“The further we distance ourselves from the spell of the present, explored by our senses, the harder it will be to understand and protect nature's precarious balance, let alone the balance of our own human nature,” writes Diane Ackerman. We’re often told to add sensory details to liven up a piece of writing, as if “sensory details” are a mere ingredient in a recipe designed to produce the ideal prose-y metaphorical baked good. But what happens when we take the sensory experience of our lives more seriously, using that experience as the starting place for not only generating new creative work but for staying present in the writing process itself?
Through engaging with both in-class readings as well as writing exercising that engage the senses—including paintings, music, and maybe even a few non-metaphorical baked goods—this class aims to jumpstart ideas for new projects and add depth and texture to ongoing writing projects you may find yourself drafting or revising. Each week will be centered around exploring one to two “senses,” with the goal of drafting textured, dynamic prose. Along the way we’ll also pay attention to the sensory experience of language itself and to the way exploring the senses on the page might open up new pathways linked to memories and dreams.
Lee Conell is the author of a novel, The Party Upstairs (Penguin Press), which received the Wallant Award. She’s also the author of the story collection Subcortical (John Hopkins Press), which received The Story Prize's Spotlight Award. She is the recipient of fellowships and residencies from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Japan-US Creative Artist Fellowship, the Tennessee Arts Commission, Millay Arts, Willapa Bay AiR, and Yaddo. Her stories and essays have appeared in ZYZZYVA, Kenyon Review, Oxford American, Glimmer Train, Guernica, American Short Fiction online, Alaska Quarterly Review, and Paris Review Daily, and her work has won the Chicago Tribune's Nelson Algren Award and been shortlisted in Best American Short Stories and the Pushcart Prize anthology.
"I had a marvelous time with Lee! She created a warm, welcoming environment suitable to all levels of writers."
"Lee is a great instructor who makes sure all participants have an opportunity to contribute!"