Options in short forms have recently exploded under different labels: the prose poem, the short-short, flash fiction, and on and on. The door to this workshop will be open to all possibilities, whether fiction or nonfiction, memoir or personal reflections, short essays or prose poems. Expanding and intensifying meaning while condensing the form is not as easy as it sounds, but we’ll look at many published samples and use many in-class prompts before going off to our own private writing nests to fashion and polish our verbal gems. By the end of the workshop, we will have tried at least ten different options. The only restriction in this wide-open field will be length: “The reader should have to turn the page no more than once!” This class welcomes writers of all levels of experience and ambition.
Although for years Jim Heynen was best known for his collections of short-shorts about “the boys” (The Man Who Kept Cigars in His Cap, Graywolf Press; You Know What is Right, North Point Press; The One-room Schoolhouse, Knopf; and The Boys’ House, Minnesota Historical Society Press), in 2014 Milkweed Editions published his first collection of short-shorts that feature mostly urban characters: Ordinary Sins: After Theophrastus. Heynen has also published three novels (The Fall of Alice K., Milkweed Editions; Cosmos Coyote and William the Nice, YA, Henry Holt; Being Youngest, YA, Henry Holt), as well as several collections of poetry, including A Suitable Church, Copper Canyon Press and Standing Naked: New and Selected Poems, Confluence Press. He wrote prose vignettes for two photography books published by The University of Iowa Press, Harker’s Barns and Sunday Afternoon on the Porch. His one major nonfiction book, One Hundred Over 100, Fulcrum Publishers, featured 100 American centenarians. Heynen has frequently been featured on National Public Radio reading his own stories and has been awarded National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships in both poetry and fiction.