Kovacic, deNiord, Dohrn lead Week One of Writers’ Center workshops

The Chautauqua Writers’ Center workshops for Week One will teach students about memories, secrets and dramav.

Prose writer-in-residence Kristin Kovacic will lead a workshop called “What You Can’t See in This Picture: Unpacking Family Photographs,” and poet-in-residence Chard deNiord will lead a workshop called “Telling Secrets to Yourself.” Kovacic and deNiord will also give readings at 3:30 p.m. Sunday on the porch of the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall.

Playwright Zayd Dohrn will also lead a special playwriting workshop in Week One, called “The Great American Drama: Writing for Theater, Film and TV.”

Kovacic, author of Birth: A Literary Companion, will have students utilize their family photographs as a way of inspiring and even generating their writing.

“A lot of people at Chautauqua want to write about the lives they’ve lived,” Kovacic said. “We’re going to use photography as our jumping off point. We’re going to think about how accurate and how truthful photographs are. We’re going to do some writing exercises based on photographs to both jog memory and have arguments with memory.”

Kovacic has taught numerous classes at the Writers’ Center since 1996 and has become a regular in the rotation of writers that pass through Chautauqua during the season. Kovacic said she wanted to try something different with her students this year.

“I’m excited about it and a little nervous about it, as you always are when you teach something for the first time,” Kovacic said. “But my hope is that we’re going to share these images and see where these images can lead.”

Kovacic said she’s excited to return, even if teaching at Chautauqua can be something of a “busman’s holiday.”

“If you’re a teacher during the year, you come to Chautauqua and people practically teach themselves,” she said. “They have so many resources to bring to the classroom. It’s awe-inspiring.”

Chard DveNiord, author of five books of poetry, will be visiting Chautauqua for the first time. He and his students will workshop poems, revise poems, and learn about making sense and telling the truth in their work. DeNiord said this was inspired by a line in the poem “Seele im Raum” by Randall Jarrell: “Shall I make sense or shall I tell the truth? Choose either — I cannot do both.”

“I’d like them to figure out why truth-telling often doesn’t make sense initially and why, or how, making things up can prove more factual than actual truth,” deNiord said. “It’s an imaginative assignment.”

DeNiord said he wants to focus on nurturing and encouraging the writers he’s working with.

“I know from my own experience that encouragement from an older, more established writer is a huge boon for a writer and provides some essential energy to keep writing,” he said.

Dohrn’s special workshop will focus on dramatic storytelling — not just playwriting, which Dohrn hopes will be helpful to any type of writer or reader.

“It’s going to be about how people use their own lives and universal myths that have always existed to tell stories that are dramatic and compelling to other people,” Dohrn said. “I think it will be of interest, certainly to people who are interested in playwriting or screenwriting, but also people who are interested in mythology or storytelling in general — people who are interested in writing dialogue or thinking about the way stories are put together, the way conflict works in drama.”

DeNiord and Kovacic will also give Brown Bag lectures on the porch of the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall during the week. DeNiord’s Brown Bag, called “Lessons from the Masters,” will be at 12:15 p.m. Tuesday, and Kovacic’s Brown Bag, called “Golden Girls: Women Take Over the Essay,” will be at 12:15 p.m Frid