Fishtrap writer-in-residence teaching at local schools

Writer-in-residence Gregg Kleiner (right) laughs at a description in a student's short story during his last day in a Joseph High School writing class last Thursday. Student Ryan Harding is also pictured. Photo by Elane Dickenson

Gregg Kleiner, a writer with a wide background, is now working in Wallowa County high schools as a Fishtrap writer-in-residence.

He finished three weeks teaching creative writing in Joseph last week with teacher Marylou Guentert, and begins to teach in Betsy Oliver's English class in Enterprise for a three week stint this week. Wallowa students will benefit from the final three weeks of his residency.

In Joseph Kleiner taught the elements of fiction and short story writing, and on his last day in class students read short stories they had written. "They were pretty impressed that a real live author would come and work with them," said Mrs. Guentert about Kleiner's residency. "I think it was really worth it."

In addition to teaching in the schools, Kleiner will be instructing a five-week workshop for adults at 7-9 p.m. Wednesdays beginning Feb. 5 titled "Deep Fiction: Creating Compelling Stories."

Everyone has stories, ranging from childhood memories to the death of loved ones, and it is in the blending elements of fiction with true stories that writers create powerful works of art that move those who read them.

Kleiner said that in his class "we will roll up our sleeves and mine our memory" to create compelling stories that are no longer 100 percent true, but in their new fictionalized form "convey a deeper truth that resonates within the heart." The workshop will work on tension, voice, character, dialogue, detail and other tools of the trade. Call Fishtrap to register, 426-9075.

The public will also be invited to a reading by Kleiner at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 2, at the Coffin House, 400 E. Grant, Enterprise.

Gregg Kleiner's background includes a year he spent as a 16-year-old in the mountains of northern Thailand as an AFS exchange student. For a month of that year, he lived at a Buddhist monastery as a novice under the tutelage of an aged monk.

Since then he has worked as a dairy goat farmer, hotel concierge, freelance journalist, wildlife biologist, technical writer, and teacher. He lives near theWillamette River in Corvallis, with his partner Lori and their two children, Eli, 10, and Sophy, 7. The whole family is staying at Wallowa Lake during Kleiner's Fishtrap residency.

Kleiner's first novel, "Where River Turns to Sky," was a finalist for both the Oregon Book Award and the Patterson Fiction Prize.

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