This course is for anyone who wants to improve their creativity, generate original work, and produce writing rich in vivid imagery—the kind that stops readers in their tracks and gets editors nodding their heads.
Together, we'll learn to push beyond clichés and illustrate life in new ways on the page. You’ll each workshop 3 pieces of a genre of your choosing (poetry, short fiction, personal essay, or memoir excerpt under 20 pages). We’ll also hold mini-workshops for writing we compose during in-class exercises, and discuss potential outlets for publication. For inspiration, we’ll look at a range of writers (Toni Morrison, Ocean Vuong, Hanif Abdurraqib, Devin Kelly, and others) to examine how they craft their own visual magic. Whether you’re a seasoned writer or just beginning to find your voice, this workshop will inspire you to put pen to paper and sharpen how you make use of sensory details across all kinds of writing.
Class meetings will be held over video chat, using Zoom accessed from your private class page. While you can use Zoom from your browser, we recommend downloading the desktop client so you have access to all platform features.The Zoom calls will have automated transcription enabled. Please let us know ([email protected]) if you have any questions or concerns about accessibility.
Check out this page for details about payment plans and discount opportunities.
- Receive specific, action-oriented feedback on your writing
- Acquire skills you can apply across all genres of communication
- Achieve the kind of visual specificity / richness that editors love
Students will be expected to read a few short pieces of published work outside of class time. Prompts will be given in class, and students will be asked to submit prompt responses to the workshop for verbal feedback from their peers and the instructor. Students will receive written and verbal feedback from the class on 3 pieces of a genre of your choosing (poetry, short fiction, personal essay, or memoir excerpt under 20 pages). Students will be expected to give written and verbal feedback on their peers' workshop submissions every week.
**Please note: you will be workshopped every other week**
Week 1: Introductions & First Lines
Week 2: Imagery of Imagination
Week 3: The Metaphorical Leap
Week 4: Avoiding Sensory Overload
Week 5: When to Show, When to Tell
Week 6: Goodbyes & Endings
Ben Purkert is the author of the forthcoming novel The Men Can't Be Saved (Overlook, 2023). His poetry collection For the Love of Endings (Four Way Books, 2018) was named one of Adroit's Best Poetry Books of the Year. His writing appears in The New Yorker, Poetry, The Nation, Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. The founding editor of Guernica's Back Draft interview series, he teaches at Rutgers. You can read more of his work at benpurkert.com or on Twitter (@BenPurkert).
"I want this book to float out into the cosmos to reach future and existing forms of intelligence—to let them know there was at least one beautiful/difficult, dark/brilliant side to us earthlings.”
"This is a poetry that makes a place for the tangential, the trace, the touch, a tomorrow.”
"[A] perceptive debut... The collection pings with delightful precision between the objects that connect people and those that divide."
"It was lit."