BWSI 2012 Course Descriptions

The Writing Room is where we go to write. It is a place where writers journey into the unknown and are met with visions, strange and wonderful characters, surprising and life altering events that must be written down. It is also the place where we receive the gifts of tools – the tools that empower us to write down the visions we receive, the knowings that come to us in those places we journey to and back, all the better to share what we have encountered with our communities, and the rest of the world. Without these tools, our best visions are unable to take on lives of their own, embodied in a film or a play or a poem. The study of craft –learning how to use the tools of a genre- enables our imaginations to succeed.

At BWSI we invite participants to enter The Writing Room. Each Writing Room engages participants in one creative writing genre: fiction, memoir, playwriting, poetry and screenwriting. Because of the intensive nature of the program, participants may only choose one genre per summer.

The following are descriptions of what participants may find in this year’s Writing Rooms:


The Writing Room – Fiction

Where do we get our ideas for stories? What makes a story compelling? How do we create characters that grab the reader’s attention, and hold on to it till the story’s end? Is the beginning of a story more important than the end, or is the middle where the story really lives? What are some techniques that writers use to craft a good-good story? A story that stays with the reader long after she puts the book down?

In this fiction workshop with writer Lelawatee Manoo Rahming participants will explore the elements of short fiction, and ask crucial questions about what and why they write, and how to stay creative no matter where they find themselves in life.


The Writing Room – Memoir

Carol Christ told us once upon a time that without stories there is a way in which human beings don’t exist. She said it is our stories that make sense of our lives, of the pain and the joy of them, of the struggles we have endured and survived, as well as the triumphs that surprised us. But where do we begin when writing down our stories? What do we tell and what do we leave out? How do we show and tell the events that make up a story? And how does the writing down of our stories give us more insight into who we are?

In this workshop with writer Helen Klonaris we will look at the body as a site of memory and of story. Helen will lead participants on a journey to discover the stories the body wants and needs to tell. She asks, “How has your gender, race and ethnicity, sex and sexuality, your physical challenges or lack thereof, influenced your experiences in the world? What are the stories your body wants to tell, and how does your body want to tell them?”

In the course of five intensive workshop sessions we will explore our untold stories and find the tools necessary for turning them into the true-true stories that help us make sense of who we are, and that call us to celebrate who we have become.


The Writing Room – Playwriting

Drama is about conflict.  If there’s no conflict people aren’t watching or interested.  The conflict or conflicts must enliven every scene.  People have goals in life, they have desires, they have beliefs.  When these desires and goals and beliefs oppose the desires and goals and beliefs of others, we have conflict.  We have forbidden love, we have oppression, we have crime, we have manipulation, we have Drama.  When people face obstacles that stand in the way of their desires, they must devise strategies to surmount them.  The greater the obstacles, the more intense and demanding the strategies, the more compelling the Drama.

A lone, unarmed prison officer tries to prevent a surprise prison break that is well planned, involves armed prisoners who are prepared to kill anyone in their way and corrupt officers who have been paid to turn a blind eye: Drama.

Playwright Ian G. Strachan shares his wisdom and skills in this craft workshop.


The Writing Room – Poetry

“The Soul & Self in Poetry”

Helen Vendler states that “Selves come with a history: souls are independent of time and space.  The virtues of lyric are all summoned to give a voice to the “soul” – the self when it is alone with itself, when its socially constructed characteristics (race, class, color, gender, sexuality) are felt to be in abeyance”.  In this workshop with prize winning poet Marion Bethel, participants will explore the spontaneity, intensity, rhythm, circumstance, awakening, pang & urgency of a poem.  Participants will address subjects such as: why we write poetry; the relationship between compression, a significant characteristic of poetry, and the soul; the social function of poetry; and poetry, nation and the imagination.  Participants will give voice to their own souls through writing and revising several of their own poems.  Participants will also do specific craft exercises in class, critique the poems of other participants and engage in discussion of essays on poetry written by poets. Participants will also read & discuss the poetry of Bahamian, Caribbean & other authors.


The Writing Room – Screenwriting

The movie making process is a most collaborative one. It’s one that begins, and ends, with a great story in the hands of a capable screenwriter. This is why it’s said in Hollywood that “writing is rewriting”. It’s a fact well understood by everyone from the Hollywood executive, to the cinematographer, to the actor. What’s most interesting about the cinema is that it combines fiction, non-fiction, photography, theater, music, and every other storytelling medium imaginable, miraculously, into one storytelling medium.

For those of you who have an interest in storytelling through film, bring your ideas, passion, and vision (whatever your background may be) for storytelling as filmmaker and award winning screenwriter Kareem Mortimer will give you the tools in this workshop to craft it into a great screenplay.


Caribbean Literary Imagination Seminars

At BWSI we teach craft in conjunction with literature and ideas or theories about that literature. While reading Caribbean literature gives us insight into the diverse tradition we are part of, exploring theories about literarutre also enables us to examine the social and cultural frameworks out of which the writing comes. 

In our Caribbean Literary Imagination Seminars, we ask what are the common themes that inhabit Caribbean stories and poems? What are the contemporary social issues Caribbean writers explore in their novels and plays and screenplays? How do Caribbean writers address race, class, sexuality and gender in the images, characters, and plots they craft, and what does all this say about who we are as a region? What role do Bahamian writers play in the shaping of a regional literary identity? In these seminars taught by Dr. Toni Francis, Dr. Angelique Nixon, and Dr. Craig Smith, participants will examine critically the depth and range of the Caribbean literary imagination, focusing on the works of visiting and guest writers, in an effort to understand how they might bring greater awareness to their own reading and writing.


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