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Multi-Media Cross-Genre Exploratory Writing Workshop

Naomi Kimbell

EXPERIMENTS IN SHORT PROSE: Using Multimedia Prompts and Cross-Genre Techniques to Fire Up Your Imagination by Naomi Kimbell

START DATE: This class is currently closed.


DURATION:  4 weeks

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This class is an exploratory workshop that focuses on short prose. Using inspiration from poet Richard Hugo’s influential book on writing poetry, The Triggering Town, we’ll engage in experimental writing using a variety of cross-genre techniques and prompts including: music, multimedia experiences, poetry, and film. The goal of the course is to engage in creative exploration that will deepen our skills and broaden our sources of inspiration. For the next four weeks, we’ll stay attuned to the music in our words, explore fact, truth, and the real and fictional places within us and from which our writing flows.

Many thanks to Naomi Kimbell for dreaming up the “Music, Truth, and the Towns Inside Us” class I just took. I loved it. I’d read Richard Hugo’s Triggering Town years ago, but I must confess I didn’t completely understand the nuances of all that he was saying. It was a pleasure to be invited to participate in a thoughtful discussion. Naomi not only knows how to write, but also how to guide. I felt like she provided a safe space to experiment and submit my work for review and comments. She was prepared and available throughout the course. I would absolutely take more classes with Naomi. ~ Victoria Melekian (previous WOW class participant)

Naomi’s class is one of the most inspiring classes I’ve ever taken! I’ve never been a flowery writer, and often focused more on meaning, rather than sentence structure and word choice. Writing a lyric essay is something I’ve always dreamed of, but I didn’t really understand the concept until I took her class, “Music, Truth, and the Towns Inside Us: A Cross-Genre Exploratory Workshop.” It changed my life! I now understand how to edit sentences and words down to syllables and consonants to make my prose sing. She created a vibrant learning atmosphere, full of rooms, prompts, videos, and discussion. I usually like to write in silence, but our first assignment was writing to music she selected. The words that flowed from my pen amazed me, and that was due to Naomi’s instruction and safe learning environment. My classmates’ work was impressive, and we had so much fun providing feedback on each other’s essays, poems, fiction, and free-writes. Naomi’s insight into the class book, The Triggering Town, along with her thought-provoking discussion and encouraging feedback made this class exceptional. I’d love to take every class she offers. Her teaching style is compassionate and knowledgeable, and her suggestions for use of language are detailed and eye opening. Taking her class helped me look at the world with wonder. In the past my writing has been described as flat and reporterly. Well, never again. Now I want to go back and revise all my essays for sound. I know Naomi’s class has made me a better writer, and I can’t thank her enough! ~ Angela M. (previous WOW class participant)

Thank you for an enlightening workshop, and thank you to everyone for sharing your writing. I’ve taken my share of these types of workshops over the years, and honestly the insight and depth of knowledge shared here ranks among the best I’ve encountered. I truly learned a lot not just about my writing but also from what was shared with the group. Naomi, I also am grateful for the challenge you set in the first few weeks of class, which is that in the times we find ourselves today, personal essay and memoir can transcend the mere personal to speak universally to privilege and other social issues. This idea resonated with me a great deal, and in my writing these last several weeks I’m much more aware of opportunities to incorporate broader themes. Thank you for that challenge, it’s something that will stay with me far beyond this workshop. ~ Ellen G.

I’ve taken online courses before, and they’ve always disappointed. This one, however, on speculative memoir was amazing. Naomi has deep knowledge of the speculative memoir genre and of writing in general. She is one who can “do and teach.” I found her open to participants’ questions and learning needs and helpful in recommending additional reading or other material that would benefit further exploration. Her discussion questions and assignments were relevant, thoughtful, and thought-provoking. Generous with her time and her feedback, she provided a close reading of our work, and I plan to use her comments to improve the drafts I’m working on. She gave me new knowledge and much to think about, and I would definitely take another class from her when time and opportunity permit. ~ Joanne Glenn (previous WOW class participant)

Naomi Kimbell was an incredible instructor. She was flexible and adapted to the needs of the class and she genuinely explored the conversation of “what is speculative memoir” with curiosity and integrity. Her intelligence and warmth made for a safe and stimulating environment. I wouldn’t hesitate to take a course with her again! ~ Laraine Herring (previous WOW class participant)


WEEK 1: Truth is nothing if not musical

This week, we will work with an axiom Hugo posits in The Triggering Town: all truth must conform to music. What does this mean to us as writers—particularly if we write nonfiction? We will explore this question figuratively, through readings and our own writing, and we will also explore it literally, experimenting with music as a guide that shapes the rhythm and sound of our words. Prompts this week include a variety of historical, unusual, and just plain weird musical selections as well as some questions and suggestions to get you going on a piece.

WEEK 2: Where did you say you’re from?

In week 2, we’ll pay attention to the fictions and realities that create and populate the places that show up in our work. Drawing again from Richard Hugo, we’ll explore what he means when he says, “The poem is always in your hometown, but you have a better chance of finding it in another.” He advocates that the author must be free of factual constraints, of what we think we know about the real places we live in order to explore what could be. Prompts this week will encourage you to imagine the real places you carry in your imagination and explore them as if you don’t have to stick to the facts. We’ll also have the chance to experience some multimedia videopoems to see how authors and filmmakers apply creative freedom to the expression of truth.

WEEK 3: Looking at a writer’s life to inspire our own

This week, students will have the opportunity to view “Kicking the Loose Gravel Home,” a film about Richard Hugo, in which he discusses his thoughts on writing and poetry, his approach to teaching, and his approach to life. This film is a fun—quirky—look at the influential poet’s life in Western Montana, and we’ll discuss how our own lives and places influence our work. Prompts will ask you to consider your life as a narrative, and the experiences, no matter how mundane, as full of meaning. We’ll use some techniques from Hugo’s book to generate some short prose, or even verse, that brings our everyday lives into crystalline focus.

WEEK 4: In class workshop and looking forward

During week 4, you’ll share a writing experiment you generated in class in the discussion forum to receive feedback and ideas for further development. Additionally, we’ll talk about inspiration, the prompts that moved us, what we feel excited about, and what’s next, paying particular attention to our multimedia and cross-genre explorations. How can these experiments fuel future work? How will they shape your writing?

Materials needed: All materials provided.

How the class will be conducted: Students will be given access to password protected web pages on which class materials and discussions will be posted. The class is asynchronous so you can access the class at any time according to your schedule. There are no real-time discussions. Students will need access to a computer with an internet connection and will have access to the class group two days before class begins and for one week after the class concludes.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR: Naomi Kimbell earned her MFA in creative writing from the University of Montana, and her work has appeared in The Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown, Crazyhorse, Black Warrior Review, Calyx, The Sonder Review, and other literary journals and anthologies.

When she’s not writing, she teaches online creative writing classes for WOW! Women on Writing and sometimes wanders in the woods, across hillsides, through ghost towns, taking photographs and shooting video to create impressionistic films with ambient scores using her essays, invented landscapes, and found sounds.

COST:  $150, which includes weekly assignments, individual feedback from the instructor, and access to a private group for student interactions.

BUY NOW: Experiments in Short Prose with Naomi Kimbell (4 weeks, starting 11/16/2020) Limit: 10 students. Early registration is recommended.

This class is currently closed. Please check here for our current schedule.

For Class Session Starting 11/16/2020


Notes: Upon successful completion of payment, your name, email address, and contact info will be submitted to your instructor. Just before class begins, she will e-mail you with instructions on how to get started.


Additional Testimonials for Naomi Kimbell:

I am finishing up Long Form Creative Nonfiction with Naomi Kimbell. This workshop has been life changing for me. I feel so inspired and empowered as a writer. Naomi really facilitated a safe place to be vulnerable while learning the process. My workshop peers were an amazing group and I am in awe of each of the women I went through this journey with. I really gained a lot of useful knowledge and am sad this is ending! I would absolutely recommend this course and would not hesitate to take another course with Naomi again. ~ Valerie F.

I was initially drawn to work with Naomi Kimbell after reading her honest, innovative writing. Naomi brings an incredible depth of living with her whole heart and mind to her work and teaching. Her passion, curiosity and extensive knowledge of the craft of writing is inspiring. In her writing course she shared diverse and stimulating prompts that included still photographs, different forms, and the writing of authors which opened new spaces inside me and helped deepen the texture and dimension of my poetry. Naomi has a gift for encouraging people to express their unique voice. She listens and communicates with keen intelligence and deep compassion. I appreciate the way she weaves together her sense of humor, new perspectives, great questions and her practical and diligent work ethic. Naomi is an engaging and motivating teacher. ~ Youpa Stein

Naomi seeks a straightforwardness that does not embellish, but, rather, gets to essences—essential ideas, the essence of a story, the deep impulses that drive us to act as we do...she’s a writer of exceptional talent—one of the few who endeavor to compose personal stories as literary works...she finds the unusual within the commonplace, the surprising within the predictable. ~ Judy Blunt, author of Breaking Clean

Naomi Kimbell chooses her words like a poet. She reads Richard Hugo and Robert Wrigley, and Homer. Like these authors, Naomi is a careful, descriptive, and smart writer. Because Naomi is a true scholar, she knows things ... She has an ear for beauty, and BS—like no one else I’ve ever met. ~ Karin Schalm, author of Poems of Peace in these Warring Times

Naomi Kimbell knows the boundaries of nonfiction, and lucky for us she knows the perfect ways to challenge them. Whether she’s writing about family dynamics or mental illness, Naomi does more than tell a story—she engages the reader in all of her essays as form and content interact. With a fresh and invigorating writing style, her words bring you into each essay and, believe me, once inside you’ll never want to leave. ~ Chelsey Clammer, author of BodyHome and Circadian


Questions? Email Marcia & Angela at:

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