Friday, December 27, 2013

New essay course starting January 13th on Ruzuku

One of the great aspects of online learning is the flexibility of schedule.  But this is one of the great challenges as well.  Online classes tend to appeal to people who have busy schedules, and still those schedules get in the way.  This has inspired me to create a new format with this online essay course.  The course itself is 14 weeks long, divided into seven units.  In each unit we'll spend a week discussing the work of the assigned author followed by a week of student work and critique.  The assigned writers offer a variety of approaches to the art of writing an essay, from the intellectual, to the humanist, to the deeply personal.   Students should leave the course with a broader appreciation for creative non-fiction as well as a stronger sense of who they are as writers themselves.  Course fee: $300.00.  $25.00 discount available by contacting the instructor at ken@kenfosterbooks.com 

Ken Foster is the author of a memoir, The Dogs Who Found Me; a collection of stories, The Kind I'm Likely to Get; and a collection of essays,Dogs I Have Met. His work has appeared in numerous publications including Salon, Fence, Bomb, McSweeney's, The Believer, The New York Times, Bark, The San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Yaddo, the New York Foundation of the Arts, and The Sewanee Writers Conference. He has taught at The New School, Florida State University, the University of New Orleans, and elsewhere.  His most recent book, I'm a Good Dog, was selected as one of the year's best by Vanity Fair Magazine. 

Jan   13—26 Reading: David Sedaris, Selections
Writing:

Jan. 27—Feb. 9th   Reading:  Joan Didion, The White Album
Writing:

Feb.  10th—Feb. 23rd Reading:  Selections from Best American Essays
Writing: 
Feb. 24—March 9 Reading:  Janet Malcolm, Forty-One False Starts
Writing:

March 10th—March 23rd Reading:  Joseph Mitchell, Up in the Old Hotel
Writing:

March 24th—April 6th Reading:  Luc Sante, Kill All Your Darlings
Writing:

April 7th—April 21st:  Reading:  Kathryn Harrison, The Kiss
Writing:

From previous students:

"Ken is a gifted instructor and his talent for engaging students shines throughout his course."

"Taking Ken's class was the single best thing I have ever done to improve my writing. I feel my technical skills and my ability to select subject matter improves on a weekly basis.""Ken is remarkably patient and very human, bringing out the best in his students, both as writers and critics. At the end of the class every one us wanted to continue studying with him."

"Ken is a thoughtful, engaged instructor who reads work with an eye towards quality."

"Ken taught me how to analyze and edit my work so I can produce powerful, polished pieces."

"I loved Ken's workshop. When I finished the class, I felt good about what I'd accomplished and excited to continue writing."

"Ken is a wonderful teacher. He gave each student thoughtful and useful feedback that inspired confidence. He understands the craft of writing and has the skills to teach it." 
"Ken gave thought-provoking assignments and critiques and kept up with our questions on the message boards. He has a great deal to offer as an instructorand is sensitive to his students' needs and abilities." 

Monday, December 23, 2013

What We Talk About When We Talk About Pit Bulls

A few months ago, a friend asked if I would consider contributing to a blog she shares with Your Pit Bull and You.  What did they want me to write about?  "What is a pit bull?"  Sure, I said.  Why not?  I've written on that unanswerable question plenty of times.  But I wanted to find something new to say, or some new way of saying it.
another dog trainer:

It wasn't until, last week, that same friend spoke of the controversy that erupted when Your Pit Bull and You awarded a pig the title of "Honorary Pit Bull."  Immediately, I knew what I wanted to say.  The resulting essay, "What We Talk About When We Talk About Pit Bulls," deals with the question of labels and heritage and what, if anything, either one means.  It is also about my own honorary pit bull, Brando, who passed away last March.  Things have been a blur ever since, and as often happens when someone you love dies, everything I've written since then has been in some way about him.

Then something remarkable happened.  Within a day, the essay had been shared more than 1000 times on Facebook.  A day later, it was over 4000 times.  Then 6000.  And that was just Facebook.  Five days after it was posted, over 25,000 visitors have come to the page.

I'm not entirely sure what this means.  I think for some people, it is the philosophical question that brought them in.  But judging from some of the comments, it is also Brando, and my love for him.  None of this, naturally, was really on my mind when I wrote it.