Summer Fishtrap 2014 Faculty & Workshops

Summer Fishtrap 2014 is now over – check back for news about Summer Fishtrap 2015 – coming soon!



Ask Me, Ask Everything

Naomi Shihab Nye

Our poetry group will invite daily play and practice with language in an encouraging circle of readers and writers, sharing many texts as well as our own, but especially the poems in ASK ME, 100 essential poems by William Stafford (Graywolf Press, 2013). Please bring your own copy of this book, notebooks, loose pages, favorite writing utensils. Open to anyone with a mind and heart for poetry-sharing and conversing – we will bow to the questions, and any possible answers, or no answers at all, walk and stare into water and trees and exchange stories, working singly or in company with others, to create a rich bouquet of personal pages by week’s end. Flexibility required. Perfection not encouraged.
This workshop is SOLD OUT.

Author Bio

Naomi Shihab Nye describes herself as a “wandering poet.” Born to a Palestinian father and an American mother, she grew up in St. Louis, Jerusalem, and San Antonio. Drawing on her Palestinian-American heritage, the cultural diversity of her home in Texas, and her experiences traveling in Asia, Europe, Canada, Mexico, Central and South America and the Middle East, Nye uses her writing to attest to our shared humanity.

Nye is the author and/or editor of more than 30 volumes, including You and Yours (2005),

which received the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award; 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East (Greenwillow Books, 2002), a collection of new and selected poems about the Middle East; Fuel (1998); Red Suitcase (1994); and Hugging the Jukebox (Far Corner Books, 1982). She is also the author of several books of poetry and fiction for children, including Habibi (Simon Pulse, 1997), for which she received the Jane Addams Children’s Book award in 1998. Her most recent works, There Is No Long Distance Now (a collection of short-shorts) and Transfer (poems) were both released in 2011.

She has received a Lavan Award from the Academy of American Poets, the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award, the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, the Paterson Poetry Prize, four Pushcart Prizes, and numerous honors for her children’s literature, including two Jane Addams Children’s Book Awards and the Arab American Book Award in the Children’s/Young Adult category. In 2011 Nye won the Golden Rose Award given by the New England Poetry Club, the oldest poetry reading series in the country. In October 2012 she was named laureate of the 2013 NSK Prize for Children’s Literature.

For over thirty-five years, she has traveled the country and the world to lead writing workshops and inspiring students of all ages. She currently lives in San Antonio, Texas.

For more on Naomi Shihab Nye, click here.


KimBarnesHidden Currents: How to Use Secrecy, Silence, and Subtext to Bring Your Characters to Life…or Death

Kim Barnes

A mysterious question. Mistakes. Help, hurt, love, and hate. Silence, and, beneath the ice, a hidden current. In Stafford’s poem, “Ask Me,” we see all the components that might make up a dramatic, intriguing, provocative, heartbreaking story of what one speaker “has done with [his] life.” In this generative workshop, we will explore the “hidden currents” of fiction–the subtext–through reading and writing exercises that engage elements of secrecy, regret, pride, silence, resolution, penance, and redemption, all in the context of landscape and its role as the ultimate confessor.

Kim Barnes was born in Lewiston, Idaho, in 1958 and one week later returned with her mother to their small line-shack on Orofino Creek, where Barnes’s father worked as a gyppo logger. The majority of her childhood was spent in the isolated settlements and cedar camps along the North Fork of Idaho’s Clearwater River.
This workshop is SOLD OUT.

Author Bio

Barnes’s first memoir, In the Wilderness: Coming of Age in Unknown Country, received awards from the PEN/Jerard Fund and the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association and was a finalist for the the Pulitzer Prize as well as the PEN/Martha Albrand Award. Her second memoir, Hungry for the World, was a Borders Books New Voices Selection. She is the author of three novels:  Finding Caruso; A Country Called Home, winner of the 2009 PEN Center USA Literary Award in Fiction, a Book-of-the-Month-Club Main Selection, and named a Best Book of 2008 by The Washington Post, Kansas City Star, and The Oregonian; and, most recently, In the Kingdom of Men, set in 1960s Saudi Arabia, named a Best Book of 2012 by San Francisco Chronicle, The Oregonian, and The Seattle Times.

Barnes is co-editor of two anthologies: Circle of Women: An Anthology of Contemporary Western Women Writers, edited with Mary Clearman Blew, and Kiss Tomorrow Hello: Notes from the Midlife Underground by Twenty-Five Women Over Forty, edited with Claire Davis.  Her essays, poems, and stories have appeared in a number of magazines and anthologies, including The New York Times, WSJ Online, The Georgia Review, Shenandoah, Oprah Magazine, Good Housekeeping, MORE Magazine, and the Pushcart Prize anthology.  Barnes teaches at the University of Idaho and lives with her husband, the poet Robert Wrigley, on Moscow Mountain.

For more on Kim Barnes, click here.


BrendaMillerHonoring Animals in our Writing: A Creative Nonfiction Workshop

Brenda Miller

In this generative creative nonfiction workshop, we will explore various ways animals function in our lives: as companions, as subjects of contemplation, as symbols, as metaphors, and as vehicles for emotional and spiritual realization. We will try to decipher why animals hold such fascination for us as individuals, and how we can most effectively portray animals in our own work. We will read examples from writers such as E.B. White, Craig Childs, William Stafford, and Mark Doty, and we’ll practice writing about animals in ways that avoid cliché and sentimentality. Part of our work will involve observation of the animal world around us at Fishtrap. Please bring photos of animals you love: either your own companion animals (present and/or past) or wild animals with whom you feel a kinship.

Advance Assignment:

Think about a childhood favorite book that contains depictions of animals in some way. If you can find it, bring this book (or a passage from this book) with you to the workshop, prepared to discuss why you chose it, what you remembered about the animals before you looked at it  again, and how you view this book now as an adult.
This workshop is SOLD OUT.

Author Bio

Brenda Miller is the author of three essay collections: Listening Against the Stone (Skinner House Books, 2012), Blessing of the Animals (Eastern Washington University Press, 2009), and Season of the Body (Sarabande Books, 2002). She has also co-authored Tell It Slant: Creating, Refining and Publishing Creative Nonfiction (McGraw Hill, 2012) and The Pen and The Bell: Mindful Writing in a Busy World (Skinner House Books, 2012). Her work has received six Pushcart Prizes. She is a Professor of English at Western Washington University and serves as Editor-in-Chief of the Bellingham Review. 

For more on Brenda Miller, click here.


KimStaffordPerrinKernsIntroduction to Digital Storytelling: Visual River like a Dream

Kim Stafford & Perrin Kerns

Digital stories bring together the art of storytelling with filmmaking to create 3- to 5-minute movies. This class will focus both on writing and production of a digital story. Students will write and record short personal narratives and combine these with original images and sound to create their final project. By the end of the course, each student will have produced a digital story based on a personal narrative, and perhaps a second film based on a poem you admire. Note: This workshop is Mac-based. Participants will need to bring a Mac laptop computer loaded with iMovie 11 and GarageBand. (If this will be an obstacle to your participation, please contact Fishtrap.)
This workshop is SOLD OUT.

To learn more about digital stories, you might look at these links:

The Center for Digital Storytelling

University of Baltimore

Stories for Change

Author Bios

Perrin Kerns teaches digital storytelling at Marylhurst University, and Kim Stafford teaches digital storytelling at Lewis & Clark College. Perrin’s film “Between Sasquatch and Superman: Living with Downs Syndrome” won the Director’s Choice Award at the San Francisco Shorts Film Festival, 2012, and has been featured on OPB. Kim Stafford has a number of digital stories on YouTube and Vimeo, including “Benign Indigities” created at summer Fishtrap 2013.

For more on Kim Stafford, click here.

For more on Perrin Kerns, click here.


Rescued Years


Robert Wrigley

The goal of the generative writing workshop is to make new poems.  We’ll write in class, out of class, on the trail, in our dreams.  We’ll take note and take notes.  And in the process, we may remember what we didn’t know we knew.  It might be called full-immersion poetry.  Hear it, feel it, taste it, savor its scents and textures. Every workshop session will begin with a poem by one of the great American poets of the 20th century:  William Stafford.  His poem will be our model, our goad, our provocation and invitation.  We’ll talk about what his poem says and, more importantly, how his poem says it.  Then we’ll write, and we’ll share what we’ve written.
This workshop is SOLD OUT.

Author Bio

Robert Wrigley was born East St. Louis, Illinois, and grew up in Collinsville, a coal mining town. In 1971, with a draft lottery number of 66, he was inducted into the U.S. Army.  After training and duties, he filed for discharge on the grounds of conscientious objection and spent the next five months attached to “Special Training Detachment” at Ft Sam Houston, in San Antonio, Texas. In November, he was honorably discharged. Since 1977 he has lived in Idaho, teaching first at Lewis-Clark State College, in Lewiston, and since 1999, at the University of Idaho, where he teaches in the MFA program in creative writing. He has published ten books of poetry: most recently Beautiful Country and Anatomy of Melancholy & Other Poems.  He is the recipient of two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, among many other fellowships. Wrigley’s poems have appeared in dozens of magazines and literary journals, including The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, and Poetry. He lives with his wife, the writer Kim Barnes, in the woods, near Moscow, Idaho.

Tools for Songwriting: Hearing the River’s Song

Marv Ross

marv headshot

This workshop explores a wide range of practical exercises and methods to enhance the songwriter’s listening and writing skills. Group discussion and collaboration will be emphasized. 20th century songwriting forms will be analyzed and applied in challenging but non-threatening exercises. An electronic piano and guitar will be available in the classroom and students are encouraged to bring guitars or other chordal instruments, but proficiency on an instrument is not necessary to participate. The emphasis will be on drawing inspiration from the natural world and the ‘lyric” aspect of song composition. Topics include:

  • Techniques to ‘stay fresh’ and find new directions
  • Find inspiration in poetry and nature
  • Learn to hear songs in a new way
  • Use instruments and sound to spark creativity
  • Develop co-writing skills
  • Organize your creative process

Musician Bio

Marv Ross is a songwriter, producer, teacher and playwright. Best known for his hit tunes sung by his wife, Rindy, in Quarterflash Harden My Heart and Find Another Fool, Marv’s songs have garnered gold and platinum albums and have been featured in film, TV, and on Broadway. He’s co-written with several accomplished composers including Burt Bacharach and Diane Warren. His musical, The Ghosts of Celilo, was presented by Artists Rep in 2007 and 2011 and won 11 Portland Area Musical Theater Awards. Marv also founded The Trail Band and produced their 13 CDs. Marv was inducted into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame in 2007 and received the Alumni Award of Excellence from Western Oregon University for his contributions to NW art and history.

For more on Marv Ross, click here.



Luis UrreaTurbulent Beauty

Luis Alberto Urrea

You know what the song says: “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.” This workshop is about that “swing.”  Conflict, action, movement, excitement, emotion, turbulence — these things help make your writing a rushing river rather than a stagnant pool. There is no transcendence without turbulence.  We will seek to make a crack in the dam and unleash the rapids being held inside you through writing, reading, conversation, experience. Bring your heart. Be brave.
This workshop is SOLD OUT.

Author Bio

Luis Alberto Urrea, Pulitzer Prize finalist and member of the Latino Literature Hall of Fame, is the best-selling author of 14 books, including Queen of AmericaThe Hummingbird’s Daughter and The Devil’s Highway. Recipient of an American Book Award, Kiriyama Pacific Rim Prize, Lan Literary Award and a Western States Book Award, Urrea has published extensively in all of the major genres. Born in Tijuana, Mexico, to an American mother and a Mexican father, Urrea uses his dual-culture life experiences to explore greater themes of love, loss and triumph. This will be his sixth stint teaching at beloved Fishtrap. Urrea lives with his family in Naperville, IL, where he is a professor of creative writing at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

For more on Luis Alberto Urrea, click here.

JohnDanielWriting from Conscience

John Daniel

William Stafford was a poet and prose writer of conscience and a man who enacted conscience in the conduct of his life.  In this workshop, open to poets and prose writers alike, we will read samples of Stafford’s work and selections from other American writers of conscience, ranging from Henry Thoreau to Denise Levertov.  Enrollees will be asked to buy and read in advance Stafford’s World War II alternative service memoir, Down in My Heart (Oregon State University Press, 2006); other readings will be provided as handouts at the workshop.  Workshop members will begin and develop their own poetry or prose over the course of the week, as we discuss such questions as:  Does writing from conscience matter?  Is a writer morally obligated to express conscience in his or her writing?  What makes a piece of writing from conscience successful?  What pitfalls may be peculiar to this kind of writing?
This workshop is SOLD OUT.

Author Bio

Author of nine books of poetry, essays, and memoir, John Daniel has taught with Fishtrap in various capacities since 1997. His latest book—Of Earth: New and Selected Poems, from Lost Horse Press—presents poems from his two previous collections and a generous selection of newer work. Daniel’s books of prose, including Rogue River Journal and The Far Corner, have won three Oregon Book Awards for Literary Nonfiction, a Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and James Thurber Writer-in-Residence at Ohio State University—and a former logger, hod carrier, railroader, and rock climbing instructor—Daniel lives with his wife, Marilyn Daniel, in the Coast Range foothills west of Eugene, Oregon.  He is presently in the throes of finishing a first novel set in western Oregon.

For more on John Daniel, click here.




 Youth Workshop

Jonathan Weiskophf-HandsPoetry and Spoken Word: Finding One Voice

for youth ages 13-17

Anis Mojgani

Writing poetry takes us on a journey of discovery to unknown destinations, which can be both a wondrous and fearful thing. Reading aloud and performing one’s poems can often yield the same terrifying and beautiful results. No matter what the exploration brings, discovering one’s creative voice is always a positive thing. Find the space to search for that voice on paper and the voice that best suits you when sharing your work with others. In this workshop we’ll explore both, crafting poems together and sharing that work aloud, practicing different styles and techniques to find what works best, as both an extension of the written word and your creativity itself. For ages 13-17.
This workshop is SOLD OUT.

Author Bio

Anis Mojgani is a two-time National Poetry Slam Individual Champion, winner of the first international World Cup Poetry Slam, and a multiple TEDX Conference speaker. His work has appeared on HBO, NPR, and in the pages of such journals as Rattle, Forklift Ohio and The Lumberyard. A former resident of Oregon’s Writers In The Schools program, Anis has performed for such varied audiences as the House of Blues and the United Nations. He has three collections of poetry published by Write Bloody Publishing and currently lives in Austin, Texas.

For more on Anis Mojgani, click here.


Telling Secrets

Amy Minatofor youth ages 10-14

Amy Minato

So to you, Friend, I confide my secret:

to be a discoverer you hold close whatever

you find, and after a while you decide

what it is. Then, secure in where you have been,

you turn to the open sea and let go.”

– from Security by William Stafford

Friends, join us. We’ll check under rocks, listen to the river, spy on the world, gather stories.  We’ll hold close what we find, ponder the mysteries, then give these away wrapped in words.  What you like to write we’ll do – stories, poems, letters to squirrels.  Bring your heart and brain and a pencil or two. Be ready to make friends and to slide into writing like an otter into a stream. For ages 10-14.

Author Bio

The author of Siesta Lane and The Wider Lens, Amy Minato has taught both the youth and memoir workshops at Summer Fishtrap. She currently teaches creative writing for youth through Literary Arts and Wordstock.  Amy offers creative writing workshops for adults through various conference centers and individual coaching at her Portland digs – The Write Spot. The Minatos migrate between Portland and the Wallowa Mountains where they lived for five years while Amy was Fishtrap Education Coordinator.

For more on Amy Minato, click here.


Outpost Workshop


Gary FergusonOutpost Workshop

Gary Ferguson

Steeped in the stirring landscapes of northeast Oregon, the 2014 Outpost workshop is dedicated to helping you master the personal creative nonfiction essay. Our morning sessions will be filled with a hearty mix of discussion, exercises, and readings – all meant to increase your understanding of important issues like setting, tone, transition, and character. Afternoons, then, will be spent in the field, contemplating this wild country in ways meant to help you cultivate your unique writing “voice.” (This voice, by the way, is what ultimately brings both authority and authenticity to your writing, allowing you to become a more dynamic, more effective storyteller.) Finally, a portion of each evening will be reserved for practical, supportive feedback on your emerging essays.

Click here for more on Outpost.


This workshop is SOLD OUT.

Author Bio

Gary Ferguson has been a full-time free-lance writer for thirty years. He’s written for a variety of national magazines, from Outside to Vanity Fair, and is the author of twenty-two books on nature and science. Hawks Rest: A Season in the Remote Heart of Yellowstone (National Geographic Adventure Press), was the first nonfiction book in history to win both the Pacific Northwest Booksellers and Mountains and Plains Booksellers awards. Decade of the Wolf: Returning the Wild to Yellowstone, was an Audubon Notable Book of 2012, as well as Montana Book of the Year. He was a visiting distinguished writer at both the University of Montana and University of Idaho Masters of Fine Arts programs, and is currently on the faculty of the Rainier Writing Workshop MFA program at Pacific Lutheran University. Gary is a frequent speaker and writing instructor at universities and workshops across the country.

For more on Gary Ferguson, click here.


Yearlong Workshop


The Writer’s Pilgrimage: A Yearlong Workshop in book-length creative nonfiction

Teresa Jordan

Writing a book is a hero’s journey, a call to leave ordinary life behind and face obstructions and danger in order to bring a treasure back to humanity. In the process, the hero or heroine–in this case, the writer–is transformed, and this year-long intensive is a pilgrimage not only to find the life in that subject that you can’t leave alone, but also to develop the ability, faith, courage, and stamina required to wrestle chaos into form and progress toward becoming the writer you want to be.

As Joseph Campbell reminded us, a mentor and allies are invaluable along the way. Teresa Jordan has earned a reputation as a generous and insightful teacher at colleges, universities and writing workshops across the West. She will guide students in the habits of work and imagination that make a writing life sustainable, and will help the workshop cohere as a community able to nurture each member’s creative endeavor. The class is open to all types of narrative nonfiction including memoir, literary journalism, biography and travel or food writing. Participants should have a book underway or clearly in mind and be able to commit to a year of focused work. This workshop is SOLD OUT.

Author Bio

Teresa Jordan is an artist and author whose books include the memoir, Riding the White Horse Home and two illustrated journals, Apprentice to Place: Field Notes from Yosemite and Raging River, Quiet Mind: Field Notes from the Grand Canyon. With her husband, Hal Con, she created the series The Open Road for public radio’s The Savvy Traveler. Her newest book, The Year of Living Virtuously, Weekends Off, is a collection of essays inspired by Benjamin Franklin’s thirteen virtues and the seven deadly sins. It will include her artwork and is forthcoming from Counterpoint Press in 2014. She has taught memoir and creative nonfiction at colleges, universities and workshops across the West, including the Northwest Writing Institute at Lewis and Clark College, Fishtrap, Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Writers@Work and, as Writer in Residence, at the Universities of Utah and Nebraska. Her experience teaching a year-long course on Writing for Artists at the Oregon College and Art and Craft with Kim Stafford several years ago provided her with so much growth and delight that she has jumped at the chance to teach this year-long intensive for Fishtrap.

Comments from recent students:

  • Teresa is a gentle and generous and immensely effective instructor, bringing her gifts as a both a literary and a visual artist to bear in every minute of every class.
  •  I loved this class. It made me believe in myself as a writer again. Teresa has a gift for maintaining a high level of discussion and standards, and at the same time embracing the class with her warmth and sincerity.
  •  I would absolutely recommend the class to a friend. Learning that there is a process and structure is so helpful.  The books recommended were perfect.  Teresa’s grasp of the writing craft is impressive and her teaching style is very engaging and gentle.
  • It was an incredible gift from the universe to be able to be here and feed my artist’s soul. I appreciated Teresa’s humbleness, competence, kindness, compassion and encouragement.

For more on Teresa Jordan, click here.

For more on the Yearlong Workshop click here.




Register for Summer Fishtrap 2014. 

Click here for the Summer Fishtrap 2014 Faculty Reading list.