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“Finding Your Voice” (Fiction)

Presented by Jacinda Townsend

Jacinda Townsend

D.H. Lawrence once wrote, "Tragedy is like strong acid—it dissolves away all but the very gold of truth." Having traveled through the COVID-19 pandemic, we have all had the kind of intense collective experience that has changed our sense of time, our sense of the past, our sense of the future, our sense of ourselves. Accordingly, in this class, we will focus on the theme of "alteration," marrying theme to narrative as we explore, in our work, the ways in which characters reshape their senses of selves and their senses of other characters. We will talk a bit about Kevin Brockmeier's novel The Brief History of the Dead and Chris Cleave's novel Little Bee; though you need not have read the novels beforehand, you may find it helpful to have done so. We will do a bit of writing in our time together: you need not write work about the pandemic itself, though you are welcome to digest and/or heal this experience through your fiction. We will also focus a bit on creative process, with an opening discussion on the practices that most help us cook.

Jacinda Townsend is the author of Saint Monkey (Norton, 2014), which is set in 1950s Eastern Kentucky and won the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize and the James Fenimore Cooper Prize for historical fiction. Saint Monkey was also the 2015 Honor Book of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. Her novel Mother Country is forthcoming in 2022.

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