Winner for the first ever Willow Online Writing Contest Announced!

Congratulations to Yasmin Belkhyr, our 2013 Winner of our online writing contest. Yasmin submitted two short prose pieces, “Beautiful Things Always End” and “My Body is an Apology”. Our judge, Mitchell Dahlhoff, was particularly impressed with the second person POV, and the powerful lyrical language.  Well done, Yasmin!

Evan Peterson is the Runner-Up, with his story, “Shadows of the Nightwind”. Judge, Dahlhoff was struck by the strong authorial voice and the playful appropriation of Hollywood noir and crime fiction. 

Congratulations again, Yasmin and Evan. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for us to publish their work here.


Willow Series Open Mic, Friday April 19

Willow Series Open Mic, Friday April 19

Area HS writers invited! Free and open to the public!

Willow Online Writing Contest

The submission period for our first every Willow Online Writing Contest is now over. We will be announcing our winner in the next week. Thank you to all of those who submitted work, and good luck!

HYWW 2012

Voices from the Workshop

This is the first of many more to come.  This poem was created in Jenny McDougal’s poetry mini-course during an activity, which was on the 2012 summer solstice.


The effluvia of the Panera Bread was overrun by Australian zombies
that were moldy and rotting like ugly, fat onions.

I’m discovering they’re a lot like people,
but that doesn’t mean salesmen are–

yet we are human ashtrays, waiting to be cleaned
and neglected we are, only to be filled with more filthy ashes,

scared and frightened of our past,
looking forward to a future where the sun shines brighter–

tomorrow will bring a new beginning.

Check Out Brevity–The Online Journal of Short Literary CNF

If you were in Sarah’s CNF afternoon course, then feel free to take a deeper look at Brevity.  If you weren’t in Sarah’s CNF afternoon class, then this is what you missed.  Enjoy!


Twin Cities Literary Map


The Twin Cities has a growing literary scene, but a lot of it lives in plain sight but goes unnoticed.  This is your Twin Cities literary map.  Check out the link below.


Course Descriptions~2011

Fiction Mini-Course

In one short afternoon, we’ll shake fiction down to its bones. We’ll discuss the different forms that fiction writing can take, such as novel, short story, or flash. We’ll talk about our favorite works of fiction and why we kept reading them once we started. But we won’t just talk—we will also read excerpts by well-known as well as up-and-coming writers and try some writing exercises ourselves. If you’ve ever told someone about a crazy dream you had or explained something funny/scary/strange/exciting that happened to you, you’re well on your way to writing fiction! Remember: no formal fiction writing experience is required to enjoy this mini-course.

Poetry Mini-Course

Persona Poems: Another Form of Storytelling

Novels, short stories, flash fiction…are there other ways to tell a story? In this mini course, we’ll look at how persona poems (poems written in the voice of someone other than the poet) provide an opportunity to be a storyteller. We’ll look at several examples together and then try our hand at a few prompts. Writers will leave this course with a new strategy in their toolkit, along with model poems and prompts that can be returned to again and again.

Lit Mag Mini-Course

HomeWord (Un)Bound: Finding/Making The Lit Mag For You

In this class we will attempt to do justice to the historically steeped, presently provocative, and future forward art form of the literary magazine. We will approach this from two perspectives: 1.) as writers– Where can I get published? What are the rules? Are contests scams? What is at stake? and 2.) as editors– Can I start my own lit mag? Where do I begin? How do I set up a respectable, respectful system? What is at stake? While no knowledge of literary magazines is required, if you have experience you want to share, you are wholeheartedly encouraged to do so. A portion of class will be devoted to show-and-tell. Please feel free to bring any lit mags you have worked on, are interested in, or are turned off by and would like to say why. I will bring several examples of monthly, quarterly, and annual mags in many forms for us to peruse. All you really need to bring is your rampant curiosity, your mad passion for words, and probably a notebook with trusty writing utensil because notes are always good things to take.

Core: Poetry

Katrina Vandenberg

In this active, hands-on, one-week course, we’ll pay attention to the many places poems might come from, and what to do when we think we’ve found one. Each day, we’ll focus on generating new poems, looking for inspiration from famous and not-so famous writers, memories, our imaginations, and the world around us. We’ll imitate poems we admire, and talk back to poets who get us thinking; we’ll walk nearby Snelling Avenue for notes for a “lunch poem” in the style of Frank

O’Hara, and nose the campus and neighborhood for settings that trigger our imaginations. We’ll also spend time sharing the work we’ve made, and learn some revising and polishing strategies. Students should leave the class with a better sense of their own creative process and how to use imagery, sound, and effective line breaks in their poems; most of all, students should leave with lots of ideas, strategies, and enthusiasm for writing more poems at home.

Core: Fiction

Patricia Weaver Francisco

Novelist Flannery O’Connor said, “Anyone who has survived until the age of 18 has enough material to write about for the rest of their lives.”  Subtract a few years, and you’ve got enough material to write about for our week together! The deep source for writing in all forms is our memories and our lives. Even the most wildly imagined world-building in fantasy and science fiction has roots in the moments, images, questions and disappointments of real life. In our week together we’ll write as Jack Kerouac prescribed: “In recollection and amazement for your own self.”  We’ll also look at strategies to make the material of our lives vivid and meaningful for a reader.  We’ll write, read, draw, taste, smell, wander, return, write.  We’ll look at pieces of life-writing that work and decide why, find rules to break, help one another, and generate material that will move you beyond the borders of our time together, toward writing in any form that fits.

Submit Work For Critique

If you’d like to submit work for our instructors to critique before the workshop begins, then feel free to send it to us, so we can give your work insightful attention.

Prose (fiction or CNF): please limit the excerpt to no more than 20 pages.

Poetry: no more than 5 pages.