Upcoming Workshops


Part workshop, part salon, each Sunday Writing Studio session includes a combination of generative writing, reading, sharing/critiquing work, and discussion of craft and process.

September 2, 16, 23, 30
October 7, 14, 21


10 am – 5 pm

So, put yourself in the way
of the poem. It needed your willing
impediment to be written. Remember the lily, growing through
the heart of the corpse?
You had to be willing to let it through the sunshine
error of your life,
be willing not to finish it—

Brenda Hillman, from Death Tractates

In this workshop, we’ll dedicate our attention to those poems we resist writing. Those poems we imagine we might write, oh, some day, when we’re ready. Exploring what these poems are requesting of us, we’ll experiment with possible entry points and cultivate a supportive environment to allow the poems to take shape.

We’ll cultivate a friendliness with apparent obstacles, holding out the possibility that they might mark where our most necessary work lies. Working through the internal and material obstacles that arise in writing a poem enacts dramas of desire, resistance, and surrender.

Language is in the way of the poem. The poet is in the way of the poem. The resistance shapes you as you shape the materials. In his “Meridian” speech, Paul Celan said, “The poem wants to reach an Other, it needs this Other, it needs an Over-against.” To use another metaphor, in writing a poem, is the poet the forge, the iron, or the flame?

The course will include in-class writing, reading, and responding to participants’ work. Participants are invited to send one poem of their own to the instructor in advance with an accompanying question or suggestion for discussion to help tailor the day’s discussion.

Please bring:

  • plenty of fresh paper and a juicy pen
  • a piece of your writing (1-2 pages) that feels in some way elusive, resistant, or inert, but that you would still like to explore further (optional)
  • your lunch

$90; $81 current SFZC members; $72 limited income. Please bring your lunch.  Registration: 888.743.9362 or 415.475.9362.

THE FEAST OF LOSSES:  Writing into Transience

Saturday, September 15, 2012 9:00 – 5:00

Memoir Journal Master Class Series

“Death is the mother of beauty.” –Wallace Stevens

In this workshop, we’ll investigate the possibility that there is no monolithic proposition that can be simply called loss. We’ll explore the relationship of creativity and grief. Grief can feel like a singular unprecedented experience and to encounter writing that speaks from within that experience can help us start to find our way through it. Is there a place no writing can reach? Or can writing actually help us reach into depths of feeling previously inaccessible to us? What do we find there and how is it different from what we fear?

The course will be generative, experiential, and analytical. We’ll do a series of intensive writing exercises throughout the day and participants will have an opportunity to have their work discussed in the group.

(workshop takes place at Art Jam, Art Jam, 725 Gilman St., Suite E, Berkeley)


If you’re interested in meeting one-on-one to discuss your writing, please email me  for more information about scheduling and rates.



July 14, 2012 9:00 – 5:00, Memoir Journal Master Class Series

The essential trait of the poet, for John Keats, is the capacity for “being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.” The uncertainty Keats speaks of is not a blandly passive “what.ev.er,” but rather an actively curious posture, an empathic receptivity, and flexibility of response.  In writing memoir, as well, an adventuresome relationship with doubt and uncertainty helps us find a way into writing that considers the “story” in an open and fresh way, and helps us see experience prismatically.

What Robert Motherwell said of painting is perhaps true of tolerating uncertainty as well:  it cannot be taught, but it can be learned. This workshop will be analytical, experimental/experiential, and generative. In our discussion, we will draw upon practices and points of references from other arts and sciences to cultivate strategies for negotiating friendly obstacles in the writing process.

(workshop takes place at Art Jam, Art Jam, 725 Gilman St., Suite E, Berkeley)