2015 Storycatcher Workshop: Writing Home

cropped-storycatcherworkshopnologosmall1.jpgJune 12th to 14th 2015

We are excited to announce our 2015 Storycatcher Writing Workshop Faculty.


For information about the costs, schedules and sessions, please visit the workshop menu at the top of the page.

Writing Home: Capturing Your Place in the World


2015 Writer in Residence: Anna Keesey

Anna Keesey is a graduate of Stanford University and the Iowa Writer’s Workshop.  Her work has appeared in a number of journals and anthologies, including Best American Short Stories.  She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship and has held residencies at MacDowell, Bread Loaf, Yaddo, and Provincetown.  Keesey teaches English and creative writing at Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon.

Keesey’s historical novel Little Century (2012 Farrar, Straus & Giroux) has been widely-praised for capturing the drama and tumult of nineteenth-century homesteading, cattle ranching, range-wars and railroads—themes very familiar to those of us living on the Great Plains—but Little Century is instead set in frontier Oregon, reminding us that the West extends beyond our horizon, to the promise of the Oregon Trail itself. From the author’s website: annakeesey.com:

“Here is a fine novel, written with grace, about the settling of Oregon and the evening redness in the West. In the desert town of Century, haunted by Indian blood and barren to the core, the cattlemen hate the shepherds and the shepherds hate the cattlemen. But as the community is about to consume itself with greed and vengeance, a young orphan from Chicago shows up with a moral clarity that outstrips her age, to remind us that character matters, and that justice is pursuant to to conscience. Little Century is a frontier saga, a love story, and an epic of many small pleasures.”

  • Joshua Ferris, author of And Then We Came to the End

“In this novel of stunning beauty, Anna Keesey gives us the American West at the turn of the century, and a cast of unforgettable characters who will risk anything to tame it. Oregon’s hardscrabble frontier comes utterly alive for us, and in prose so lovely, spot-on and accomplished, I found myself dog-earring nearly every page. An incredible debut—and a writer to watch.”

  • Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife

Thursday Advanced Workshop Pre-sessions

Intermediate to Advanced Level. Writers will meet as a group in the morning for workshop focusing on peer editing, revision and shaping your narrative towards publication. In the afternoon each participant will meet with Anna Keesey for a thirty minute individualized consultation on a work of fiction already in progress. Participants will submit their writing in advance of the workshop. Space is limited and additional registration fee required.

Friday General Session–Craft Lecture: “Lollygagging: Emerson and Me and You.”  

All Levels: this lecture will focus on the elements of literary fiction with an emphasis on writerly craft and technique. Should we listen to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s one-time admonishment to ‘make haste’?   What exhortations from others can help us to write more, and write better?

 Friday Evening Keynote Reading: “Landscapes and Loss: Readings from Little Century.”


Sean Prentiss

Creative Nonfiction

Sean Prentiss has lived in most parts of the United States–the East Coast, Florida, the Rocky Mountains, the Great Basin, the Pacific Northwest, the Midwest, and now New England. And wherever he has lived, writing and the power of stories has always been a part of his life.

Sean is a writer who focuses on creative and  environmental essays, poetry, a few short stories. He also writes craft essays concerning on creative nonfiction. He is the author of Finding Abbey: A Search for Edward Abbey and His Hidden Desert Grave (forthcoming Spring 2015 from University of New Mexico Press), the co-editor of an anthology on the craft of creative nonfiction, entitled The Far Edges of the Fourth Genre, and the co-author of Environmental and Nature Writer: A Craft Guide and Anthology (forthcoming 2016 from Bloomsbury Press).

Sean also publishes magazine articles, and he is the creative editor for Backcountry Magazine.

When he is not writing, traveling, canoeing, mountain biking, or drinking a dark beer, Sean is an assistant professor at Norwich University in Vermont. There he runs the Norwich University Writers Series and the Chameleon Literary Journal.

Before Norwich, Sean has also worked as a trail builder with the Northwest Youth Corps in the Pacific Northwest, dishwashed in five states, and did about a million odd jobs ranging from demolish to construction to driving cars.

He lives on a small lake in northern Vermont with his beautiful wife, Sarah.

Author’s Website: seanprentiss.com

Friday General Session 1: Literary Nonfiction

All Levels: This workshop will focus on ways to recognize, understand, and apply techniques involved in the production of memoir.

Saturday Retreat Session 1: Environmental Writing

All Levels: This outdoor workshop will examine techniques writers consider when addressing the environment, and issues relating to the environment, in their writing.


Alison Stine

Prose and Poetry

ALISON STINE’s first YA novel Supervision will be released by HarperVoyager on April 9, 2015.

She is also the author of three books of poetry: Wait (University of Wisconsin Press, 2011), Ohio Violence (University of North Texas Press, 2009), and Lot Of My Sister (The Kent State University Press, 2001). Her work has appeared in more than 90 publications including: The Nation, The Paris Review, The Kenyon Review, Tin House, and Poetry.

Trained as a performer, Ali’s original stage plays and musicals have been produced at the Cleveland Playhouse, the University of Nebraska, La Habra Depot Theatre, and the Trilogy Theatre Group. She was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and received the Ruth Lilly Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. Ali holds a B.A. from Denison University, an M.F.A. from the University of Maryland, and a Ph.D. from Ohio University. She has taught as the Emerging Writer at Gettysburg College, Visiting Assistant Professor at Grand Valley State University, and Postdoctoral Fellow at Ohio University, and is on faculty at the Reynolds Young Writers’ Workshop at Denison University.

Author’s Website: alisonstine.com

Friday General Session 3: Fiction

All Levels: This workshop will focus on ways character, voice, and imagery contribute to the writing of a successful story.

Saturday Retreat Session 2: Young Adult Fiction

All Levels: This workshop will focus on the various approaches involved in producing a successful young adult story.


Steven Coughlin


Steve Coughlin’s first book of poetry, Another City, finalist for the FututreCycle Poetry Book Prize, will be published this summer by FutureCycle Press. His poems, essays, and stories have appeared in several notable magazines and literary journals, including the Gettysburg Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Gulf Coast, Green Mountains Review, Seneca Review, New Ohio Review, and Slate. In the Summer 2013 issue of Pleiades, Coughlin was the featured emerging writer. In commenting upon his writing style poet J. Allyn Rosser states that Coughlin is “strong, capable, and original . . . [he is a writer] capable of radically different tones and angles of approach.”

This past year Coughlin joined CSC’s English and Humanities department as an Assistant Professor of English. Prior to this Coughlin earned his bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Massachusetts Boston, his master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Idaho, and his Ph.D. from Ohio University in English with an emphasis in creative writing. While at Ohio University, Coughlin also served as Editor of the literary journal Quarter After Eight, a nationally recognized publication of innovative literature and commentary.

General Session 2: Poetry

All Levels: This workshop will discuss approaches to avoid writer’s block in the writing of poetry.

Storycatcher Festival

The last day of the workshop is a FESTIVAL, open to the public, and set aside to celebrate the work of our participants, to promote writing and creativity in the region, and to highlight achievements of an important writer or figure associated with writing whose work echoes the spirit of Mari Sandoz.

Special Presentation: Poe Ballantine


At Home in the World—My Writing Life

 In a retrospective of his writing life, inspired by what he has called his “years of itinerancy,” Poe Ballantine will take us behind the scenes of representative stories and essays from various stages in his publishing career, sharing his struggles and successes in becoming a working writer, and the recurring theme of “place” and “home” in his life and his writing, particularly from the perspective of an often-times drifter and outsider. Poe will chart the evolution of his storytelling, reading selections of his writing and then explaining the connections he drew from the time and place the work was crafted—from his earliest short stories, essays and novels to his most recent work. Along the way, he will share his insights about process, the importance of the small press (breaking in), writing about the community you belong to, balancing family and career, and any other questions, problems, and concerns for the budding writer might seeking to find his or her place in the world.

For well over twenty years, Poe Ballantine traveled America, taking odd jobs, living in small rooms, trying to make a living as a writer. At age 46, he finally settled with his Mexican immigrant wife in Chadron, Nebraska, where they had a son who was red-flagged as autistic. Poe published four books about his experiences as a wanderer and his observations of America. But one day in 2006, his neighbor, Steven Haataja, a math professor from the local state college disappeared. His memoir of these events, Love and Death on the Howling Plains of Nowhere was published to critical acclaim in 2013. A feature-length documentary based upon the book was released in 2014. (www.loveandterrorthemovie.com)

Poe Ballantine’s work has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, regularly in The Sun MagazineKenyon Review, and The Coal City Review. His second novel, Decline of the Lawrence Welk Empire, won Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year. The odd jobs, eccentric characters, boarding houses, buses, and beer that populate Ballantine’s work often draw comparisons to the life and work of Charles Bukowski and Jack Kerouac. In addition to garnering numerous award nominations including The Pushcart Prize and The Pen/O. Henry Prize, Ballantine’s work has been included in the 1998 Best American Short Story and 2006 Best American Essay anthologies. Most recently, his “Free Rent at the Totalitarian Hotel” was included in Best American Essays 2013.

(Author Info: http://hawthornebooks.com/authors/poe-ballantine)


Faculty TBA: Mari Sandoz Emerging Writer

Graduate students and others who have writing classroom experience (either as a teacher, student or both), and whose work shows promise, may apply for the Emerging Writer Instructorship.

The successful applicant will be honored as the “2015 Storycatcher Emerging Writer,” will have tuition waived for all sessions, including the advanced workshop, will attend all of the conference events for free, and will lead a workshop session of their design for the rest of the Storycatcher participants. A small stipend will be provided for their instruction and to help defray a portion of their travel expenses. See application for details.

Overview of the Workshop

For more detailed information, check the workshop menu at the top of the page.

General Workshop & Retreat: Friday, Saturday and Sunday, June 12-14,

  • General Workshop & Retreat Tuition: $150, which gains you access to all open workshops and special sessions over the three days.
  • There is no deadline for General Registration, and you do not need to sign up for any specific sessions in advance.
  • Students and Mari Sandoz Heritage Society Members Receive a 20% discount.
  • A limited number of scholarships are available for student writers. See application for details.                 

ADVANCED Revision Workshop: Pre-Session on Thursday, June 11th

With 2015 Writer-In-Residence, Anna Keesey.

Meeting a day before the general workshop, writers who have prose work (fiction or non-fiction) in progress and are interested in revising and refining their writing for publication will gather in a small writing community for one-on-one feedback with Anna Keesey.

  • Advanced Workshop Tuition: $100 (Advanced & General Workshop Special Rate: $200)
  • Space is limited to 8 writers, so early registration is encouraged.

Mari Sandoz Emerging Writer Instructorship

Graduate students and others who have writing classroom experience (either as a teacher, student or both), and whose work shows promise, may apply for the Emerging Writer Instructorship. The successful applicant will be honored as the “2015 Mari Sandoz Emerging Writer,” will have tuition waived for all sessions, including the advanced workshop, will attend all of the conference events for free, and will lead a workshop session of their design for the rest of the Storycatcher participants. A small stipend will be provided for their instruction and to help defray a portion of their travel expenses. See application for details.

Lodging & Meals:

Affordable lodging and dining options are available. Contact us for further details.

For more information about the workshop, a complete schedule and for registration information, please visit us at www.storycatcherworkshop.org or www.facebook.com/storycatcherworkshop

or email mevertson@csc.edu