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The Rose O'Neill

Literary House

Creative Writing Workshops

Our motto is “Write Your Truth.” Creative writing workshops at the Cherry Tree Young Writers’ Conference are designed to help you discover the stories that matter to you. What is your truth? What is the voice you will use to tell it?

POETRY WORKSHOP, with Matthew Olzmann

The best poems don’t just surprise us; they surprise us in a manner that feels necessary and poignant. This class will look at how a poem creates a set of expectations for the reader, and how it later overthrows those expectations to create a lasting resonance. The expectations a poem builds for us might be narrative, emotional, formal, tonal or thematic, and the pivot might be subtle or monumental. We’ll look at odd juxtapositions, variations from established patterns, associative leaps in thought, shifts in focus, and points of emotional contrast as possible strategies for developing the poetic turn. Through a series of close readings and writing exercises, we’ll generate several new poems, and hopefully develop a few new skills that will sustain our writing well after the workshop is over.  

FICTION WORKSHOP, with Julie Iromuanya


Friends and foes, monsters and angels. One of the great mysteries of human nature is the stubborn coexistence of good and evil. Fairy tales, folklore, and myths offer larger than life illustrations of what psychoanalytic theorist Carl Jung calls the “shadow.” In this four-day intensive workshop, we’ll map the ways that villainy and heroics, monsters and angels operate in the construction of character and conflict in contemporary literary fiction. Through a combination of reading and writing exercises, we’ll develop a set of practices to help us write compelling and engaging character-driven fiction.  


Creative nonfiction is sometimes known as ‘the fourth genre’ to distinguish its various forms from the genres of poetry, drama, and fiction. This class will give us ample opportunity as creative nonfictionists to sample and incorporate elements from a range of literary genres into our unique personal essays, lyric essays, and memoirs. Over the four days of workshop, we will read and write about topics as rich as personal identity, family lore, and the self in relation to the larger world.