This class on the personal essay emphasizes writing exercises and reading for inspiration, as well as workshop-style feedback. You will choose the particular aspects you like from the essays we read—a word, a sentence, an opening, a structure, a subject—as beginnings, or launching pads, for your own essays. For instance, beginning every sentence with “I remember,” as Joe Brainard did, could unlock new language for you, rich in sensory detail. Likewise, Dinty W. Moore’s quotations from 1950s kissing manuals could lead you to invent a non-linear structure to write about first love. The goal would be to expand these beginnings, written during class, into longer personal essays, as a basis for receiving structured feedback from other students. The instructor will also give you individual written feedback. To personalize the reading, you will each get the chance to present a favorite personal essay by a published author to the class. In addition to short essays on craft, we will read examples of personal essays from sources such as the New York Times columns “Lives” and “Modern Love,” Brevity, the Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction, and Gulf Coast. We will also look at Phillip Lopate’s essays, as well as his thoughts on the form. No need to purchase a book: for all readings, the instructor will email you either an online link or a PDF, which you can print out.
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About the instructor
Originally from Cape Town, HENK ROSSOUW has poems in The Paris Review, The Massachusetts Review, and The Boston Review. His long poem Xamissa was a finalist for the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets—excerpts have come out in The Common, Tupelo Quarterly, and Blackbird. He’s also published personal essays in The Threepenny Review and The Chronicle Review, as well as fiction in Tin House. After his MFA at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, he earned his PhD from the UH Creative Writing Program in 2017. From 2015-2017, he served as an editor for Gulf Coast. Henk was awarded an Inprint C. Glenn Cambor Fellowship, and has been teaching Inprint courses—personal essay, memoir, and poetry—since 2013.
By registering for an Inprint Writers Workshop you are agreeing to Inprint’s registration policies. Remember to sign up for the waiting list if the workshop you would like to take is full. To see the full Summer 2017 workshop schedule click here.