Our series of free, public workshops is designed to open new vistas of creative exploration for writers of high-school age and older and to provide a fun and supportive environment for the development of their craft. Workshops meet monthly--usually the second Thursday of each month--at the Ralph Ellison Library from 6:30 to 8:30 PM. Each workshop is conducted by a special guest writer and includes writing exercises as well as the opportunity to share work. In presenting this workshop series, we're proud to partner with the Red Earth MFA Program at Oklahoma City University and Short Order Poems, and are very grateful to our hosts at the Metropolitan Library System. We hope you’ll join us as we learn together and strive to enhance Oklahoma City’s multicultural literary landscape in the name of our state’s most significant literary pioneer.



LEAH CHAFFINS: “Time: Managing the Magic Within”

Leah Chaffins is a short story writer, a novelist, and a poet. Her primary concentrations have been in horror fiction, memoir, and poetry. Her work can be found in publications such as the anthologies Ain't Gonna Be Treated This Way: Poems of Protest & Resistance and Behind the Yellow Wallpaper as well as in Dragon Poet Review, OkieMag, Red Earth Review, and The Gold Mine. Chaffins currently has three works pending for publication: The Godseed, a mythological novel, and the poetry chapbooks Gravel Goats and Birthmarks. She is an Instructor of Composition at Cameron University.


MONICA ORANGE: “Drawing from the Root: Tapping into your Culture to Develop Voice”

Monica Orange is a writer of fiction and a freelance creative consultant from Oklahoma City. She received her BA in English from Oklahoma Christian University and her MFA. in Creative Writing from the Red Earth MFA Program at Oklahoma City University. Her creative nonfiction piece entitled "Horned Toads" recently appeared in Milk Journal. A member of the Deep Deuce Writing Society, Orange is currently developing a nonfiction series and video blog geared toward Black women that focuses on natural reproductive health and culture.


CHARLES MARTIN: “Write Everything: Why Diversification Is Critical To Every Wordsmith”

Charles Martin adopted an alter ego for his first novel and named him Will Weinke. Over the next fourteen years, Martin & Weinke would write ten novels—including Pets, Deviants, and The Dominant Hand—as well as two feature films, several short films, and comic book scripts. Martin has also written for newspapers, magazines, blogs, online review sites, as well as contractual work for press kits, business plans, and technical writing of all sorts. In 2010, Martin founded the publishing company Literati Press Comics & Novels which currently maintains an independent bookshop in The Paseo Plunge in Oklahoma City’s Paseo Arts District and whose editions can be found in stores across the globe. 




LAUREN ZUNIGA: "Poems That Intend to Be Seen"

Lauren Zuniga is an international touring poet and teaching artist. She is the author of The Nickel Tour (Penmanship Books, 2009) and The Smell of Good Mud (Write Bloody, 2012) which was a finalist for the Oklahoma Book Award. Her work has been featured on Button Poetry, Upworthy, Everyday Feminism, and Autostraddle. She has over one million views on YouTube and is a three-time international poetry slam finalist. She lives with her two kids and her partner in Oklahoma City.


MARY GRAY: "Voice and Revelation: Character, Diction, and Dialect"

Mary Gray was born and raised in Lawton, OK, and received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and English Writing, as well her Master of Public Administration (MPA), from the University of Oklahoma. She is currently a student in the Red Earth MFA program at Oklahoma City University and is a founding member of the Deep Deuce Writing Society. Her work has been published in the anthology Ain’t Nobody That Can Sing Like Me: New Oklahoma Writing and Territory Magazine.


PAUL AUSTIN: "Creating Character Through Dialogue”

Paul Austin has directed and acted in a range of Broadway, Off-Broadway, Off-Off-Broadway, summer stock, and regional theatre productions around the nation in addition to acting for television and film. His Late Night Conspiracies was performed with a jazz ensemble at New York’s Ensemble Studio Theatre. He has written for and about the theatre via his plays, essays, and poetry. His work has appeared in publications such as This Land, Sugar Mule, Newport Review and Oklahoma Review. He recently completed a collection of poems, Mother and Son, and is currently working on the collections In Praise of Actors and Persons of Influence.


"Elements of Hip-Hop Writing: Motive, Internal Rhyme, and Sibyllic Expression”

In addition to performing and producing hip-hop music nationally for over two decades, Angel Little and Anthony Tee have worked together for the past three years on a variety of local projects including teaching hip-hop in Oklahoma City schools and at arts camps. Little, an educator and motivational leader with a passion for community development, specializes in hip-hop songwriting. Tee, who performs under the name "Nymasis,” is a celebrated emcee, deejay, and indigenous hip-hop enthusiast dedicated to empowering local youth.


ILIANA ROCHA: "They Now Gonna Make Us Shut Up: Poetry as Advocacy and Activism”

Iliana Rocha earned her PhD in English Literature and Creative Writing from Western Michigan University. Her work has been featured in the Best New Poets 2014 anthology, as well as Bennington Review, Blackbird, and West Branch. Karankawa, her debut collection, won the 2014 AWP Donald Hall Prize for Poetry and is available through the University of Pittsburgh Press. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Central Oklahoma.


JASON POUDRIER: "Emotional Transference: Making Your Reader Feel”

Jason Poudrier is a novelist, essayist, poet, and recipient of a Purple Heart for his service in the Iraq War. Currently an instructor with Cameron University, he also serves as Director of Events for the non-profit group Military Experience & the Arts. The author of two poetry collections, Red Fields (Mongrel Empire Press, 2012) and the chapbook In the Rubble at Our Feet (Rose Rock Press, 2011), his work has recently appeared in World Literature Today and Blue Streak. He was recently named a semi-finalist for American Short Fiction’s American Short(er) Fiction contest.


GAY PASLEY: "Afrofuturism and Magical Realism: Writing Alternate Realities”

A recent graduate of Oklahoma City University's Red Earth MFA Program, Gay Pasley has writing appearing or forthcoming in Thread Literary Magazine, Hard Crackers Press, Elsewhere Magazine, Amistad, Transitions, and Snapdragon: A Journal for Healing. An award-winning community leader and photographer, her visual art has been featured on Blavity and Loud Zoo as well in MAINTENANT: A Journal of Dada Writing and Art and Abstract Art Magazine. Her work seeks to represent the under-reported experiences and challenges of working-class women of color.

MAY 11

CONSTANCE SQUIRES: "Reading Between the Lines: Expressing Conflict in Fiction”

Constance Squires has two books forthcoming in 2017: Live from Medicine Park, her second novel, and Wounding Radius, a short story collection. Her first novel, Along the Watchtower, received the Oklahoma Book Award in 2012. Her short stories have appeared in Guernica, The Atlantic Monthly, Shenandoah, and several other magazines. Her nonfiction has appeared in Salon, The New York Times, The Village Voice, The Rolling Stone 500, as well as on the NPR program Snap Judgment. She teaches creative writing at the University of Central Oklahoma.


JAMES COOPER: “Social Media & Performance: The Art of Presentation”

James Cooper has enlightened audiences for years as a popular internet writer as well as a commanding presence at open mic sessions in the Oklahoma City area. Fueled by a love of reading and music, he draws inspiration from sources as diverse as comic books, hip-hop, and his local community. He strives in his writing to reach past the conventional for hidden truths, expressing them with a rhythmic energy that radiates off the page to make the familiar strange and the strange familiar.


JENNY YANG CROPP: “Beyond Rhyme & Meter: Elements of Sound for Poetry and Prose”

Jenny Yang Cropp is the author of two chapbooks, Hanging the Moon and Usage Errors, as well as the full-length poetry collection String Theory which was a 2016 Oklahoma Book Award finalist. Her poems have appeared in Boxcar Poetry Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Ecotone, and other journals. She currently teaches English and creative writing at Cameron University.


ROB ROENSCH: "The Magic and Mystery is in the Details"

Rob Roensch's collection of short-stories, The Wildflowers of Baltimore, was published by Salt in the US and UK. He has published short fiction recently in American Short Fiction, Green Mountains Review, and Epoch. He currently teaches at Oklahoma City University. 


NAJAH AMATULLAH: "Fiction vs. Non-Fiction: True, False, or Does It Matter?"

Najah Amatullah is a lifetime poet, performer, blogger, and diarist. She published her first collection of poetry The Risk to Bloom in 2014 after performing a solo show of the same name in 2012. Her friend, the hip-hop artist Jabee, features her work prominently on his album In the Black Future There's a Place So Dangerously Absurd. She teaches English at Milwood Public Schools and is a project manager for the award-winning poet and educator Quraysh Ali Lansana. Najah is currently at work on a handful of community projects and her first book of prose. 




BRANDON HOBSON: "Risk and Restraint: Finding Balance in Your Writing"

Brandon Hobson is the author of two novels, Deep Ellum and Desolation of Avenues Untold. His writing has received a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in such publications as Conjunctions, NOON, The Paris Review Daily, The Believer, Post Road, and elsewhere. He currently teaches English, Creative Writing, and Literature at Northern Oklahoma College.


JAMES COOPER: "Horror, Storytelling, and Real Life Monsters”

James Cooper has placed essays in publications as diverse as The Huffington Post and The Oklahoma Gazette. He received a BA in Film Studies from the University of Oklahoma as well as an MA in English from Oklahoma State University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Oklahoma City University. Cooper is as an instructor at Jefferson Middle School and sits on the board of the Central Oklahoma Transportation and Parking Authority as a trustee. He is currently at work on a novel.


TODD FULLER: “Diversifying Your Literary Genealogy”

Todd Fuller is the author of To the Disappearance, a collection of poetry published in 2015. Dr. Fuller currently serves as an Associate Director for Research Development at the University of Oklahoma. His poems and essays have appeared in publications such as the American Indian Culture and Research Journal, Cimarron Review, New York Quarterly, Spoon River Poetry Review, and many others. In 2004, he helped found Pawnee Nation College, serving as the school’s president until 2011.


CANDACE LIGER: “(The) Write to Breathe: Writing Your Way to Sanity Within the Struggle"

Candace Liger is an award-winning slam poet, social activist, dance and fitness instructor, and blogger. In addition to winning the 2015 MLK Poetry Slam at the University of Texas, Liger also received a Woman of Action award from the National Organization of Women’s “Forward Feminism” Conference in Washington, D.C. in 2016. She is also a co-founder of OKC Artists For Justice and sits on the board of Black Lives Matter OKC.