Essaying in Unconventional Forms
Do you have a story to tell, but struggle in knowing where to begin? Are there gaps in memory, or lulls in action, that make a traditional narrative arc unwieldy? Are you ready to try something new in your nonfiction writing?
This class is about setting aside the demands of chronology by embracing lyric structures. We’ll explore four different shapes, one each week—segmented essays, braided essays, hermit crabs (essays using found forms), and flash nonfiction / micro-memoir—by distilling basic craft principles, reading compelling examples from contemporary writers, and using prompts to get you started. Participants submit work for three out of the four weeks, taking a “pass” one week (a week of your choice) to focus instead on dialogue over assigned readings and classmates’ drafts.
Sandra Beasley is the author of Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life, a disability memoir and cultural history of food allergy. She is also the author of the poetry collections Count the Waves; I Was the Jukebox, winner of the Barnard Women Poets Prize; and Theories of Falling, winner of the New Issues Poetry Prize. In 2018, she edited the anthology Vinegar and Char: Verse from the Southern Foodways Alliance. Honors for her work include a Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts; the Munster Literature Centre’s John Montague International Poetry Fellowship; the Center for Book Arts Chapbook Prize; visiting writer fellowships at Wichita State University, Cornell College, Lenoir-Rhyne University, and the University of Mississippi; four DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities Artist Fellowships; and the Maureen Egen Exchange Award from Poets & Writers. Her prose has appeared in such venues as the New York Times, The Washington Post, Virginia Quarterly Review, Barrelhouse, and The Oxford American. She lives in Washington, D.C., and teaches as part of the University of Tampa’s low-residency MFA program.