Spring 2022 Classes

**Please note that all classes will be held remotely, via Zoom or other video conferencing platforms.**

5-Week Classes

Lang 371: Poetry Workshop

Instructor: Luke Hankins
Starts March 21, Monday evenings 6:00-8:00

This will be a straightforward, no-frills workshop, aimed at helping each participant see their poems more objectively and improving the mechanics of their poems. We’ll focus on first developing our ability to describe what is already present on the page before offering comment or critique, as this will help the author understand how the existing poem is perceived and will help all participants sharpen their attention to details of form and content. Topics that are likely to arise include syntax and its interaction with lineation, diction as it impacts tone and mood, rhetorical strategies and the arrangement of information, sonic and metrical effects, etc. Each participant will have three poems discussed over the 5 weeks.

Luke Hankins is the author of two poetry collections, Radiant Obstacles and Weak Devotions, as well as a collection of essays, The Work of Creation. A volume of his translations from the French of Stella Vinitchi Radulescu, A Cry in the Snow & Other Poems, was released by Seagull Books in 2019. His poems, essays, and translations have appeared in a wide variety of periodicals, including 32 Poems, American Literary Review, Image, New England Review, Poetry International, Verse, World Literature Today, and The Writer’s Chronicle. Hankins serves as an Associate Editor at Asheville Poetry Review and he 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.

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Lang 371: Putting It All Together: A Tool Kit for Novel-Building

Class Full

Instructor: Jodi Lynn Anderson
Starts March 21, Monday afternoons 2:00-4:30

Often, the greatest hurdle standing in the way of an excellent finished novel is the completion of a viable first draft. This five-week course is aimed at those who wish to find more solid footing in writing, structuring, and completing their novels.

We’ll cover:

*Techniques for setting and scaffolding an engaging narrative, including arcs, weighting, and navigating the circular process of character and plot.

*Charting, Mapping, Brainstorming: We’ll explore how to build the structure for your novel that most excites you as a writer…looking to examples of both conventional and unconventional narratives to guide us.

*Getting Unstuck, Forging Paths through Dead Ends, and Building Reader Engagement: We’ll discuss ways to break through hurdles and simple keys to engage an audience.

*Revision, Habits, and Reading to Write. We’ll talk nuts-and-bolts strategies for crossing the narrative finish line…and develop a personalized strategy for reading in the direction of the book you most wish to write.

Jodi Lynn Anderson is a former book editor for HarperCollins Publishers and a New York Times bestselling author whose work has appeared on numerous awards lists and been optioned for film and television. She has shepherded many successful novels toward publication and has spent years navigating both the business and the craft of writing. Jodi holds an MFA in Writing and Literature from Bennington College. Her latest young adult novel, Each Night Was Illuminated, is forthcoming in Fall 2022.


Lang 371: The Fantastic Ekphrastic Writing Workshop

Instructor: Alli Marshall
Starts March 22, Tuesday evenings 6:00-8:30

Ekphrastic art is work made in response to another piece of artwork. It can be a poem jump-started by a painting, a song inspired by a sculpture or — to paraphrase a cliche — a dance about architecture. In this class, we’ll focus on fiction as our medium of expression.

We’ll begin with a discussion of ekphrastic art and examples of it from our own bodies of work (it’s likely we’ve all made ekphrastic art, even if unintentionally). We’ll also talk about ekphrastic art as a means of collaboration with a knowing or unknowing fellow artist. And we’ll work on outlining and/or writing flash fiction pieces in response to several artistic works of various mediums.

From there, we’ll move on to creating short fiction pieces that build off our ekphrastic explorations. Through in-class writing prompts, group writing exercises, and critiques, we’ll develop our ekphrastic works into completed stories.

We’ll also compile a collection of resources for future ekphrastic practice, such as Pinterest, playlists, and museum exhibitions that are available online for free, virtual tours.

GOALS: To find inspiration in unexpected places, and to trigger ideas for plot and character development. Open to writers of all experience levels.

Alli Marshall is a poet, fiction writer, and spoken word artist based in Asheville. She’s the author of the 2015 novel How to Talk to Rockstars and the 2017 chapbook It All Comes Rushing Back, as well as a number of zines. She was an arts writer and editor at alternative newsweekly Mountain Xpress for 17 years and currently directs AM/FM Broadcast, an artist development initiative.

Alli won the 2018 Ramsey Library Community Author Award and the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize (judged by Ron Rash) for her short story “Catching Out.” She received a 2019 Regional Artist Project Grant from the Asheville Area Arts Council for a collaborative performance about the Lilith archetype. Her most recent production, “The Top-Ten Superpowers of All Time,” will premiere at the 2022 Asheville Fringe Arts Festival.
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Lang 371: Memoir Builder

Class Full

Instructor: Tessa Fontaine
Starts April 4, Monday afternoons 2:00-4:00

In this generative course, you will learn how to translate personal experience and research into effective memoir. We will strive to define and understand the components of an effective memoir by reading a variety of work, and generating our own content each week.

We will use a variety of prompts to invigorate both right and left brain memories and ideas, incorporate research, understand when to use invention, juxtaposition, patterning, and more. Through reading and discussing outside examples, we’ll understand a variety of approaches for both our current memoir projects and future lives as a writer. At the end of the course, each writer will have a lot of new material ready to be shaped into a larger project.

This is a generative course, and as such, the focus will be on discussion and generating new writing, and is appropriate for new memoir writers as well as experienced writers looking to generate new pages and expand their craft. Be prepared to read and write a lot, and find new ways into the stories you’ve been wanting to tell.

Tessa Fontaine is the author of The Electric Woman: A Memoir in Death-Defying Acts, A New York Times Editors’ Choice; a Southern Living Best Book of 2018; an Amazon Editors’ Best Book of 2018; a Refinery29 Best Book of 2018; a New York Post Most Unforgettable Book of 2018.  Her writing can be found in Outside, The New York Times, Glamour, The Believer, LitHub, Creative Nonfiction, and more. Raised outside San Francisco, Tessa got her MFA from the University of Alabama. She’s received awards and fellowships from Tin House, The Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, The Taft Nicholson Center, Writing by Writers, and Squaw Valley Community of Writers.  Tessa taught in prisons and jails for five years, and was a professor of creative writing at Warren Wilson College, in addition to guest teaching at dozens of other colleges and universities around the country.  She currently lives in Asheville, North Carolina, where she’s at work on her next book, a novel, which will be published by FSG in 2023.


10-Week Classes

Lang 372: Prose and Photos: Coming at Writing Sidewise

Instructor: Vicki Lane
Starts February 24, Thursday evenings 6:00-8:30

In this ten-week class we will explore the world around us through photos and writing—and, in the process, practice some basic elements of good prose. Participants will be asked to respond to photo prompts–their own, their classmates’, or the instructor’s.

Participants will be asked for brief, ad lib responses to photos during class and a longer (1-2 pages) response, focusing on one element of prose, done at home and shared with the group during the next session. Fiction, non-fiction, memoir—anything goes. There will be no intense critique or editing—this is a class for fun and inspiration. And, who knows, your response to a prompt could be the beginning of something big!

The class will be led by Vicki Lane, author of And the Crows Took Their Eyes and of the six Elizabeth Goodweather Appalachian Mysteries. See her website for more information. A daily blogger since 2008, she has relied on her photos to lead her narrative. 
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Lang 372: A Writer’s Toolkit: Building Your Skills and Strengths in Essay Writing and Editing

Instructor: Amy Jessee
Starts February 23, Wednesday evenings 6:00-8:30 

Whether you are just piecing together the start of a story, or you have a few essays that need the final details hammered in, this workshop will guide you through the tools and skills to elevate your writing. We’ll focus on the craft and content of creative nonfiction, with multiple prompts for starting drafts in class paired with editing techniques. Reading (and listening) assignments will be personalized to resonate with each writer’s style. Students will receive detailed feedback from the instructor at pivotal steps in the writing process, along with peer editing to connect with readers. Geared toward personal essays and profiles, this workshop will also offer valuable tips for narrative podcasts and blogs. With each class session, you’ll add to your creative toolkit, understand the foundational blocks to build from again and again, and be ready for your next writing project, with a finished essay or two.

Amy Jessee has more than a decade of experience writing features and editing magazines, including her role as UNC Asheville’s associate chief communication and marketing officer, and editor of UNC Asheville Magazine, published online at stories.unca.edu. She also served as editor of Georgetown Business magazine, and previously taught composition courses at Clemson University, where she earned a Master of Arts in Professional Communication and researched the profile genre as a form of strategic storytelling. She writes close to home, from the memories of childhood to the current unfolding of family tales with her own young children.
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Lang 372: Finding the True Voice Within You

Instructor: Bruce Spang
Starts February 22, Tuesday evenings 6:30-9:00

In the last fifty years, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender poets have not only found their voice but have shaped the way poetry is written. From the lyrical Mark Doty to the stylistic Elizabeth Bishop, from the ecstatic Jericho Brown to the intense Ellen Bass, gay poets have established themselves as innovative voices in mainstream poetry. They have challenged not only how we write but also what we write about. Against the conventional norms, they had to find the true voice within them that is the task of every poet. 

By looking at how different gay poets—ranging from James Merrill and Thom Gun to May Swenson and Adrienne Rich—write their poems, we will incorporate some of their “moves” in our own poetry, using a workshop format. We will study each poet, look at their poetic craft, and expand our own poetic range. By looking at poets who were much of their lives outsiders and who had to mask what they felt, we will explore how to convey secrets in our poems. We will also look at how “out” poets in the contemporary scene have challenged the nature of poetry to reach for greater depth and honesty.

Bruce Spang, former Poet Laureate of Portland, is the author of two novels: The Deception of the Thrush and Those Close Beside Me. His most recent collection of poems, All You’ll Derive: A Caregiver’s Journey, was published in 2020. He’s also published four other books of poems, including To the Promised Land Grocery and Boy at the Screen Door (Moon Pie Press) along with several anthologies and several chapbooks. He is the poetry and fiction editor of the Smoky Blue Literary and Arts Magazine. His poems have been published in Gay and Lesbian Literary Review, Connecticut River Review, Red Rover Magazine, Great Smokies Review, Caesura, Los Angles Review, Kalopsia Literary Journal and other journals across the United States. He lives in Candler, NC with his husband Myles Rightmire and their five dogs, five fish, and thirty birds.

Lang 372: Setting the Scene: Where Fiction and Memoir Come Together

Instructor: Sebastian Matthews
Starts February 23, Wednesday afternoons 2:00-4:30

In this 10-week workshop, we will explore the areas in which novels and short stories merge with memoir writing. We’ll experiment using fiction techniques in your memoir pages and utilizing nonfiction techniques in your fiction. 

Each week we’ll workshop pieces from a few students, and either look at an example from a contemporary writer (including Colson Whitehead, Kurt Anderson, Isabel Wilkerson, Roberto Bolano, Nancy Mairs, Charles Baxter, Paul Yoon, and others) or complete a short writing exercise. We will end the course with a group reading.

Sebastian Matthews is the author of a memoir, In My Father’s Footsteps, 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 silver medal at the Independent Publishers Book Awards. His new book Beyond Repair: Living in a Fractured State, a memoir in essays, came out in 2020. He is also the author of The Life & Times of American Crow, a collage novel in paperback. Learn more at sebastianmatthews.com.
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Lang 472: Poetry Master Class

Class Full

Instructor: Eric Nelson
Starts February 23, Wednesday afternoons 4:00-6:00

This workshop for experienced writers will focus on generating one new poem per week, mostly in free verse, but we will discuss and write a few poems in form. Class time will be divided between workshopping poems written by class members and discussing several model poems which will serve as the basis for the following week’s writing assignment. Texts will be provided by the instructor. Enrollment is limited to ten and instructor permission is required.

Eric Nelson taught writing and literature courses at Virginia Tech and Georgia Southern University for 31 years. His poetry collection, Some Wonder, won the 2015 Gival Press Poetry Award. He has published five other books, including Terrestrials, chosen by Maxine Kumin for the X.J. Kennedy Award, and The Interpretation of Waking Life, winner of the University of Arkansas Press Poetry Award. His next book, Horse Not Zebra, will be published by Terrapin Books in 2022. He has lived in Asheville since 2015.


15-Week Classes

Lang 373: From Pen to Polished: Short Fiction Workshop

Instructor: Annie Frazier Crandell
Starts February 2, Wednesday evenings 6:00-8:30

This course will appeal to students who are hoping to take short stories or flash fictions from an early draft phase all the way to a publication-ready phase. Students may start from scratch on new stories or focus on stories already in progress. The course will begin with a series of craft readings and discussions, paired with a handful of craft-based writing prompts that will help students develop new stories or further develop in-progress stories. In this early phase, students will have the option of sharing in-progress work both in class and in an online classroom setting. Next, the bulk of the course will be spent more formally workshopping students’ stories in a supportive but constructive environment. Finally, students will work through revisions of pieces that have already been workshopped, in part using revision prompts to facilitate the process. In this revision stage, we will also spend time discussing the process and etiquette of submitting work to literary magazines for publication. Students will receive detailed feedback from the instructor on all work shared throughout the course, as well as personalized recommendations for paths to publication for each piece.

Annie Frazier Crandell lives in Asheville and works as a freelance editor, has previously taught for Flatiron Writers Room, and has served as a fiction reader for Longleaf Review. Her fiction and poetry can be found in Appalachian Review, Paper Darts, Hypertrophic Literary, Longleaf Review, CHEAP POP, North Carolina Literary Review, and elsewhere. Learn more and read some of Annie’s published work at anniefrazier.com.
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Lang 473: Prose Master Class

Class Full

Instructor: Elizabeth Lutyens
Starts February 1, Tuesday evenings 6:00-8:30

The Prose Master Class is a next step for those seeking an intensive writing experience. This small-group workshop is limited to ten experienced writers who are either working on an ongoing project (a collection of essays or stories, a novel, a memoir) or who have at least 40 pages drafted for a new project. Writers should be prepared to submit work for their first-round workshop at the beginning of the semester as well as for the two subsequent workshops (three total, per student). An equally important commitment is for class members to offer the best possible attention to the writing of others.

Each class begins with a craft session requiring outside reading, with the focus on the theme for the semester, which explores the resonance of the writing as well as craft. In lieu of some craft sessions, we will use a writing exercise to inspire new 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 method will vary: from traditional…to free-form…to writer’s choice.

Those considering this prose class should note that it comprises writers of creative nonfiction and fiction, with some writers switching back and forth. Workshop participants should be conversant with both prose forms, and amenable to reviewing workshop submissions as well as discussing outside reading in these two genres. Otherwise, applicants should consider one of the excellent Great Smokies offerings specific to nonfiction or fiction.

Elizabeth Lutyens has led this class for thirteen 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.

Admission to this advanced class requires permission from the instructor, based on a writing sample and previous workshop experience, preferably in the Great Smokies Writing Program, but there are exceptions for applicants with similar experiences elsewhere. For more information, contact Elizabeth (elutyens@gmail.com).


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 Writers at Home.