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Creative Writing Summit with Joseph Bathanti

  • Miller Hall 101 Ukrop Way Williamsburg, VA 23185 United States (map)


This session will gently introduce student-veterans to the basics/mechanics of effective poetry writing (techniques, terminology and forms), and will not presuppose any experience whatsoever in the reading or writing of poetry – though seasoned poets are welcome too. An extremely important warm-up component of the course will be careful readings and discussions of various poems and other texts the instructor will provide, via handouts, which will serve as models for the kinds of poems the students will write. These handouts are designed to simply expand awareness of the broad and eclectic range of poetry and the poets writing it, including a number of examples from military veteran poets. Approximately half of class time will be spent work-shopping student poems and we’ll engage in, through prompts, plenty of in-class writing assignments. The ultimate goal is to urge student-veterans to write about their military experiences, in whatever form or iteration that takes, but to also write about their lives apart from the military. We’ll start with the "occasion" of the poem, and the dramatic situation that engendered it, to reveal the story embedded in the poem. These sessions will emphasize narrative and will seek to demystify the process of writing and reading poetry. Students will have the opportunity to share what they’ve written in a no-pressure round-table workshop format.


This session will introduce student-veterans to the basics of autobiographical prose writing, whether fiction or creative nonfiction (personal essay), to relate what “really happened,” to uncover and discover the elusive ephemeral abstract known as truth. We will explore honestly the way we see things outside ourselves in relationship to ourselves and we’ll talk about what honesty, a term that can be particularly elusive in relationship to autobiography – but it is absolutely crucial to it – really means in the context of autobiography. This session will not presuppose any experience whatsoever in the writing of fiction or nonfiction, though seasoned prose writers are welcome. The ultimate goal is to urge student-veterans to write about their military experiences, in whatever form or iteration that takes, but to also write about their lives apart from the military. Student-veterans will be supplied with a few short texts, memoirs and short stories germane to war and life in the military, by military veteran writers, which they’ll read in advance of the session. We’ll spend the first half of the session discussing these pieces. We’ll also dig in on various craft issues (the nuts and bolts of writing prose): extended narrative, conflict, crisis, resolution, plot, point of view, characterization, dialogue and truly focused attention on place/setting. We’ll examine where stories come from, how to strike the necessary balance between aesthetic distance and intimacy and also issues of starting and maintaining the habit of writing. The second half of this session will be prompt-driven. The instructor will provide exercises and the students will not only write, but share, what they’ve written in a round-table workshop format.

When & Where: This workshop will take place William & Mary's Miller Hall located at 101 Ukrop Way, Williamsburg, VA 23185 on Saturday, June 1st and Sunday, June 2nd from 10 AM - 4 PM. Please note that we may split this workshop into two one-day sessions to accommodate participant demand. Should this occur, you can indicate your preferred session when applying below.

About the Instructor: Joseph Bathanti is former Poet Laureate of North Carolina (2012-14) and recipient of the 2016 North Carolina Award for Literature. He is the author of ten books of poetry, and his novel, East Liberty, won the 2001 Carolina Novel Award. Bathanti is Professor of Creative Writing at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, and the University’s Watauga Residential College Writer-in-Residence. He served as the 2016 Charles George VA Medical Center Writer-in-Residence in Asheville, NC.

Earlier Event: May 18
Acting Workshop