P.O. Box 1974
Jackson, WY 83001
JH Writers Conference
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November 13, 2021
9am to Noon
Center for the Arts
Stuck for an original story? Have an idea for a mystery but don’t know enough about the setting to be comfortable writing it? Need some fresh vocabulary for your poetry? You could always ask Google or “borrow” from another writer, but there’s a better way – traditional research, much like you hated doing for those college papers, but now way more fun. Between the internet and hands-on libraries and archives you have access to an untapped universe of material.
In-depth literary research is usually applied to historical or scientific pieces, and for the most part it serves to connect past and present. It finds facts, it confirms and enhances memories (or contradicts them), and it offers comparisons over time. It’s a great way to look at and understand the changes in our society and to help put other cultures in perspective. Best-selling author Kate Quinn uses it to draw her readers convincingly into the past with the slang and customs of the day.
But the same research techniques can bring any genre of writing to life with vivid dialog and authentic names and locations. It can provide you with ideas for original personalities and situations. It can give you an entire vocabulary of forgotten or seldom used words that will ring true to your work and set it apart.
It’s also an extremely effective cure for writer’s block.
Starting with the example of a historical non-fiction book, we’ll see how to branch out and open up various lines of research beneficial to fiction, poetry and especially, memoir. Newspapers, magazines, maps, archival photographs, obsolete dictionaries and encyclopedias – all of these sources can provide inspiration and bring authenticity to your writing. Sometimes, the best material is hiding in a rabbit hole.
Charlie Craighead grew up in Jackson Hole among an extended family of scientists, writers, and artists. He graduated from Utah State University with a BS degree in Wildlife Biology and as class poet, then worked as a biologist, photographer, cinematographer, carpenter, and fishing guide before focusing on writing. Believing that any job can be a learning experience, he has written book intros, field guides, film narration scripts, collaborations with artists, documentary film scripts for PBS Nature, NOVA, and NatGeo Wild, edited biographies, developed and written interpretive panels for national park visitor centers, and written several historical books on iconic Jackson Hole institutions. He lives in Moose, Wyoming.
October 16, 2021
Center for the Arts
Kyle Mackie will lead a workshop on reporting, writing, editing and producing Wyoming news segments, feature stories and interviews for podcasts and radio broadcasts. As the news director at KHOL/Jackson Hole Community Radio, Mackie hopes to both inspire more members of the Jackson community to take advantage of the power of audio storytelling and cultivate new potential freelance contributors.
Kyle is a multimedia journalist who joined KHOL as news director in January 2021. Prior to moving west, she reported on education, immigration, racial justice and more for WBFO, the NPR affiliate in Buffalo, NY. With a background in international reporting, Kyle has also worked in Israel and the Palestinian territories and the Western Balkans. She holds a bachelor’s degree in international affairs and geography from The George Washington University and master’s degree in journalism from the City University of New York. When not out reporting, Kyle can usually be found trail running, climbing, skiing or grooving to live music.
April 24, 2021
You have an idea for a story that is compelling you. Maybe you have written a few pages or a fully-formed draft. Is the emotion that is inspiring you to write your story coming out on the page?
In this workshop, Sheryl Haft applied lessons from beloved children’s books and Pixar’s The Art of Storytelling to encourage greater character depth and emotion in writing.
A deep dive into mentor texts shone light on structure and character building. In-workshop exercises gave writers opportunities to discover the strengths of their characters and the heart in their stories.
“The characters in a children’s book must reach into the heart of the reader on page one. Emotional content is the main reason a child and a parent will go back to a book again and again.” – Rosemary Wells
About the Instructor
Sheryl Haft is the author of four books for young readers, including the Amazon Bestseller, GOODNIGHT BUBBALA—A Joyful Parody, and the forthcoming MAZIE’S AMAZING MACHINES.
Feb 25, 2021
We’re almost a year into the pandemic and some of us are tired. Let’s admit it. Even in the midst of mental, physical, and emotional fatigue, there is a light that shines in all of us, waiting to melt through the layers of permafrost we’ve accumulated over the past twelve months. In this workshop, writers begin to melt through those layers with the penetrating force of poetry, create an atmosphere of resilience for those who may not have the strength to do so, and effectively use adversity to shift mindset.
This workshop was taught by Thomas Kneeland, Founder & Executive Director of The Kneeland Center for Poetry, Inc, a 501c3 organization that discovers, cultivates, and enhances the voices and works of underrepresented poets across the globe. The Kneeland Center has gained international following and participation through its digital publication, The Elevation Review, which publishes original poetry quarterly.
February 9, 2021
Participants sent a 1000-1200 word narrative or narrative excerpt of unpublished writing to John Rember. He read each piece carefully, putting himself in the place of a reader/editor, taking notes with an eye toward what was working and what wasn’t. From that material, John Rember sketched out an hour’s craft talk.
John didn’t single out anyone’s work for criticism, but he did give everyone solid, practical advice that helped make readers love the author. John has dealt with tough editors and he tried to imitate one long enough to give authors an idea of what will warm the cockles of their hard, jaded little hearts, at least as far as a story can accomplish such a thing.
In addition, John sent each participant a half-page or so of comments on their work, with an emphasis on useful advice going forward.
After that hour, we opened up the session for discussion/comments/questions/rants for thirty minutes or so.
John Rember, author of three books of short stories (Coyote in the Mountains, Cheerleaders from Gomorrah, Sudden Death, Over Time), a memoir (Traplines), a why-to-write book (MFA in a Box), and an end-of-the-world book (A Hundred Little Pieces on the End of the World). For a complete biography and publication list, see his website at johnrember.com. John also writing a journal of the plague year and posting it on the website. It contains almost all of his 2020 writing.
January 9, 2021
How do the big questions of our time–from climate change to racism–inhabit the stories of our lives? And what does it look like on the page to tell exquisitely personal stories in ways that gesture toward larger concerns? In this 90-minute workshop, writers uncover some of the big questions buried in their own narratives, identify research paths that might amplify the intersection between the Self and the World, connect with their own potentially-transformative obsessions, and explore how the stories we choose to tell can change us.
This workshop is taught by Katherine E. Standefer, author of Lightning Flowers: My Journey to Uncover the Cost of Saving A Life. The book tells the story of the author’s troubled relationship to her own implanted cardiac defibrillator, and her global journey to understand whether the making of a potentially-lifesaving medical technology could have caused loss of life elsewhere in the world.
Lightning Flowers has been selected for Oprah Magazine’s Reading Room in November and was shortlisted for the J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Prize from Columbia Graduate School for Journalism and the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. Terry Tempest Williams called it “a riveting debut.” In a starred review, Kirkus called it “packed with emotion and a rare, honest assessment of the value of one’s own life, this debut is a standout. An intensely personal and brave accounting of a medical battle and the countless hidden costs of healthcare.” Standefer’s other writing appeared in The Best American Essays 2016 and won the Iowa Review Award in Nonfiction. She has been a Logan Nonfiction Fellow at the Carey Institute for Global Good, a Marion Weber Healing Arts Fellow at the Mesa Refuge, and a resident at Jentel Arts in Banner, Wyoming. She earned her MFA in Creative Nonfiction Writing from the University of Arizona and teaches for Ashland University’s Low-Residency MFA program. She writes from a juniper- and piñon-studded mesa in New Mexico with her nine chickens.
APRIL 25, 2020
Jackson Hole Writers partnered with Wyoming Stargazing to host a hard science fiction writing workshop with University of Wyoming Physics and Astronomy Professor Mike Brotherton.
Thanks to the generosity of the Wyoming Humanities Council, in collaboration with Wyoming Stargazing, we hosted a science fiction writing workshop in Spring 2020 with published author, Dr. Mike Brotherton, of the University of Wyoming.
Originally from the St. Louis area, he got his PhD in astronomy from the University of Texas in 1996, and held positions at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Kitt Peak National Observatory before moving to Laramie, Wyoming. His specialty is studying the supermassive black holes in the centers of galaxies and how they shine when in the active phase. He is also interested in the relationship between such active galactic nuclei (AGN) and their host galaxies, and their mutual evolution. His work is primarily observational, and he uses a wide assortment of telescopes/observatories operating across the electromagnetic spectrum including WIRO, McDonald, IRTF, KPNO, Lick, Keck, Gemini, the VLT, Hubble, Chandra, and the VLA. He also makes use of data archives such as the Sloan Digital Sky Surveys. In addition to being a scientist, he is a science fiction writer, author of the well-received science fiction novels Star Dragon (2003) and Spider Star (2008) from Tor Books. He is also the founder of the NASA-funded Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop for Writers, which brings a dozen award-winning professional writers to Wyoming every summer.
October 18-19, 2019
Amanda Eke recently returned to the States from the University of Malta where she acted as a cultural ambassador for the U.S. through the Fulbright Fellowship. During her time in Malta, she developed novel curricula for the university’s English Department in spoken word and used spoken word and music to teach English to migrants and refugees. She has presented at Harvard College, University of California Davis, University of California Berkeley, and Purdue University. Some of her most notable lectures are: Freedom, Call it by Any Other Name: Black Utopias in Music; Black Women in Classical Music; What a Time to be Alive: The Inundation of Social Media on Activism; The New Millennium of Black Women in Contemporary Music; To Be Young Gifted and Black: A Look at the Visionary Activism by Black Female Musicians; and Black Musicianship: A Look at the Cost of Black Womanhood in Music.
During the October Workshop, Amanda presented introductory concepts to spoken word poetry including rhythm, meter, cadence, and rhyme scheme. She also introduced a variety of poetry writing styles and templates as well as used theatrical and choral techniques to engage and unlock participants’ creativity.
Support for Amanda Eke’s workshop came from the Center of Wonder’s Arts for All grant.
October 19 & 26, 2019
Do you have a great idea for a movie? Are you a writer who would like to venture into a different format? Stephen Dyer, an experienced screenwriter, presented a workshop that attempted to answer these questions. Students received advice on formatting and storytelling, participated in writing exercises, and left with enough specific structure and foundation to make a real attempt at a first draft and/or to earnestly revise existing work. Prerequisite homework was emailed out prior to the first class.
May 18, 2019
Kali Fajardo-Anstine is from Denver, Colorado. Her fiction has appeared in The American Scholar, Boston Review, Bellevue Literary Review, The Idaho Review, Southwestern American Literature, and elsewhere. Kali has received fellowships from MacDowell Colony, the Corporation of Yaddo, and Hedgebrook. She received her MFA from the University of Wyoming and has lived across the country, from Durango, Colorado, to Key West, Florida.
During the May Workshop, Kali worked with participants on utilizing the power of story to re-imagine their own narratives, both personal and fictional. Kali walked participants through a number of writing prompts which encouraged growth and optimism in the face of adversity. She used examples from her own writing and the writing of other published authors to push participants to create long-term and short-term goals that changed their narratives for the better.
April 20, 2019
Janet Fox is the author of several books for young readers. “Some of my books are set in mystical places,” she writes on her website. “Some of my books are about mystical events.”
This workshop was not just limited to writers of books for children and young adults. What Janet conveyed, in terms of craft, applied to all fiction books.
“I’m calling it a next-tier presentation, designed for writers who are stuck,” she said, “or have a messy first draft, or need to understand the revision process.”
Janet’s fascination with history, mystery, romance, and adventure meld into her works of fiction. Her most recent book, Volcano Dreams, a non-fiction picture book from Web of Life Books, was published in September 2018. She has also written The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle (Viking 2016), plus Sirens, Forgiven, and Faithful, three young adult novels from Penguin.
Support for this workshop came from Arts for All!, with monies from the Town of Jackson and Teton County. The grant was administered by: Center of Wonder
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