Workshops

Write Better Sex Poems (with Lucas Crawford)

June 3 – 24, 7 – 9pm >>

Write Better Sex Poems will help you write better sex poems! We will push the boundaries of what counts as a “sex poem,” look to compelling examples across eras and styles, do writing exercises together, review each other’s at-home assignments, and brainstorm endless synonyms for body parts and fluids. Sex poems can be any or all (or none) of the following: playful, disturbing, sad, funny, political, confusing, complex, touching, messy, risky, controversial, kinky, vanilla, graphic, subtle, challenging, emotional, acerbic, shy, matter-of-fact, brazen, horny, or bored. Writers will be welcome to use a variety of poetic forms and styles, and to approach the topic in ways that resonate with their own interests. No experience is necessary (in poetry or sex).

Warning: writing better sex poems may or may not lead to having better sex.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR:

Lucas Crawford is the author of three books of poetry. Sideshow Concessions (Invisible Publishing, 2015), his first book, was awarded the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry. Belated Bris of the Brainsick (Nightwood Editions, 2019), his third book, addresses queer mental health by way of poems about ancestry, food, gender, struggle, and connection. It was awarded the 2020 J.M. Abraham Atlantic Poetry Award. Lucas guest-edited Matrix magazine’s “Trans Lit” in 2016, during which time he was also the Critic-in-Residence for CWILA.

Location: Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (online with Zoom)

Dates of 4-week workshop: Thursdays, June 3 + June 10 + June 17 + June 24 (7:00pm to 9:00pm)

Price: $214 (incl. 1-year WFNS membership for 2021)

Member Price: $149

Developing Your Writing Practice (with Nolan Natasha)

May 10 – May 31, 7 – 9pm >>

This workshop will focus on developing a specific and intentional writing practice. We’ll address writer’s block, building good writing habits, figuring out what works for you, finding your voice, and other topics. Writing exercises will be included, so come prepared to write! The exercises will focus primarily on poetry and flash fiction but will be useful for writers in any genre. Although geared toward newer writers, this workshop is open to writers at any career stage who are just beginning to develop an intentional writing practice.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR:

Nolan Natasha is a queer and trans writer, performer, and filmmaker. Of Faroese and English ancestry, Nolan is a settler living on unceded Mi’kmaq territory in K’jipuktuk/Halifax, Canada. He has been a finalist for the CBC poetry prize, the Ralph Gustafson Poetry prize, the Geist postcard contest, and was the runner-up for the Thomas Morton fiction prize. Nolan’s debut poetry collection, I Can Hear You, Can You Hear Me?, was released in the fall of 2019 with Invisible Publishing. He is currently working on a collection of short stories and a series of video poems.

Location: Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (online with Zoom)

Dates of 3-week workshop: Mondays, May 10 + May 17 + May 31 (7:00pm to 9:00pm)
Please note: there is no workshop on May 24. During this week, the instructor will instead provide each participant with feedback on a short piece of writing.

Registration for this workshop is open to Two-Spirit, LGBTQIA+, non-binary, and other rainbow participants. The workshop is free. If you register online, we request a $10 deposit ($5 for members) upon your registration. This deposit will be refunded immediately after the first workshop date.

To register without paying a deposit, please contact us by email (at communications@writers.ns.ca) or by phone (at 902-423-8116).

Poetic Possibilities (with Shannon Webb-Campbell)

May 6 – 27, 7 – 9pm >>

Does poetry help us discover the world or discover ourselves? In a time when so many of us are feeling trapped, insular, and perhaps withdrawn from the world, Shannon Webb-Campbell believes it’s important to practice poetry to inspire new ways of being, recalibrate and encourage poetic possibilities.

What does/can poetry do? Through this 4-week workshop series, Shannon will work with emerging and established poets to share experiences, tips, tools and philosophy about poetry through the work of Billy-Ray Belcourt, Lee Maracle, Liz Howard, Kaie Kellough, Dionne Brand, Ben Lerner, Susan Musgrave, and others who delve in the poetic. Shannon will share her background in poetry and creative writing, why and how she turned to poetry, but also discuss the important role poetry plays in our daily lives, and the context of the larger world. Working between conversation and times for exercises and activities, poets are encouraged to bring paper and pencil, or whatever they prefer to write with.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR:

Shannon Webb-Campbell is a mixed Indigenous (Mi’kmaq) settler poet, writer, and critic. Her books include Still No Word (Breakwater 2015), the recipient of Eagle Canada’s Out in Print Award; I Am A Body of Land (Book*hug 2019); and the forthcoming Lunar Tides (Book*hug 2022). Shannon holds a MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia and a MA in English Literature at Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador. She is a doctoral student at the University of New Brunswick in the Department of English and the editor of Visual Arts News Magazine.

Location: Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (online with Zoom)

Dates of 4-week workshop: Thursdays, May 6 + May 13 + May 20 + May 27 (7:00pm to 9:00pm)

Price: $214 (incl. 1-year WFNS membership for 2021)

Member Price: $149

Masterclass on Revision (with Carol Bruneau)

May 5 – 26, 7 – 9pm >>

Join award-winning author Carol Bruneau to work through the fears and dread of revising fiction to see the rewards of the process. We’ll work on fine-tuning key elements of a story — character development, plot and structure, dialogue and setting — to best convey its central meaning. We’ll strengthen scenes, improve pacing, and decide when to cut and when to add information — all to create a cohesive, propulsive read that’s satisfying from beginning to end. In other words, you’ll learn how to make your long or short fiction the very best it can be.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR:

Carol Bruneau is the acclaimed author of five novels, including A Circle on the Surface, winner of last year’s Jim Connors Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction, and three short story collections. Her most recent collection, A Bird on Every Tree, was a finalist for the 2018 Thomas Head Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award and the Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction. Her first novel, Purple for Sky, won both awards in 2001. Re-released for the 100th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion, her novel Glass Voices was a Globe and Mail Best Book for 2007 and has become a book club favourite. Bruneau’s reviews, stories and essays have appeared nation-wide in newspapers, journals and anthologies, and two of her novels have been published internationally. She is a 2019 recipient of an Arts Nova Scotia Established Artist Recognition Award, and lives and works in Halifax. In addition to her work as an author, Bruneau has taught writing for many years. She has led workshops and writing classes at WFNS and various universities, including NSCAD, Dalhousie, and Acadia, and has served as a mentor in the Alistair MacLeod Mentorship Program.

Location: Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (online with Zoom)

Dates of 4-week workshop: Wednesdays, May 5 + May 12 + May 19 + May 26 (7:00pm to 9:00pm)

Price: $214 (incl. 1-year WFNS membership for 2021)

Member Price: $149

Sorry: registration for this workshop is closed.

Creative Writing for Newcomers (with Vanessa Lent)

May 4 – June 8, 7 – 9pm >>

Join us for a free creative writing workshop for newcomers to Canada: explore different kinds of creative writing and try out new forms of expression. Creative writing not only builds English writing skills, it also provides a fun and stress-free opportunity to deepen understanding of both self and language. This course offers 6 self-contained mini-workshops on creative forms, including writing exercises and a chance to share and collaborate with other learners.

Attending all workshop dates is not required, but participants who attend at least 4 of the 6 lessons will get the most out of the experience. Participants will be sent a schedule of the topics in advance.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR:

Vanessa Lent is a language instructor and writer living in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. She has been a teacher and curriculum developer for Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS) since 2015. She has published poetry in The Dalhousie Review, PRISM International, Public Poetics (WLU Press, 2015), Acta Victoriana, and Room and recently collaborated on a graphic novel excerpt for the collection Nova Graphica (Conundrum Press, 2020). Vanessa was awarded entrance to the Writer’s Federation of Nova Scotia’s 2018 Alistair MacLeod Mentorship Program and her poem “To Fisherman’s Cove” appeared in the 2020 Poetry in Motion project. 

Location: Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (online with Zoom)

Dates of 6-week workshop: Tuesdays, May 4 + May 11 + May 18 + May 25 + June 1 + June 8 (7:00pm to 9:00pm)

Registration for this workshop is open to Newcomers to Canada, regardless of immigration or residency status. The workshop is free. If you register online, we request a $10 deposit ($5 for members) upon your registration. This deposit will be refunded immediately after the first workshop date.

To register without paying a deposit, please contact us by email (at communications@writers.ns.ca) or by phone (at 902-423-8116).

Who are these people and what is happening to them?: Character and Plot in Short Fiction (with Alexander MacLeod)

May 4 – 25, 7 – 9pm >>

Character and plot. For many readers and writers, these are the two most important narrative elements in any short story. Some people read and/or write primarily for characters. They feel that a story, at its core, has to be about someone or about a collection of figures. A family saga, for example. Others prefer plot. For them, narrative is what happens, and, in the end, a good story—a mystery for example—is essentially a sequence of unfolding scenes or events. What is a writer to do with this back-and-forth, chicken-and-egg kind of problem? We’ve been talking about it since at least the year 4 (in Horace’s Ars Poetica) and the issue doesn’t seem to be getting much closer to resolution. 

Rather than trying to quiet these tensions, this workshop explores the vital interdependence of plot and character and asks us to think deeply about the way characters are produced and/or revealed by what happens to them. Using some key exercises and working with examples selected from the participants own work, we will try to reflect on the way these two narrative elements can be strategically combined to produce powerful and memorable scenes. We will also try to branch out a bit to see how, especially in short fiction,  good characters and good plotting absolutely require key contributions from the more poetic elements of our writing such as pacing, tone, rhythm, diction, imagery and sentence structure. Who are these people and what is happening to them? What does their story sound like? How does it “go”? These are just a few of the questions we will try to answer in this sequence of workshops.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR:

Alexander MacLeod teaches English, Atlantic Canada Studies, and Creative Writing at Saint Mary’s University. His first book of short stories, Light Lifting, won an Atlantic Book Award and was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and The Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. The collection was also long-listed for the Andrew Carnegie Medal Award for Excellence in Fiction and was named a “Book of the year” by the American Library Association, the Globe and Mail, The Irish Times, Amazon.ca, and Quill and Quire. In 2019, his story “Lagomorph,” first published in Granta, won the 100th O. Henry Prize, an international award recognizing excellence in short fiction. He lives in Dartmouth.

Location: Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (online with Zoom)

Dates of 4-week workshop: Tuesdays, May 4 + May 11 + May 18 + May 25 (7:00pm to 9:00pm)

Price: $214 (incl. 1-year WFNS membership for 2021)

Member Price: $149

Registration for this workshop is closed.

The Plot Thickens: Crafting a Compelling Romance (with Paula Altenburg)

Apr 26 – May 31, 7 – 9pm >>

In this five-week workshop, we’ll explore the romance genre and the tools required to finish a viable story. There will be an introduction to basic writing tools and techniques you’ll need to get started, as well as an overview on the three-act structure. A bibliography of the resources used by the instructor will be included.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR:

USA Today Bestselling Author Paula Altenburg grew up in rural Nova Scotia knowing that at some point in her life she was likely to be a fiction writer. Swapping Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey books with her father guaranteed she wasn’t going to be the next Jane Austen, much to the dismay of her English teacher mother. A graduate of the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia, she writes contemporary romance and fantasy with romantic elements.

Location: Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (online with Zoom)

Dates of 5-week workshop: Mondays, Apr. 26 + May 3 + May 10 + May 17 + May 31 (7:00pm to 9:00pm)
(May 24 is a holiday)

Price: $254 (incl. 1-year WFNS membership for 2021)

Member Price: $189

The Pivotal Moment: Memoir Writing (with Cooper Lee Bombardier)

Apr 15 – May 6, 6 – 8pm >>

In this four-week memoir-writing workshop, you’ll take a singular, transformative moment from your life and unpack it using the literary tools of creative nonfiction to discover the deeper meaning and creative possibilities to be found in reflecting upon one’s life events. This workshop is suitable for writers of all levels and experience.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR

Cooper Lee Bombardier is an American writer and visual artist living in Canada. He is the author of the memoir-in-essays Pass With Care. His writing appears in The Kenyon Review, The Malahat Review, Ninth Letter, CutBank, Nailed Magazine, Longreads, BOMB, and The Rumpus; and in 15 anthologies, including the Lambda Literary Award-winning anthology, The RemedyEssays on Queer Health Issues, and the Lambda-nominated anthology, Meanwhile, Elsewhere: Speculative Fiction From Transgender Writers, which won a 2018 American Library Association Stonewall Book Award. He teaches in the MFA in Creative Nonfiction program at University of King’s College and in women and gender studies at Saint Mary’s University.

Location: Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (online with Zoom)

Dates of 4-week workshop: Thursdays, Apr. 15 + Apr. 22 + Apr. 29 + May 6 (6:00pm to 8:00pm)

Price: $214 (incl. 1-year WFNS membership for 2021)

Member Price: $149

Registration for this workshop is closed.

Extreme Constraints (with Andy Verboom)

April 6 – 27, 7 – 9pm >>

Giving up authorial control and making the process of writing more difficult (even painful) can open new horizons of creativity. Take a tour of writerly self-torture devices, from the formal (rhyme & pattern) to the conceptual (restriction & found text) to those in the weird between (misheard lyrics & algorithmic poetry). This workshop combines easy-to-understand poetic theory, extremely difficult writing exercises, and reflections on the pain of writing (artistic ethics, writing beyond the ego, etc.). You’ll leave with new tools & techniques for creativity, with tactics for combatting writer’s block, and with a new appreciation for the phrase “can’t punch your way out of a paper bag.” New and experienced poets welcome.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR:

Andy Verboom is from subrural Nova Scotia and lives in K’jipuktuk (Halifax). His poetry has won Frog Hollow’s Chapbook Contest & Descant’s Winston Collins Prize, been shortlisted for CV2‘s Young Buck Prize & Arc‘s Poem of the Year, and appeared in CAROUSEL, Prism, The Puritan, Vallum, & elsewhere. He is author of six poetry chapbooks, co-founder of long con magazine, and publisher of Collusion Books. (He’s also your faithful Communications Officer at the WFNS.)

Location: Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (online with Zoom)

Dates of 4-week workshop: Tuesdays, April 6 + April 13 + April 20 + April 27 (7:00pm to 9:00pm)

Price: $214 (incl. 1-year WFNS membership for 2021)

Member Price: $149

Registration for this workshop is closed.

Storytelling (with shalan joudry)

Apr 6 – 27, 6:30 – 8:30pm >>

In a time when so many of us are working to reclaim our Indigenous methodologies, shalan joudry feels that it’s imperative that we practice oral storytelling and deep listening to oral story. Through this 4-week workshop series, she will work with Indigenous writers, storytellers, poets and other narrative crafters to share about her experiences, tips, tools, and philosophy about storytelling. Shalan will share her background in this art form, why and how she turned to oral storytelling, but also discuss the importance and role of written work. Weaving between conversation and times for activities/exercises, participants are also encouraged to bring paper and a pencil to the sessions.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR:

Shalan is a mother and narrative artist working in many mediums. She is a poet, playwright, podcast producer, oral storyteller and actor, as well as a cultural interpreter. Her first and third books are poetry collections, both with Gaspereau Press, Generations Re-merging (2014) and Waking Ground (2020). She also has a published theatrical play, Elapultiek, through Pottersfield Press (2019). Elapultiek was produced by Two Planks and a Passion Theatre in August 2018 and October 2019. Shalan has shared her poetry, oral storytelling and drum singing with numerous stages, events, schools and organizations for the past decade. Shalan also runs a seasonal cultural retreat centre with her partner, facilitating cultural and ecological professional development workshops. She lives in her home territory of Kespukwitk (southwest Nova Scotia) with her family in their community of L’sitkuk (Bear River First Nation).

Location: Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (online with Zoom)

Dates of 4-week workshop: Tuesdays, Apr. 6 + Apr. 13 + Apr. 20 + Apr. 27 (6:30pm to 8:30pm)

Registration for this workshop is open to Indigenous participants only. The workshop is free. If you register online, we request a $10 deposit ($5 for members) upon your registration. This deposit will be refunded immediately after the first workshop date.

To register without paying a deposit, please contact us by email (at communications@writers.ns.ca) or by phone (at 902-423-8116).

Registration for this workshop is closed.

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