We support and educate writers of all kinds. 

Workshops at the Porch are rigorous yet welcoming, encouraging creative expression while sharpening your understanding of craft. Led by instructors with extensive teaching experience, each class focuses on a particular genre, approach, or use of writing, and allows participants to learn from one another in a supportive, friendly atmosphere. 

In our intermediate to advanced workshops and one-day seminars we aim for thorough discussion, feedback, and pedagogy on par with courses offered through degree-earning programs. These Porch workshops are a great choice if you're thinking about applying for an MFA or looking to keep up your writing practice and skills after college or graduate school. But if you're new to writing or just looking for some inspiring practice and play with words on the page, we've got the perfect workshop for you, too.

We'll be adding additional classes as we grow; if there's something you're interested in that's not listed here, please let us know! We also offer personal coaching to help you reach your writing goals; contact us to get that conversation started.

Please note: Our cancellation policies have changed. Please click here to view our updated policies. 


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Gift Certificate for Eight-week Workshop

Gift Certificate for One Day Workshop

For a gift certificate in another amount of your choice, please email us at hello (at) porchtn.org.


 

SPRING 2017 CLASSES

Special Announcement: We are pleased to offer a cross-genre workshop by visiting poet Rebecca Gayle Howell this spring! Details below. 

We All Write Sentences

This workshop invites both poets and prose writers to consider more closely the power of pushing out the boundaries of the English sentence. Reading, across genres, sentences written by masters of the ecstatic--James Agee, Gwendolyn Brooks, Cormac McCarthy, Emily Dickinson, Ross Gay, Melville, Gerald Stern, C.K. Williams, Joy Williams--we will combine linguistic and creative craft study for the sake of better serving the imagination, the music. 

About the Instructor: 

Native to Kentucky, Rebecca Gayle Howell is a senior editor for the Oxford American. Her debut poetry collection, Render /An Apocalypse, was a finalist for ForeWord's Book of the Year and was praised widely, most notably in a cover review by David L. Ulin for the Los Angeles Times, who called the collection "remarkable." Howell is also the translator of Amal al-Jubouri's verse memoir of the Iraq War, Hagar Before the Occupation/Hagar After the Occupation. A Library Journal Best Book of Poetry for 2011, Hagar received critical acclaim throughout the U.S., the Middle East, and India and was shortlisted for Three Percent's Best Translated Book Award. Among Howell's honors are fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and the Carson McCullers Center, as well as a Pushcart Prize. Howell's latest book, American Purgatory, was selected by Don Share for The Sexton Prize; London's Eyewear Publishing released the book to both the United Kingdom and the United States in early 2017.

 

 

 

MULTIWEEK CLASSES

 

Foundations of Fiction 

This workshop allows new writers to begin exploring the craft, while also offering experienced writers access to the structure and motivation so critical for generating new work. Its approach is exercise-based, focused on generating new story “seeds,” honing voice, and developing a general understanding of the main elements of narrative craft such as character, setting, description, dialogue, and point of view.  Students read and discuss published stories and share their own work at each class session.

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About the Instructor:

  • Instructor: Susannah Felts
  • Length of workshop: 8 weeks
  • Dates: Tuesdays, January 10 - Feb. 28
  • Time: 7 p.m. - 9 p.m.
  • Cost: SOLD OUT
  • Location: Refinery Nashville

Please see our About Us page for Susannah's bio. 

 

 

 

Writing the Novel

“There are three rules of writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” —Somerset Maugham

To write a novel requires discipline, commitment to one’s idea, and a willingness to get lost in a forest of words and scenes and story. Novelists are the distance runners of the fiction-writing clan, and the process is all too often long and lonesome. This workshop is designed to offer developing novelists companionship and support, perhaps a flashlight to illuminate the way, and food for thought as sustenance. The twelve-week course will be comprised of weekly craft conversations on topics such as characterization, structure, pacing and movement, plot, point of view, theme, and revision, as well as individualized workshops on participants’ works-in-progress. Whether you are in the beginning stages or have a completed draft, the workshops will be crafted so as to meet each writer where he or she is. Participants will be expected not only to submit works but also to read other student submissions and occasional articles on craft. Feel free to contact Katie@porchtn.org if you have further questions.

  • Instructor: Katie McDougall
  • Length of workshop: 12 weeks
  • Dates:  Mondays, January 16 - April 3rd
  • Time: 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
  • Cost: SOLD OUT. To be placed on a waiting list, contact Katie@porchtn.org
  • Location: Refinery Nashville

Please see our About Us page for Katie's bio. 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing as Resistance

In this class, we will approach writing as an act of resistance—a way of pushing back against forces and structures in society that oppress us and others. We will grapple with some of the hard questions facing us as writers: what roles can writing play in promoting social justice and bringing about social change? How can giving voice to your own unique experiences and perspective be an act of resistance? How can we push back against racism, misogyny, homophobia, and other forms of oppression? What is the relationship between writing and social justice movements? How do identity, ownership, empathy, privilege, and activism come into play?

 We will read widely from diverse writers working in different genres: fiction, poetry, memoir, criticism, essay, graphic novel, and more. We’ll examine the relationship between form, content, and effect, and learn from how other writers have engaged with social justice and activism in their work. We will have in-class writing time and at-home assignments where students will experiment with different genres and explore different forms their writing can take. We will have time in class for students to share work and receive feedback from classmates and the instructor.

This is a class for anyone who has been thinking about the relationship between their writing and social justice and wants to explore this terrain further among a community of readers and writers.

  • Instructor: Anna Silverstein
  • Length of workshop: 8 weeks
  • Dates: Wednesdays, January 4 - February 22
  • Time: 7 p.m. - 9 p.m
  • Location: Refinery Nashville
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About the Instructor: 

Anna Silverstein is a writer living in Nashville. She’s originally from Boston and has also lived in Ohio and Peru. She moved here three years ago to pursue an MFA in fiction at Vanderbilt University. She was the 2015-16 Creative Writing Fellow at the Curb Center, where she led expressive writing workshops for people affected by cancer. Previous classes with the Porch include Healing through Writing and workshops for immigrants and refugees in Nashville. She is the winner of the Guy Goffe Means Prize in fiction. Her stories appear or are forthcoming in New Delta Review, Afro-Hispanic Review, Overtime, and Gravel.

 

 

Writing the Lyric Essay

“The lyric essay happens when I’ve forgotten to get dressed. When I’m disheveled.  When I’m not wearing any shoes.” ~ Brenda Miller

“The lyric essay partakes of the poem in its density and shapeliness, its distillation of ideas and musicality of language. It partakes of the essay in its weight, in its overt desire to engage with facts, melding its allegiance to the actual with its passion for imaginative form.” ~ Deborah Tall and John D’Agata

Not a poem, not a narrative, not an idea-driven essay, but something other.  Outside and/or inside this post-structuralist definition exists a genre of writing contemporarily vital to our literature.  Braided through image, language, story, rhythm, and mimetic technique, the lyric essay expands upon its forbearers (Creative Nonfiction and New Journalism) popularized in the 1960s and 1970s by the likes of Joan Didion and Hunter S. Thompson and Tom Wolfe.  The lyric essay, however, has pushed beyond even those texts to include new levels of perception and insight, music and poetry.  In this class, we will spend the first three weeks defining, reading, discussing, and writing the lyric essay (writers discussed may include, among others, Lia Purpura, Joni Tevis, T Fleischmann, Karen Green, Brian Lennon, and Brenda Miller), and then we will embark upon a three-week workshop-style look at our own work.

  • Instructor: Gary McDowell
  • Length of workshop: 6 weeks
  • Dates: Tuesdays, February 21 - March 28
  • Time: 7 p.m. - 9 p.m.
  • Location: Refinery Nashville

About the Instructor:

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Gary McDowell is the author of a collection of lyric essays, Caesura: Essays (Otis Books/Seismicity Editions, 2017) and five collections of poetry, including Mysteries in a World that Thinks There Are None (Burnside Review Press, 2016), winner of the 2014 Burnside Review Press Book Award; Weeping at a Stranger’s Funeral (Dream Horse Press, 2014); and American Amen (Dream Horse Press, 2010), winner of the 2009 Orphic Prize in Poetry. He’s also the co-editor, with F. Daniel Rzicznek, of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry (Rose Metal Press, 2010). His poems and essays have appeared in journals such as American Poetry ReviewThe NationGulf CoastNew England ReviewPrairie Schooner, and Colorado Review. He lives in Nashville, TN with his family where he’s an assistant professor of English and Poetry Editor ofThe Belmont Story Review at Belmont University.

 

Mixed Levels Fiction Workshop

Whether you're new to writing or have been at it a while, this eight-week class is designed to sharpen the tools of your fiction-writing craft. In the first four weeks, we’ll focus on elements of fiction writing, including characterization, pacing, point of view, structure, voice, and scene. Students can expect in-class prompts and take-home assignments as well as discussions of published literature. The final four weeks of the course will follow a more traditional workshop model, switching the focus to participant manuscripts, be they short stories or novel excerpts. Ultimately, workshop participants will come away with a heightened understanding of craft, feedback on their own work, and experience in discussing and critiquing others’ work in an encouraging and constructive setting.

About the Instructor:

Luke Wiget lives in Nashville, Tennessee by way of Brooklyn, New York. He received the 2015 Quiddity Lit Editor’s Prose Prize, and his work has appeared or is forthcoming in Green Mountains ReviewSmokeLong QuarterlyHobartHeavy Feather ReviewBig Truths, and BOMB, among others. Luke earned an MFA in fiction from The New School, for which he edits and curates AUDIOGRAPH, an audio series documenting readings and conversations hosted by The Writing Program. He also co-curates and hosts drDOCTOR, a reading series and podcast, and writes/hosts YEARBOOK, a column for The Rumpus.

 

 

Advanced Creative Nonfiction Workshop

In this workshop we'll focus on completed drafts of creative nonfiction by participants—essays, memoir excerpts, or works of longform narrative nonfiction—with attention given to every aspect of the writing, from structure and theme to sentence-level concerns. Participants should be eager to share their work, listen to the feedback of their peers, and learn from the process of reading and giving feedback (both spoken and written) on others' work as well. You should have two or three full drafts of work ready to present; this is not a generative class. While we will discuss assigned readings at most class sessions, the bulk of our attention will go to participant work. Workshop is limited to 12 participants. 

  • Instructor: Susannah Felts
  • Length of workshop: 8 weeks
  • Dates: Tuesdays, April 4 - May 23
  • Time: 7 p.m. - 9 p.m.
  • Cost: SOLD OUT. Email susannah@porchtn.org to join a waitlist. 
  • Location: Refinery Nashville

About the Instructor:

See our About Us page for Susannah's bio. 

 

 

 

ONe-DAY CLASSES

Getting Started

Sometimes the hardest part is to begin. In this session, we’ll discuss the habit and the why of writing before jumping in with writing prompts or elaborate outlines and big-picture project goals. The goal of the session is both to get the juices flowing and to offer strategies for those who occasionally suffer a reluctant or sluggish muse, while exploring strategies to develop the process and practice that comprise a writing life. As a bonus, participants can hope to walk away with a promising start to something new.

  • Instructor: Susannah Felts
  • Length of workshop: 3 hours
  • Date: Saturday, January 21
  • Time: 2 p.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Cost: SOLD OUT. 
  • Location: Refinery Nashville  

About the Instructor: 

See our About Us page for Susannah's bio. 

 

 

VISITING WRITER SERIES WORKSHOP:

Compression of the Everyday in Flash Fiction

The Porch is proud to bring poets and writers who are also experienced teachers to Nashville for readings of their work and workshops in which they share their insights and inspirations with our community. As our first visiting writer of 2017, Sherrie Flick, author of the new story collection Whiskey, Etc., will offer a workshop in flash fiction: 

When writing short we know that every word counts, but so does every metaphor and object. This generative workshop will take participants through a series of exercises to help see the world anew. We’ll hone observation skills, discuss radical empathy, and look to the lonely single object as rich material for use in telling a complex story. 

  • Instructor: Sherrie Flick
  • Length of workshop: 3 hours
  • Date: Saturday, January 28
  • Time: 2 p.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Cost: SOLD OUT
  • Location: Refinery Nashville

About the Instructor:

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Sherrie Flick is the author of the novel Reconsidering Happiness (Bison Books), a semi-finalist for the VCU First Novelist Award, the flash fiction chapbook I Call This Flirting (Flume), and the short story collection Whiskey, Etc. (Queen's Ferry Press). Her flash fiction has appeared in many anthologies and journals, including Flash Fiction Forward and New Sudden Fiction, as well as Ploughshares, Booth, Black Warrior Review, and New World Writing. She is a fiction reader for SmokeLong Quarterly, teaches in the MFA and Food Studies programs at Chatham University, and is co-director of the Chautauqua Writers' Festival. Autumn House Press will publish her next short story collection in fall of 2018. 
 

 

 

 

VISITING WRITER SERIES WORKSHOP:

When Bad Sex Happens to Good Writers: The Dos and Don'ts of Writing Sex Scenes

The Porch is proud to bring poets and writers who are also experienced teachers to Nashville for readings of their work and workshops in which they share their insights and inspirations with our community. Thanks to a grant from South Arts, we are thrilled to welcome Jamie Quatro to Nashville for a reading and workshop:

In this workshop, we’ll first read examples of ‘bad’ sex scenes in fiction, and discuss what makes them bad; we’ll then read examples of ‘good’ sex scenes, and talk about what makes them good. We’ll also look at examples of sex writing in poetry. In the process, we will hope to formulate, together, a working toolbox for crafting and editing literary sex scenes. During the second half of class, we’ll discuss previously-submitted student sex and/or love scenes. (Students should submit, prior to day of workshop, 1-2 page MAX excerpts from draft prose they would like to discuss in a workshop setting.)

  • Instructor: Jamie Quatro
  • Length of workshop: 3 hours
  • Date: Saturday, February 18
  • Time: 9 a.m - 12 p.m.
  • Cost: SOLD OUT. To join a waiting list, please email hello@porchtn.org
  • Location: Refinery Nashville

About the Instructor:

Jamie Quatro’s debut collection, I Want To Show You More (Grove Press), is a New York Times Notable Book, NPR Best Book of 2013, Indie Next pick, O, The Oprah Magazine summer reading pick, and New York Times Editors’ Choice. The collection was named a Top Ten Book of 2013 by Dwight Garner in the New York Times, a Favorite Book of 2013 by James Wood in The New Yorker, and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, the Georgia Townsend Fiction Prize, and the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize.

Her debut novel, Fire Sermon, is forthcoming in early 2018, to be followed by a second story collection, Next Time I’ll Be Louder, both from Grove Press.

Quatro’s fiction, poetry, and essays have appeared in Tin HouseBombPloughsharesMcSweeney’sEcotoneThe New York Times Book Review, The Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. Her stories are anthologized in the O. Henry Prize Stories 2013, Ann Charters’s The Story And Its Writer, and in the 2016 Norton Mix. She holds graduate degrees from the College of William and Mary (M.A., English) and the Bennington College Writing Seminars (M.F.A, Fiction), and is currently a Contributing Editor at The Oxford American Magazine. In the summer of 2017, Quatro will join the faculty in the Sewanee School of Letters Graduate Program. She lives with her husband and children in Lookout Mountain, Georgia.

 

 

Time to Tell: Writing Your Family History

Your family is rich in story, and you may have a few heirlooms, a mind full of memorable tales, or many boxes of keepsake letters, journals and clippings. Learn organizing and gathering techniques for writing your family history with the goal of preserving your story in print for friends or for generations to come. This workshop benefits those considering a project and those who may have reached an impasse. Family history can be overwhelming! Find your joy in creating stories with sample writing exercises. You will leave excited and with a plan to complete your project, whether book or blog. Bring one heirloom object or photograph for inspiration and sharing.

  • Instructor: Deborah Wilibrink
  • Length of workshop: 1.5 hours
  • Date: Saturday, February 11
  • Time: 2 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
  • Location: Refinery Nashville

About the Instructor:

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Deborah Wilbrink, BJ, is a Nationally Certified Teacher of English and a columnist for Mature Lifestyles of Tennessee magazine. She authored two books released in 2016-- Time to Tell: Your Personal & Family History and Fire of Commitment: History of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville. An award-winning, published journalist, her passion is true story. She ghostwrites, edits and designs family history and memoir books, having assisted with over 25 books since opening her company, Perfect Memoirs, in 2011. Deborah is Secretary of the Association of Personal Historians.

 

 

How to Interview Like a Pro

In a 2015 New York Times profile, Terry Gross of NPR’s Fresh Air described her philosophy of the interview: “I try not to make it about me.” Gross, after more than 13,000 radio interviews, has mastered the art of the carefully steered conversation—a performance so well-choreographed, it sounds natural and spontaneous. But how do you put an interviewee so at ease, they feel comfortable speaking candidly and openly? Genuine curiosity helps, and sincerity works best. Preparation is essential, but you’ll need to be ready to go off script. Most of all, a great interview is about listening. It’s an exploration into the largely unknown: Who is this person? Why have they chosen this particular life? 

 As the famous interviewer and journalist Studs Terkel said, “What I bring to the interview is respect…Because you’re listening, [the person] feels good about talking to you.” In this 3-hour workshop, we’ll discuss how to listen and improvise, prep for an interview, connect with your subject, direct a conversation, and enjoy the privilege of hearing people’s stories. We’ll touch on interviewing for memoirs and print profiles, podcasts and oral/family histories. *Note: Bring a voice recorder or iPhone (optional)—you’ll have a chance to try out your interview skills with your classmates.

  • Instructors: Kim Green and Emily Siner
  • Length of workshop: 3 hours
  • Date: Saturday, February 25
  • Time: 2 p.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Cost: SOLD OUT. To join a waiting list, please email hello@porchtn.org. 
  • Location: Refinery Nashville

About the Instructors:

Emily Siner is the assistant news director and an award-winning reporter at Nashville Public Radio. She also hosts Movers & Thinkers, a new live-interview podcast featuring creative and interesting Nashvillians. She's passionate about storytelling on all platforms, and she spoke at TEDxNashville in 2015 about the station's efforts to reach new audiences online. Before joining the news staff at WPLN, Emily worked in print and online journalism at the Los Angeles Times and NPR

Kim Green is a freelance writer and award-winning public radio producer whose work has appeared in the Nashville Scene and Fast Company, and on NPR and Marketplace. She has interviewed people as a print and radio journalist, for oral histories, for podcasts, and as the ghostwriter of a memoir-in-progress. Before writing, Kim was a flight instructor in Nashville. She co-translated and edited a memoir by a Soviet combat airwoman from WWII. Red Sky, Black Death was published in 2009.

 

 

From Story to Submit: Publishing in Literary Magazines

This class is designed for writers and poets who are seeking to publish in literary journals but are finding the path to publication daunting and/or difficult to navigate. In this session, we will discuss when, how, and what to submit to (which) literary magazines. As published or unpublished writers, we’ll revise our work, craft bios and cover letters, demystify Submittable, organize our submission calendars, decode rejection letters, and discuss the pros and cons of publishing online or via a traditional medium.  This class is for writers of all levels.

About the Instructor:

Katie Young Foster grew up in the Sandhills of Nebraska. She is the 2016-17 Creative Writing Fellow at The Curb Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Her stories have appeared or are forthcoming in The Masters Review Anthology, ArcadiaThe Boiler Journal, and elsewhere. She is the winner of The Masters Review Anthology contest judged by Amy Hempel, and has been recognized by Arcadia Magazine’s Dead Bison Editors’ Prize in Fiction and the Zoetrope: All-Story Short Fiction contest. 

 

 

Possibilities of Plot

Whether you want to write an intricate whodunit or a quiet tale of a solitary life, story matters. Something must propel the narrative so that a reader wants to continue turning the pages. In this craft intensive, we’ll look at the myriad ways to heighten, manipulate, and complicate plot so as to drive stories forward.

 

 

Writing a Winning Book Proposal

In this class, we will examine all the elements that go into creating a winning non-fiction book proposal. From sample chapters to extended tables of contents to market research and publicity ideas, publishers expect authors to follow a formula and to do much of the work for them! Show publishers how your book is similar to other books that have sold, yet is different enough to find its own audience. We will discuss what's required in a proposal, and attendees will have the opportunity to begin create one -- real or hypothetical! 

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About the Instructor:

Andrew Maraniss is the author of Strong Inside, the story of Perry Wallace, a trailblazing athlete who in 1966 enrolled at Vanderbilt University and became the first African-American basketball player in the Southeastern Conference. A New York Times bestseller, Strong Inside was also the recipient of the 2015 Lillian Smith Book Award and the lone Special Recognition honor at the 2015 RFK Book Awards. Andrew studied history at Vanderbilt University as a recipient of the Fred Russell – Grantland Rice sportswriting scholarship, earning the school’s Alexander Award for excellence in journalism and graduating in 1992. He then worked for five years in Vanderbilt’s athletic department as the associate director of media relations, dealing primarily with the men’s basketball team. In 1998, he served as the media relations manager for the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays during the team’s inaugural season, and then returned to Nashville to join MP&F Public Relations. The son of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and best-selling author David Maraniss and trailblazing environmentalist Linda Maraniss, Andrew was born in Madison, Wis., grew up in Washington, D.C. and Austin, Texas and now lives in Brentwood, Tenn., with his wife Alison, and their two young children. He has appeared on several national media programs, including NPR’s All Things Considered and Only A Game, NBC’s Meet The Press, MSNBC’s Morning Joe, ESPN’s Keith Olbermann Show, and the SEC Network’s Paul Finebaum Show.

 

 

Dialogue, Subtext & Scene

With a few exceptions, great stories are made up of great scenes.  Scenes are the building blocks of stories: they’re where the action happens, where characters are revealed, where conflicts emerge and are resolved (or not).  And no scene is complete without effective, convincing dialogue.  In this class, we’ll explore techniques for crafting quality dialogue; we’ll examine how dialogue can reveal character and conflict in both direct and indirect ways; and we’ll learn how what’s around dialogue—tagging, blocking, key descriptions, sensory details, etc.—contributes to the scene as a whole.  This workshop will include in-class exercises, voluntary sharing of work-in-progress, and group discussion of student and published work.

About the Instructor:

Marysa LaRowe is Nashville-based writer whose fiction has appeared in The Normal School, SmokeLong Quarterly, Fiction Southeast, The Southeast Review, Valparaiso Fiction Review, Matchbook, Wisconsin People and Ideas Magazine, and others. She earned her MFA in fiction from Vanderbilt University and her BA in English and creative writing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  In addition to teaching for The Porch, Marysa has taught writing classes for Vanderbilt University, Belmont University, Vanderbilt Programs for Talented Youth, and the Writers in Prisons Program based in Oregon, WI.  When she's not writing fiction or teaching, Marysa also works as a grant writer for a social services nonprofit in Nashville.