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Essay Writing Workshop Using Borrowed Form

Naomi Kimbell

SHAPE-SHIFTING THE ESSAY: Learn to Write Using Borrowed Form by Naomi Kimbell

START DATE: This class is currently closed.

END DATE:

DURATION:  4 weeks

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This class focuses exclusively on borrowed form (or hermit crab) essays. Participants will engage in a close reading of examples of borrowed form essays and respond to discussion questions. They will also choose one borrowed form to use to write their own essay. They can choose to write a new essay using the form, or rewrite an essay that’s already complete using the form to see how that affects the work.

Many thanks to Naomi Kimbell for dreaming up the “Music, Truth, and the Towns Inside Us” class I just took. I loved it. I’d read Richard Hugo’s Triggering Town years ago, but I must confess I didn’t completely understand the nuances of all that he was saying. It was a pleasure to be invited to participate in a thoughtful discussion. Naomi not only knows how to write, but also how to guide. I felt like she provided a safe space to experiment and submit my work for review and comments. She was prepared and available throughout the course. I would absolutely take more classes with Naomi. ~ Victoria Melekian (previous WOW class participant)

I’ve taken online courses before, and they’ve always disappointed. This one, however, on speculative memoir was amazing. Naomi has deep knowledge of the speculative memoir genre and of writing in general. She is one who can “do and teach.” I found her open to participants’ questions and learning needs and helpful in recommending additional reading or other material that would benefit further exploration. Her discussion questions and assignments were relevant, thoughtful, and thought-provoking. Generous with her time and her feedback, she provided a close reading of our work, and I plan to use her comments to improve the drafts I’m working on. She gave me new knowledge and much to think about, and I would definitely take another class from her when time and opportunity permit. ~ Joanne Glenn (previous WOW class participant)

Naomi’s class is one of the most inspiring classes I’ve ever taken! I’ve never been a flowery writer, and often focused more on meaning, rather than sentence structure and word choice. Writing a lyric essay is something I’ve always dreamed of, but I didn’t really understand the concept until I took her class, “Music, Truth, and the Towns Inside Us: A Cross-Genre Exploratory Workshop.” It changed my life! I now understand how to edit sentences and words down to syllables and consonants to make my prose sing. She created a vibrant learning atmosphere, full of rooms, prompts, videos, and discussion. I usually like to write in silence, but our first assignment was writing to music she selected. The words that flowed from my pen amazed me, and that was due to Naomi’s instruction and safe learning environment. My classmates’ work was impressive, and we had so much fun providing feedback on each other’s essays, poems, fiction, and free-writes. Naomi’s insight into the class book, The Triggering Town, along with her thought-provoking discussion and encouraging feedback made this class exceptional. I’d love to take every class she offers. Her teaching style is compassionate and knowledgeable, and her suggestions for use of language are detailed and eye opening. Taking her class helped me look at the world with wonder. In the past my writing has been described as flat and reporterly. Well, never again. Now I want to go back and revise all my essays for sound. I know Naomi’s class has made me a better writer, and I can’t thank her enough! ~ Angela M. (previous WOW class participant)

Naomi Kimbell was an incredible instructor. She was flexible and adapted to the needs of the class and she genuinely explored the conversation of “what is speculative memoir” with curiosity and integrity. Her intelligence and warmth made for a safe and stimulating environment. I wouldn’t hesitate to take a course with her again! ~ Laraine Herring (previous WOW class participant)

WEEKS AT A GLANCE:

WEEK 1: The Syllabus

During week one, we will read Jill Talbot’s essay, “The Professor of Longing,” as essay in the shape of a course syllabus. Students will respond to discussion questions in the discussion forum and reflect on the opportunities in using this structure to convey personal experience. Using the syllabus as a model, students will draft some writing (a paragraph or so) using this form, and post in the discussion forum.

WEEK 2: The Pain Scale

During Week 2, we will read “The Pain Scale,” by Eula Biss, and respond to discussion questions in the discussion forum. For this week’s writing experiment, students will select a scale of measurement of any type, and, using the same experience they wrote about in week one, draft some writing using the scale of measurement you chose, and post in the discussion forum. Students will compare the writing in week two to week one, and reflect on how their writing changed across the two forms.

WEEK 3: The Bulleted List

In week three, students will read Chelsey Clammer’s essay, “On Three,” written as a bulleted list. Students will respond to discussion questions in the discussion forum and experiment with the text they generated in week one and week two, reshaping it into a list format, and post in the discussion forum. Additionally, students will survey a variety of potential forms and choose one to write a complete essay (1000 words max). Consider: menus, tests, maps, surveys. Feel free to experiment with any form you think will lend itself to the story you want to tell.

WEEK 4: Workshop

In week four, students will submit, read, and evaluate one another’s essays in an online workshop format. This class will help readers hone their skills in critical reading and evaluation of texts, as well as help develop their skills in providing helpful, supportive feedback. Comments received during this week should help the author significantly revise her work, allowing her to more fully realize its potential.

Materials needed: The instructor will provide all reading materials, lessons and handouts.

How the class will be conducted: Students will be given access to password protected web pages on which class materials and discussions will be posted. Students will need access to a computer with an internet connection to download readings and participate in asynchronous group discussions. Students will have access to the class group two days before class begins, and for one week after the class concludes.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR: Naomi Kimbell earned her MFA in creative writing from the University of Montana, and her work has appeared in The Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown, Crazyhorse, Black Warrior Review, Calyx, The Sonder Review, and other literary journals and anthologies.

When she’s not writing, she teaches online creative writing classes for WOW! Women on Writing and sometimes wanders in the woods, across hillsides, through ghost towns, taking photographs and shooting video to create impressionistic films with ambient scores using her essays, invented landscapes, and found sounds.

COST:  $125, which includes weekly assignments, individual feedback from the instructor, and access to a private group for student interactions.

BUY NOW: SHAPE-SHIFTING THE ESSAY: Learn to Write Using Borrowed Form with Naomi Kimbell (4 weeks, starting 6/3/2019) Limit: 10 students. Early registration is recommended.

This class is now closed. Please check here for our current schedule.

For Class Session Starting 6/3/2019

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Notes: Upon successful completion of payment, your name, email address, and contact info will be submitted to your instructor. Just before class begins, she will e-mail you with instructions on how to get started.

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Additional Testimonials for Naomi Kimbell:

I was initially drawn to work with Naomi Kimbell after reading her honest, innovative writing. Naomi brings an incredible depth of living with her whole heart and mind to her work and teaching. Her passion, curiosity and extensive knowledge of the craft of writing is inspiring. In her writing course she shared diverse and stimulating prompts that included still photographs, different forms, and the writing of authors which opened new spaces inside me and helped deepen the texture and dimension of my poetry. Naomi has a gift for encouraging people to express their unique voice. She listens and communicates with keen intelligence and deep compassion. I appreciate the way she weaves together her sense of humor, new perspectives, great questions and her practical and diligent work ethic. Naomi is an engaging and motivating teacher. ~ Youpa Stein

Naomi seeks a straightforwardness that does not embellish, but, rather, gets to essences—essential ideas, the essence of a story, the deep impulses that drive us to act as we do...she’s a writer of exceptional talent—one of the few who endeavor to compose personal stories as literary works...she finds the unusual within the commonplace, the surprising within the predictable. ~ Judy Blunt, author of Breaking Clean

Naomi Kimbell chooses her words like a poet. She reads Richard Hugo and Robert Wrigley, and Homer. Like these authors, Naomi is a careful, descriptive, and smart writer. Because Naomi is a true scholar, she knows things ... She has an ear for beauty, and BS—like no one else I’ve ever met. ~ Karin Schalm, author of Poems of Peace in these Warring Times

Naomi Kimbell knows the boundaries of nonfiction, and lucky for us she knows the perfect ways to challenge them. Whether she’s writing about family dynamics or mental illness, Naomi does more than tell a story—she engages the reader in all of her essays as form and content interact. With a fresh and invigorating writing style, her words bring you into each essay and, believe me, once inside you’ll never want to leave. ~ Chelsey Clammer, author of BodyHome and Circadian

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Questions? Email Marcia & Angela at:
classroom[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com

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