Below are some examples of faculty lectures and classes from past conferences.

Lecture Titles

“Other Pastorals: Writing Race and Place”, Jennifer Chang

“Bugs and Birds and Bewilderment: How I Learned to Write About Nature”, Helen Macdonald

“Curating Culture into Stories of the Wild: When Extinction and Ethnicity Converge”, J. Drew Lanham

“What does the Earth Ask of Us?”, Robin Wall Kimmerer


Craft classes

Classes take place in the afternoon and are limited to 25 participants, usually focus on some specific issue related to craft. Classes are meant to be interactive and hands-on, focused on craft rather than theory, and a balance to the hours the participants spend listening to us read and lecture. Many craft classes include an in-class writing exercise that allows students to grapple with a technical challenge or do a close reading of a particularly successful text or passage.


Essays Driven by Questions, Scott Russell Sanders                                    

Essays may arise from any number of springs, such as a memory, story, journey, or theme. In this craft class, we will explore how essays may begin with a question. The questions may be personal to the writer—Why did I fall in or out of love? How did this experience change my way of seeing the world? How can I cope with this illness or loss? Who am I, independent of the labels that society might place on me? What should I do with my life? Or the questions may be impersonal: Why are humans trashing the planet? Why do we so often divide humankind into Us and Them? What role does religion, technology, or economics play in today’s world? How do social media affect our lives? With help from a series of prompts, in this session you’ll be encouraged to articulate questions that matter to you—the sorts of questions that you brood on in the depths of night. Bring materials for writing, and a mind open to inquiry.


Negotiating Your Relationship with Beauty, Megan Mayhew Bergman                    

How do we negotiate a relationship with beauty during a time of environmental degradation?  Bring your anger, disgust, awe, and fear to this class as we discuss the art of seeing and practice rendering non-traditional beauty on the page.  We will investigate the pitfalls of romance and righteousness and look for ways to add complexity and wonder to descriptions of landscapes, flora, and fauna.  Come prepared with an image (mental images are fine) of one thing you consider beautiful, and another you consider repulsive. 


Dynamic Positioning, Camille T. Dungy                                                       

How can we continue to write in the face of the trauma of the sixth extinction, catastrophic climate change, unfettered resource extraction, and so much more? How can we NOT continue to write in the face of all this? In this craft class, we’ll consider a number of poems that give answers to how to dynamically position our attention in the midst of this precarious environmental moment. Poets we consider will include Juliana Spahr, Ross Gay, W. S. Merwin, Sheryl St. Germain, Brenda Hillman, Craig Santos Perez, Robinson Jeffers, and Lucille Clifton.