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BurchShoplifting from Both the Top and Bottom Shelf

"Good artists borrow, great artists steal" is such a common quote as to be cliché, and stories of authors typing out favorite novels (Donald Ray Pollock retyping Denis Johnson, Flannery O'Connor; Hunter S. Thompson and The Great Gatsby) to get the feel of great writing flourish. Likewise, one of the aspects of poetry often most admired is that of allusion. We will read and discuss poems that borrow lines, make reference, or act as responses to that which has come before, culture both high and low—from Walt Whitman to Wu Tang Clan, from John Ashbery or Brigit Kelly to WWE Wrestling, video games, and pop music. We will then take those discussions and do several exercises of our own.

Aaron Burch is the author of Backswing, a collection of short stories forthcoming from Queen's Ferry Press in July 2014. He is also the author of the novella, How to Predict the Weather; the winner of PANK's inaugural chapbook competition, How to Take Yourself Apart, How to Make Yourself Anew; and a forthcoming chapbook of poetry, Between Buffalo and Bison. He has an M.F.A. from University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and is the Founding Editor of HOBART: another literary journal.



BuuckDoenchCommitting the Crime: Mining the Riches of Cross-Genre Writing

Literary writers are often accused of having beautiful words but little plot. Crime fiction writers are often told their prose is just a vehicle for action. In this workshop we'll explore a few of the strengths and limitations of both genres and pinpoint how the ways each genre can strengthen the other. We will examine ways current writers engage the mechanics of each genre and participants are encouraged to share their own perspectives. Our writing exercises will highlight the ways literary and crime writing techniques can add new dimensions to the same story. The workshop will culminate with tips on how to use cross-genre strategies to take work in new and interesting directions.

Christiane Buuck earned an M.F.A. from the University of Arizona, and completed a creative writing Fulbright to France in which she walked and wrote about medieval pilgrimage routes. She currently teaches writing at Ohio State University. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in numerous literary publications including Cutthroat, Crab Orchard Review, and The Sun. She is currently finishing her first novel.

Meredith Doench earned a Ph.D. in creative writing from Texas Tech University and teaches writing at the University of Dayton. Her fiction has appeared in literary journals such as Hayden's Ferry Review, Women's Studies Quarterly, and Gertrude. She serves as a fiction editor at Camera Obscura: Journal of Literature and Photography and is currently working on her second novel in her crime series that features Luce Hansen, an Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation detective.  



Fix HansenSongwriting and Storytelling: Painting Words With Music; Changing Music with Words

The workshop will begin with a brief history of songwriting and song themes/genres, tropes, chords, and arrangements. We will listen to two songs that have similar chord structures—but divergent lyric subjects—to examine the way that songs are shaped by lyrics, and vice versa. We will also discuss the ways in which songs are understood, evaluated, and judged.

In the second half of the workshop, we will write two songs—very quickly! The two songs will be performed and compared. How does the song's sound affect the understanding of the lyrics? How do the lyrics change the sound of the song?

Madeleine Fix-Hansen (aka Maddie Fix) is an interdisciplinary artist & musician whose drawings, film/video work, and music have shown, been performed, and presented at venues including The Columbus International Film Festival, The CCAD MIX Comics Symposium (Columbus), New York University, La Superette Affordable Art Sale (New York), The Chicago Underground Film Festival, and Not My Small Diary zine. Her community mural drawings as part of PLGArts can be seen off Flatbush Avenue in Flatbush/Lefferts gardens Brooklyn. Her recent full-length song cycle, The Sliver of Light, is available at bandcamp: and her first full-length album, Turning a Helicopter, is available in iTunes and She created original scored music for the independent feature film Absent Father (Douglas Chang). She has a dual life as an instructional designer for companies, higher education, libraries and the arts and holds a B.A. in Art-Semiotics from Brown University and an M.A. in Art Education and Arts Policy from The Ohio State University.



GeitherThe Unturned Stone: Playwriting Basics

This workshop will address some of what good playwriting encumbers and what it can do for writers in other genres. Participants will then execute two exercises, each followed by brief discussion, so that they're learning by doing. The first exercise will be a dramatic variant on Exquisite Corpse that unlocks basic discussion of good dialogue. The second will be an exercise called Impossible Stage Directions that leads to an awareness of playwriting as taking place in real time and what we mean by "theatricality."

Mike Geither's plays and solo performances have been staged in San Francisco, Chicago, Toronto, New York and London. He is a four-time Ohio Arts Council fellow and has served as a resident artist at Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito and as Playwright-in-Residence at Cleveland Public Theatre. Recent works include The Obtaining Gigantick Dimensions (Zuppa Theatre, Halifax, 2013), The Tinderbox (Tailspinner Children's Theatre, Cleveland, 2013), And Treat the Distant Peoples With Kindness (University of Ottawa, 2012), Shah Mat (Ottawa Dance Directive, 2011), and Circe/Landfall (Canada Dance Festival, 2010). He is currently an associate professor at Cleveland State University and the Director of the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts in creative writing (NEOMFA).



Meg JohnsonEmotionally True Poetry: Autobiography and Beyond

What makes writing emotionally true? This session will focus on autobiographical poems, persona poems, and poetic experiments. Through example poems and writing activities, the workshop will explore how a poem can cause readers to have a visceral reaction, regardless of what type of poem it is.

Meg Johnson is the author of the full length poetry collection, Inappropriate Sleepover, forthcoming from The National Poetry Review Press. Her poems have appeared in HOBART, Midwestern Gothic, The Puritan, Slipstream Magazine, Word Riot, and others. Meg started dancing at a young age and worked professionally in the performing arts for many years. She currently lives in Akron, Ohio and is the editor of Dressing Room Poetry Journal. Her website is: and she blogs at:



LambertThe Suffering "I" and the Suffering World: Poetry as a Healing Force

A single person can write, artfully, through trauma, pain, or loss and find their through to healing. By extension, sharing that work can help others who read it or hear it performed, thereby serving a larger community overall. In this session, we'll talk about the suffering "I" and the suffering world, and we'll look at ways in which both poets and publishers have found it possible to channel pain into a powerful healing force. We'll look at samples of reflective writing, and we'll try out some of our own.

Paula J. Lambert is a new member of the Ohio Arts Council Arts Learning Program and the author of two books of poetry: The Sudden Seduction of Gravity (Full/Crescent Press, 2012) and The Guilt That Gathers (Pudding House, 2009). She is a past recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship and was a resident fellow at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. Lambert's Creative Writing is from Bowling Green State University. She currently resides in Dublin, Ohio, with her husband Michael Perkins, with whom she operates Full/Crescent Press, a small but growing independent publisher of poetry books and broadsides.



MartinTaking Care at the End: The Art of Misdirection

The final move can make or break a piece of flash fiction. This generative session will use Brian Hinshaw's short-short story, "The Custodian," to think about how writers create resonance at the end of a story. We'll do a writing activity that will help us practice the art of misdirection. We'll execute a turn at the end of the piece that will require us to think in terms of opposites and to appreciate the use of irony to create a final moment that's rich with layers of meaning, often contradictory in nature.

Lee Martin is the author of the novels, The Bright Forever, a finalist for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction; River of Heaven; Quakertown; and Break the Skin. He has also published three memoirs, From Our House, Turning Bones, and Such a Life. His first book was the short story collection, The Least You Need To Know. He is the co-editor of Passing the Word: Writers on Their Mentors. He is the winner of the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Ohio Arts Council. He teaches in the M.F.A. Program at The Ohio State University, where he was the winner of the 2006 Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching.



MellasMetamorphosis: Odd Bodies and Magical Realism

Did you hear about the woman who grew teeth on every inch of her body? How about the woman who gave birth to her own dead mother? Or the man who came back from war missing his lips? Magical realism is a genre that paints the world as it really exists with the addition of one or two strange fantastical twists. Often, these touches of fantasy transform the body in supernatural ways. Think of Franz Kafka's character Gregor Samson, a salesman who woke up one morning to find that he'd turned into an enormous hideous bug. Does this transformation represent old age or class differences or perhaps the disconnect between body and mind? Together, we'll puzzle out how magical realism works. Tessa Mellas will explain the foundational craft concepts of magical realism. We will read a few short pieces of magical realism that include bodily metamorphoses, and we will dissect what those bodily transformations mean. You will have a chance to try your own hand at magical realism through a guided exercise that gets your creative brain imagining fantastical bodily transformations of your own. And we'll talk about venues where you can publish magical realist work.

Tessa Mellas won the 2013 Iowa Short Fiction Award for her collection Lungs Full of Noise, which was published by the University of Iowa Press this fall. Her fiction has appeared in journals such as Crazyhorse, Gulf Coast, Hayden's Ferry Review, PANK, Prism International, and StoryQuarterly. She holds an M.F.A. from Bowling Green State University and a Ph.D. from the University of Cincinnati. She is this year's Distinguished Visiting Writer at Bowling Green State University.



MiltnerFullerThe Twenty-First Poem: Strategies for Selecting and Sequencing a Chapbook

The chapbook, typically a slim volume of 20-24 pages of poetry (or prose), has become the vehicle for a first book for many writers, and small presses with their varied contests are constantly offering writers new opportunities for publication. But how does a writer decide which pieces to select from the body of his or her work to include? And what strategies can be used to organize the work into a manuscript? This workshop is modeled on Robert Frost's statement that, in a book of twenty poems, the book is the twenty-first poem.

In this workshop, the presenters Robert Miltner and Molly Fuller will outline some of the common challenges and pitfalls of deciding which pieces to include in a chapbook, then offer some effective strategies for arranging the selected pieces into an organized manuscript that reads like a book. Attendees will engage in an exercise on sequencing a short suite of poems.

Robert Miltner's collection of prose poems, Hotel Utopia (New Rivers Press, 2011), won the Many Voices Project book prize and was a finalist for the Ohioana Book Award in Poetry. The author of fifteen chapbooks and limited editions, he received a Wick Chapbook Award for Against the Simple (Kent State University Press, 1995) and a Summer Chapbook Award for Eurydice Rising (Red Berry Editions, 2013). His stories, essays, and poems have appeared in Diagram, Sentence, Octopus, Pleiades, LIT, Birmingham Poetry Review, Belingham Review, and he was a contributor to Field Guide to Prose Poetry (Rose Metal Press, 2010) and Ordering the Storm: How to Put Together a Book of Poems (Cleveland State University Press, 2006). Miltner is Associate Professor of English at Kent State University at Stark and is the Kent State Campus Coordinator for the NEOMFA in Creative Writing Program. 

Molly Fuller is Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Marshall University where she teaches writing. She holds a B.S.J. in Journalism and an M.A. in English from Ohio University, and she earned her M.F.A. in Fiction from Sarah Lawrence College. Her prose poems and micro fictions have been published in Hot Metal Bridge, Potomac, Crack the Spine, and Union Station Magazine. Fuller is the author of three chapbooks, The Neighborhood Psycho Dreams of Love (Cutty Wren, 2013), Tender the Body (Spare Change, 2013), and the forthcoming All My Loves (All Nations Press, 2014); her suite of micro fictions, Hold Your Breath, is forthcoming in the Marie Alexander Flash Sequence Anthology (White Pine Press, 2014).



PauquetteFarnsworthWriting Together: Killing Characters as a Team and Living to Tell about It

This workshop will cover basic, common sense practices for writing with a team of writers. From organizing and outlining the work to who gets paid when the manuscript sells, this presentation will help writers define roles on their team and keep the work on track. Brad Pauquette and Drew Farnsworth are two of four writers who make up the author known as Kurt Stevens (Capital Offense).

Brad Pauquette is the founder and director of Columbus Creative Cooperative, a writers' resource and independent publisher of anthologies in Central Ohio. He is also the owner of Columbus Press, a mid-budget independent publisher. Pauquette has published one fiction novelette, Sejal and the Walk for Water, and edited dozens of anthologies including Best of Ohio Short Stories. He has also served as the developmental editor for countless works of fiction and narrative non-fiction with a client list that includes New York Times bestselling authors, professional athletes, and lots of stay-at-home moms, accountants, and computer programmers.

Drew Farnsworth is the author of the young adult novel Graham's Charlotte, and has had short stories appear in a variety of publications. He live in Columbus, Ohio and previously worked as a data systems center designer. Drew Farnsworth is the winner of The Great Novel Contest 2013.



"What's the Big Idea?" When Poetry and Philosophy Intersect

Poets are taught to look for detail, find the nuance, communicate the finer, subtler point. But plenty of poets manage to simultaneously explore some pretty big ideas: What's the nature of reality? How do we define the human condition? In this session, we'll look at some examples of contemporary philosophical poems, discuss the importance of the big idea, and try our hand at some exercises meant to link the familiar to the profound.

PerkinsMichael Perkins is a software developer, philosopher and musician with special interests in the history and philosophy of computer programming, the foundations of morality, Buddhist philosophy and modern jazz. He is a graduate of Georgia State University where he studied music and philosophy and The Ohio State University where he studied philosophy and computer science. He completed a Ph.D. in Philosophy at The Ohio State University in 1983. Currently, Michael is Chief Scientist for Prosper Technologies where he creates software systems for integrating, analyzing, and visualizing market research and economic data. He is married to the poet Paula J. Lambert and has five beautiful children.

LooneyGeorge Looney's books include Structures the Wind Sings Through (Full/Crescent Press, 2014), Monks Beginning to Waltz (Truman State University Press, 2012), A Short Bestiary of Love and Madness (Stephen F. Austin State University Press, 2011), Open Between Us (Turning Point, 2010), The Precarious Rhetoric of Angels (2005 White Pine Press Poetry Prize), Attendant Ghosts (Cleveland State University Press, 2000), Animals Housed in the Pleasure of Flesh (1995 Bluestem Award), and the 2008 novella Hymn of Ash (the 2007 Elixir Press Fiction Chapbook Award). He is chair of the B.F.A. in Creative Writing Program at Penn State Erie (a program he founded), editor-in-chief of the international literary journal Lake Effect, translation editor of Mid-American Review, and co-director of the Chautauqua Writers' Festival.

GundyJeff Gundy's sixth book of poems, Somewhere Near Defiance, is newly released from Anhinga Press. His fourth prose book, Songs from an Empty Cage: Poetry, Mystery, Anabaptism, and Peace, was released in fall of 2013. Recent work is in The Sun, Shenandoah, Georgia Review, Nimrod, Kenyon Review, and the anthology Making Poems. A 2008 Fulbright lecturer in Salzburg, Austria, he teaches at Bluffton University.



QuadeLooking Out: Using the World in Creative Writing

Writers often look inward, to their personal lives, for inspiration, but this workshop explores looking outward, into the world of science, place, politics, history, and culture. How can a writer use "facts" in creative ways that engage the reader and build metaphor? How can the stuff of the world reveal something about ourselves? What exactly is research? How can research help a piece in limbo become unstuck? The workshop will consider how creative writers can draw on researched knowledge to weave narratives and shape imaginative discussions in poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction. Participants will play with using information about the world as a seed for various exercises, which will examine uses of metaphor, character, narrative, and imagery.

Mary Quade is the author of the poetry collection Guide to Native Beasts (Cleveland State University Poetry Center). She has received an Oregon Literary Fellowship and two Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award (2006, 2010). Her poetry and essays have appeared most recently in West Branch, Flyway: Journal of Writing and Environment, Wake: Great Lake Thought and Culture, Hayden's Ferry Review, Confrontation, Fifth Wednesday Journal, and Creative Nonfiction. Her essay "Hatch" was chosen as a Notable Essay for Best Ameican Essays 2013. She teaches creative writing at Hiram College.



DanielProse Poems: What, Why, and How

What makes a prose poem a prose poem and not just a "normal" poem with the linebreaks removed? If the primary musical unit of any poem is the line, then the musical unit of prose must be the sentence. This session will investigate the possibilities available when these two flexible definitions collide, while also shedding light on the history of this versatile and inviting form. The prose poem is a hybrid beast that lends itself to the surreal, the fabulous, the dissonant, the narrative, the historical, the epistolary, the ordinary, and all modes in-between. A workshop for writers of all genres with an interest in the short prose format, this session will offer a dynamic writing exercise and participants can expect to leave with drafts of fresh writing.

F. Daniel Rzicznek is the author of two poetry collections, Divination Machine (Free Verse Editions/Parlor Press, 2009) and Neck of the World (Utah State University Press, 2007), as well as two chapbooks, Vine River Hermitage (Cooper Dillon Books, 2011), and Cloud Tablets (Kent State University Press, 2006). A chapbook of prose poems, Nag Champa in the Rain, will appear from Orange Monkey Publishing in 2014. Also coeditor (with Gary L. McDowell) of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry: Contemporary Poets in Discussion and Practice (Rose Metal Press, 2010), Rzicznek teaches writing at Bowling Green State University.



SandersWhose Point Is It?

Point of view is an aspect of writing that can make or break the success of a story if the author is not consistent and careful with his/her choices. It is a crucial element because it affects how readers will connect with the characters. This workshop will review the various narrative styles of first, second, and third person limited and omniscient, covering the pros and cons of each. Participants will practice writing a short story from different viewpoints as well as get a clear understanding of the differences between point of view and perspectives.

Yolonda Sanders is the author of four traditionally-published novels. Her latest, Wages of Sin (April 2014), is the first book in a mystery/suspense series that is being published by Simon and Schuster. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Criminology from Capital University as well as a Masters of Arts in Sociology from The Ohio State University. Yolonda is also the founder and CEO of Yo Productions, LLC, a theatrical entertainment and literary services company that assists other authors in perfecting their works. She is an adjunct professor at Central Ohio Technical College and resides in Columbus, Ohio with her family.



HannahMapmaking and Memory: The Charged Place

The yard where the magnolia tree grew. The woods you wandered through that winter. The rollerskating rink where you had a screaming match with a friend.

Places stir up so much for us, and are rich sites to return to in our writing. In this workshop, poet Hannah Stephenson will lead writers through activities and readings that explore personal landmarks, sensory experience, and memory. After revisiting those places and spaces that are charged for us, we will create a piece of writing (either poetry or prose) fueled by a place's magic and meaning.

Hannah Stephenson is a poet, editor, and instructor living in Columbus, Ohio (where she also runs a monthly literary event series called Paging Columbus). Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The Huffington Post, HOBART, Poetry Daily, and The Nervous Breakdown; her collection, In the Kettle, the Shriek, is now available from Gold Wake Press. You can visit her online at The Storialist (



Opening Lines: Mid-American Review Editors Discuss Strategies for Creating Stronger Beginnings

How can writers capture the imaginations of the literary magazine editors reading their submissions? A panel of Mid-American Review editors discuss why they accepted specific stories and poems, what sets winning submissions apart, common submission pitfalls, and what they look for in the opening lines—all in a conversation geared to help participants better understand the overall submission process. This workshop will feature writing exercises surrounding first lines and paragraphs and give participants the chance to share their work. Participants should come prepared to write something new, but they may also wish to bring an in-progress story or poem for the purpose of examining and sharing their opening lines.

WalterLaura Maylene Walter is an assistant fiction editor of Mid-American Review and the author of the story collection Living Arrangements (BkMk Press), which won the G.S. Sharat Chandra Prize, a national gold IPPY award, and a silver Foreword Book of the Year Award. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The Sun, Poets & Writers, The Writer, Tampa Review, Inkwell, American Literary Review, Flyway, South Dakota Review, Cat Fancy, and elsewhere.

HarrisJason Marc Harris is a second-year M.F.A. student at Bowling Green State University and Fiction Editor of Mid-American Review. He received his Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Washington. Publications include Folklore and the Fantastic in Nineteenth-Century British Fiction (2008) and (with Birke Duncan) Laugh Without Guilt: A Clean Jokebook (2007).  His stories have appeared in CC&D: The Unreligious, Non-Family-Oriented Literary and Art Magazine, Meat for Tea: The Valley Review, EveryDay Fiction, and Midwestern Gothic.

SashaSasha Khalifeh is an M.F.A. candidate in fiction at Bowling Green State University, where she serves as an assistant fiction editor for Mid-American Review.



ClausenJenelle Clausen is a first-year M.F.A. student at Bowling Green State University and assistant poetry editor of Mid-American Review. She earned her B.A. in literature and creative writing from the University of Evansville. She loves meter and form, particularly the powerful and versatile sonnet form. She is grateful for the opportunity to focus on her poetry for two years and delay entering the so-called "real world" that she often hears people talking about.

BoultonLauren Boulton writes poems and is a staff editor for the Mid-American Review. She currently attends Bowling Green State University as an M.F.A. candidate in poetry.




SarahCuriosity Killed the Cat, but Research Rescued the Writer

William Faulkner said that the most important thing a writer needs is "insight, curiosity, to wonder, to mull and to muse why it is that man does what he does. And if you have that, talent makes no difference, whether you've got it or not." This session will demonstrate how writers can use the tools of technology to enliven their subject matter, giving "research" brand-new wings, broadening our knowledge base, expanding vocabulary, and exploring big ideas in small packages.

Sarah M. Wells is the author of Pruning Burning Bushes and a chapbook of poems, Acquiesce, winner of the 2008 Starting Gate Award. Poems and essays by Wells have appeared in Ascent, Brevity, The Good Men Project, JAMA, New Ohio Review, Nimrod, Poetry East, Puerto del Sol, Relief, River Teeth, and elsewhere. Her work has been honored with three Pushcart Prize nominations. Two of her essays were listed as notable essays in the Best American Essays 2013 and 2012. Sarah is the Administrative Director for the Ashland University M.F.A. Program and Managing Editor for Ashland Poetry Press and River Teeth: A Journal of Nonfiction Narrative. She resides in Ashland, Ohio with her husband, Brandon, and their three young children, Lydia, Elvis, and Henry.



WolfTitillating the Page: An Exploration of Erotic Poems

So often we explore place, self, and relationships in the silence of our own writing, but what about the erotic—the tender, arousing experiences that embody our lives? Why does the topic of eroticism continuously render taboo and avoidance? In a complex life of nuanced and multi-faceted experiences, we want to write openly about sex, yet we may find the language of eroticism difficult to capture. In some ways we are limited by language that can be too clinical, too colloquial, or even too vulgar. It becomes difficult to express arousal in our writing in a fresh and meaningful way. The erotic becomes tantalizingly out of reach. Writing the erotic is as much about restraint, evocation, and even conflict as it is about diction or figurative language. Expand what is permissible in your own writing. In this workshop we will evaluate the possibilities of erotic poetry by examining poets such as Jan Beatty, Ralph Black, Kate Daniels, Tess Gallagher, Sharon Olds, and Aaron Smith. Finally, we will experiment with a writing exercise that permits you to play with the notion of erotica in your own voice.

Laurin B. Wolf has an M.F.A. from Kent State University and B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh in poetry writing.  Her poems have appeared inPoetsArtists: The Social Portrait, Voices From The Attic: Volume XIX, Scholars & Rogues, PMS, Pittsburgh City Paper, Two Review, and Voices from the Attic: Volume XIII.  Her book reviews have appeared in Whiskey Island. She is a guest host on the NPR affiliate WESA's weekly radio show Prosody featuring interviews with poets, and she co-hosts the monthly reading series Mad Fridays. She teaches writing at Duquesne University and Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, PA.