Project Description

Leaning Against in the Darkness

No artist is an island. The Western myth of the lone artistic genius needs to be shot down. This course centers the interdependent nature of writing and will radically transform your practice. By allowing yourself to lean against, and to be leaned against, you’ll turn your art into a force, and you will gain strength for the darkness we’re in.

More than a writing course, workshop, and craft discussion—though it’s all that—this 12-week program also includes a private online community group; facilitated listening practices where you and other writers will share with one another about your writing practice; weekly newsletters from me with inspiration, craft tips, tools for your practice, and affirmations; and personal feedback from me & your course-mates.

I couldn’t be more excited to offer this unique all-genres program that will transform your writing life. 

ENROLLMENT is OPEN, and SPACE is LIMITED. Course runs November 2, 2022 – January 18, 2023.

It all begins when the darkness overtakes us, just after Halloween and Day of the Dead. (Full course schedule below.) We’ll lean against as we commune with our literary ancestors and travel thru the shadowtime of the year.

You will generate work thru ekphrasis, writing in response to works by Virginia Woolf, Arthur Sze, Lorine Niedecker, Adrienne Rich, Annie Dillard, Henry David Thoreau, Ada Limón, Ocean Vuong, Amy Leach, Jean Giono, and many others,  in my innovative “playshop” forum. You will develop a regular writing practice, or strengthen the one you already have. You’ll commit yourself to a long work (an essay, a collection of poems, a short story or novella, etc.) and set goals to carry you forward. You’ll have the opportunity to share work and receive feedback from your course-mates, and you’ll have a private online community group during the course and in perpetuity.

The course takes its inspiration from (at least) three threads. The first is Maggie Nelson’s essay “Writing With, From, and For Others: A Sort of Leaning Against,” in which Nelson writes, “Dependence on others—or at least relation to them—is the condition of possibility for self-reliance.” In that essay, Nelson quotes Alice Notley, who wrote that, “The name of a self is poverty.”

The second thread comes from an interview with Teju Cole, in which he said:

“There are some things I’m still strong about that maybe you’re weakened in, and I have to be strong on your behalf and vice versa. … also, to be in a state of quiet sorrow and knowing that there are things we cannot solve. And maybe that moment of contemplation, that moment of quiet sorrow, is the anteroom to what the solution, someday, could be. There’s a beautiful Inuit word, ‘qarrtsiluni.’ It means ‘sitting together in the dark, waiting for something to happen.'”…

So we’ll sit together, some of us strong in some things others are weakened in, and vice-versa, in the midst of this dark: a society hostile to (or at least not supportive of) our lives as artists; in the midst of the crumbling (we hope) of capitalism and imperialism; the midst of the 6th mass extinctxn; the midst of collective and personal trauma. Not isolated and alone with our visions (which weakens them), but together as artists. We’ll write words of fire, words like water, words that will make the shadows dance.

The dark becomes the fruitful darkness, in Joan Halifax’s words, the third thread for the course. The darkness in which our imagination can play. Halifax’s idea of darkness is itself inspired by Lao Tzu, who wrote more than 2,500 years ago that, “Mystery and manifestations arise from the same source. This source is called darkness. Darkness within darkness. The gateway to all understanding.”

As I braid these threads of my inspirations for the course, it already becomes clear that art is a lineage, that writers strengthen and sharpen one another’s words and ideas, that artists don’t work in a vacuum outside of long lines of artistic traditions and ancestors. We don’t exist outside of a community of contemporaries, peers, family, loved ones, place and landscape. We don’t make art outside of our social, political, and environmental context. We’ll explore all forms of these leanings against.

Barry Lopez said that, “An artist draws in mysterious ways on the courtesy & genius of the community.”

I use a decolonized model for workshop, based on the theories & methods of Matthew Salesses (Craft in the Real World), Felicia Rose Chavez (The Anti-Racist Writing Workshop), & Charles Baxter. Hint: you’ll walk away not injured, defensive, & closed-down to the creative process but empowered & excited to continue your explorations.

This course is for you if:

  • you feel isolated as a writer
  • you want to be enriched by the perspectives and ideas of fellow writers
  • you’re craving inspiration
  • you’re hungry to study and talk craft with others
  • you want to feel less alone in your writing practice
  • you want to strengthen your writing practice and form a positive and playful relationship to writing
  • you want to shed the unhealthy persona of the lone artist
  • you want to workshop your writing and receive valuable and in-depth feedback from your small community of other writers
  • you want a safe space to experiment
  • you want to playfully share work in a context without shame
  • you want reflection from me about your work, including in-line comments
  • you want to completely transform your life as a writer

This 12-week program includes:

  • Seven 2.5-hour live zoom meetings with me and a small community of other writers, in which you’ll talk craft, practice facilitated listening exercises with others in which you’ll share about your challenges (and successes) as a writer, and have the opportunity to share work

  • Invaluable playshop and workshop feedback and reflections from your community

  • A weekly email from me with inspirations, craft tips, tools for your practice, and affirmations that I have developed over years of teaching, straight to your inbox

  • Personal reflections from me about your writing

  • A private online community forum for your writing group, during the course and in perpetuity beyond it

If you are craving inspiration, you’ll find it here.

If you have no one to talk to your writing about and need the support and camaraderie of a writing community, join us! If you’re called to rise to these dark times with words and sentences, stories and poems, to turn the darkness fruitful, this course is for you!

Program begins November 2, 2022

Live online zoom meetings are scheduled for WEDNESDAYS, 6:30-9:00 p.m. EST:

November 2

November 16

November 30

December 7

December 21

January 4

January 18

(Attending live will provide you the greatest connection and rewards in your journey of leaning against, but recordings will be provided afterward, should you have to miss.)

READY TO ENROLL? Space is LIMITED. Course is capped at 18 participants. SECURE your spot.*
*If you cannot make a one-time payment in full and are interested in a monthly payment plan of $235.67/mo. for the 3-month duration of the course, no problem, just contact me via Contact page, & we will arrange a payment plan.

The Name of a Self is Poverty

I Want to Lean Against in the Darkness