening Program: The Table Read with Screenwriters & Playwrights