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Larksong Writers Place

 

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Finding Inspiration: Writing from Art, Song, History, and Life

 “The Muse is just looking for someone with a pen in their hand.” That really is all it takes to start writing. Writing is an action that takes very little preparation. You just have to show up at the page and write.

But about what? How does one find inspiration to write something new? Hasn’t it all been said before? In the face of such questions many of us find the pen refuses to budge even when we dutifully arrive at our desks at the appointed hour.

Think about this: the corollary to the idea that the Muse is looking for a writer with pen in hand, is the idea that what the Muse wants is to sit down with someone who pays attention to the world around them, who looks for details that beg new questions, who digs beneath the surface, peers around corners, imagines new possibilities.

In this four-week class we explore the ways other artists have found inspiration in the world that came before them, and then we’ll borrow their methods and make them our own. We’ll practice ways to always be inspired to write, because the world we live in is an amazing place, and new discoveries are just waiting for your pen to touch the page.

Karen Gettert Shoemaker writes fiction, nonfiction, poetry, book reviews, journal entries, and endless lists. Her recent work, a reflection on the role of ordinary people during a pandemic, was published in the New York Times in 2020Her novel, The Meaning of Names, was selected for the One Book One Nebraska statewide reading program in 2016 and the Omaha Reads community reading program in 2014.

Bringing Memoir Alive Using Techniques from Fiction

Description:

Many of us have important personal stories to tell, but how do we transform interesting anecdotes or fragmentary episodes into fully realized pieces of writing that will engage and move readers? Join fiction writer and memoirist Nancy McCabe in exploring techniques to find the story you’re really trying to tell and turn it into a lively, engaging piece. Through discussion, examples, and writing exercises, you'll learn to apply devices from fiction to create or enrich your own memoirs.

Writing From and About Childhood

I believe Flannery O’Connor spoke a large truth when she wrote, “Anybody who has survived childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days.” But how to revive that golden and fraught kingdom of childhood in a way that is captivating, authentic, and honest? How to make that particular time, place and sensibility come alive on the page? During our four weeks together we will uncover and investigate our origin stories, explore our childhood territories, dissect imagery and what makes certain details more powerful and authenticating. We’ll also learn how to write with “uncertain certainty” in order to resuscitate the past so that we can feel its beating heart. All of this exploration will result in re-seeing our childhood with the complexity, generosity and clear-sightedness required of us as writers. In addition to a great deal of generative writing, we’ll look at various poems and excerpts from memoirs and fiction that have captured childhood evocatively and thoughtfully. Being able to access our own childhood affords us the ability to better access the world of childhood more freely, which makes this class beneficial for not only memoirists and poets, but fiction writers as well.

 

Who Am I This Time? The Role of Voice and Persona

Who Am I This Time?: The Role of Voice and Persona

with Lee Martin

Virginia Woolf said, “If you do not tell the truth about yourself, you cannot tell it about other people.” Writing personal narratives, even if you consider yourself a fiction writer or a poet, can add resonance to your characters, images, and stories. This four-week workshop will concentrate on techniques for working with voice and persona to create rounder characters and to deepen aspects of our writing that we might otherwise overlook. Our objective will be to add more texture and meaning to our work. I’ll invite participants to generate material and to share it as time permits.

 

Get Published: An Insider's Guide Through The Publishing Process

You're a creator.  You write great stories, you make magic. But you want to find a way to get your stories to find their way into the zeitgeist, to be published, to be part of the big intellectual conversation.  We will talk about how to get an agent, whether you need one, how to build the relationships that will help you toward finding a publisher, how to be the kind of writer who gets published.

Light from Any Source

Kelly Madigan
February 2022

The persistent grey of winter often darkens the human spirit. Let’s spend a day focused on light as a guide for inventive new writing. Starlight, dappled light, lamplight, bonfire, bioluminescence—we’ll shine it all onto the page using a series of well-lit writing prompts. At the conclusion, you’ll have multiple fresh drafts.

 

We Need to Talk: Writing Dialogue Like a Playwright

David Williams
February 2022

Has this happened to you? You read over your novel-in-progress and there’s a lot to like.  Your plot runs like clockwork, your prose is gorgeous, and your characters are fascinating.  When these amazing people you’ve created open their mouths, though, everything falls apart.  It all sounds too boring to be interesting, too clever to be believed, or too cliched to be memorable.  Since you don’t want to turn your protagonist into a mime, what do you do?

In this one-hour webinar, I’ll give you the fundamentals on how playwrights write dialogue and the lessons you can take with you into fiction writing.

What the %^&* Did I Just Say? Tackling, the Bold, the Bad, and the Ugly in Poems

Maria Nazos
January - March 2022

How do we interrogate meanness, retribution, and anger in our poems? How do we turn rage into light and heat? Most of all, how can we get away with being our best mean person on the page while remaining true to our ethics, integrity, humor, and readers? Get ready to curse, apologize for sins you’re secretly glad you committed, and reveal edgy confessions.

Journaling for Self-Discovery

Pam Sourelis
February 2022

This workshop is for anyone who wants to do a bit of exploring:

Writers, visual artists, entrepreneurs, single moms, people with health challenges, teachers, people in healing professions, people undergoing life transitions, stressed-out people, people looking to make a change . . .

Saints, Bitches, and Madmen: Ethically Unleashing Your Inner Mean Person on the Page

Maria Nazos
December 2021

How do you take authentic, wild, even mean risks in your work? How do you reveal yourself as sloppy, flawed, even unlikable while keeping a distant reader engaged? Is there a "right" way to be mean in poetry? If so, how do we arrive there? 

Mind Music: Writing the Lyric Essay

Amy Hassinger
November 2021

Wander around the big tent of creative nonfiction long enough, and you’ll come across the lyric essay, a hybrid form that blends the musical and imagistic impulses of poetry with the wide-ranging subject matter and sentence-based rhythms of prose. Lyric essays tend to move through their material associatively, rather than narratively, weaving a whole fabric of meaning from the disparate threads of memories, facts, ideas, obsessions, and images that can so easily tangle up our minds. For this reason, they seem particularly well-matched to our information-soaked age. 

Rekindle Your Inner Fire: A Generative Creative Writing Workshop

Lucy Adkins & Becky Breed
October 2021

Want to rekindle your creative fire? Get your writerly magic going again? This generative creative writing workshop will help you do just that. We all need inspiration and sometimes a little nudge from time to time to keep us on the creative path. Through a series of writing exercises and reflective practices, we’ll explore what each of us can do to unleash our writing potential and do our best work. Whatever you write, plan to learn more ways to tap into your creative abilities, put a little more zing into every piece,  and go home each session with the beginnings of two or three new poems, essays, or stories.

Rediscovering Your Story

Steve Edwards
October 2021

Sometimes we know ourselves too well. We become so familiar with our own lives that our stories of them seem stale and ordinary; we take for granted the memorable things we have seen and done; we forget that to a reader who doesn’t know us we have lived fascinating lives worthy of examination. This course is about rediscovering—and reimagining—the stories we have to tell. Through a series of writing prompts designed to stoke our memories and remind us of who we are and get us talking, students will gain practice with the basics of storytelling while also getting reacquainted with why storytelling matters. Each class will involve a mini-lesson about a craft element of nonfiction related to the week’s prompt, the sharing of our own writing, and discussion (which will involve telling stories as a way of generating ideas, talking about next steps for editing/revising what we have written, and any questions of interest that arise from our work together.) The goal of the course is to open our minds to the stories that are ours to tell.

Are Your Writing About Your Mother Again? Formal Poetry to Tame the Demons of Obsession

Maria Nazos
September - October 2021

Why do we return to themes and people in our poems? How can we make these obsessions work in our favor? Poetry has always been the language of urgency; formal devices, including the pantoum, are a powerful way to step out of our comfort zone and into our fevered frenzy. Throughout this class, we’ll ask ourselves: What happens on the page when we tame our hungers, urges, and thirsts through formal devices?  

The Loess Hills: A Place-Based Writing Workshop

Kelly Madigan
August - September 2021

From the Black Angel statue in Council Bluffs, to a cave in Sergeant Bluff, to a lighted star on a bluff in Turin, to a young female cougar with a radio collar, a long-lost uncle with a steep driveway, a badger letting you know to back off, a voice heard in the night, the view from a turkey blind, or a miraculous harvest of morel mushrooms, the Loess Hills are alive with stories. Using a variety of examples, prompts and exercises, we will explore the hills creatively, crafting poems, stories and short memoir that reflect the unusual terrain and the experiences held there. Participants will be invited (but not required) to share a sample of their completed work at a Loess Hills Writers event.

And the Beat Goes On – A Writing Workshop with Universal Intentions

Barbara Schmitz
August 2021

Time in this workshop will be spent thinking and writing about joy, belief, awareness, purpose, death and beyond. Slightly influenced by poets and writers of the Beat Generation, this workshop will offer opportunities for each participant to explore personal connections to universal themes. Writing samples from Raymond Carver, Robert Boswell, Lawrence Raab, Barbara Schmitz, Natalie Goldberg, Louise Gluck, Jack Kerouac and others will be presented. Class time will strike a balance between readings, discussions, sharing, and, of course, writing new material. 

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Follow the Coyote

Kelly Madigan
June-July 2021

Coyote, industrious scavenger and alert opportunist, has much to show us about creative writing. Deeply revered by some and equally despised by others, who knows more about dealing with critics, or finding a way when the way appears blocked? We will learn more about this remarkable animal and use coyote wisdom to launch writing that is surprising, ingenious, and durable. This is a generative workshop, where we will be producing new drafts together each week, guided by exercises that make it easy to get started.  We will also be visited by local and national experts for educational components about coyote behavior and the need for good practices to achieve coexistence.

This workshop is part of the The LoHi Series, writing workshops that utilize the Loess Hills and their inhabitants as inspiration for writing that is deeply connected to the natural world.

 


 

 

Make Your Readers Sit Up and Take Notice

Lucy Adkins
March-April 2021

Want to take your writing to the next level? This five-week intensive workshop designed for fiction and memoir writers will help you do just that. We’ll look at basic narrative elements such as dialogue, point of view, scene vs. summary, interiority, use of the significant detail, and more. And by study of accomplished writers and in-class writing exercises, learn to master these elements of the craft, and write to keep readers turning the pages. You will also have an opportunity to discuss the ups and downs of the writing life, have a little fun, and receive kind and constructive feedback on your work.

“The work that is being undertaken at Larksong is remarkable! My experience was truly exceptional and I have taken many online workshops. The environment was replete with writers who felt comfortable presenting and talking about their writing. Lucy Adkins is a gem of an instructor and has a wealth of knowledge. I highly recommend Larksong to beginning or experienced writers. Something to be gained by everyone.” Linda Y.

 


 

 

How Can It Be A Poem If It Doesn’t Rhyme? A Celebration of Poetry with Marjorie Saiser

April 2021
Marjorie Saiser

Kick off Poetry Month with Marjorie Saiser, the author of seven award-winning books and one of Nebraska’s most beloved poets. Marjorie will recite some of her favorite poems – both her own and others - and talk about what makes them poetry. An educational and entertaining way to dive into April’s celebration of poetry! The presentation will be followed by a Q&A session moderated by Karen Gettert Shoemaker.

 


 

 

Long Story Short: A Micro-memoir Workshop

Patricia Henley
March 2021

If you want to write a memoir but don’t know where to begin, this workshop is for you. We will excavate your most memorable biographical events and write short lyric essays distilling those memories into one to five pages. We will also take the time to read and discuss examples of micro-memoir, and discuss possible places to submit.

“I loved working with Patricia. The examples she used were thought provoking and helpful.” Lea P.

“An excellent introduction to the micro-memoir format for personal essays.” Herbert D.

 


 

 

What’s “I” Got To Do With It:Writing Beyond the Personal

Grace Bauer
February 2021

Portraits. Personas. Epistles. Ekphrasis. And more. This workshop will explore possibilities for writing poems that go beyond speaking in the writer’s personal voice. While many wonderful poems have been written (and will continue to be written) in that traditional lyric style, trying approaches that go beyond speaking in what we might think of as “our own voice” can expand the range of that voice, open up a world of subject matter(s), and new ways of making poems.

“Another excellent offering from Larksong! The instructor was an accomplished teacher. I came away with excellent prompts for future application and helpful feedback.” Kathy J.

“It was a great workshop experience for me, in all aspects. The content was appropriate for the time we had and it was highly educational. I felt great about what I got out of the few hours of this workshop.” Herbert D.

 


 

 

So You Want to Find a Writers’ Group: A Best Practices Workshop

Karen Gettert Shoemaker
February 2021

There comes a point in most writers’ lives where the page gets just a little too lonely and we want to connect with other writers. Picture us, blinking in the bright light of day as we search for a partner or a group we can trust with our small creative flames. Like the little duckling in the children’s tale “Are you my mother?” we’re too often as likely to find a kitten, a cow, or a Snort as we are our mother. Maybe there’s a way to increase our chances at the outset to find the ones who can nurture us and listen carefully to our stories. This two-hour workshop will discuss the best practices to finding, and more importantly, maintaining a productive, nurturing workshop that fits your needs. 

 


 

 

The Loess Hills: A Place-Based Writing Workshop

Kelly Madigan
January-February 2021

From the Black Angel statue in Council Bluffs, to a cave in Sergeant Bluff, to a lighted star on a bluff in Turin, to a young female cougar with a radio collar, a long-lost uncle with a steep driveway, a badger letting you know to back off, a voice heard in the night, the view from a turkey blind, or a miraculous harvest of morel mushrooms, the Loess Hills are alive with stories. Using a variety of examples, prompts and exercises, we will explore the hills creatively, crafting poems, stories and short memoir that reflect the unusual terrain and the experiences held there. Participants will be invited (but not required) to share a sample of their completed work at a Loess Hills Writers event.

This workshop is brought to you by The LoHi Trail, a network of people coming together to explore a sustainable, long distance walking route through the Loess Hills, combined with ideas and enthusiasm for preservation of the steep slopes and fragile ecosystem. We recognize that there is also a trail of stories.

“Working with Kelly revived me as a writer. She holds space with honesty and compassion, and she guides writing and discussion with thought-provoking insight. As someone seasoned in writing workshops, I can say with certainty Kelly’s are among the best being offered!”

“Kelly Madigan brings a genuine sense of joy to her writers workshops. She is a distinguished poet and author, and her experience and her ear for language are important, to be sure. But her greatest asset is in “team building.” The members of the workshop were genuinely excited over one another’s progress. No ‘writer’s block’ when Kelly makes it all so damn much fun!”

 


 

 

Jump-Start Your Creative Writing

Twyla M. Hansen
January 2021

Creative writing is a process that thrives on practice. This writing workshop focuses on the creative writing process for poems and short prose, and tools for jump-starting this process. Twyla will use readings of her own and others’ writing— along with prompts, guided writing exercises, and assignments— to create an interactive and supportive workshop. Through these exercises, participants will retrieve their own and others’ experiences to generate new writing that can be shaped into poems, essays, or stories.

“Twyla was a great workshop leader. I enjoyed her readings, writing tips, and writing exercises. I also enjoyed hearing from the other participants whether it was something about writing or reading from something written.” Kate C.

“I loved all the writing prompts and ideas for unlocking my memories and making my writing come alive, Also loved the reading selections and hearing the other folks in the class read their work and talk about their writing.” Gwendolyn M.

Donate

Larksong is committed to supporting both the writers who come to us for instruction and the writers who come to us to teach. We keep our class fees low, offer free programming, and pay our instructors. Please consider supporting our mission by making a tax-deductible donation.