This course is designed for writers who work in short personal essays or extended prose memoirs and sometimes find themselves stuck on the varieties of past and present verb tenses, not to mention the pesky “perfect” forms that can sabotage the best of sentences. To understand how time works within memoirs, we need to be able to manipulate several time zones at once: the present moment of the writer engaging with the subject; the past tense of events that happened once and only once, and the ever-present time zone in which the impact of those events continues to live on in the mind of the writer and reader. The course will use exercises and revision techniques to help us understand how to manipulate the presentation of time in nonfiction memoirs. You should plan to bring either a short personal essay or a section from a memoir in process.
Nancy K. Barry (Ph.D., University of Illinois) is a playwright and essayist who teaches creative writing, poetry, and nonfiction at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. Her essays have appeared in Iowa Woman, the Chicago Tribune, and the Baltimore Sun. In 2010, she transformed a memoir about her year spent teaching writing and undergoing breast cancer treatment into a one-woman show, Lessons from Cancer College, produced in several theatres in Iowa and Minnesota. In 2016, she began a weekly radio broadcast (KLWC, Decorah) called “The Naked Page,” a call-in show to cultivate conversations among writers about their work and craft.