Stevens, Welsch to explore form and time within Writers’ Center workshops this week





The Chautauqua Writers’ Center workshops for Week Two will teach students about form and a different type of time management.

Prose writer-in-residence J. David Stevens will lead a workshop titled “From Notion to Narrative: Finding the Right Form,” and poet-in-residence Gabriel Welsch will lead a workshop called “Writing Time.” Stevens and Welsch will also give readings at 3:30 p.m. Sunday on the porch of the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall.

Stevens is the author of numerous stories and essays that have been published in magazines such as Harper’s and The Paris Review. His workshop will focus on helping students find the right form for their story — such as deciding whether a topic is better suited for a short story or an essay.

“One of the things I want to touch on in the workshop and again in my lecture is the question of genre boundaries and how writers are transgressing them all the time — moving across them, speaking to other genres,” Stevens said.

Stevens has taught at the Writers’ Center before and said both his workshop and Brown Bag were inspired by his past students at Chautauqua Institution. Stevens teaches writing at the undergraduate level, but said that the self-motivated students at Chautauqua are a special breed.

“It’s a real joy for a writing instructor,” Stevens said. “It feels like I don’t have to do a lot of work — I’m dropping into that conversation with them and I might have some unique things to add, maybe one or two things that they’ve never considered.”

Gabriel Welsch, Week Two’s poet-in-residence, is also a Chautauqua veteran. He said he’s looking forward to working with his students as well.

“They want to be there, they’re looking forward to this, and they’re focusing their whole energy on this,” Welsch said. “They’re ideal students, and ideal collaborators, really. And you get to work with them, make new things and see the world in new ways.”

Welsch and his students will explore and examine the element of time as it applies to poetry. Welsch said they’ll look at poems that tell the story of a lifetime in five lines and poems that stretch a single moment in a huge way.

“There will be prompts for those people that need that sort of shot in the arm to get them writing,” Welsch said. “There will also be reading selections that are intended to dazzle people and make them think, ‘How did he do that? How did she do that? How can I do that?’ ”

Welsch said he hopes that his students take away new work as well as an expansion of their sense of what’s possible in their writing.

“It’s not just new work, but maybe new ways to conceive of and approach their work,” Welsch said.

Welsch and Stevens will also give Brown Bag lectures on the porch of the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall during the week. Welsch’s Brown Bag, called “Not Your Uncle’s Bookshelf,” will be at 12:15 p.m. Tuesday, and Stevens’ Brown Bag, called “Where the Truth Lies: The Thin Line between Creative Nonfiction and Fiction,” will be at 12:15 p.m. Friday.