A special creative writing workshop series with teacher, author and editor Laura Lynn Brown.
Part III begins Oct 28. Limit 10 participants. Sign up by Oct 21 to avoid a late registration fee.
Take one or take all three, in this “writing from life” fall workshop series. [“all three” option no longer available] Registration currently open for Part 3.
Part I • Writing Our Objects
—$179 à la carte (or choose the whole series for $429) [SOLD OUT]
4 weeks. Sept. 2-27
Objects are full of stories. “In a narrative, any object is always magic,” according to Italo Calvino. From souvenirs and family heirlooms to a favorite pencil or wooden spoon, we all have cherished objects. In this workshop, we’ll look at some of the ways to write about objects: to describe them, explore their associations, tell their stories, research their histories and use them as entry keys into less tangible subjects.
“Writing Our Objects” Basic Outline
Week 1: At hand: objects within reach, or often touched or held
Week 2: Backstory: objects with histories (whether known fully, in fragments, or requiring research)
Week 3: Given and received: gifts, inheritances, curious acquisitions
Week 4: Letting go: writing towards release (of an object it’s time to part with, or its attachments), writing about lost or mislaid things
Part 2 • Writing Our Rooms
—$179 à la carte signup [SOLD OUT]
4 weeks. Sept. 30-Oct. 25
We love to look at photos of writers’ offices and desks, to study the arrangement, the tchotchkes, the relative order or clutter. We read magazines, save pages and curate Pinterest boards dedicated to creating perfect spaces. Meanwhile, in life and memory, we move through rooms where our work gets done and our lives get lived, rooms that might not be photogenic but are overstocked with story.
In this part of the series, we’ll play with “writing rooms” — both the rooms we write in (office, dining room, studio, coffee shop, closet) and the work of writing about memorable rooms (kitchen, childhood bedroom, summer cabin, classroom), not merely to describe them but to explore their memories and the ways we are shaped by their microgeography.
Week 1: From where I sit: places we write in (office, library, coffee shop, laundry room)
Week 2: It’s smaller (or larger) than I remember: rooms of childhood (bedroom, playroom, nursery, Grandma’s house)
Week 3: Come to the table: rooms and food (kitchen, dining room, pantry, restaurant, industrial kitchen)
Week 4: Before and after: rooms cultivated, renovated, altered, added on or altered (living room, sunroom, game room, screen porch turned into living room)
Part 3 • Writing Our Letters
—$179 à la carte signup
4 weeks. Oct. 28-Nov. 22
A letter is often the first written form we learn. It seems so simple — heading, greeting, body, closing, signature, and sometimes postscript. Yet this familiar form has rich possibilities for creative writing, because of the limitations and possibilities of intent: a letter is usually written to a known audience of one.
We read books of personal letters by artists (Vincent Van Gogh’s to his brother Theo, the documented friendship between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell, Flannery O’Connor’s letters to many) to glimpse an interior life, a relationship, maybe some insights into productivity and art-making.
Some writers use the form to structure an entire book — Joe Wenderoth’s novel Letters to Wendy’s, written in the form of restaurant comment cards; Amy Newman’s prose poem series Dear Editor; Tiny Beautiful Things, Cheryl Strayed’s collection from her “Dear Sugar” advice column; actress Mary-Louise Parker’s epistolary memoir, Dear Mr. You.
In this four-week segment, we will take inspiration from these and other sources as we use the constraints of the letter form and awareness of audience to create work that expresses a range of desires for communication, while paying attention to voice, tone, formality, persuasion and humor. While each week will have a focus, writers may choose to work on a series or use prompts from any week.
Week 1: Like-minded: letters to a fellow writer or artist, love letters, friendship correspondence
Week 2: Small desires: letters of inquiry, suggestion, advice or complaint
Week 3: Audience personified: letters to place, object, animal, corporation or other nonhuman addressee
Week 4: Oh, dear me: letters to a past or future self
Each Part in the Series Includes
• Weekly readings of exemplary writing in the subject area, both nonfiction and poems, and occasional extras — music, visual art, podcasts
• Writing prompts and activities to guide you in exploring the possibilities of each subject
• Attention to aspects of craft
• Feedback on your writing
• Three asynchronous written discussions you can participate in at your convenience, and one live Zoom video chat (recorded, in case you need to miss)
• Weekly pairing with a peer to discuss readings and offer feedback on writing
Part 3: Writing Our Letters • BUY NOW $179 + $10 late registration fee = $189
Full 12-week Series Also Includes
• Professional critique of two pieces or poems you hope to get published
• Continued access to all private classroom sections after the series is completed
Private online group “classroom” where you can be assured of a setting that’s been set aside just for you. No distracting social media setup to contend with.
Note to Teachers
You may be able to get professional development units for our courses. We recommend this service offered by Courses4Teachers (and that you check with your district beforehand).
You Will Need
A computer or mobile device with an Internet connection capable of accessing our interactive online space, clicking on documents, and participating in Zoom chats. And you’ll need your favorite writing devices: computer, tablet, pencil, pen, notebook paper, Moleskine, spiral, or other creative tool.
Your Workshop Leader
Laura Lynn Brown, a writing instructor at the University of Pittsburgh, is also an author, editor and writing coach who honed her writing and editing talents at The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Her work was named as a Notable Essay in the 2013 Best American Essays. Laura has an MFA in nonfiction from the University of Pittsburgh and is the author of Everything That Makes You Mom. One of her loves is writing about her home city, Pittsburgh.
From Past Tweetspeak Workshop Participants
Sharon Gibbs: Thank you for making Tweetspeak Poetry such a rich area of living and learning. The workshops are not only life-changing, but they have blessed me with friendships and community outside the classroom(s).
Laura Lapins Willis: The writing workshop I’m taking with Tweetspeak Poetry has been transformational. I’ve had a great teacher/mentor who has encouraged our group with interesting readings and assignments. My classmates have broadened my perspective and challenged me to be a better reader and writer.
Brad Grout: I am personally getting so much out of this memoir workshop…you people are AMAZING!
Lane Arnold: I struck gold. An afternoon session of writing poetry is good for the soul. The poetry workshop is a catalyst for creativity.
Lexanne Leonard: The most important step I’ve taken is to join Tweetspeak’s Poetry Workshop with Anne Doe Overstreet. I cannot begin to thank Tweetspeak, Anne, and my fellow students for this journey.
Darlene S.: I don’t think I can put into words both the overall value of the lessons learned and the encouragement I got.
Debra Hale-Shelton: My writing had become formulaic after so many years having to write the facts and just the facts. For the first time in years, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my craft, again dreamed of becoming what I dreamed of at age 18—a writer, not a reporter.
Rhonda Owen: Both of the Tweetspeak workshops I’ve taken this year have nourished me on so many levels. I also feel energized and revitalized through the relationships I’ve formed with the lovely, talented, kind people I’ve met in the workshops. Transformative is the best word to describe it…
Sandra Heska King: This was absolutely the single best whim I’ve followed.
Photo by Hiroyuki Takeda, Creative Commons, via Flickr.