This workshop is based on the premise that the “whole” story is made up of parts, that writing a memoir starts with a compilation of many pieces—episodes or anecdotes or stepping-stones or moments held in memory. Designed for those who are in the process of sketching out these moments, this workshop will look at ways to “fashion a text” as Annie Dillard says, from “fragmentary patches of color and feeling,” especially those trying to write about family with its many competing voices. We will look for form inherent in the material, narrative potential, and vividness in language and detail. We will also spend some time looking at short nonfiction examples to discover the possibilities of form. But the majority of the workshop will be given to reading your work by an informed and sympathetic audience. Please bring two short pieces of your work in progress, a variety of questions, and a curiosity about how all of this is done.
James McKean (M.F.A., The University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop; Ph.D., The University of Iowa) writes nonfiction and poetry. His poems have appeared in journals such as Poetry, The Atlantic Monthly, The Georgia Review, The Southern Review, and Poetry Northwest among others, and have been featured in Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry. His nonfiction has appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Gray’s Sporting Journal, The Gettysburg Review, and The Iowa Review, and his essays have been reprinted in The Best American Sports Writing 2003 and the 2006 Pushcart Prize anthology. He has published three books of poems, Headlong (1987), Tree of Heaven (1995) and We Are the Bus (2011), and a book of essays, Home Stand: Growing Up in Sports (2005). A new collection of essays, Bound, is forthcoming this year from Truman State University Press. A Professor Emeritus at Mount Mercy University, he still teaches for the Queens University low-residency M.F.A. program, the Tinker Mountain Writers’ Workshop and, most recently, as a visiting professor in The University of Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program.