Verlyn Klinkenborg was born in Colorado in 1952 and raised in Iowa and California. He graduated from Pomona College and received a Ph.D. in English Literature from Princeton University. He is the author of Making Hay (1986), The Last Fine Time (1991), The Rural Life (2003), Timothy: Or, Notes of an Abject Reptile (2006), and Several Short Sentences About Writing (August 2012). He has taught at Harvard University, Pomona College, Bard College, and Columbia University. He is also the recipient of a 2007 Guggenheim Fellowship and has been a member of the editorial board of the New York Times since 1997. Mr. Klinkenborg lives in rural New York state.
The writer’s work is making sentences. Everything else is secondary. But too often, our intentions blind us to the sentences that we are actually making—or we feel that, somehow, form or genre is more important than the sentence itself. This workshop will scrutinize your nonfiction prose, looking for the opportunities, energy, and clarity that may be lying hidden there. We’ll be aided by many other writers—Auden, Didion, McPhee, Baldwin, Joseph Roth, Kapuscinski, Dillard, Oates, etc. We’ll be thinking about writing as an act of discovery and the sentence as the smallest unit of perception. That means that we’ll be using your writing. I’ll expect you to be writing new each week for this course, and we’ll all be reading each other's work every week as we go through the semester. The goal is quite simply to clarify the act of discovering sentences and, in doing so, discovering the better writer within you.