Registration is open for our Spring 2020 classes! Check out our course descriptions below.

5-Week Class

Lang 371: Where to Begin: Introduction to the Creative Writing Workshop

**Class Full**

Instructor: Annie Frazier Crandell
Starts March 16, Monday evenings, 6:00-8:30 p.m. at the Reuter Center, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, 1 University Heights, Asheville. 

You want to write, or you’ve started writing and want to take the next step. But, where to begin? In this course, students will learn the basics of writing, discussing, and revising fiction and creative nonfiction in a supportive workshop setting. We will discuss the most effective, moving, surprising, and well-crafted elements of each piece, and make encouraging suggestions for potential improvement. Students may have a project underway or they may be hoping to find inspiration for a first piece. To help spark creativity and new projects, we will all complete several in-class writing exercises. Students will also submit work—short stories, novel excerpts, or creative nonfiction—during the course, which the instructor will respond to in writing. Required readings will be provided in class.

Annie Frazier Crandell is a writer, freelance editor, social media manager, and author’s assistant living in Asheville. She earned an MFA in fiction from Spalding University, where she served as Social Media Coordinator for the program and as a student editor for The Louisville Review. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Paper DartsHypertrophic LiteraryLongleaf ReviewStill: The JournalNorth Carolina Literary Review, and many more. Annie’s work has also been nominated multiple times for the Pushcart Prize, Best Small Fictions, and Best of the Net, and a story of hers was named a fiction finalist for Best of the Net 2018. Learn more about Annie at


10-Week Classes

Lang 372: Fun with Form: Building Your Creative Nonfiction Inside Someone Else’s Shell

**Class Cancelled**

Instructor: Christine Hale
Starts February 19, Wednesday evenings, 6:00-8:30 p.m. at Thomas Wolfe Memorial, 52 N. Market St., Asheville

In nature, the hermit crab has no shell of its own; instead, it takes up temporary residence in the cast-off shells of other sea creatures, moving on as necessary when its “house” gets too tight. In contemporary creative nonfiction (CNF), one of the most popular and exciting developments is the use of so-called “hermit crab” forms, in which a writer re-purposes an existing and decidedly not creative form–for example, a recipe or a rejection letter–as container for their creative work. The resulting tension between form and content is sometimes funny and often poignant or satirical. In this class, we’ll read many short examples of the form, discuss elements of writing craft, and individually and as a group have fun using writing prompts and other exercises to help you build your own “hermit crab” CNF. Out-of-class work is not required but, if you have time, will help you progress. Recommended reading: The Shell Game: Writers Play with Borrowed Forms – Kim Adrian, Editor

Christine Hale is the author of a novel, Basil’s Dream (Livingston Press 2009) and A Piece of Sky, Grain of Rice: A Memoir in Four Meditations (Apprentice House Press 2016), which the Los Angeles Review of Books calls “a portrait of a consciousness…[that] will bruise you… even leave you permanently marked.” Her prose has appeared in Role Reboot, Arts & Letters, Hippocampus, Prime Number, and The Sun, among other publications. A finalist for the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award and a fellow of MacDowell, Ucross, Hedgebrook, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Christine earned her MFA from Warren Wilson College. She teaches in the Antioch University-Los Angeles Low-Residency MFA Program as well as the Great Smokies Writing Program.


Lang 372: Contemporary Poems of the Spirit: A Poetry Workshop

Instructor: Luke Hankins
Starts February 20, Thursday evenings, 6:00-8:30 p.m. at Hanger Hall School, 64 W.T. Weaver Blvd., Asheville

In an era that foregrounds social and political engagement above all else in poetry, is poetry that engages the spirit still relevant? How are contemporary poets addressing spiritual and metaphysical impulses through language? In this class, we will read selected contemporary poetry collections and will write our own poems of meditation, contemplation, prayer, or inquiry. We will not privilege any particular religious or spiritual perspective over any other, but will be open to and interested in any and all perspectives and approaches.

Luke Hankins is the founder and editor of Orison Books, a non-profit literary press focused on the life of the spirit from a broad and inclusive range of perspectives. He also serves as Senior Editor of Asheville Poetry Review. He is the author of a collection of poems, Weak Devotions, a collection of essays, The Work of Creation, and a volume of translations from the French of Stella Vinitchi Radulescu, A Cry in the Snow & Other Poems. He is also the editor of Poems of Devotion: An Anthology of Recent Poets. A graduate of the Indiana University MFA in Creative Writing Program, where he held the Yusef Komunyakaa Fellowship in Poetry, Luke currently teaches in the Lenoir-Rhyne University MA in Writing Program.


Lang 372: The Devil You Know: The Art, Skill, and Thrill of Writing Your Memoir

**Class Full**

Instructor: Brian Lee Knopp
Starts February 20, Thursday evenings, 6:00-8:30 p.m. at RiverLink, 170 Lyman St., Asheville

A memoir is neither a diary made public nor a rough draft of your obituary.  It is a word kaleidoscope conveying the most colorful expressions of your life, often through the prism of a single intense experience.  But beware!  Memoir writing is a heroic quest for clarity amid chaos, a daring rescue of the truth trapped inside your life’s labyrinth. Should you do it?  Absolutely.  Can you do it?  Of course. You were born for the task. How do you do it?  By building up memory muscles, strengthening your capacity for empathy and informed imagination, and improving your language reflexes in order to convey your experience in the most vivid, convincing and authentic narrative possible. This course will require in-class and at-home writing assignments and class pre-writing or “life-storming” sessions—all dedicated to transforming a life lived into an unforgettable work of art. Required Reading: Helen Macdonald, H is for Hawk, Grove Press 2014 and Brian Lee Knopp, “Three Steps Toward Becoming a Dog Writer.”

Brian Lee Knopp is the author of the 2009 best-selling memoir Mayhem in Mayberry: Misadventures of a P.I. in Southern Appalachia. He also created and contributed to the 2012 collaborative mystery novel Naked Came the Leaf Peeper. A former professional sheep shearer with an M.A. degree in English Literature from the University of Texas at Austin, Brian Lee has taught at Warren Wilson College and for the Great Smokies Writing Program. His nonfiction work has appeared in Stoneboat Journal, WNC Magazine, and Now & Then: The Appalachian Magazine. His book reviews, essays, and poems have been published in several regional magazines and anthologies.


Lang 372: Composing the Personal Essay: A Creative Nonfiction Workshop

Instructor: Sebastian Matthews
Starts February 18, Tuesday evenings, 6:00-8:30 p.m. at the Asheville Jewish Community Center, 236 Charlotte St., Asheville. 

In this course, we will write and revise personal essays. To this end, we will read and discuss a variety of contemporary personal essays—and, at times, fiction and poetry. In addition to trying our hand at in-class exercises, we will workshop each other’s work. Along the way, we will explore the elements and techniques employed in contemporary narrative nonfiction. Suggested Reading: Meander, Spiral, Explode: Design and Pattern in Narrative, Jane Alison.

Sebastian Matthews is the author of a memoir, In My Father’s Footsteps (W.W. Norton & Co.), and two books of poetry, We Generous and Miracle Day. His hybrid collection of poetry and prose, Beginner’s Guide to a Head-on Collision, won the Independent Publishers Book Award’s silver medal. Matthews is also the author of The Life & Times of American Crow, a “collage novel in eleven chapbooks.” His work has appeared in or on, among other places, The Atlantic, The Common, Georgia Review, Poets & Writers, The Sun, Virginia Quarterly Review, and Writer’s Almanac. Learn more at


Lang 372: Heart of the Story: Writing for Children and Young Adults Fiction Workshop

**Class Full**

Instructors: Joy Neaves & Amy Reed
Starts February 17, Monday evenings, 6:00-8:30 p.m. at RiverLink, 170 Lyman St., Asheville

“I don’t write for children. I write and someone says, this is for children.” –Maurice Sendak

This ten-week workshop welcomes students at all stages of the writing process who are interested in writing literature for children and young adults, including novels, picture books, and short fiction. You will discover powerful tools for generating material or revising your work for young readers. Our focus will be on ways to use all the essentials aspects of craft to develop dynamic characters & compelling plots. Emphasis will be placed on generating powerful scenes (the building blocks of story) that serve the core of your story (the overall narrative arc). Special topics related to children’s fiction and picture books will be discussed.

The supportive atmosphere of this workshop aims to facilitate your writing process, while keeping your goals as a writer at the heart of our work together.  Using a combination of mini-lectures, writing exercises, group discussion and critique, the instructors will encourage you to develop your ability to look at your own work critically. The instructors will also provide written feedback on individual writers’ work and will recommend useful outside reading and resources geared toward individual student projects. A portion of the workshop will focus on the business of publishing and the best ways to approach editors and agents when you’re ready to submit your work to the market.

Joy Neaves has over fifteen years of experience as an editor of children’s picture books, poetry, middle grade, and young adult fiction, first from Front Street, an award-winning publisher of books for children, and later at Boyds Mills Press. She is currently a freelance editor of children’s books at namelos. She is passionate in her approach to talking about both children’s literature & the craft of writing for children, and enjoys helping writers hone their craft, with an eye toward publication. She has helped many writers see their work come to fruition.

Amy Reed has published ten young adult novels over the past ten years, including The Nowhere Girls, Beautiful, and Clean, and she is the editor of the anthology Our Stories, Our Voices. Her books have won multiple awards, have been translated into several languages, and The Nowhere Girls was recently optioned for a television series by Amazon. Amy also worked in publishing for several years, so she knows the industry inside and out. She is a strong believer in the Madeleine L’Engle quote: “You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”


Lang 372: Whose Story Is It?: Experiments with Point of View in Short Fiction

**Class Cancelled**

Instructor: Carolyn Ogburn
Starts February 17, Monday evenings, 6:00-8:30 p.m. at Hanger Hall School, 64 W.T. Weaver Blvd., Asheville

What difference does it make to a story when it’s told from a first person POV vs a third person POV? Have you been afraid to play with second person narration, or write from a collective point of view? What are the implications of writing from a singular perspective when addressing collective, or structural, concerns? What are the ethics of writing from a perspective beyond one’s lived experience?

During the day, Carolyn Ogburn works as the Director of Accessibility Services at UNC Asheville, but on evenings and weekends she’s generally found hunched over her writing desk surrounded by dogs. She was recently awarded the Missouri Review’s 2019 Peden Prize for her short story, “Ordinary Time.” Other recently publications include Broadsides to Books, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Empty Mirror, and others. She has been a regular blogger for Ploughshares, and a contributing editor for Numero Cinq. She’s received an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts, an MLA from UNC Asheville, and fellowships from Ragdale Foundation and Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.


Lang 372: The Element of Water in Creating Poetry and the Prose Poem: A Poetry Workshop

**Class Cancelled**

Instructor: Katherine Soniat
Starts February 18, Tuesday evenings, 6:00-8:30 p.m. at Hanger Hall School, 64 W.T. Weaver Blvd., Asheville

When Edward Abbey wrote his acclaimed non-fiction Desert Solitaire, he used the following poetic quotation from Chilean poet Pablo Neruda as the epigraph for his own book: “Give me silence, water, and hope./ Give me struggle, iron, and volcanoes.”  It is this exactness of Neruda’s language that suggests we examine more the fluid tug of water as it so readily combines as human art. Eddies likewise exist within the imagination.

As well as writers, any artist or musicians (etc.) are welcome to participate in our journey. In this class you will find both the time and space needed to investigate the shifting tabula rasa (blank space) upon which most art is designed/composed. Share and Create your (as yet) Unwritten Spring! We will discuss a few exemplary poems/prose poems concerning the fluidity offered by this genre—your chance to see at liquid new angles, then to select particulars that make you jump off the page… to net the poem that only you could have caught.

Katherine Soniat’s collection The Swing Girl was selected as Best Collection of 2011 by the Poetry Commission of North Carolina.  Of her earlier work, A Shared Life earned her The Iowa Prize from the University of Iowa Press. Alluvial was a finalist for the Library of Virginia Center for the Book Award, and Notes of Departure was published by the Walt Whitman Center for the Arts and Humanities.  Soniat won the 2014 Turtle Island Chapbook Award for The Goodbye Animals and her seventh collection of poetry, Bright Stranger, was released by Louisiana State University Press, 2016. Her individual poems have been widely published.


15-Week Classes

Lang 373: Owning Up to Being a Writer: Fiction and Creative Nonfiction Workshop

**Class Full**

Instructor: Tommy Hays
Starts January 29, Wednesday evenings, 6:00-8:30 p.m. at RiverLink, 170 Lyman St., Asheville

One of the hardest things about writing is admitting to others that we do it.  After all, writing is first and foremost about being alone and writing.  In fact, we were probably attracted to writing because it’s something we can do by ourselves. Yet it’s not until we take the next step and offer our work up to our community that we own up to what we’re attempting.  And it’s usually not until we seek feedback, that we improve.  This creative prose workshop is for anyone who writes or wants to write, even if they’d rather not admit it. The class will be in part devoted to craft discussion, but the main emphasis will be reading and responding thoughtfully to each other’s work. All levels of writers are welcome.

Tommy Hays’s middle grade novel, What I Came to Tell You (Egmont USA), was chosen as an Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA), received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books and was a VOYA Top Shelf Pick. His novel, The Pleasure Was Mine (St. Martin’s Press), was a Finalist for the SIBA Fiction Award and has been chosen for numerous community reads. His other novels are Sam’s Crossing (Atheneum) and In the Family Way (Random House), a selection of The Book of the Month Club and winner of the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award. He’s published stories in Redbook, The Chattahoochee Review, Smoky Mountain Living and storySouth. Recently he was named The Carolina Mountain Literary Festival’s honoree for the Charlie Award, named in honor of Charles F. Price, and “given each year to an author who exemplifies fine writing and who works to build community.” He is Executive Director of the Great Smokies Writing Program and Core Faculty for the Master of Liberal Arts and Sciences program at UNC Asheville.  A member of the National Book Critics Circle, he received his BA in English from Furman University and graduated from the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.  For more information, please go to


Lang 473: Staying the Course: A Creative Prose Workshop

Instructor: Vicki Lane
Starts January 30, Thursday evenings, 6:00-8:30 p.m. at Asheville School, 360 Asheville School Rd., Asheville.

This workshop is aimed at writers with a work in progress, almost completed, or completed but in need of a final polishing. Each student will submit up to sixty pages (in increments of twenty over the course of the class) of work in progress for discussion and critique by the class and close editing with written comments by the instructor. We will focus on the effective use of key techniques such as creating an intriguing opening, crafting a likable and/or engaging protagonist, weaving in back story in small, manageable doses, setting up a dilemma that begs to be resolved, making the most of action scenes, — in general, producing a page-turner. We will attempt to weed out the mistakes that mark the amateur writer and help each student to become a discerning editor of his own work. The goal will be to polish those pages till they are ready to catch the attention of an agent, an editor, or a publisher and make them ask for more. The recommended text is the highly acclaimed Don’t Sabotage Your Submission by career manuscript editor Chris Roerden.

Vicki Lane is the author of the Elizabeth Goodweather mystery series from Bantam Dell.  She has taught with the Great Smokies Writing Program since 2006. She has also led writing workshops at Wildacres, John C. Campbell Folk School, and Historic Rugby.  Learn more about Vicki and her writing at her website and her blog


Lang 473: Prose Master Class: A Creative Prose Workshop

**Class Full**

Instructor: Elizabeth Lutyens
Starts January 28, Tuesday evenings, 6:00-8:30 p.m. at Asheville School, 360 Asheville School Rd., Asheville.

The Prose Master Class is a next step for those seeking an intensive writing experience. This small–group workshop is limited to experienced writers who are working on an ongoing project: a collection of essays or stories, a novel, a memoir. The writer should have at least sixty pages ready to submit for three critiques during the semester. An equally important commitment is for class members to offer the best possible attention to the work of others.

Most classes begin with a craft session requiring outside reading, with the focus on the theme for the semester. In lieu of some craft sessions, we will do in-class writing, with prompts, to generate fresh ideas and approaches. The emphasis for the course, always, is the review of student work, which includes extensive and in-depth comments from the instructor. For each of the three rounds of workshops, the methods will vary, from traditional craft-based discussions…to free-form explorations of resonance as well as craft…to writer’s choice.

Admission to the Prose Master Class is by permission from Tommy Hays or Elizabeth Lutyens, who has led this class for ten years. A former journalist, Elizabeth is a graduate of the MFA in Writing Program at Warren Wilson College and is completing her own work: a novel set in Boston and the Port Royal islands of South Carolina during the early 1860s. She is Editor in Chief of The Great Smokies Review, the online literary magazine published by The Great Smokies Writing Program and UNC Asheville.

For more information about the Prose Master Class, contact Tommy ( or Elizabeth (


The Great Smokies Writing Program is committed to providing the community with affordable university-level classes taught by professional writers, and to giving voice to local and regional writers through Writers at Home, its free reading series. The Great Smokies Writing Program wishes to thank Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café for its support of the Writers at Home series.