Where is the line between memoir and fiction? How much can you fabricate in memoir, and how much can you steal from your own life in fiction? In this workshop, students will submit their work—whether it’s fiction, memoir, or a hybrid—for critique, while participating in a discussion about the question of veracity and imagination, using texts that play with the line of fiction and memoir. We will look at each submission with an eye to the points of craft, and to what works in the piece, and what doesn’t, regardless of where it falls on the spectrum of fiction and memoir. There is no required reading, but here’s some suggested autobiographical fiction:
Go Tell It on the Mountain, James Baldwin
Chelsea Girls, Eileen Myles
A Death in the Family, James Agee
history of Violence, Édouard Louis
Sarah Van Arsdale’s fifth book, The Catamount, a narrative poem with her watercolor illustrations, was published by Nomadic Press in 2017. She is the author of four books of fiction: In Case of Emergency, Break Glass (Queens Ferry Press, 2016), Grand Isle, (SUNY Press 2012), Blue, winner of the 2002 Peter Taylor Prize for the Novel, (University of Tennessee Press), and Toward Amnesia, (1996, Riverhead Books). She serves on the board of the Ferro-Grumley Award in LGBTQ Fiction, and curates BLOOM: The Reading Series at Hudson View Gardens. Her poetry and essays have been widely published in literary magazines; she has an essay on setting and atmosphere in fiction in a forthcoming issue of the AWP Writer’s Chronicle, and a memoir piece in a forthcoming issue of Bayou Magazine. She teaches creative writing in the low-residency MFA program at Antioch University, at New York University, and privately; in January, 2019, she’ll be co-leading a workshop in Oaxaca, Mexico. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts.