Writing Workshop with Amanda Parrish Morgan

As writers, it's easy to get lost in the cerebral or emotional register of our stories. This three-hour workshop will provide a variety of ways of using objects to ground and organize writing across genres. We'll read several poems as well as excerpts from Dawn Raffel's memoir The Secret Life of Objects and some of the books in the "Object Lessons" series and students will have the chance to get feedback on generative exercises from the session.

The workshop cost of $80/person includes the three-hour workshop and a copy each of Stroller by Amanda Parrish Morgan, Doll by Maria Teresa Hart and The Secret Life of Objects by Dawn Raffel.

  • Sunday, February 26
  • 10 am – 1 pm
  • Location: TBD
  • Cost for participants: $80, which includes a copy of Stroller, Doll, and Secret Life of Objects (Cost for workshop without the three books is $40)
  • Class size: Limited to 12, minimum of six needed to run the workshop
  • Advance registration and payment are required. Please call Battenkill Books at 518-677-2515 to sign up.

About Amanda Parrish Morgan

Amanda Parrish Morgan is the author of STROLLER (Bloomsbury 2022) which The New Yorker named one of the best books of 2022, noting that “the central strength of the book is not comprehensiveness but the way the stroller, and Morgan’s experience of her own strollering years, become an omnidirectional magnet, pulling disparate material into friendly proximity.”

Some of Amanda’s writing has appeared in The Rumpus, LitHub, Guernica, The Millions, n+1, Electric Literature, Carve, The American Scholar, The Ploughshares Blog, JSTOR Daily, The Washington Post, Real Simple, Women’s Running and ESPNW.

Amanda lives in Connecticut with her husband and two kids where she teaches at Fairfield University and the Westport Writers’ Workshop.

About Stroller (Object Lessons series) by Amanda Parrish Morgan

Object Lessons is a series of short, beautifully designed books about the hidden lives of ordinary things.

Among the many things expectant parents are told to buy, none is a more visible symbol of status and parenting philosophy than a stroller. Although its association with wealth dates back to the invention of the first pram in the 1700s, in recent decades, four-figure strollers have become not just status symbols but cultural identifiers.

There are sleek jogging strollers for serious athletes, impossibly compact strollers for parents determined to travel internationally with pre-ambulatory children, and those featuring a ride-on kick board or second, less "babyish" seat, designed with older siblings in mind. Despite the many models available, we are all familiar with the image of a harried mother struggling to use a stroller of any kind in a public space that does not accommodate it. There are anti-stroller evangelists, fervently preaching the gospel of baby wearing and attachment parenting. All of these attitudes, seemingly about an object, are also revealing of how we believe parents and children ought to move through the world.

Object Lessons is published in partnership with an essay series in The Atlantic.

About Doll by Maria Teresa Hart

The haunted doll has long been a trope in horror movies, but like many fears, there is some truth at its heart. Dolls are possessed-by our aspirations. They're commonly used as a tool to teach mothering to young girls, but more often they are avatars of the idealized feminine self. (The word doll even acts as shorthand for a desirable woman.) They instruct girls what to strive for in society, reinforcing dominant patriarchal, heteronormative, white views around class, bodies, history, and celebrity, in insidious ways. Girls' dolls occupy the opposite space of boys' action figures, which represent masculinity, authority, warfare, and conflict. By analyzing dolls from 17th century Japanese Hinamatsuri festivals, to the '80s American Girl Dolls, and even to today's bitmoji, "Doll" reveals how the objects society encourages us to play with as girls shape the women we become.

About The Secret Life of Objects by Dawn Raffel

"Her gift for capturing the nugget of a relationship in a single backward glance works beautifully in this illustrated memoir." - The Chicago Tribune

"The Secret Life of Objects is a lean, brilliant, playful memoir." - The San Francisco Chronicle

"Her memoir reflects on everyday objects such as a cup, a ring... From these memories comes a whole life story." - Reader's Digest

"A unique, evocative memoir...written with all the wild bloom of imagination that fiction brings to the table." - The Quivering Pen

"This endearing memoir takes an assortment of otherwise ordinary possessions and turns it into a series of delicate, resonant stories." - More Magazine

"'Sometimes things shatter, ' Dawn Raffel writes in The Secret Life of Objects. 'More often they just fade.' But in this evocative memoir, moments from the past do not fade-they breathe on the page, rendering a striking portrait of a woman through her connections to the people she's loved, the places she been, what's been lost, and what remains. In clear, beautiful prose, Raffel reveals the haunting qualities of the objects we gather, as well as the sustaining and elusive nature of memory itself." - Samuel Ligon, author of Drift and Swerve: Stories

"Dawn Raffel puts memories, people and secrets together like perfectly set gems in these shimmering stories, which are a delight to read. Every detail is exquisite, every character beautifully observed, and every object becomes sacred in her kind, capable hands. I savored every word. - Priscilla Warner, author of Learning to Breathe - My Yearlong Quest to Bring Calm to My Life

Dawn Raffel is the author of two story collections, Further Adventures in the Restless Universe and In the Year of Long Division, and a novel, Carrying the Body. Her fiction has appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine, BOMB, Conjunctions, The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories, The Quarterly, NOON, and many others. She has taught in the MFA program at Columbia University, and at Summer Literary Seminars in Montreal and St. Petersburg, Russia. She is an editor at large for Reader's Digest, and the editor of The Literarian, the online journal for the Center for Fiction.

Event date: 

Sunday, February 26, 2023 - 10:00am to 1:00pm

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