English | Theory & Craft of Writing
W680 | 25927 | Miller

W680  25927 AL MILLER
Theory & Craft of Writing

5:45p – 8:30p W



I have designed this class to appeal to fiction writers, poets, and
creative nonfiction writers alike, and hope we end up with a nice
mix. Think Joseph Cornell boxes and dreamscapes; think imp of the
perverse and “figure in the carpet”;  think masked balls and magic;
think scrimshaw and cameos; think “undulations of reverie”
(Baudelaire).  For me, prose poems and flash prose (fiction and
CNF)  are complex, intricate  forms that expand as much as they
distill.  Don’t let the “small size” fool you.  They’re hard to
write! Expect to read various practitioners of the above forms (both
contemporary and “old”), with a little criticism thrown in to shake
things up, and to  learn just  a bit about the history of and
variations on the forms.  We will consider the too-numerous-to-count
dimensions of  and permutations on what  makes us want to call
something a prose poem and not a short fiction and v.v.;  and we’ll
take as our focus concerns about lyricism, narrative line and/or “no
lines,” music, image, metaphor, language, slice of life/vignette
versus distillation, etc.  Expect to write and share work in class,
both scheduled and impromptu.  We will take  a more organic
alternative  to “traditional workshops” that I hope will allow for
both formal and informal conversations, so come with a flexible
outlook.  You can count on a schedule of regular, weekly writing
assignments that will culminate in a final portfolio of revised
pieces (you will be asked to present  a combo of “forms” tailored to
your own interests,  and a short critical piece of your choice
produced over the semester). You will be encouraged to experiment
with method, form, and vision (collaboration, more prose than poem,
more poem than prose, persona,
surrealism, “found,” “collage,” “translation,” mini-memoir, etc.),
and to work against your own strengths.

Other class requirements will include the following: occasionally-
scheduled,  thoughtful, formal critiques of peer work; full and
substantive participation  in each class session; out loud reading
of your work (sometimes on a schedule, sometimes not); a couple of
short  response papers on outside readings; and a willingness to try
new things and take some chances. And even if you never write
another prose poem or short prose piece again (as if you could
resist!), the point of this class is to open doors to the
unexpected, and perhaps help shed more light on the kind of writer
you are becoming. A number of literary magazines are now devoted to
these forms, so there is a practical side to this class, as well.