The Virginia G. Piper
Center for Creative Writing

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Lyric Histories: Using Poetics and Essayistic Thinking to Write about the Past with Corinna Cook

Date(s): Wednesdays, February 24, 2021 - March 10, 2021, 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Phoenix MST
Craft Class, Workshop
Genre and Form(s): Creative Nonfiction, Memoir, Poetry, Research
Cost: $109 Regular, $98 Student

About the Class

Our origin stories and histories, often among our most cherished narratives, help us look back in time in order to understand the present. They wrestle with two questions in particular: “where did we come from?” and “how did this come to be?” In essayist Esmé Weijung Wang’s eyes, these lead to the most urgent question of all: “what do we do now? What on earth do we do now?” This is both the mindset and the starting premise of this course on using poetics in community history writing. Participants will learn to engage in creative exploration of a local past of their choice; they will read widely in the field of the literary essay, contrasting lyrical tellings of local histories written by Joni Tevis, William Least Heat-Moon, Sarah de Leeuw, Sonya Bilocerkowycz, and José Orduña; and they will practice leveraging literary precision and intent in writing about their own chosen facets of a local or community history. As a foundation, participants will experiment with an array of research methods designed to bring minute clues from the past into surprising focus. Participants will then explore their findings’ literary dimensions with guided writing prompts and collaborative workshopping sessions.

Meet Your Instructor

Photograph of Corinna Cook
Corinna Cook is the author of LEAVETAKINGS, a lyric essay collection (University of Alaska Press 2020). She holds a PhD in English and Creative Writing from the University of Missouri.

About the Piper Writers Studio

The Piper Writers Studio is committed to supporting writers in every stage of their development by providing challenging, diverse, and accessible educational opportunities. All classes are not-for-credit, and are intended for an open to the public. You do not need to be an ASU student to attend. Writers of all backgrounds, genres, and experience levels are welcome. Discounts for students, senior citizens, individuals experiencing economic challenges, and other groups are available for every class. To learn more about the Piper Writer Studio, visit our website at