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Workshop of Pure Critique with Peter Bricklebank (via Zoom on Thursday mornings)


In Pure Critique we range far and wide in our discussions.

To give you a sense of the creative fervor, the maelstrom of imaginative popcorn, the synaptic jumps and quantum leaps, the sheer headburn of lightbulbs going on and topics leaping fro and to, here’s a sample of subjects that have come under scrutiny, the microscope, and internet checking in recent class deliberations:
• precious gems, specifically how rubies cannot or are rarely cut;
• the iron lung and the little toys given to distract children in them;
• when the decline of holiday resort hotels a la The Catskills actually occurred;
• croquet, the somewhat archaic game, as genteel pastime and perhaps demonstrative of an attitude to life;
• American Civil War battlefields, and how the wounded fared;
• and the exact layout of a well-known restaurant frequented by high-flyers and lowlife-fixers from the noir-ish heyday of many decades past and whether such precision mattered.
These things have only come up as small references in stories and essays and novels and memoirs presented for class critique. They’ve been a subset of the critique. Yet we examine them. What is the benefit of this? Well, if its relevant to the work in hand, it’s examined. To what extent should such material be worked in, or out? From such debate, we often can come to evaluate how useful these things might be.

This is one of the ways we work in The Workshop of Pure Critique. We digress. We debate. We ponder. We disagree. We laugh. We pool our intellectual and imaginative resources. In so doing, we approach the material from different angles in order to find a better way in. Digression to a purpose. As Tolkein said, “Not all those who wander are lost.”

Whether writing in a garret, ivory tower, pandemic lockdown or a fever pitch of blind faith, at some point writers need a hothouse workshop environment in which to appraise and develop their work. Each week in Pure Critique, we’ll read and comment on a manuscript from 2-3 class participants (everyone gets to present at least twice) and ask what works, what seems less effective, and why, as well as what one might try.

Participants test chapters or extracts from their novels and memoirs or short stories and essays, or sometimes curious chimeric hybrids as their draft searches for form. What you will find in this class is a forum for ongoing, astute feedback that will help you keep working. We’ll discuss whatever issues of writing may come up—perhaps whether a metaphor works or you even need one, the question of research, the efficacy of dialogue, scene, narrative chronology, diction (is a word like chimeric a good option?), structure, pacing, interiority, humor, thematic intent…. The goal is to help writers engage with craft and move one draft to the next. We encourage each other to be writers, both playful and serious, and thus more engaging in our writing by risking more and digging deeper. Intelligent conversation about your work: pure critique.

This class will take place via Zoom. The link will be sent at the time of registration as well as the day before the class. Please check spam folders and write to ask@writerscenter.org with questions. We can put students with questions about the class in touch with the instructor directly, if needed.

Class will begin on Thursday, September 14 and continue for eight consecutive Thursdays, ending  October 19. Class will meet from 9:30 – 11:30 am EST.

Peter Bricklebank has published in The American Voice, Carolina Quarterly, Mid-American Review, Kansas Quarterly, Confrontation, Fiction, The New York Times Book Review and The Chicago Tribune, et al.. His chapter on essay/memoir appears in The Portable MFA. He has taught at New York University, Sarah Lawrence College, and elsewhere, including a year as Nonfiction writer-in-residence at Central Connecticut State University and at Bar-Ilan University in Tel Aviv. Pandemics permitting, he teaches a winter workshop in Oaxaca, Mexico. He currently teaches in the online graduate program of National University and the Hudson Valley Writers Center. His work appears in the latest issue of The Bellevue Literary Review and a podcast of a reading of one of his essays can be found at https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/planet-poet-words-in-space/id1528029902.

Event Location and Ticket Information

Date: Thursday, September 21, 2023
Times: 9:30 am - 11:30 am

Ticket pricing:

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Presenter: Hudson Valley Writers Center
Presenter Phone: 9143325953
Presenter Website: https://www.writerscenter.org/calendar/pure-critique-sept/