“If You Would Be Pungent, Be Brief”: A Workshop in Writing Flash Nonfiction with Michael Downs
- 7 lutego 2022
The advice of poet Robert Southey, offered two hundred years ago, applies even more in today’s online publishing world. Few people want to read a novel on a phone, but one hundred words, maybe even one thousand? Absolutely. This is why flash nonfiction, as a genre, is burgeoning. Moreover, flash nonfiction–capable of being lyrical and narrative–rewards the gifts of both poets and prose writers.
In this workshop, participants will read a variety of published flash nonfiction by several different authors, studying the art and craft behind effective examples. We will analyze how to efficiently create scenes and dialogue, how to use titles, how perspective leads to meaning, and how to find a voice while keeping language brief. We will also consider how research, memory, and imagination function in writing that presents moments from life as it happened. Workshop exercises will lead participants to their own flash nonfiction drafts, so that everyone leaves the workshop with a revised draft and ideas for others.
This workshop, offered in English, will welcome beginners as well as more experienced writers. It will lead participants find the junctures in their lives that can be transformed into literary art. Moreover, this workshop will show participants how to infuse their writing with concentrated power, because as the poet Southey told us: “it is with words as with sunbeams–the more they are condensed, the deeper they burn.”
Michael Downs is the author of three books, including most recently a novel, The Strange and True Tale of Horace Wells, Surgeon Dentist (Acre Books 2018). His literary fiction and nonfiction have been published in leading American literary journals, and his flash nonfiction has earned recognition in the Best American Essays series. On sabbatical from directing the graduate program in professional writing at Towson University, Maryland, USA, he served as a U.S. Fulbright Scholar in Kraków in 2021-22. To learn more about him and his work, please visit his web page at michael-downs.net.
Author photo credit: Jane Sidall Thomas