We are excited that Whiting Award Winner Hannah Dela Cruz Abrams will join us as faculty in creative nonfiction for this year’s Fall Conference. Abrams will lead one of our Master Classes titled The Warp and the Woof. A description of her course is listed at the end of this interview.
Hannah Dela Cruz Abrams received the 2013 Whiting Writers Award for her novella The Man Who Danced with Dolls and her memoir-in-progress The Following Sea. She has been further supported by a Rona Jaffe National Literary Award and a North Carolina Arts Council Fellowship. Her work has appeared in Orion, the Oxford American, StoryQuarterly, The Pinch, Southern Humanities Review, and elsewhere. Abrams currently teaches in the Department of English at UNC Wilmington.
Communications Director Katherine O’Hara spoke with Abrams about literary advocacy, her excitement for Fall Conference, and how she fosters time outside of writing.
Katherine O’Hara: In light of our current climate and with book bans across the country, what does it feel like to be a writer right now? What are writers’ responsibilities to the wider community?
Hannah Dela Cruz Abrams: My answer is rippling up and out in the language of other writers. I think of what Ray Bradbury has said, “There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running around with lit matches.” To be a writer seems always to be a maker of kindling, and I feel a deep reverence for my friends who are upholding a long tradition of work that happens in spite of, sometimes in hope of (the right kind of), immolation.
The second part of that question puts me in the mind of Gwendolyn Brooks: “We are each other’s harvest . . . We are each other’s magnitude and bond.” She wrote her poem for the musician and activist Paul Robeson, but the idea endures.
We know where erasure and silencing come from, and we know, too, what comes of it. The past few semesters I’ve taught Layli Long Soldier’s “38,” about the Dakota 38. My students say, “Why haven’t we learned this before now?” We are responsible to each other in the fight against disappearance. By keeping one of us visible, we shimmer so many others into being.
KOH: What are you most excited about for the Fall Conference this year?
HDCA: I am actually dazzled by this lineup. Seriously, every single person featured in this conference is a star, and I’m giddy about it.
KOH: When you’re not writing, how do you like to spend the weekend? What are books or hobbies you’ve enjoyed lately?
HDCA: Yeah, when I’m not writing, I’m mostly worrying about not writing. My favorite things to pair with that anxiety are food, ocean, flowers, and my tiny, savage rescue dog.
The Warp and the Woof: Creative Nonfiction Master Class with Hannah Dela Cruz Abrams
The expression, borrowed from the practice of weaving, indicates that which is foundational. The warp refers to the threads in material that run lengthwise, the woof to those that run across. In this class, we will look at the fabric of your nonfiction, evaluating where the work would benefit from tightening, loosening, or layering. We will look at samples of published pieces, use generative exercises, and discuss revision techniques. We will consider hard questions about urgency, about mattering, and ultimately remind ourselves of how the best nonfiction is constructed—unspooling the weave to see how language, image, tension, voice, research, and so forth were threaded to make the tapestries that take our breath away. Participants will explore the possible, from concept to completion, and leave with the resources to elevate their flash pieces, essays, and full-length manuscripts.
Please submit up to 1,500 sequential words from a single work, along with your current CV in a separate attachment, on the same day that you register for the conference. Submissions should be saved in an MS Word document, using double-spaced 12-point Times New Roman font, with numbered pages, and sent as an attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Word document’s file name should include your own last name, and the title of the work and your name should appear on the submission itself. If accepted into the Master Class, your submitted work will be shared with other Master Class registrants.
Each registrant should be ready to handle the intensive instruction and atmosphere of the Master Class.
Learn more about Fall Conference 2022, including how to register for Abrams’s course and others, here.