In my place-based writing workshops, we think broadly about place. Place could be the Czech Republic, the cement stoop where you decided to get divorced, the internal landscape of joy or anxiety or fatherhood, the inside of a hair salon, cottonwood trees that remind you of your body, or the train wheels you watched in 1992 while eating a mint chocolate chip ice cream cone. But place is only our launching point. From there, we flow out like braids in a river. Our central question is always “How does our external landscape shape our one and only internal one?”
My focus is on transformational writing — for writer and reader.
I’m big on process.
I have taught in non-profits, cultural arts centers and homes. My students range from age nine to 75. Some are professional writers. Most are laypeople, and by laypeople I mean people who do not make a living with words. Below are examples of my 8-week and 2½ day workshops. I also offer 1-day workshops and 3-hour classes on a variety of topics/techniques. Group sizes tend towards small (my preference) and my material is constantly evolving.
This 8-week workshop focuses on building your writing muscle. We dive in fast. We tell real stories about the places we care about through free-writes, interactive workshop critiques, and two longer polished pieces. Authentic voice— whether it’s irreverent, reverent, soft or brash— is our aim. Experimenting with story mechanics, character, forms and revision, we learn how to make the most personal details universal. You’ll crack your preconceptions and the elusive “daily writing practice” will sneak into your life without issue. You’ll wake with the confidence to greet the creative writer in you every single day.
Body as Landscape
This 2½ day weekend workshop focuses on exploring the five (six!) senses, and writing from the sensory experience of our most precise tool— the body. Expect to go visceral. We do not praise intellect here. Instead, we dredge up instinctual responses to music, smells, taste, touch, eyes, breath, movement and dreams. Pen goes to paper. While exploring writing technique, we allow our creative impulses wild slack, rediscovering the “places” that have influenced us. You’ll emerge with a new group of trusted friends, curiosity for your written voice and a deepened relationship to your body and to that thing we call landscape.
Why Body and Landscape?
We all have a body. We all know at least one landscape. Which means that everyone has a relationship to body and to landscape. You can’t say that about much else. Not everyone knows what it’s like to be a half-sister, a Syrian or a watermelon seed-spitting champion. But body and landscape are elemental- inextricably linked to each other, and, in many ways, one and the same. Though our modern hustle has tried to squash them, no one can escape them. Because I want to resuscitate them, one or both of these play a role in every workshop I run.
The Teaching Space
I teach from the gut. My students’ stories live within me and I am grateful for the exchange. Plenty of workshops out there focus on how to get published. Mine do not. My goal is to create a space for the ancient art of storytelling. It is an art to #1 write, #2 share and #3 listen to story. I work to connect a person to his/her syntax, voice and “charge” topics— as well as to others in the group. When a person discovers his or her own uniqueness and commonality with others in the same stroke, I have done my job. We move toward understanding. How we use our words can change our entire outlook. That fact alone brings me back to teaching.
I collaborate with artists, healers or anyone working in a medium that could spark with writing. Cross-disciplinary workshops excite me greatly— as do cross-cultural connections, and anything that requires picking up a satchel and walking over a swaying bridge.
Writing From The Body
May 2011, New York City, Saturday Workshop
Join us to connect to words through your most immediate landscape— the body. Our body is our tool, our antenna to the world. In this workshop, you will learn how to access your inherent physical wisdom by feeling the cranial rhythm, exploring BodyTalk, and experiencing Goethen Plant Attunement. We’ll talk about the craft of storytelling, play with voice, and draw on the places that have impacted us. You’ll leave the workshop with (1) techniques to access creativity from your body and (2) a fresh relationship to that physical and verbal core of yours.
Co-taught with Katinka Locascio who is a licensed massage therapist, bodyworker and founder of Earth + Sky Healing Arts. Inspired by an experiential anatomy class where she first realized she was happiest learning with her hands, she has spent the past 10 years studying how the body heals itself. In her practice she draws on modalities such as Cranial Sacral Therapy, Maya Abdominal Massage, and Shamanism to help people ease into their bodies own rhythm and make space for what’s truly there. She teaches and works in the New York City Area.