SOU Launches the Institute for New Writing/Ashland

(Ashland, Ore.) – Southern Oregon University (SOU) is offering a special opportunity to aspiring writers this summer – the chance to spend a week with published, creative writers and receive one-on-one training, advice, and criticism. It’s the inaugural offering of the Institute for New Writing/Ashland (INWA), to be held August 12-17 on the SOU campus. The deadline for application to INWA is May 15.

The institute will focus on three writing genres – fiction, poetry, and noir literature – and features SOU faculty as well as visiting writers Kevin Killian, Sharon Mesmer, and Vanessa Place.

“We’re very excited to bring these exceptional writers to SOU to help us launch INWA,” says SOU’s Director of the Center for Emerging Media Robert Arellano.

Kevin Killian is one of the original ‘New Narrative’ writers. Sharon Mesmer teaches at NYU, the New School, the Poetry Project and online for the Chicago School of Poetics, and is a “Flarf” poet. Vanessa Place is a critic, criminal defense attorney, co-director of Les Figues Press, and a leading practitioner of conceptual poetry.

Arellano, the author of six novels including the 2010 Edgar finalist Havana Lunar: A Cuban Noir, will teach a workshop on writing noir literature (all genres), from film to crime fiction to electronic literature. Fellow SOU Professor of Creative Writing Craig Wright, author of the short story collection Redemption Center, will lead a workshop on short story writing, emphasizing the ways in which attention to contemporary language and culture are important to constructing character and plot. SOU Poetry Professor K. Silem Mohammad, the author of Deer Head NationBreathalyzer, and The Front, will examine the influence of twentieth-century avant-garde movements on current experimental poetry.

The weeklong program includes a variety of events and entertainment. Core classes will meet separately from 9:00 a.m., to noon, Monday through Friday. At 1:00 p.m. each day classes will reassemble in a town hall format of colloquia, panels, and question and answer sessions. Evenings are a week-long literacy festival including public receptions and readings featuring invited guests and local writers.

“The environment for this institute will be creative, supportive, expansive, and fun,” says Arellano. “It’s part of SOU’s institutional commitment to creativity and innovation that includes a new major in Emerging Media and Digital Arts, the new Digital Media Center and, hopefully, a future Master of Fine Arts degree in writing.”

The cost of the week-long workshops is $950, and limited scholarships are available. INWA workshops may be counted for SOU academic credit.

For more information on the application process and institute courses, visit, or call 541-552-6260. You can also email Robert Arellano at

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