Winona State holds creative writing workshop

Wednesday, April 5th, 2017

Michaela Gaffke / Winonan

Whether it is to work on playwriting skills, poetry or fiction and nonfiction, the River Arts Writer’s Workshop will hold sessions with experienced writers on Saturday, April 8.

Participants can choose two of the four sessions to attend from 1 to 4:30 p.m. with a half hour break in the middle. The workshop will be on the second floor of Minne Hall. Playwriting is the only session that will take the entire afternoon with only one break, according to Vicki Englich, board chair and co-founder of the River Arts Alliance.

The four sessions available are creative nonfiction with professor Debra Cumberland, fiction with novelist Kathy Peterson, Poetry with Winona’s Poet Laureate Ken McCullough, and playwriting with professor Judy Meyers.

“The River Arts Alliance received a donation from The Great River Review, and decided to do something that will build skills,” Englich said.

Englich asked each instructor if they would teach each session.

“It will be nice and informal for people who want to sharpen up their skills and learn new disciplines,” Englich said. “They are eager teachers, and want people who are eager to come and be curious, ask questions and workshop a little.

Peterson, an arts and lectures coordinator at Winona State, is instructing the fiction session.

Peterson plans to have her participants dissect a passage from a novel, and also learn novel structure, what a person needs in their novel to make it a novel, and do some writing exercises, Peterson said. She is arranging her workshop to be for people who are looking to build a novel, and not necessarily beginners.

“Hopefully it will be fun and interesting,” Peterson said. “I think it will be great for anyone who likes to write, spend an afternoon talking about writing and learn more in depth about fiction writing, and hopefully learn something.”

Peterson recommends the workshop for anyone who loves to write and wants to improve their skills.

“That is hard to do if you are in your own bubble,” Peterson said. “It helps to talk to other writers, musicians…hopefully it will give a nudge to people to examine their writing.”

Peterson has been writing off and on since she was a teenager. Her novel, Girl on the Leeside, will be published later this year.

The River Arts Alliance was created to bring art in many different forms to the community. It originated in the Blue Heron Committee, a group of artists and supporters who created a public statue project in Winona in 2006 with support from the City of Winona and sponsors. Englich co-founded the River Arts Alliance along with the late Bernadette Mahfood.

The workshop fees are $20 for members of the Alliance, $30 for non-members, and free for students. Enrollment closed last Saturday. Peterson and Englich both hope for a mix of ages to attend.

“This is a great opportunity,” Englich said. “These are people who are really good at what they do. To have an opportunity like this, for students to attend for free, it can’t get any better than that.”

By Michaela Gaffke

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