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Words Have Power

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Adult Workshops

Austin Bat Cave offers adult writing classes for writers of all skill levels. Because we want our programming to be accessible to writers of all backgrounds and income-levels, we are pleased to offer participants support through scholarships and payment plans. Apply for a scholarship here, and for more information on payment plans, please email emily@austinbatcave.org. Unless otherwise noted, all classes take place at Austin Bat Cave on Rosewood Avenue (map). 

Please note: The fees from ABC’s adult writing workshops subsidize our free writing programs for kids and pay our adult workshop instructors. A major factor in determining tuition rates is the instructor’s time and preparation outside of the classroom. Classes that provide students with highly-personalized feedback, such as long-term workshops, will generally be priced higher than courses that meet only once. 

All classes are non-refundable but are transferrable to another person or to another class of equal or lesser value!

2020 Instructors include Rachel Heng, Jenny Tinghui Zhang, and Bridget Brewer.

LIMITED TIME OFFER

ALL WORKSHOP ATTENDEES WILL BE ENTERED INTO A RAFFLE FOR A FREE REGISTRATION TO THE 2020 AWP CONFERENCE & BOOK FAIR IN SAN ANTONIO, TX (MARCH 4th – 7th)! EACH REGISTRATION COUNTS AS ONE ENTRY. MULTIPLE ENTRIES ALLOWED!


2019 Adult Writing Classes & Workshops

Writing Gifts with Naomi Shihab Nye

Tuition: $200.00

Time & Date:
Sunday, December 15th 6:00pm — 9:00pm

Registration FULL!

Location:
Austin Bat Cave
1210 Rosewood Ave. (map)

About the Instructor:

Naomi Shihab Nye earned her BA from Trinity University in San Antonio. She is the recipient of numerous honors and awards for her work, including a Lavan Award, the Paterson Poetry Prize, the Robert Creeley Prize, and many Pushcart Prizes. She has received a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation and she was a Witter Bynner Fellow. From 2010 to 2015 she served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. In 2018 she was awarded the Lon Tinkle Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Texas Institute of Letters. Nye is the Poetry Foundation’s Young People’s Poet Laureate.

“The sky is the only store worth shopping in for anything as long as a life.”

          Naomi Shihab Nye

Welcome! Our poetry/paragraph workshop will focus on what we already have in our vast treasure-houses of material – what we haven’t used yet, what we might restyle as a gift for ourselves or someone else. In this season of shopping and gift giving, writing itself might be our best gift. What about a poem in honor of someone else? A paragraph to be hand-printed on lovely paper as a treat for anyone you’d like to surprise?  So many discoveries regularly rising out of the practice and process of writing – you will leave with at least 4-6 different rough drafts. Lots of presents! Workshop/playshop open to all writers.  Please bring a single favorite poem written by somebody else.

Suggested preparation texts (just try to read a few poems by any of these people):

William Stafford, Jane Hirshfield, Harryette Mullen, Ron Padgett, W.S. Merwin, Carrie Fountain, Walt Whitman, Benjamin Alire Saenz, Joy Harjo, Danusha Lameris, Marie Howe


Spring 2020 Adult Writing Classes & Workshops

Dear Diary with Bridget Brewer

Tuition: $200.00

8-week Open-Genre Workshop — 12 students

Time & Date:
Tuesdays, 6:30 — 9:00 pm
January 14th — March 3rd

Register here! 

Using diaries as our central focus, this cross-genre course will dive into the politics and power of voice, outsider art, and how to engage in more vulnerable art-making. We’ll examine diaries by Lou Sullivan and Anais Nin, Jafar Panahi’s film This Is Not A Film, Marlee Grace’s Instagram dance-a-day movement project, Neither’s diaristic album trauma, Bhanu Kapil’s Ban En Banlieue, and others in order to attempt to answer the following questions: Who gets to/is asked to be vulnerable in public spaces? How do diaries change shape when they move from private to public? How can we honor our own diaries and our selves?

Participants will come away with a collected diary they’ve written themselves, as well as a zine of entries from each participant. A public event will conclude the workshop, during which we will do a brave thing: Treat Our Diaries As Real and Valid Literature By Presenting Them Out Loud In Front Of People!

About the Instructor:

Bridget Brewer is a writer, performer, and educator based in Austin, TX.  Her work has been supported by national and international fellowships, and has appeared or is forthcoming from The Best Experimental Fiction of 2020, Puerto del Sol, Tarpaulin Sky, The FANZINE, and more.  Currently she serves on the Board of Facilitators at HIVE Arts Collective, and as co-frontperson in a queergrass band.  She can be found at bridget-brewer06.com.


Start Your Novel: A Generative Fiction Workshop with Rachel Heng

Tuition: $500.00

8-week Fiction Workshop — 12 students

Time & Date:
Thursdays, 6:00 — 8:30 pm
January 16th — March 12th
(no class March 5th)

Register here!

Will 2020 be the year you start writing that novel? Perhaps you’ve never written fiction before, but you have an idea for a story that you can’t stop thinking about. Or you’ve already started writing a draft and are struggling to keep it going. Or you’re a writer of short fiction thinking of diving into a longer project for the first time. If you want to start writing a novel and are looking for practical guidance and a supportive environment, this 8-week long generative workshop will help you explore your idea, develop your characters, outline out your story, and get writing.

The first 4 weeks of the course will be focused on craft lectures, generative exercises and developing a writing practice. Together, we’ll discuss subjects such as world building, voice, character development, dialogue, plot and structure. Expect to be working on in-class writing exercises. At this stage, we’ll also discuss writing routines, how to fit writing around your daily schedule, setting goals and staying motivated. The second 4 weeks of the course will be focused on workshopping. Each participant will workshop once, submitting up to 25 pages of a novel opening or chapter. You’ll receive practical, supportive and detailed feedback on your submissions. Feedback will be geared towards questions, development and next steps rather than ‘fixing’, since novels will be works-in-progress. By the end of the course, students will have written at least a first chapter, created a plan for the rest of their novel, and developed a sustainable writing practice.

About the Instructor:

Rachel Heng is the author of the novel, Suicide Club (Henry Holt, 2018), which was featured as a best summer read by outlets such as The Irish Times, ELLE, Gizmodo, NYLON, The Rumpus and Bustle. Suicide Club will be translated into ten languages worldwide and won the Gladstone Library Writer-In-Residence Award 2020. Rachel’s short fiction has received a Pushcart Prize Special Mention and Prairie Schooner’s Jane Geske Award, and has appeared or is forthcoming in Glimmer Train, Guernica, McSweeney’s Quarterly, Kenyon Review, Best Singaporean Short Stories Vol. 4 and elsewhere. Her non-fiction has been listed among Best American Essays’ Notable Essays and has been published in The Rumpus, The Telegraph and elsewhere. She has received grants and fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center, Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Kenyon Review Writers’ Workshop, Fine Arts Work Center and the National Arts Council of Singapore. Rachel is currently a James A. Michener Fellow at the Michener Center for Writers, where she is pursuing her MFA in Fiction and Playwriting.


Writing Poetry that Moves with Liz Garton Scanlon & Sean Petrie

Tuition: $275.00

3-week Poetry Workshop — 15 students

Time & Date:
Wednesdays, 6:00 — 9:00 pm
January 29th — February 12th

Register here!

In this foundational poetry-writing workshop, Liz Garton Scanlon and Sean Petrie will guide participants through the process of understanding, generating, and revising poems. Topics to be discussed include an overview of what poetry is and how to draft and re-draft poems, using specific poetic tools, including metaphor, personification, rhyme, line breaks, humor, and more. The workshop will be hands-on and interactive.

About the Instructors:

Liz Garton Scanlon is the author of many beloved books for kids, including the Caldecott Honor book All the World, One Dark Bird, Kate, Who Tamed the Wind, and Bob, Not Bob, co-authored by her pal Audrey Vernick. She also wrote the middle grade novel The Great Good Summer and has another forthcoming. She serves on the faculty of the Vermont Faculty of Fine Arts and is a frequent and popular presenter at conferences and festivals. Scanlon practices her poetry via a monthly group that thrives on writing prompts and panic. See her work at www.LizGartonScanlon.com

Sean Petrie has written over 10,000 instant poems at events from Maine to Mexico, from The Smithsonian to Willie Nelson’s SXSW festival. He is a founder of Austin’s “Typewriter Rodeo” and co-author of Typewriter Rodeo: Real People, Real Stories, Custom Poems (Andrews McMeel Universal 2018) and author of the poetry collection Listen to the Trees (Documentary Media 2020). He teaches poetry classes for kids and adults, and his poems for Typewriter Rodeo are featured on the weekly NPR radio program, “Texas Standard.” More at:  www.seanpetrie.com


You Are A Poet–a crash course! with Susan Niz

Tuition: $35.00

One Day Poetry Workshop — 15 students

Time & Date:
Saturday, February 8th, 2:00pm — 5:00pm

Register here!

A condensed version of You Are A Poet., this class will introduce participants to ways of developing one’s poetic practice through closer observation of the world around us. We will discuss elements such as using grounding details and imagery, creating motion in our poems, imbuing our unique point of view and incorporating select narrative elements in our poetry. We will take ownership of words through studying their sound and meanings and explore associative connections (comparisons) in language and poetry. The class is for beginners and poets of all levels who want to delve more deeply into their practice, and will give participants plenty of take-home practices to apply on their own.

About the Instructor:

Susan Niz’s first poetry chapbook is Beyond this Amniotic Dream (Beard Poetry, Minneapolis, 2016). She has a second chapbook, Left-Handed Like a Lightning Whelk, forthcoming with Finishing Line Press (November 2019). Her short work has appeared in Wanderlust Journal, The Write Launch, Ponder Review, Chaleur Magazine, Typishly, Tipton Poetry Journal, Carnival Literary Magazine, Crack the Spine, Blue Bonnet Review, Two Words For, Belleville Park Pages, Ginosko, Cezanne’s Carrot, Flashquake, Opium Magazine, and Summerset Review. She has been featured in live poetry shows in Minneapolis and Austin. Susan writes across genres. Her novel Kara, Lost (North Star Press, 2011) was a finalist for a Midwest Book Award (MIPA) for Literary Fiction. Susan also writes for a non-profit organization working to alleviate global poverty. She has a Master’s Degree in Education, raises kids, has been a grassroots community organizer, and conserves Monarchs. She recently relocated from Minnesota to the Austin, Texas area.


Find the Spark: A Generative Short Story Workshop with Shannon Perri

Tuition: $35.00

One Day Fiction Workshop — 15 students

Time & Date:
Saturday, February 15th, 2:00 — 5:00 pm

Register here!

For many writers, the greatest challenge is overcoming the blank page. It can be hard to discover new ideas, and even harder to figure out how to shape them into a story. Further, every time we follow an inspiration, we risk that it could lead us nowhere, as our inner-critic reminds us again and again. And yet, the one sure way to never find a story is to chase nothing at all.

In this generative one-day workshop, we’ll lean into the possibility that comes with taking creative risks. As writer Aimee Bender says, “free association leads the way to emotional revelation.” In the first half of class, we’ll move through exercises aimed at mining ourselves and the world around us for inspiration. We’ll spend the second half of class discussing how to take any initial sparks—maybe a voice, a setting, or an image— and give them enough friction to power a story.

Though this class is geared toward writers of short fiction, writers of all genres are welcomed. Participants will leave the class with at least one solid project idea and strategies to complete a first draft. Writers looking to workshop their completed drafts should consider registering for Stories that Sing, an 8-week short fiction workshop beginning in March.

About the Instructor:

Shannon Perri holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Texas State University and a master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Texas. Her writing has appeared in various newspapers and literary magazines, such as Houston Chronicle, The Austin-American Statesman, and fields magazine. Her short story, “Liquid Gold,” was a finalist for the 2019 Texas Observer Short Fiction contest; her story, “The Resurrection Act,” was awarded a 2016 Joyland Magazine Publisher’s Pick; and her story, “Orientation,” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. An earlier draft of her novel-in-progress was selected as a finalist for the Writer’s League of Texas 2018 fiction manuscript contest. When not writing or reading, Shannon is usually teaching. She’s taught writing for Texas State University, the Travis County jail, the Library Foundation, and private workshops. When not writing, reading, or teaching, she’s likely spending time with her husband, new son, and menagerie of pets.


Stories that Sing: An Introductory Short Fiction Workshop with Shannon Perri

Tuition: $400.00

8-week Fiction Workshop — 12 students

Time & Date:
Tuesdays, 6:00 — 9:00 pm
March 24th — May 12th

Register here!

You’ve shown up for the page, perhaps before work, perhaps while the baby sleeps, and now you have a draft of something. You’ve read it over and over to yourself and have no idea if it’s any good. What’s next? Now is the time to take the plunge and share your work-in-progress with a supportive, dedicated community of writers who are in the same boat as you.

In this short fiction workshop, each student will have the opportunity to submit two fiction works for feedback. Short stories, flash fiction, and novel excerpts will all be accepted. Each submission will receive thoughtful, constructive feedback through discussion and written critiques, provided by both the instructor and fellow classmates. The goal is that you’ll leave the class with ideas for revision that honor your intention and an overall sharper editorial eye. In addition to the workshop, we’ll use class time to discuss writing life, craft, editing strategies, and how to submit your work for publication.

About the Instructor:

Shannon Perri holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Texas State University and a master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Texas. Her writing has appeared in various newspapers and literary magazines, such as Houston Chronicle, The Austin-American Statesman, and fields magazine. Her short story, “Liquid Gold,” was a finalist for the 2019 Texas Observer Short Fiction contest; her story, “The Resurrection Act,” was awarded a 2016 Joyland Magazine Publisher’s Pick; and her story, “Orientation,” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. An earlier draft of her novel-in-progress was selected as a finalist for the Writer’s League of Texas 2018 fiction manuscript contest. When not writing or reading, Shannon is usually teaching. She’s taught writing for Texas State University, the Travis County jail, the Library Foundation, and private workshops. When not writing, reading, or teaching, she’s likely spending time with her husband, new son, and menagerie of pets.


You are a Poet. with Susan Niz

Tuition: $350.00

6-week Poetry Workshop — 12 students

Time & Date:
Wednesdays, 6:00pm — 8:00pm
March 25th — April 29th

Register here!

This class is focused on developing one’s poetic practice through closer observation of the world around us. We will discuss elements such as using grounding details and imagery, creating motion in our poems, imbuing our unique point of view and incorporating select narrative elements in our poetry. We will take ownership of words through studying their sound and meanings and explore associative connections (comparisons) in language and poetry. Through learning how to read mentor poems and in-class exercises and drafting, we will start to explore form, voice, and content. The class is for beginners and poets of all levels who want to delve more deeply into their practice. Sharing of exercises will take place more than workshopping, as the focus is steered toward process. By the end of the class, students will have tools to develop a daily practice and beginning revision strategies for first drafts.

About the Instructor:

Susan Niz’s first poetry chapbook is Beyond this Amniotic Dream (Beard Poetry, Minneapolis, 2016). She has a second chapbook, Left-Handed Like a Lightning Whelk, forthcoming with Finishing Line Press (November 2019). Her short work has appeared in Wanderlust Journal, The Write Launch, Ponder Review, Chaleur Magazine, Typishly, Tipton Poetry Journal, Carnival Literary Magazine, Crack the Spine, Blue Bonnet Review, Two Words For, Belleville Park Pages, Ginosko, Cezanne’s Carrot, Flashquake, Opium Magazine, and Summerset Review. She has been featured in live poetry shows in Minneapolis and Austin. Susan writes across genres. Her novel Kara, Lost (North Star Press, 2011) was a finalist for a Midwest Book Award (MIPA) for Literary Fiction. Susan also writes for a non-profit organization working to alleviate global poverty. She has a Master’s Degree in Education, raises kids, has been a grassroots community organizer, and conserves Monarchs. She recently relocated from Minnesota to the Austin, Texas area.


The Personal Essay, Revamped with Jenny Tinghui Zhang

Tuition: $450.00

8-week Non-Fiction Workshop — 12 students

Time & Date:
Thursdays, 6:30 — 9:00 pm
April 2nd — May 21st

Register here!

A diary entry. A Facebook post. A cover letter. A list on a post-it note. Since the writings of Seneca, the personal essay has always been a way for the writer and reader to connect through an intimate and honest exchange. Today, the modern personal essay has evolved to take on many different forms.

In this 8-week workshop, we’ll learn how to develop, structure, write, and publish personal essays, analyzing work by Alexander Chee, Joan Didion, Hanif Abdurraqib, James Baldwin, Cheryl Strayed, and others. Students will learn and practice techniques that bring self-awareness and reflection to the forefront of an essay, emphasizing vulnerability over navel-gazing. In the second half of the course, students will share and discuss their essays in a workshop setting.

Because this course deals with personal experiences, please remember to be respectful and compassionate as you take part in each class. This is a safe space for writers to tell their stories, whatever they may be.

About the Instructor:

Jenny Tinghui Zhang is a Chinese-American writer from Austin. She holds an MFA in nonfiction from the University of Wyoming, is a 2016 VONA/Voices alumna, and a participant of the 2019 Tin House Summer Workshop. A columnist for Catapult, her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Apogee, CALYX, Ninth Letter,Passages North, wildness, and The Rumpus, with essays in Huffington Post, Bustle, and HelloGiggles, among others. She is a prose editor for The Adroit Journal. 


 

If you are interested in leading a writing workshop for adults, please email emily@austinbatcave.org.

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