This class will explore the short story and the personal essay—the diminutive siblings of the novel and the memoir—and their relationships to each other. We will discuss issues of prose conception and creation and explore the seemingly opposing modes of fiction and nonfiction. We will examine the role of recreation and fabrication in narratives based on our “real lives” just as we will tackle how to best serve fictions with the stuff of our own personal experience.
As reading and writing are inextricably linked, of course, this class intertwines reading and writing assignments to expand your range of techniques in both. We’ll read the course materials and each others’ pages with equal care, and with precise attention to what has been created and how. We’ll read (and re-read) as writers, asking practical questions of craft, and we’ll write (and rewrite) as readers, taking the time to reflect and revise. The goal is to build up to eventually overthrowing "craft fundamentals" as well.
Porochista Khakpour was born in Tehran, Iran, and raised in the Greater Los Angeles area. She has been awarded fellowships from the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars, Northwestern University, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Ucross Foundation, Djerassi, and Yaddo. She is most recently the recipient of a 2012 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Literature Fellowship in Creative Writing (Prose).Her debut novel, Sons and Other Flammable Objects, was a New York Times Editor’s Choice, one of the Chicago Tribune’s Fall’s Best, and the 2007 California Book Award winner in First Fiction. Her nonfiction has appeared in or is forthcoming in Harper’s, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Daily Beast, the Village Voice, theChicago Reader, Spin, the Paris Review Daily, Granta.com, Slate, Salon, and many other magazines and newspapers around the world. Khakpour has taught creative writing and literature at Johns Hopkins University, Hofstra University, Bucknell University, Santa Fe University of Art and Design, Fairfield University’s MFA program, and the University of Leipzig (where she was a Picador Guest Professor). She currently teaches at Columbia University’s MFA program, Fordham University, and Wesleyan University. She lives in New York City.