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Compose Creative Writing Conference will be virtual for second year in a row on May 15

Calling all writers and lovers of the written word.

Explore the practices and professions of creative writing and publishing at Clackamas Community College's annual Compose Creative Writing Conference on Saturday, May 15.

This year's event will once again be virtual and free to the public.

Join poet and essayist Wendy Willis as she delivers the keynote address. Her book of essays, "These Are Strange Times, My Dear," was published in 2019. Her second book of poems, "A Long Late Pledge," won the Dorothy Brunsman Poetry Prize and was released in 2017.

Her first book of poems, "Blood Sisters of the Republic," was published in 2012. Her last two books were finalists for the Oregon Book Award. Willis is a faculty member in poetry and creative nonfiction at the Attic Institute in Portland, and she is also the executive director of the Deliberative Democracy Consortium and the founder and director of Oregon's Kitchen Table in the Mark O. Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University.

FILE PHOTO - Clackamas Community College will host its annual Compose Creative Writing Conference on May 15. The event will be held virtually and be free to participants.

A few of the writing sessions offered at Compose are:

"Home is Where the Art is" with Jennifer Perrine – In this workshop, participants find sources of inspiration in the places they inhabit, by writing together, drawing on language in their immediate surroundings and considering the broader homes of communities, countries and planet. There will be an opportunity to share work and end with a Q&A.

Perrine is the award-winning author of stories, essays and four books of poetry. She is an editor at Broadsided Press and Airlie Press, co-hosts "Incite: Queer Writers Read" and teaches writing and anti-oppression practices.

"Making Art From Art: Writing Ekphrastic Poetry" with John Sibley Williams – Using a rhetorical device called ekphrasis, a poet engages with a painting, drawing, sculpture, music, or other art form hoping to expand on its meaning. Participants will study diverse contemporary ekphrastic poems, exploring the many facets of ekphrasis through poetry/art analysis, active discussion, and a progressively challenging set of writing activities that fosters conversation among multiple art forms.

Williams is the author of four award-winning poetry collections. A 26-time Pushcart nominee and winner of various awards, he serves as editor of "The Inflectionist Review" and founder of Caesura Poetry Workshop.

"Autonomous, Intriguing, World-Changing Memoir-Writing" with Jenny Forrester – Through guided exercises and discussion, participants will consider their experiences, vulnerabilities, intuitions and obligations. They will explore the potential held within the personal and collective imagination, as well as discuss how to express the inexpressible, the risky, the traumatic, the downright offensive.

Forrester has received awards for fiction and nonfiction, and creates micro-communities of writers, readers and others through writing, teaching, organizing and publishing. She runs Creative Study Hall and the Unchaste Variety Show. She's the author of the books "Narrow River, Wide Sky: A Memoir" and "Soft Hearted Stories: Seeking Saviors, Cowboy Stylists and Other Forms of Authoritarianism," a 2020 Colorado Book Awards Finalist.

"Opening the Creative Mind" with Trista Cornelius and Robin Vada – This session combines simple meditation techniques with writing prompts that have proven effective for breaking through creative blocks and finding new perspectives.

Cornelius is a writer and illustrator cultivating cheer through her warm and whimsical cards, coloring books and snail-mail. Vada has practiced meditation for most of her life and began teaching in 2010. As a filmmaker, musician and poet, she has personally used these techniques to find her way through creative blocks.

"13 Ways of Looking at Your Poem" with Kate Gray – Wallace Stevens sought to "make it new," a blackbird, a poem, a line in a poem. This workshop is for poets who want to start fresh and recover what is fresh in their poems. Participants will generate new writing in response to prompts, see what they have written in a new light, and cast that light on something they have written before. No experience necessary.

Gray's passion stems from teaching, leading salons and volunteering. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, two full-length poetry collections and one novel.

"The Rise of the Anti-Hero" with Tod Goldberg – In this session, participants will explore what has made the anti-hero such a popular literary device, why we love the bad guy/bad woman so much, and how to write a character who breaks all the rules and ends up being the hero after all. In this talk, participants will go through the rich history of the anti-hero and learn how to write one.

Goldberg is the New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen books. He is a professor of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside, where he founded and directs the Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts.

"I Hear Character Voices" with Joie Seid – What is a story without interesting characters? In this session, Seid will introduce participants to some of her favorite characters she's created and discuss her process on writing complex characters who eventually tell writers what to write.

Seid is a member of the LineStorm Play Writes Collective. She is the author of "Petite Dames," which was nominated for the Kilroy list in 2015 and was recently workshopped at Lewis and Clark's Ray Warren Symposium on Race and Revolutionary Struggle.

"Publishing Primer" with Kate Ristau – Agents? Small press? Royalties? Publishing is so complicated! Ristau will share with participants how to get their work published and the routes to finding their way to the printed page.

Ristau is the author of the middle-grade series "Clockbreakers" and the young adult series "Shadow Girl." Her essays have been published in The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Compose begins with the keynote address at 10 a.m. Workshops run 10:45 a.m. to noon and 12:30 to 1:45 p.m. There will be a break for lunch from noon to 12:30 p.m.

The cost is free. Visit clackamas.edu/Compose for registration and more information. For more information, contact Rita Shaw at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 503-594-3254.


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