Nonfiction Writing Seminar with Elena Passarello

Course Description

This course will address the four key components of Creative Nonfiction: Scene, Commentary, Research, and Form. Over the eight weeks of this course, we will read and discuss a dozen or so published essays, each of which uses those four elements to varied effects. As we read and chat, we'll also try our hand at several short weekly exercises. For the first half of the course, we'll use the prompts to "build" an essay that focuses on people—the self and the family. In the second half, we'll work through another linked series of prompts and essays on the world around us. We will meet weekly in our online video classroom for live lectures and discussion. Each week, four of us will submit what we've been working on to the class for workshopping so we can discuss each writer's process and progress at that particular stage of the term. The course will run from July 12, 2015 to September 6, 2015.


Twenty-four writers hailing from Brazil, Canada, Greece, India, Iran, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Poland, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, and Zambia were selected from a pool of 400 applicants to participate in this seminar.

Nonfiction Writing Seminar 2015

24 writers are enrolled in the Nonfiction Writing Seminar with Elena Passarello


Elena PASSARELLO is the author of Let Me Clear My Throat and the forthcoming Animals Strike Curious Poses, both with Sarabande Books. Her essays on music, popular culture, and the natural world have appeared in Slate, Creative Nonfiction, Oxford American, Ninth Letter, Iowa Review, and The Normal School, and in anthologies including After Montaigne and Cat is Art Spelled Wrong. The recipent of a Whiting Award in Nonfiction, Elena teaches in Oregon State University's Creative Writing MFA program.

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Happening Now

  • Kristian Sendon CORDERO (IWP '17) co-edited a special issue of Words Without Borders on writing in the Philippines. Its range of poetry in the country's many languages includes Filipino work of Genevieve ASENJO (IWP '12).

  • Muhamed "Nabo" ABDELNABI (Egypt, IWP '13) has been awarded France's 2019 Prix de la littérature arabe for his 2016 novel, published last year in the UK as In the Spider's Room .

  • Over on  Asymptote, in English and Cantonese, the long poem " The Man Who Lost HIs Shadow,"  by Hong Kong poet and editor Stuart LAU (IWP '17).

  • On fish-paste English and cheddar-English: a long interview at LARB (Los Angeles Review of Books) about language, politics, and language politics with Burmese poet and worker KO KO THETT (IWP '16).

  • Behind the 2018+ 2019 Nobel Prizes for Literature given to novelists Peter Handke  and Olga Tokarczuk are translators--one key among them Jennifer CROFT, novelist as well as translator from the Polish, Ukrainian, and  Spanish. Congratulations!

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