The Desert Nights, Rising Stars
Writers Conference

Picture of large moon rising over purple desert with pink sky

Past Advanced Workshops

Beyond panels, craft talks, and the rest of the regular conference schedule, the Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference features a number of advanced workshops that provide individuals with opportunities for deeper learning, closer feedback, and more personalized relationships with conference faculty.

To view past advanced workshops, select a year from the menu below. 

To learn more, you can view past advanced workshopsmeet our facultyview the schedule, or find upcoming classes and workshops through the Piper Writers Studio.

View Past Advanced Workshops

What does an image do? How do images move or surprise us? In this writing workshop, we will examine how images shift, transform, and ultimately, move a reader. We will take our “go-to” images and explode them, looking at etymology, mythology, context and association. Finally, through writing prompts & workshop, we will read, write, and workshop poems that use recurring imagery to create tension and surprise.


Instead of only turning to Trans, Non-binary, and Queer+ (TNBQ+) writing to learn something about being TNBQ+, in this generative, experiential workshop, we’ll push further to consider and practice a variety of craft choices while immersing ourselves in the vast brilliance of TNBQ+ poetry. Come to read, write, and build community. And expect to be challenged and filled with delight.


Cultivating Chaos
Cristina García

How can we encourage our work to unspool in unpredictable, organic ways? To welcome what surprises and disturbs us? To harness wildness without domesticating its energies? To embrace what we only dimly perceive? In Cultivating Chaos, we'll discuss strategies for coaxing the strange, ineluctable, jagged-edged power of the wonderfully, dangerously unexpected into making a lasting, vivid difference in our writing.


Character Therapy
Tracey Baptiste

Join New York Times bestselling author, Tracey Baptiste for an in-depth workshop designed to generate deeper characters, find their unique voice, discover what their motivations are within the story, and see how they interact with other story characters. Designed for writers who are having difficulty with a current draft, or connecting to their characters in a way that enhances the plot. 


In this generative poetry writing workshop, we will attempt to enter the creative space by removing ourselves from the written work, thus allowing the poetic image to speak for itself. In this way, we can get outside our drives for individual gain and into areas of articulation that may help us discover something that binds us together.


How do we summon creative power in the face of our personal and/or global demons? How can we speak of beauty when our world seems full of loss, grief, climate change, and political turmoil?  Thich Nhat Hanh says that the work of meditation is to transform “compost into flowers”; that is also the work of poetry.  This generative workshop will help you to re-see your demons as a form of poetic compost.


We too often rely on a “good/bad” binary to shape our characters and considerations in our stories. How do our complexities as human beings find their way to the page? In this generative workshop, join poet, essayist, and cultural critic, Hanif Abdurraqib, on an exploration on empathy and the dynamics of character in popular culture. The group will use an empathy tree in which participants figure out which characters in popular culture they find empathetic or non-empathetic.


Starting a novel is hard. Finishing a novel seems nearly impossible. And the middle, well, the middle is a thousand years long. But! But! There are things you can do to turn walls into doorways and keep you moving forward. Join award winning novelist, Ramona Ausubel, in a course on discussing strategies for survival in writing your novel and for keeping the process fun, inventive and full of life. This workshop consists of both moments of lecture and exercises, so be prepared to learn, talk, engage, and put your thoughts and ideas on the page!


How do you approach creative writing in a multilingual landscape? Join critically acclaimed author, translator, and educator, Achy Obejas, to explore how authors use codeswitching, bilingualism and multiple languages in the same text to highlight culture, the necessity of home languages, and to demonstrate new creative paths for their writing. When and how do we codeswitch? To what to end do we use codeswitching in our art? What does it mean for our single language readers when these techniques are employed?