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Tin House Summer Workshop Lectures: Mitchell S. Jackson, Laura van den Berg, and Maureen N. McLane

July 9 @ 2:30 pm - 4:20 pm

Reed College, 3203 SE Woodstock Blvd, Portland, OR 97202 + Google Map

2:30 pm-3:20 pm, Vollum Lecture Hall
Voice as Comp, with Mitchell Jackson
Writers with a distinctive literary voice have a greater chance to, as Susan Sontag says, “preserve the works of the mind against oblivion.” Voice consists of qualities that include diction, syntactical usage, sound, and visual logic. At its best, voice is as singular as one’s thumbprint. This craft lecture will present philosophies on voice and some of the rhetorical tools used to compose—yes, it’s an act of composition—a remarkable one. We will read passages from the work of master prose stylists—a list that includes John Edgar Wideman, Joan Didion, Grace Paley, and Denis Johnson—with an eye toward critiquing the elements that make their literary voice distinctive, compelling, enduring.

3:30 pm – 4:20 pm, Vollum Lecture Hall
Object Lessons: An Exploration, with Laura van den Berg
Objects have the potential to open powerful new doors in our imagined worlds. Together we will explore the role of objects in fiction, looking at the ways objects can help us forward plot; complicate character; shape structure; navigate time—and more! Tania James’s short story “The Liberator” will be central to our conversation, so please read the story in advance if at all possible (copies will be made available).

3:30 pm – 4:20 pm, Reed Chapel
Noting, Citing, Gleaning: Attention, Possession, Notation, Itinerary, with Maureen N. McLane
Taking wing from Roland Barthes’s meditation on “the minimal act of writing that is Notation,” this talk will explore some possibilities in note-taking, note-making, reading and writing and shaping “en route.” Ranging from W. S. Graham’s note-to-self—“take down actual speech”—to other modes of responsive attentiveness, I will draw on work by Basho (in translation), Makoto Ueda, and may turn to (among others) John Cage, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats, Harryette Mullen, Claudia Rankine, Susan Stewart, choral singing, and my own notebooks, annotations, citations, and poems. Why note anything? What is the relation between what’s noted and the hazy, sometimes hostile surround? What futurity is written into the note? What constraints?

Open to the public for a fee of $10 (Cash and Cards accepted at the door).


3203 SE Woodstock Blvd
Portland, OR 97202
+ Google Map


Tin House
Reed College