Loft Themes

Loft Themes

Much like how an art museum might present a special exhibit, the Loft is introducing seasonal thematic programming. Our themes will help connect you across many of the Loft program offerings. We believe that poems and stories can be an important lens through which to view the world, and can be part of important issues and conversations in civic life. Loft themes will compel us all to look at the words we write and authors we read in new ways.

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This fall (Sep–Dec 2019)
Fall Theme: If

The question “What if?” is the most powerful one you can ask at the start of any story. Through this theme the Loft aims to explore how speculative work, and the act of asking what if, helps us to imagine solutions and create connections.

Speculative work can act as a tool to interpret the world, to investigate topics that are too complex or too subtle to define with the limited tool of realistic writing. It gives us an incredible opportunity to imagine alternative structures and futures, to consider how to make or avoid certain changes, and to answer basic questions about our humanity.

We invite you to explore our theme of If in as many ways as interest you. See our list of classes and events below.

If Events This Fall
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If @ The Loft: Fall Member Meetup

Oct 8—Members make everything possible at the Loft, so come make some bookish buddies! During this social hour for members, grab a drink, expand your network, and maybe even walk away with a new book club idea. Plus, sign up to share a short reading of your work or a piece you admire related to the Loft's fall theme: If. 

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Celebrating Octavia Butler

Oct 22—As part of the Loft's fall theme 'If,' join us for a conversation between Autumn Brown and Chaun Webster celebrating one of the most influential speculative fiction writers of all time, Octavia Butler.

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Big Ideas with Madeline Miller—Why is If the Most Important Word?

Nov 4—As part of the Loft's fall theme 'If,' the Loft presents Big Ideas with Madeline Miller. We'll explore the power of if to change an entire narrative.

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Catfishing on Catnet: Naomi Kritzer with Kelly Barnhill

Nov 22—Hugo-award-winning author Naomi Kritzer discusses her near-future novel, Catfishing on CatNet, about a cat-picture-loving artificial intelligence and its online human friends. Naomi is joined by World Fantasy Award winner and Newbery Medalist Kelly Barnhill in a discussion about coming of age in the 21st century, online friendships, and how much the Internet knows about you. 

A Very Star Wars Caberet
A Very Star Wars Caberet

Dec 14—The Skywalker Saga of Star Wars ends this Winter. As part of the Loft's fall theme 'If," this cabaret features writers and thinkers who are also fans of the blockbuster series sharing creative work involving Star Wars. Celebrations, critiques, and creature features abound! Featuring Saymoukda Vongsay, Matthew Kessen, Luis Lopez, Shannon Gibney, and Jodi Byrd.

If Classes This Fall
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Speculative Fiction: Making the Future Irresistible

Starts Oct 1 | We'll read speculative fiction stories from A People's Future of the United States and draft stories of our own. Toni Cade Bambara said, "The job of the writer is to make revolution irresistible." We're going to do just that. You'll complete a story draft and generate ideas for additional stories.

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ONLINE: When Things Are Not as They Appear: Exploring the Uncanny

Starts Oct 9 | In this class, we'll explore the idea of the "uncanny" in fiction in its various expressions—hauntings, mistaken identity, AI—to name just a few. We'll trace the history of the concept to its current usages via readings and discussions, while also completing prompts and weekly workshops.

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ONLINE: The Emotional Realms of Weird Fiction, Fabulism, and Magical Realism

Starts Oct 9 | Literal floods of light; impossible TV shows that never feature the same cast twice; mysteries written on our bones. The strangest premises offer a brilliant glance at deep truth. Where does the emotional power of irreality come from. How can writers channel that to create something impossible yet undeniably real?

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ONLINE: Asking the Right Questions: Bring Your "What If?" to Life

Starts Oct 9 | Speculative fiction is making waves as a form that uses alternate realities to critique contemporary life. Whether you’re well-versed in the particularly weird magic of spec fic or you’re new to the scene, this class will help you turn your what if? into a fully realized story.

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YOUTH: Fanfiction Workshop: Alternative Universes

Oct 19 | Whether you're just learning about fanfiction or you're a seasoned fic writer, join us to discuss your favorite Alternate Universes and learn how writing fanfiction is a great way to exercise your writing abilities.

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ONLINE: Speculative Memoir

Starts Oct 23 | What happens when we write about our own experiences through the lens of myth, fairy tale, dream, and fantasy? This class will explore speculative memoir, an emerging genre that employs fantastical elements in creative nonfiction. Through reading and writing exercises we'll determine what this genre means for our writing.

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What If: Making the Unbelievable Believable in Creative Nonfiction

Starts Nov 5 | Personal essay and memoir are the cornerstones of creative nonfiction and are, by definition, concerned with telling the truth. But what if your story doesn't sound believable? This class will explore ways to tell your story while still adhering to the norms of creative nonfiction.

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YOUTH: Writing the Great Big What If?

Nov 16 | Ever imagine what it's like to live in another world? In another time? With other creatures? Class led by a longtime Loft teaching artist and former Outstanding Girl Scout leader. Join us for a morning of building worlds and imaginations. We will start by asking about the Great Big WHAT IF?

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YOUTH: Genesis to Apocalypse: Building Science Fiction Worlds

Nov 23 | Students will learn how to think more critically about how they construct their science fiction worlds. They will learn about how to consider setting, character, and plot and how they interact with genre elements like space travel, genetic engineering, and advanced robotics. Finally, students will learn how to imbue their stories with a sense of history and momentum to better understand their worlds from genesis to apocalypse.

Upcoming Themes

Winter 2020 (Jan–Apr 2020): Boundaries and Border Crossings

Past Themes

Fall 2017 (Sep–Nov 2017): Vigilance

Winter 2018 (Jan–Mar 2018): True North

Spring 2018 (Mar–May 2018): To Be Honest

Fall 2018 (Sep–Dec 2018): Fairy Tales

Winter 2019 (Jan-Apr 2019): Needs