October 10, 2008



Dr. Bernie Quetchenbach, 248-1028
YMCA Writer’s Voice, 248-1685
Dan Carter, University Relations, 657-2269


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — A trio of instructors at Montana State University Billings who are part of a group of regional writers, poets and essayists called the “Wild Bunch” will lead a series of workshops in the region in October and November.


Dr. Bernie Quetchenbach and Tami Haaland, both assistant professors in the Department of English and Philosophy at MSU Billings, and Russell Rowland, an award-winning author and instructor at MSU Billings, will lead the workshops in November. They will be joined by Burt Bradley, an associate professor English at Northwest College in Powell, Wyo., whose workshop is set for Oct. 25-26.


“The Call of the Wild Writing Workshops” are being held in conjunction with the Big Read, the High Plains BookFest, the YMCA Writer’s Voice and the Yellowstone Writers’ Collective. The writing workshops, to be held at the A.L. Mickelson Field Station in Sunlight Basin, Wyo., at the Rim Country Land Institute in Billings and at the Columbus/Stillwater Library, provide an opportunity for writers at all levels of experience working in any genre the opportunity to get feedback from the instructor and from other workshop participants.  If demand is sufficient, other members of the “Wild Bunch” will join the principal instructor.


The workshops taught by MSU Billings faculty will be Nov. 1, 8 and 15. Participants are eligible for MSU Billings extension credit by calling 896-5890. The cost for those wishing to take the workshops for credit is $125. An additional cost each workshop ranges from $25-$35 per person and a limited number of scholarships are also available through the Writer’s Voice. 


Workshop details include:


Oct. 25-26 workshop by Burt Bradley
This is an on-site nature writing workshop.  The approach will be two-fold: one, a hands-on engagement with the multifaceted characteristics of nature; and two: the task of the writing itself.  Through investigations into techniques and styles of nature writing, the student will be applying examples culled from the rich field of nature writers in America today:  Peter Mathiessen, Edward Abbey, Barry Lopez, Annie Dillard, Terry Tempest Williams, Wendell Berry, Gary Snyder, and others.  Bradleywas a Lewis Mumford fellow at SUNY-Stony Brook.  His poetry and fiction have appeared in journals and anthologies such as The Michigan Quarterly Review, Quarterly West, Ring of Fire: Writers of the Yellowstone Region, and the recently published anthology “Wyoming Fence Lines.”   He is an associate professor of English at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming where he teaches Writing in the Wild courses in Yellowstone National Park and the canyonlands of the Southwest.


Nov. 1 workshop by Russell Rowland at Rim Country Land Institute
In this workshop, participants will read and discuss stories from well-known writers, including Jack London, to see what it is that makes them work. They will also do exercises to generate story ideas and enhance the students' ability to use character, plot, setting and point of view. Rowland says his main rule about writing is that there are no rules as long as you can make it work. Rowland was born and raised in Montana and recently returned to Billings after a 20-year absence. He is the author of two novels, “In Open Spaces,”which made the San Francisco Chronicle's bestseller list, and “The Watershed Years,” a finalist for the High Plains Book Award. He has an MA in Creative Writing from Boston University, and currently teaches at MSU Billings and online with Gotham Writing Workshops. He is also the fiction editor for two online magazines, The Smoking Poet and the soon to be launched Stone's Throw.


Nov. 8 workshop by Tami Haaland at Rim Country Land Institute
This workshop, open to writers of all levels, will explore rhythms, sensory details and their connections with place, memory and imagination. Participants will read poems, passages from fiction and nonfiction, and draw our words from the deep well of the imagination. They will focus on beginnings, either in poetry or prose. The workshop will conclude with an opportunity to share discoveries. Haaland’s  collection of poetry, “Breath in Every Room,” won the Nicholas Roerich First Book Award. Her work has appeared in High Desert Journal, Calyx, 5AM and other literary magazines, as well as in several anthologies, including“Ring of Fire: Writers of the Yellowstone Region,” “Montana Women Writers: A Geography of the Heart,” and an international women’s poetry anthology titled “Letters to the World.”  Recently, one of her poems was featured on Garrison Keillor’s radio program, “The Writer’s Almanac.” She is an associate professor of English and Director of the Honors Program at MSU Billings.


Nov. 15 workshop by Bernie Quetchenbach at Columbus/Stillwater Library
Writing has been called a “reckless encounter with the unknown.”   A workshop can provide some help, so writers don’t “enter the wilds” completely unprepared, Quetchenbach says. Participants can learn about technique, follow examples, and listen to the reactions of others.  In his workshops, he sees each person as pursuing a kind of trail, with the “final version,” whatever it may be, ducking ahead into brush, behind trees, into caves, even underwater.  “You might not find it where you think it is,” he said. “Maybe, though, you’ll find it somewhere else.  And maybe the result won’t look quite like you think it will.  Poems turn into stories, essays into plays.” 


Quetchenbach’spoetry collectionsinclude “Everything As It Happens” and a chapbook, “The Hermit’s Act.”  He has published over 100 poems and essays in periodicals. His work has been listed in Notable Essays of 2005 by Best American Essays.  His book “Back from the Far Field: American Nature Poetry in the Late Twentieth Century” was published by the University of Virginia Press, and he is co-editor of Lake Hollingsworth: Reflections and Studies of a Florida Landmark.  He teaches writing and literature, including nature/environmental literature, at MSU Billings.


For more information on the workshops or registration information, call the YMCA Writer’s Voice at 248-1685, ext. 231 or email Corby Skinner at corbyskinner@yahoo.com.


For questions regarding workshop locations and times, contact Quetchenbach at 248-1028.


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