My newest book Creative Writing – A Classroom Guide has received an excellent review from the Swedish BTJ journal for librarians. Reviewer Alan Pejkovic writes in Swedish: “I denna korta, tankeväckande handbok ger författaren många goda tips på hur lärare i undervisningen kan använda sig av kreativt skrivande och går igenom hur skriftligt berättande får elever mer intresserade av läsning, förbättrar deras språkfärdigheter och låter dem uttrycka sin personlighet på ett medryckande sätt.” (BTJ-häftet nr 12, 2019)

… which means: “In this short, thought-provoking handbook, the author gives classroom teachers lots of good advice for working with creative writing; he also discusses how telling stories in writing makes students more interested in reading, improves their language skills, and lets them express their personalities –– all in an engaging way.”

Later the review mentions the book’s section on the workshopping process, as well as the writing exercises, which it notes are challenging and can be adapted to various age group (“Boken lägger fram ett antal intressanta, och ganska svåra, skrivövningar som kan anpassas till olika undervisningsnivåer.”).

In addition, the review mentions the attractive, inviting layout (done by Linn Yngborn), and the extra worksheets and resources available through publisher Natur och Kultur’s homepage.  It notes that the book can be used either in the classroom or by individuals, regardless of whether they are beginners or more experience writers.

Please contact me at kfrato@yahoo.com if you have any questions about the book, or how to use it.  And as always, please contact me if you’re interested in a school visit.

Annonser

My latest book Creative Writing – a Classroom Guide has just been released by Natur och Kultur publishers, Sweden.  The goal of this book is to improve society through helping students understand stories and how to structure them, by applying theory and practise.

In the theory section, I’ve included completely new ways of teaching story writing through conversation theory and the elements of the narrative.  I also include traditional linguistic tools and narrative mechanics, and I reference authors as widespread as Aristotle, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly, Edgar Allen Poe, and Stephen King. The practical section includes detailed suggestions for structuring workshopping sessions, and I also provides guidelines to protect the integrity of student authors (no value judgments or helpful suggestions, etc.).  Instead of traditional writing prompts or exercises, I’ve included eleven writing challenges –– enjoyable tests of skill that you can make as simple or complex as you like, such as the Poetic Language, Character Names, Tempo, Tonic, and Cityscape challenges.

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Creative Writing – a Classroom Guide, by Kevin Frato (Natur och Kultur, 2019). Cover photo: Cecilia Magnusson

The book also offers textual examples from classic works to illustrate each skill or concept, and also includes four sample of student work, to illustrate the rich variety of stories students write.  Along with the text, you’ll also find easy-to-access online materials, including worksheets with clear layouts and more textual examples.

Whether you’re a teacher interested in working with creative writing in the classroom, or looking for new ideas for the work you already do –– or whether you’re a writer looking for a more structured understanding of the process –– this book provides you with a rich variety of practical and theoretical tools of the trade.

Special thanks on this project to my editors Åsa Gustafsson and Desiree Kellerman.

I’m available to lead workshops on this topic (contact me or Natur och Kultur); you can also sign up for one of my classes at Skrivarakademin, Stockholm.

If you’re interested in learning more about writing short stories –– choosing material, structuring narratives, adapting language, editing, and marketing –– there are a few spots left for my weekend short story workshop March 9th and 10th at Skrivarakademin, Stockholm.  Sign up through the link above.  Questions?  Send me a note.

Unfortunately my intro-level course Creative Writing and Narrative Theory is fully booked this term.  My Novel-Development Workshop has one spot left, though though the course started earlier this week.

PS: I’m fortunate enough to have been granted a writing residency this spring, a week in a house on an island near the sea. If all goes well, my latest book with Natur och Kultur (see post under this) will be on its way to press by then, and I’ll be working on other things.

 

Natur och Kultur Publishers passed out this flyer during the Skolforum conference in Stockholm in October, where I lectured on teaching creative writing in the classroom.

The book is slated to be released spring 2019.

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Don’t be fooled by the fact that Anthony Grooms’s latest novel The Vain Conversation (University of South Carolina press, 2018) is inspired by the 1946 Moore’s Ford Lynchings. Like fantasy and gothic tales, we read historical fiction not just to learn about the past, but also to understand our present lives. The Vain Conversation is especially topical, challenging us on nearly every page to consider just how much progress our society has actually made since then.

Grooms is an immaculately skilful writer. He opens the book with a pastoral scene, portraying the beauty of Georgia with the eye of a naturalist, and employing convincing psychological detail from childhood. Violence quickly shatters the peacefulness, though. Perspectives change, conversations grow more desperate, and the novel winds unrelentingly back upon itself, chasing resolution. This polyphonic work is really a collection of related novellas triangulating around a central question: what does it mean to be human? Is it more human to die for our beliefs, or to stoically suffer inhuman treatment, including death? At what point do those who abet or commit evil themselves become evil, and how far does the responsibility for abhorrent crimes spread throughout society?

The Vain Conversation is social archeology, digging strata by strata below the surface of our modern world, unveiling what we’ve buried in our collective bad consciences. The book is layered with horrific stories: US slavery; the pogrom of black Americans in Rosewood, Florida; the concentration camps of WWII; racial lynchings; post-traunmatic suicide; poverty and prostitution; and towards the end, drugs, crime, workplace-related sickness, and vengeance. Bertrand, one of the main characters, wonders at one point, “What Negro had a happy story to tell?” There is happiness in the book, flashes of friendship and love and true enlightenment –– but thwarted, always. The shorter, final chapter of The Vain Conversation is the most brutally paced for the reader. It shifts genres as the foundations of society itself shift, and brings to mind the urban post-apocalypse of Samuel R. Delany’s Dhalgren.

Reading The Vain Conversation reminds us that the US has in fact been a dystopia for much of its past. I recently read Uncle Tom’s Cabin (why? because it was there, and I couldn’t avoid it any longer); the two books are equally unforgiving in their portrayals of inhumanity, and the folly of believing in providence.  The Vain Conversation is a painfully balanced novel which will hopefully take its rightful place in the ongoing societal discussion of who we think we are.

On Monday the 29th of October, I’ll be lecturing at Skolforum, Älvsjömässan, Stockholm, on creative writing and its connections to reading. I’ve been giving workshops on this and related topics around the country; this lecture will contain new ideas developed in my various classrooms, and included in my upcoming book Creative Writing – A Classroom Guide, to be published by Natur och Kultur (new release date: February 28th, 2019).

Throughout my years of teaching, writing, lecturing, and researching, I’ve developed what I believe is a breakthrough approach to teaching writing of all types, and creative writing in particular. It explains the underlying rules of various formats based on relationships of those engaged in these virtual conversations.

A special thanks to the teachers at Hedbergska gymnasium, Sundsvall, Rudbecksgymnasium, Örebro, Vägga gymnasieskola in Karlshamn, and Blackebergs gymnasium, Stockholm, Sweden, for their recent responses to key sections of my ideas and methods.

PS: I’ll also be speaking at Engelskaläraren 2019, a conference for English teachers arranged by Kompetensteamet at Westmanska Palatset in Stockholm, February 5th, 2019

English teachers directly affect the future of our society, and one of the most important ways is through teaching young people to mature (which in turn helps society mature) through reading and writing stories. Many English teachers already teach creative writing; others would like to but are afraid, or don’t know how, or don’t think they’re allowed.

In order to help all these teachers, this winter I’ll be releasing a new book through Swedish publishers Natur och Kultur called Creative Writing – A Classroom Guide, which instructs teachers about why and how to teach writing in the classroom.

There are many benefits of working with creative writing compared to academic formats.  Essays and reports are incredibly important to society, but they work at the conscious level, and tend to age quickly; narrative fiction, theater, and poetry on the other hand work at the subconscious level, and become a lasting part of our personal and cultural identities.

Creative Writing – A Classroom Guide is the result of decades of leading writing workshops and teaching writing to all ages in the USA, Sweden and Italy.  It includes theory, practical help, concrete skills-based exercises, and new ways of working including a how-to for making books of interwoven short stories (story cycles) with English classes.

Look for it in early 2019.

 

PS: I’ve been travelling Sweden recently running workshops on this subject, sponsored by my publishers Natur och Kultur.  My latest workshop was at Vägga Gymnassieskola in Karlshamn – teacher Jeanette Ekwurtzel wrote about my visit here.

PPS: I’ll also be lecturing on this topic at Skolforum, Stockholm on the 29th of October, 2018.

It’s been a few years since I organized a workshop with the popular and award-winning American poet Moira Egan, who currently resides in Rome. Luckily for us, Egan will be coming back to Stockholm May 5th & 6th to teach a two-day workshop with me at Skrivarakademin.

Egan is one of the foremost formal poets working in English –– her clever, brutally honest books Bar Napkin Sonnets and Hot Flash Sonnets established her reputation as a sassy neo-classical poet on both sides of the Atlantic.  She’s also a popular workshop teacher –– the reviews of her last workshop here in Stockholm were excellent.

The weekend workshop will focus on combining ideas with structures –– in short narrative and poetic formats.  The sign-up link for the workshop is here; to answer the question “personlig motivering” or why you want to take the course, simply write that you’re interested in improving your skills.

Hope to see you there!

On February 6th, 2018 I’ll be speaking at a Skolporten conference for English teachers at Näringslivets Hus in Stockholm.

My focus will be on non-traditional, more practical and enjoyable ways of teaching writing, which has also been the focus of my workshops for teachers through Natur och Kultur Publishers.  I’ll also be mentioning my upcoming book with Natur och Kultur The Creative Writing Classroom Guide, which will hopefully be released in the fall of 2018.

Due to its structural and linguistic complexity, creative writing is far more complex and demanding than non-fiction –– though unfortunately many teachers think this makes it both impossible and irresponsible to work with.  The truth is, though, that learning to write fiction is even more important than learning to write essays.  Through writing creatively, we lay the foundation for the future, not just mirroring the world but re-inventing it –– even though it may take generations for the world to catch up.

Hope to see you at Skolporten on the 6th of February.

Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing Scottish author Alexander McCall Smith, best known for his Botswana novels about The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, at The Junior Academy music school in Stockholm, Sweden, where McCall Smith was on tour with his Really Terribly Orchestra.

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I was familiar with McCall Smith’s Akimbo-books, which I’ve read to my kids, but as I prepared to conduct the two-hour interview and Q&A session,  I understood his authorship is far more complex.  McCall Smith has written more than a hundred works of fiction, librettos and scholarly titles – including multiple series and many stand-alone works.

He divulged a great deal of interesting information about his writing process, including the fact that for his Botswana books (The Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency series) the titles and covers are often set long before he’s finished writing, which can lead to awkward situations. He said he writes five books a year, with only a vague outline in his mind when he starts, and often works right up to the deadline.