After consultation with the organizers of this year’s Spoke Literary Festival in Vernon, BC August 10 to 12, we decided my workshop would focus on increasing people’s skills at making daily employment as central to their writing (including their characters’ lives) as work is to everyone’s life in the real world. The workshop description states:

Most literary anthologies present a portrait of a country in which nobody works. One can browse a bookstore, attend a literary festival, or stroll through a book fair and not find any significant reflection of how work is the central and governing experience of everyday life. Blue- or white-collar, paid or unpaid, our work determines (or strongly influences) our standard of living, who our friends are, our opinions on a range of social issues, how much time, energy, money we have during the hours each week off work, and more.

The pervasive taboo in all the arts against an accurate depiction of, let alone assessment of, the ways employment shapes a human life gives the lie to the claim that literature or the other arts “tell the human story. ” Nor can a “work/life balance” exist because in reality, we’re alive at work, too.

This all-genre workshop will look at why the taboo exists, consider examples by some North American poetry and prose writers who have chosen to break the taboo, and engage in writing exercises intended to sharpen perceptions of this vital, albeit currently suppressed, subject matter.