arrow-right cart chevron-down chevron-left chevron-right chevron-up close menu minus play plus search share user email pinterest facebook instagram snapchat tumblr twitter vimeo youtube subscribe dogecoin dwolla forbrugsforeningen litecoin amazon_payments american_express bitcoin cirrus discover fancy interac jcb master paypal stripe visa diners_club dankort maestro trash

Shopping Cart

Writing Fiction Through Reading Poetry: 6-Week Generative Zoom Class, Starts Thursday, February 1st, 2024
Regular price

Writing Fiction Through Reading Poetry: 6-Week Generative Zoom Class, Starts Thursday, February 1st, 2024

Unit price per

Class Starts Thursday, February 1st, 2024

Class will meet weekly via Zoom (Thursdays, 8:00PM EST - 10:00PM EST).

Any questions about this class? Use the Chat Button (lower left) to talk with us.

Led by Elwin Cotman, author of the upcoming collection Weird Black Girls (2024, Scribner), and the novel The Age of Ignorance (Scribner, 2025).

Read an Interview with Elwin on Blurring the Lines between fiction and poetry.

In this class, students will work on improving their language skills through reading modern poets. They will apply these ideas through prompts and leave this generative class with 5-6 potential new stories.

Out of all aspects of narrative, the one that continuously evolves is language. How a writer employs words and syntax forms the core of their personal literary style.

It is easy for writers to fall into patterns with the way they use language. When that happens, writing can become a frustrating exercise. However, a continuous diet of poetry can keep a writer thinking about language, shake them from their patterns, and in the end, inspire them towards more innovative, varied language.

The primary goal of this course is to examine current poetry and inspire students to create new work with language as the starting point. This is a generative class. Every week, students will read two poems from selected writers and write a creative prompt based on their styles.

Along the way, we’ll talk about the elements of style: imagery, metaphor, syntax, rhythm, and enjambment. We’ll look at how poetry can create minimalist and maximalist writing. Though this is a generative course, the teacher and students will provide in-class feedback on student writing and offer perspectives on where students can take their pieces.

In the course of the class, students will:

  • Produce the beginning to 5-6 new stories of 3-4 pages.
  • Learn poetic styles and how to adapt them into prose.


This class will focus on the joy of language and invigorating the writing process through reading and discussing linguistically diverse writers.


  • WEEK #1: Introductions. Who are your favorite poets? Who are prose writers you like who blend poetic elements? Exercise: CA Conrad. Discussion on poetic elements. Constructing sentences and flow between sentences. Exercise, prose poetry: Claudia Rankine.   Homework: Tori Dent, “The Pressure,” “R.I.P. My love”; Angela Carter, “The Lady of the House of Love”; Clarice Lispector, “Daydream and Drunkenness of a Young Lady”; story prompt 
  • WEEK #2: This week, we will discuss how to create an economy of language and focus on specific word choice. Exercise: Danez Smith. Students will share writing from last week. Discussion of texts. Lecture on economy, word choice. Exercise: Toi Derricote.  Homework: Jericho Brown, “Bullet Points,” “Langston Blue”; Natalie Eilbert, “Bacterium,” “Edge Habitat”; story prompt 
  • WEEK #3: This week, we will discuss sound poetry and crafting prose that flows smoothly when read aloud. Exercise: Kim Vodicka. Students will share writing. Discussion of texts. Lecture on assonance, consonance. Exercise: Ada Limón.  Homework: Terrance Hayes, “American Sonnet for My Past and Future Assassin,” “American Sonnet for James Baldwin”; Major Jackson, “Night Museum,” “Letter to Brooks”; story prompt  
  • WEEK #4: This week, we will look to poetry as inspiration for imagery. Exercise: David Groff. Students will share writing. Discussion of texts. Lecture on imagery. Exercise: Alexis Almeida.  Homework: Laura Kasischke, “Burial,” “Alcoholism”; Evie Shockley, “waiting on the mayflower” “lifeline”; story prompt 
  • WEEK #5: We will look at repetition: creating leitmotifs through words and phrases. Exercise: Jenny Zhang. Students will share writing. Discussion of texts. Exercise: Melissa Lozada-Oliva.  Homework: Franny Choi, “How to Let Go of the World,” “We Used Our Words, We Used What Words We Had”; Chen Chen, ‘Quintessence: to Queer,” “I’m not a religious person but . . .”; story prompt 
  • WEEK #6: In this final class, we will look at experimental poets and experiment in breaking literary form such as paragraph and sentence structure. Exercise: Fatima Ashgar. Discuss reading. Share writing. Exercise: Deborah Landau. Exercise: Lillian-Yvonne Bertram.


Students are expected to read assigned work for each class meeting. Students are expected to complete all homework assignments.


"Elwin Cotman is one of the most original new voices you will encounter—he is a synthesizer of the domestic and the fantastic, of soaring myth and the grittiest realities, of lewd dialect and high lyricism. His stories are profound engagements with suffering of every stripe—they will also make you hoot with laughter. I was amazed by the force of Mr. Cotman's pinwheeling imagination." -Karen Russell author of SWAMPLANDIA!

“With hyperbolic, technicolor imagery and engrossing characters that radiate intrigue, these modern tales comprise a new book of essential fables for our time—read it, close your eyes, and delight in the words still glowing hot inside your brain.” -Alissa Nutting author of MADE FOR LOVE

“I found his class very enlightening, not just for writing but for teaching writing as well.” -former student

“Elwin's feedback on my submission was incredibly helpful. I liked that he was organized with a class itinerary and notes in an outline form for us to follow when he shared his screen.” -former student


This class meets weekly via Zoom. Come prepared for a super fun class with live interaction on Zoom each week and plenty of writing, reading, and talking!

You can pay for the course in full or use Affirm to pay over time with equal Monthly Payments. Both options are available at checkout.
  • Instructor: Elwin Cotman
  • Class Starts Thursday, February 1st, 2024
  • Class will meet via Zoom on Thursdays, 8:00PM EST - 10:00PM EST.

Instructor Elwin Cotman is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is the author of three collections of speculative short stories, The Jack Daniels Sessions EP, Hard Times Blues, and Dance on Saturday. He has done concept work for videogames from Square Enix. He is also author of the poetry collection The Wizard's Homecoming (2023, Nomadic Press), as well as the upcoming collection Weird Black Girls (2024, Scribner), and the novel The Age of Ignorance (Scribner, 2025). Cotman earned his BA from the University of Pittsburgh and his MFA from Mills College.