Place is both a launching point, and a powerful force for stasis. Place is a shared language, a familiar system of signs, and a vibe you can’t shake, no matter how far you fling yourself. When we ground our essays in a strong sense of place we perform a kind of magic, transporting readers in ways beyond imagined geography. In this six-week workshop, by reading and responding to each other’s works in progress, we’ll embark on a shared discovery of ways to deepen meaning and image resonance through a heightened sense of place. We’ll consider place both in terms of the sweeping (the South, the West) and the intimately specific (one’s garden). In exploring these and other nuances of sense of place, we may look at works by Ross Gay, Rachel Kushner, Terry Tempest Williams, Wendell Berry, Rivka Galchen, and Tiana Clark, and we’ll try our hands at short exercises designed to deepen existing drafts or provoke new pieces into being. Max 10 participants.
Susannah Felts, co-founder of The Porch, is a fiction writer, freelance writer, teacher, editor, and native Nashvillian. In 2009, after many years away from her hometown, she returned to put down roots with her family in East Nashville. Previously, Susannah taught creative writing at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Watkins College of Art, Design & Film, and in several other youth and community settings. Her first novel, This Will Go Down on Your Permanent Record, was published in 2008 by Featherproof Books.
Susannah was the recipient of the Tennessee Arts Commission’s Individual Artist Fellowship in Fiction for 2013. She has been awarded the Tennessee Williams Scholarship to the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, as well as residencies at the Ragdale Foundation, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences. Her work has appeared in publications such as The Oxford American, Literary Hub, Longreads, StorySouth, The Sun, Quarterly West, Hobart, Five Chapters, Wigleaf, Quick Fiction, and others. She earned her BA with Highest Honors in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and holds an MFA in Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Susannah is also a contributing writer for Chapter 16, Humanities Tennessee’s site devoted to literary culture.
"Susannah is fantastic! Encouraging, authentic, and insightful. I came away with so many useful ideas for improving and deepening my writing practice. I'm already putting them to use! Her prompts for re-visioning previous drafts were especially helpful."
"Susannah was great at loosening up the group and encouraging us to volunteer our work and our feedback for others' work. She set the tone for the class's constructive spirit and guilt-free approach to engaging new techniques for creativity and trying out new writing and revision methods. It was great!"
"Susannah really personified empathy. From the first class, I felt challenged and accepted."