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WORKSHOPS

Harry Bernard
CURRENT SCHEDULE

New sessions will begin early March, and remain ongoing, back-to-back throughout the year.  

 

  • Workshops capped at 8-9. Sessions are weekly 3-hour classes, and run 8 weeks

  • Workshops are hybrid, using the OWL Meeting device. Zooming welcome. 

  • The workshop day and time schedule can change from session to session. 

  • I routinely meet for coffee with those who are interested in working with me in whatever capacity, so that they can get a sense of my process and ask all the questions they might have.  


RATES

Workshop: 8-week session (3 hours each class, 24 hours total) $400

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David Perry
MEMOIR

A series of 8-week, mentoring workshop sessions, three or four going simultaneously, back-to-back, all year. I learn so much from the amazing, committed writers who have worked with me over the many years to bring memory and personal material into language, imaginatively and artfully. New writers are always welcome.

 

These workshops are for those interested in transforming the deep exploration of experience into a convincing and compelling story.

 

This is not a competitive sport. Placed in the workshop most appropriate for your experience, you can participate at your own pace and comfort level. No judgement, just support.

You will be encouraged to:

•  Explore the genre and learn the ground rules

•  Experiment with different approaches to making the personal universal

•  Develop your unique voice and style to bring your story to life

Vivian Gornick says:  Penetrating the familiar is by no means a given. On the contrary, it is hard, hard work. Unlike any other mode of writing, memoir demands a kind of honesty that cannot be faked or manufactured. A successful narrative will rise from raw experience, but transcend that experience by virtue of, and in direct relation to, our willingness to honor our lives. It is this struggle that will ultimately move our reader. We own what has happened to us, and this includes what we remember. No one else can claim what we remember. 

 

But the process demands that we redefine the act of remembering, and in that way redefine what memory is. Striving for perfect recall encourages us to be a transcriber rather than a storyteller. Delight in the moment when memory becomes story.

HOW IT WORKS

We all have a story to tell about our lives. But often we don't know how to start, or what to make of it if we have started—how to shape it or expand it. Perhaps most important, we need assurances when the inevitable question arises—who will listen or care as this bumpy, challenging process unfolds?

 

I provide a nurturing, productive atmosphere where we go forward as a group toward a better understanding of how to draft, shape, and finish your personal narrative/memoir. This workshop will be more than a group critique. It will provide a community of writers where each will be encouraged to share work, receive careful, particularized attention, and offer a safe place to discuss ideas and thoughts, where participants' personal narratives are given thoughtful, rigorous feedback.

 

Most crucial to this process is to better understand the craft issues at stake in a good memoir. By craft I mean the study of the elements of how a story is made, and how to revise until it’s right.

David Perry

Each session is based on three components which create the format: 

 

We begin by reading aloud, and then discussing as a group, either a short narrative, an essay about craft or an excerpt from a full-length memoir. 

 

Next, I will offer a writing prompt for a relaxed, free-write exercise, to generate new drafts.

 

Finally, we work as a group on writers’ narratives drafted during the week or sometime recently. Our focus will be on whether the writer's deepest intentions are successfully set in motion. As well, we will explore and discuss artistic choices related to craft as a way to further each narrative project. 

 

The culture of the workshop is most keenly experienced in this portion of our work together. I manage very carefully the tenor and direction of the discussion, to make sure each writer is honored and supported, so that the writer can open to suggestions as to revision made by the group with rigor and honesty.

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POETRY

The structure of these workshops is similar to memoir. They are meant to be a deep dive into craft, through immersion in all manner of poetry—classical, contemporary, from other cultures and times—poetry that challenges and teaches. As well, we study formal elements, like patterning and repetition, to be better able to use such devices in our own poems.  

 

We begin by group study of a craft element—tone or structure, for example—reading an essay about poetry, a particularly challenging poem, or something I have written about an issue of craft—that will encourage a deeper level of understanding and engagement.

 

I then offer a prompt for a free-write. These exercises are very relaxed and intuitive, but at the same time meant to help you get out of your own way, so that a new path forward might come clear. I recommend writing prose first, very loosely, to get down what is swirling in your head—images, single words, short passages, even drawings—whatever comes. This first step is so crucial to the process.  We must let it happen as naturally and organically as possible. 

                                

Finally, the group critique.  As with memoir, we will work as a group on writers’ drafts of poems, and focus in particular on whether the writer's deepest intention is clear. As well, we will explore and discuss artistic choices related to craft as a way to further each poem’s project. The culture of the workshop is most keenly experienced in this portion of our work together. I manage very carefully the tenor and direction of the discussion, to make sure each writer is honored and supported, so that suggestions as to revision can be made with rigor and honesty.

 

 

Please join us at the table for whichever workshop draws you in. This experience could change your life. 

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