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Memoir Workshop

Coming up Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. with a break for lunch (not included in registration fee). Cost is $25. Please register by calling Sandy Bruney @ 704-694-5211 or email The workshop will be limited to 15 participants.

Workshop Description      Participants will come away with a story (a memoir) about where they and their families live and have lived – not only physically, but in their memories as well. The workshop is designed to get participants thinking about specific episodes that in some way exemplify their identities as citizens of a place (however one uses to identify/characterize place) and how that very decided identity has influenced them, especially as it pertains to living in the South (as a native or transplant), but especially in Anson County, though other locales might be involved as well.      That locale could be a neighborhood or a field, pasture, river, lake; or something much smaller like your grandmother’s kitchen, a school yard, or church – anywhere or anything that triggers memory. Even if that place has now vanished, it still exists in your memory. So, in many ways, this workshop is an exercise in memory and how it intersects with place. Place is very important to this workshop.

     A manageable way to tackle this is to zero in on something very specific – that’s where old photographs and other family artifacts can be invaluable – and write an account of an episode (personal experience) that has an obvious beginning and an obvious ending. It does not have to be something terrifically dramatic or momentous. It can be something very small, but nonetheless significant. Thus, I would encourage you to bring along old photographs and other artifacts, as such artifacts can prove invaluable in jumpstarting memory and the writing impulse. Participants will also be provided with handouts of nonfiction pieces that can serve as models, as well as specific writing prompts. Whether you consider yourself a practiced writer, a beginner – or even someone who has never attempted to write before – this workshop welcomes you.

     For instance, a meal comprises an episode with an obvious start and stop. So does a telephone conversation, changing a flat tire, taking a shower, running a few miles, etc. Strive for compression and try to write about something that takes place over a period of hours, rather than days. The idea here is to explode each detail with absolute fidelity to observation. We are zooming in on this with a microscope. Regardless of your subject, I want to be there with you: to see, hear, taste, smell and feel what you experience. It can be something that occurred any time in your life.


     Joseph Bathanti is former Poet Laureate of North Carolina (2012-14) and recipient of the 2016 North Carolina Award for Literature. He is the author of ten books of poetry, including Communion Partners; Anson County; The Feast of All Saints; This Metal, nominated for the National Book Award, and winner of the Oscar Arnold Young Award; Land of Amnesia; Restoring Sacred Art, winner of the 2010 Roanoke Chowan Prize, awarded annually by the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association for best book of poetry in a given year; Sonnets of the Cross; Concertina, winner of the 2014 Roanoke Chowan Prize; and The 13th Sunday after Pentecost, released by LSU Press in 2016.

     His novel, East Liberty, won the 2001 Carolina Novel Award. His novel, Coventry, won the 2006 Novello Literary Award. His book of stories, The High Heart, won the 2006 Spokane Prize. They Changed the State: The Legacy of North Carolina’s Visiting Artists, 1971-1995, his book of nonfiction, was published in early 2007. His recent book of personal essays, Half of What I Say Is Meaningless, winner of the Will D. Campbell Award for Creative Nonfiction, is from Mercer University Press. A new novel, The Life of the World to Come, was released from University of South Carolina Press in late 2014. Bathanti is the McFarlane Family Distinguished Professor of Interdisciplinary Education & Writer-in-Residence of Appalachian State University’s Watauga Residential College in Boone, NC. He served as the 2016 Charles George VA Medical Center Writer-in-Residence in Asheville, NC.