Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Deeper Meaning of Non-Fiction Narrative with Bob Kunzinger

The countdown is officially on with the conference a little over a week away and we're especially looking forward to the variety of workshop opportunities. Another of our faculty workshop leaders is non-fiction writer and Professor of Humanities Bob Kunzinger. Kunzinger's forte is essay and memoir where he is able to explore his topics on a smaller scale. He knows the importance of a narrative that packs a punch. Kunzinger discusses his writing approach below: 

"The label "non-fiction" writer is as vague as saying I am a musician or a painter. My background and comfort zone is in journalism--my undergraduate degree is in journalism and the primary influences of my writing life, including Ernie Pyle, Ernest Hemingway, and a few others were all journalists. My earliest writing assignments were feature stories about small adventures I took, so I suppose my subject matter hasn't changed much. I approach writing from a very lyrical perspective both on the page and in the research; I like to let go of labels and modes and see what happens, make a few left turns. As far as the "flash" aspect, I like the haiku mentality: focus on the most narrow of aspects as deeply as possible.

My constant thought process includes asking myself "so what's the point?" It isn't enough for me in non-fiction writing to write about Spain or Russia or Africa, I feel the need to digress to some universal reaction to the narrative. Ideally when you read something I don't want you to see my pain, I want you to see your own. Of course, it's a very good and rare day I reach the ideal!"

Kunzinger's creative nonfiction workshop "So Who Cares?" will be held from 11:45-1:00 pm on Friday, November 6th (location TBA). To secure your spot, check out FLAC registration for more information.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Story Searching in Nonfiction with Jocelyn Bartkevicius

Our next workshop faculty member is Jocelyn Bartkevicius, an Associate Professor of English at the University of Central Florida and a former editor of The Florida Review. She is also an accomplished creative nonfiction writer. When crafting personal essays, many writers struggle with the act of revealing personal information. We asked Jocelyn for her rule of thumb when it comes to this balancing act. She explains her approach below:

"For me, nonfiction is above all a process of discovery. And so when writing early drafts, I never hold back. At that point in my writing, I'm less focused on sharing (on readers), and more focused to figure out through writing what the story is. I believe there must be discovery while writing. That nonfiction--when it is taking the form of a personal essay or memoir--must do much more than simply report what has happened. I let the words take the lead as I search for story. No holds barred. Later, several drafts into a piece, if I think I've found the story and have crafted the sentences and found details, rhythm, and imagery as well, I'll start to think about both readers and any people I may have included in the piece of writing. At that point, I will consider whether identities need to be protected. In such cases, I'm more likely to use an initial or change a name than I am to omit details.

All this may sound as if I spill it all. But I'm not a particularly 'confessional' writer. I'm not interested in memoir as recovery or tell-all. I'm more likely to explore how the personal intersects with cultural moments. For example, I've written about guns and being first-generation Eastern European and growing up in a family that ran a Burlesque nightclub. I like to find the cultural and historic nuances of personal experience."

Bartkevicius' creative nonfiction workshop "Savage Desire: Discovering Story in Literary Nonfiction" will be held from 11:45-1:00 pm on Saturday, November 7th (location TBA). To secure your spot, check out FLAC registration for more information.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Aesthetic Conversation with Poet Terri Witek

The 2015 Other Words Literary Conference is less than a month away and as always, we're excited to bring talented writers to St. Augustine. Our workshop faculty are not only recognized in their fields, but are passionate about their craft. We are interested in creating a dialogue with our writers-- to learn more about their personal writing approaches and creative methods. Our first interview was with poet and Stetson English professor Terri Witek. We inquired about her favorite themes and how art (and other visual elements) impacts her poetry and artistic expression. Her meditations are below:

"I believe in the poem as a way of simultaneously seeing and moving. What are the limits of language? Can we, by writing things down, make them vanish? These may be the deeper subjects—what I’m probably usually writing about is love and its overlaps, lapses and betrayals. Though perhaps this is for readers to say---I was astonished to be called  a “water poet” recently, for example (seems right, though I never would have said this).  Poems don’t start with a theme for me—it’s more often a situation--a piece of language plus something I see-- that gets me going.  And  I only seem to be interested in things I don’t quite understand.  

Other art forms offer different mysteries for writers to walk with. I love to workshop in museums for the instant challenge of cross-arts vitality--at the Crisp-Ellert, the whole workshop is set alight by Julie Dickover’s well-curated contemporary shows. A pleasure to watch writers catch and burn there during Other Words. This kind of magic I don’t examine too closely. But believe in so strongly I continue to return. And in January it becomes official, as my university (Stetson) begins a new low-residency MFA of the Americas, where I’ll team teach Poetry in the Expanded Field with visual artist Cyriaco Lopes."

Witek's poetry workshop will be held from 11:45-1pm on Saturday, November 7th in the Crisp-Ellert Museum. It's not too late to sign up! Check out FLAC registration for more information.