Mossy trees sprouting cherry blossoms at the University of Washington
This spring, I’m teaching a six-week class on contemporary fairy tales at Hugo House. We’ll read Angela Carter and Margaret Atwood and Sarah Shun-lien Bynum and Alissa Nutting, among other fantastic writers. We’ll talk about some of my favorite techniques, like everyday magic and intuitive magic. And we’ll try our hands at writing our own fairy tales. Class meets Wednesday nights 7-9 pm from May 25-June 29. Registration is currently open for Hugo House members; general registration opens March 22. Scholarships are available and applications are due on March 25.
Cloud cover & blossoms
I’m also teaching a 75-minute webinar on Saturday, April 16 called Powerful Objects via Inked Voices. We’ll talk about one of my favorite topics: how objects create a special kind of magic in fiction and how useful they are in developing character, plot, and emotional resonance. It’s a lecture-based class that will include writing prompts and a Q&A. The class will meet at 12 pm EST / 9 am PST and is just $25. We’ll talk about Cynthia Ozick’s story “The Shawl,” so please read that in advance. You can register here.
Speaking of fairy tales, right now at the Henry Art Gallery, you can see Paul McCarthy’s White Snow, a wildly whimsical and subversive take on Snow White. A few years ago, I saw his gonzo installation WS at the Park Avenue Armory in New York, a similarly subversive spin on Snow White but somehow less rich than the wood sculptures on view at the Henry. White Snow seems more artful, crafted, and thoughtful, whereas WS was a big raunchy frat party. The Henry is now free on Sundays (huzzah!), so go check it out. Perhaps it will inspire you!
Where is Arcimboldo when you need him?
My fourth set of writing prompts for the Ploughshares blog takes inspiration from objects, with wisdom from Italo Calvino, Elizabeth Kostova, Cynthia Ozick, Charles Baxter, Kate Bernheimer, RT Smith, and more.
In other news, an excerpt from my student Amber Murray’s intriguing essay “Thoughts on Abstract Thought and the Practice of Moving Things Around Until They Sit Just Right,” from this winter’s Visual Inspiration class, is up on the Henry Art Gallery’s blog! Exciting!
My bullet-point review of Julie Sarkissian’s debut novel Dear Lucy is up on the Ploughshares blog. Here’s how it begins:
Genre:literary fiction, debut.
Concerning: Lucy, a young woman whose different way of seeing and behaving has compelled her image-conscious, frustrated mother, Mum mum, to abandon her on a farm.
And: Samantha, a pregnant teenager on the same farm.
And: Missus and Mister, their caretakers. (And later, kidnappers of Samantha’s baby.)
And: two maybe-magical animals, namely, a talking baby chicken named Jennifer and a silent Yellow Eyed Dog.
In other news, I’ll be teaching at Richard Hugo House’s Write-O-Rama tomorrow. This will be the third time I’m pitching in for a fun day of mini-lessons and writing frenzies, with proceeds going to Hugo House. My mini-lesson will include reading Cynthia Ozick’s story “The Shawl” and thinking about how objects in fiction can take on tremendous power. Check out all the fabulous class descriptions here and come by tomorrow between 10 and 5!