2018 Presenter Spotlight: Thom Caraway

Thom Caraway has been writing poems since he was in high school, and has pursued writing as a calling for the last 20 years. He has an MFA in creative writing from Eastern Washington University and a PhD in English Literature from the University of North Dakota. His poems and short fiction have appeared in numerous magazines and other publications, including Ascent, Redivider, Ruminate, Smartish Pace, and Sugar House Review. His books include A Visitor's Guide to North Dakota, No Secrets to Sell, and What the Sky Lacks, forthcoming from Korrectiv Press. He is also the publisher of Sage Hill Press (which published, most recently, former state poet laureate Tod Marshall's anthology WA129) and the editor of Rock & Sling, a journal of witness, published by Whitworth University, where Thom has taught since 2008. From 2013-2015, he served as the poet laureate of Spokane. In 2017, he helped found, and continues to operate, Millwood Print Works, a community-based letterpress and serigraphy shop.

Thom Caraway will share two presentations: Writing Your Life: Making Personal Poems and Writing What the World Gives You: Found, Constructed, and Collage Poems. Thom Caraway’s class descriptions are provided below:


Writing Your Life: Making Personal Poems. The first advice many writers receive is "Write what you know," and what do you know better than your own life? Writers from Chaucer and Wordsworth, to Plath and Oliver have mined the details of their own experiences to write libraries of great books. But how does one go about it? What details are compelling and how do we render them in such a way that they'll matter to other readers? In this workshop we'll explore some of those questions and work through a series of exercises that will help you produce a file of raw material to draw from later, as well as complete one fully drafted poem.

Writing What the World Gives You: Found, Constructed, and Collage Poems. Writer's block can be a frustrating obstacle for many writers. One strategy to overcome it is by using words that are already in the world. From blackout to whiteout, collage to pastiche, there are many ways to use existing materials to create original, new, and exciting work. In this workshop, we'll explore many of these techniques and using sharpies, white-out, scissors, and glue, we'll build a number of found poems, and discuss what makes these poems more or less successful.

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