SPECULATIVE MEMOIR: CAN UNTRUTHS SET YOU FREE? by Naomi Kimbell
START DATE: Monday, January 7, 2019
END DATE: Monday, February 4, 2019
DURATION: 4 weeks
COURSE DESCRIPTION: Speculative Memoirs and Cross-Genre Personal Essays: Gathering Fictional Fodder for Personal Narratives: This class will explore the use of fairy tales, myths, fables, science fiction, fantasy, poetry, and other genres to muddy the waters between fact and fiction in order to write personal experience in new and revealing ways. Students will survey examples of genre-bending fiction/nonfiction hybrids, memoir in verse, speculative memoir, personal essays that incorporate fictional tropes, and author interviews and reviews on the subject. Over the course of the workshop, we will read and discuss, in depth, Monster Portraits, by Sofia Samatar, a book the author describes as a speculative memoir, but is shelved as fantasy. Students will also experiment in creating their own speculative nonfiction narratives and submit them to the classroom discussion forum for feedback.
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
WEEKS AT A GLANCE:
WEEK 1: Exploring Hybrid and Speculative Memoir
During week one, students will look at a variety of examples of hybrid and speculative memoir, read reviews, and reflect on both the risks and benefits of using fiction, and other forms, to write memoir. This week we’ll also begin reading from Monster Portraits and post answers to discussion questions in the class discussion forum. Also posted in the discussion forum will be our first weekly writing prompt that will encourage students to begin experimenting with writing outside the confines of literal experience and delve into magic. Students will share their weekly writing experiments in the discussion forum as we move through the class.
WEEK 2: Choosing Speculative Forms and Themes
In week two we will continue our survey of speculative memoir, as well as continue reading Monster Portraits. Discussion will focus on the readings, as well as student examples shared from the previous week. We’ll discuss the process of choosing speculative forms and themes, and students will talk about their creative process in developing their first writing experiment. Students will respond to a writing prompt and submit their experimental narrative to the discussion forum.
WEEK 3: Using Fictional Structure to Reveal Personal Experience
In week three, we’ll finish reading Monster Portraits and write short reviews in response to it, paying particular attention to how the fictional structure worked, or didn’t work, to reveal personal experience. Students will respond to a writing prompt, and write a short speculative memoir of up to 1000 words for submission to the discussion forum.
WEEK 4: Workshop
In week four, students will discuss speculative memoir submissions, and reflect on their own feelings about incorporating speculative forms into nonfiction. Questions concerning risks and benefits will be posted in the discussion forum, and students will be encouraged to review their experience in the class, share some takeaways, and discuss next steps in their own writing.
Materials needed: Students will need a copy of Monster Portraits by Sofia Samatar (Rose Metal Press, 2018), which is available at Rose Metal Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound.
ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR: Naomi Kimbell grew up in Missoula, Montana, a small city on the Idaho-side of the state. She has an MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of Montana, and her work has appeared in The Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown, Crazyhorse, The Iowa Review, and other literary journals and anthologies. When she’s not writing, she likes to wander through the woods, across hillsides, and visit small towns, taking photographs and shooting video to create impressionistic films with ambient scores. Since receiving her MFA in 2008, she has taught creative nonfiction, developmental, and college writing courses at the University of Montana, and she has facilitated memoir and cross-genre workshops for individuals with developmental disabilities and traumatic brain injury, people with severe and disabling mental illness, children and adults with chronic and terminal illness, and elementary school students. To learn more, view films, and read her work, visit her website at www.naomikimbell.com.
COST: $125, which includes weekly assignments, individual feedback from the instructor, and access to a private group for student interactions.
BUY NOW: Speculative Memoir: Can Untruths Set You Free? with Naomi Kimbell (4 weeks, starting 1/7/2019) Limit: 10 students. Early registration is recommended.
For Class Session Starting 1/7/2019
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.
Questions? Email Marcia & Angela at:
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