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International Women's Writing Guild

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Writing the Octavia E Butler Poem/Flash Fiction Story

  • Saturday, June 29, 2024
  • 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM



Writing the Octavia E. Butler Poem or Flash Fiction Story - $79

When Octavia Estelle Butler’s grandmother, Eloise Guy, migrated to Victorville, California in the mid-1930s with six children, no husband and closed-mouth about her past, she simply wanted to “start over,” she told her family without telling them why. Born in the Jim Crow South in Lafayette, Louisiana, Eloise worked hard, scraping by while the country entered World War II in 1939.

Raised by her domestic worker mother and strict Baptist grandmother in difficult, volatile times for African Americans who demanded equal rights, during the nation’s formation of secret intelligence, and in budding national awareness of alien existence, Butler’s award-winning science fiction is replete with the themes, motifs, possibilities, dangers and triumphs of the 20th and 21st centuries.

After exploring Butler’s life, we’ll draft poems in this workshop that capture one or several moments of Octavia Butler’s life from girlhood to adulthood, and her writing journey, as well as her writing about the land. We’ll also incorporate elements of her struggles to publish, teach, and overcome shyness and dyslexia.

In this workshop, you will have the option to either write an ODE poem about Octavia Butler or write a flash fiction story in the vein of an Octavia Butler novel or short story. We’ll use Kindred for the flash fiction prompt. Or you can do both or blend the poem and flash fiction story if it feels right.

Hope you’ll join us in honoring the memory of this wonderful author!


Kalamazoo, Michigan native Shonda Buchanan is a twice Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, Oxfam Ambassador, a Los Angeles Dept. of Cultural Affairs and California Arts Council Fellow, the founding Literary Editor of Harriet Tubman Press and Board President for Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center, one of the oldest arts organization in the country. Author of Black Indian, chosen by PBS NewsHour as a “Top 20 books to read to learn about institutional racism,” Shonda has freelanced for the Los Angeles Times, the LA Weekly, AWP’s The Writer’s Chronicle, Indian Country Today, Capital & Main, LA Progressive, Westways Magazine, Sisters of AARP, The International Review of African American Art, the Daily Press, Los Angeles Magazine, and the Los Angeles Review of Books.

A professor at Loyola Marymount University and in Alma College’s MFA Program in Creative Writing, Shonda’s forthcoming books are, The Lost Songs of Nina Simone and Children of the Mixed Blood Trail. Shonda Buchanan’s work focuses on the intersections of race, identity, migration, landscape and language with a mission to inspire, educate and heal. A descendant of African nations, the Coharie, Choctaw and Eastern Band Cherokee, and Europeans, Shonda writes on Chumash and Tongva lands in Los Angeles and in the Midwest on Ojibwa, (Anishinaabe), Ottawa and Potawatomi lands, yet she considers herself a citizen of the world. For more information, visit

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