DISQUIET offers core writing workshops in Fiction, Poetry, and Memoir and Nonfiction, as well as the Writing the Luso Experience workshop. These core workshops meet three times per week (M/W/F). In addition, each year we offer unique workshops such as The Fernando Pessoa Game, Performance and Storytelling, and others. These workshops meet formally twice per week (T/R).


Fiction with Camille Bordas, Jenny Offill, Justin Torres

These workshops will follow the traditional creative writing workshop model in which students discuss, and critique each other’s work in small groups led by the instructor.

Fiction with Camille Bordas: In this workshop, students will read one another’s work closely. We will do our best to understand what each author is after. Through discussion, critique, and line-editing, we will aim to discover and express insights that will enable authors to achieve what they’re after. The approach we take will be evidence-based. We will point to sentences, clauses, and words that succeed or fail to bring across the story each author wants to tell. We will seek to help each author’s voice sound more like itself, rather than our own or anyone else’s.

How To Pay Attention with Jenny Offill: “We don’t need to see anything out of the ordinary,” Robert Walser said. “We already see so much.” But often we look at the world through the dulling lens of convention. This will be a class about how to attend to the things around us in all their peculiar beauty. A particular emphasis will be placed on how to notice what others might overlook and how we might transform such things with the force of our attention. We will read and discuss prose and poetry in which writers have attempted to describe the exact nature of a moment. Pessoa and Rilke will no doubt be invoked. Meister Eckhart may come into play. We will talk about the science of attention, false and true lyricism, the Book of Splendor, and that category of the terrifying known as the sublime. Also what the poets know, but the fiction writers have forgotten.

 Fiction with Justin Torres: This course is for students who are already at work on a longer project—be that a short story collection, a novel, or some poetic hybrid of genres—and are looking for critical feedback. The workshop will be intensive; we will look student pieces in class (short stories or excerpts from the longer work) plus outside reading from masters like Clarice Lispector or Grace Paley. Please be prepared to read and annotate the manuscripts of your peers, and eager to share your insights. In return, I promise a thoughtful, lively class.


M/W/F, 10 am - 12:30 pm Centro Nacional de Cultura

Poetry with Erica Dawson, Sally Wen Mao

Poetry with Erica Dawson: In this workshop, we will spend time discussing the poems you submit before coming to Lisbon and the poems you’ll write during your ten-day stay.  We will talk about the importance of spontaneity and examine place as inspiration. Each session will begin with a look at a contemporary poem embracing travel, whether to a far-off land or simply the space of a new idea.

Poetry with Sally Wen Mao: Description coming soon.

M/W/F, 10 am - 12:30 pm Centro Nacional de Cultura

Memoir & Nonfiction with David Leavitt

What Makes Creative Nonfiction Creative?

The goal of this workshop is to clarify, through practice and reading, the parameters of creative—as opposed, one presumes, to non-creative—nonfiction. Most works designated as creative nonfiction are memoirs. And yet whatever it is that distinguishes the creative in creative nonfiction can also be found in travel writing (Bruce Chatwin, Mary McCarthy, Jan Morris), essays on literature (John Lanchester, Cynthia Ozick, Joy Williams), reportage (James Baldwin, Janet Flanner, Joseph Roth), biography (Nicholson Baker, Geoff Dyer, Lytton Strachey), and even book reviewing (Michael Hofmann, Patricia Lockwood, Lorrie Moore). My hope is that participants will come away from the workshop with a broader sense of the genre’s range as well as a clearer idea of how to move forward in their own work.

In advance of arriving in Lisbon, participants should if possible read Geoff Dyer’s Out of Sheer Rage, an account of the author’s failed effort to write a biography of D. H. Lawrence, and Antonio Muñoz Molina’s Like a Fading Shadow, described by Michael Hofmann as “the story of Martin Luther King’s murderer, James Earl Ray, mostly on the run in 1968, and mostly for a couple of weeks in Lisbon, spliced with reflection on a crisis…in Muñoz Molina’s early life twenty years later, when his second child was born and he was trying to find his second novel, Winter in Lisbon.”

M/W/F, 10 am - 12:30 pm Centro Nacional de Cultura

Writing the Luso Experience with Chris Feliciano Arnold, Jarita Davis

Writing the Luso Experience is a multi-genre workshop that explores the global reach of the Luso diaspora, investigating how the past informs the present, how our heritage shapes our worldview, and how the creative possibilities of classic and contemporary Lusophone literature can inspire us to break boundaries in our own work. Through group discussions, manuscript critiques and craft exercises, we will discover new ways of thinking about literature, writing and our lives.

Joining the workshop leader, Chris Feliciano Arnold, will be visiting writer Jarita Davis.

M/W/F, 10 am - 12:30 pm Centro Nacional de Cultura

Hearing Voices with Taiye Selasi

Hearing Voices will consider the relative merits of two lesser used narrative voices: second and first personal plural. What happens to our prose when we leave the comfort zone of “I” and “s/he” for the unsettling realm of “we” and “you”? Writers will be encouraged to experiment with short texts—that is, to play, to remember the value and to enjoy the thrill of creative risk.

T/Th, 10:00 AM - 12:30 PM Centro Nacional de Cultura

Visual Storytelling for Writers and Poets with Deanne Fitzmaurice

Like writers, photographers use all their tools—lighting, composition, and serendipity—to help capture the telling moments and raw emotion that contribute to a memorable and impactful story. Using the instructor’s own Pulitzer Prize–winning story as an example, we will discuss how to find a photo story (or what to do when a story finds you), and how to develop that story into an engaging photographic narrative in a documentary style.

Each of the participants will develop their own visually compelling project during the course of the workshop. The subject matter is up to you; you may choose to delve into cultural or human-interest aspects of local Lisbon life such as artisans, bakers, musicians, street life  … the sky’s the limit! Regardless of your focus, Deanne offers techniques on accessing subjects—and gaining their trust so you can capture real and authentic moments.

As our visual narratives progress we will discuss how to edit and build your stories looking for storyline and impact. We will discuss transitions, sequencing, and visual pacing, all the while keeping an eye on our ultimate goal: to create honest, emotional images that together convey a compelling and engaging narrative.

For this class you can use whatever camera you brought with you, including the one in your smartphone.

T/Th, 10 am - 12:30 pm Centro Nacional de Cultura

The Fernando Pessoa Game with Terri Witek, Cyriaco Lopes

The Fernando Pessoa Game is composed of a series of creative prompts that invite participants to engage their own practice (in writing, visual arts, performance, etc.) along with their sensitive and physical surroundings. We will examine text in terms of site-specificity, the body, its sensorial reception–and the production of art as a response to scores, to maps, to sets of open-ended instructions.  Encounters will be anchored in brief historical overviews of transdisciplinary and contemporary experimental art. This is an opportunity to expand your artistic vocabulary, to try strategies outside your routine, to adventure yourself into a wonderful world of creative possibilities, all  in the spirit of Fernando Pessoa and in his beloved city.

T/TH, 10 am - 12:30 pm Centro Nacional de Cultura

Structured Writing Time with The Disquiet Staff

Structured writing time is a chance to schedule yourself some time to reflect, revise, or generate new material while in Lisbon. In the middle of a busy program, this is a block of time set aside for you and your writing, complete with writing prompts for anyone looking for extra inspiration. Disquiet provides the time and space; you provide the content.

T/TH, 10 AM - 12:30 PM Centro Nacional de Cultura

Time, Disquiet, and the Epiphanic Burst with Noy Holland

People speak of time as sensation, as a creature or an element with distinct and variable physical properties.  The clock goes around steadily; days pass; the pages of the calendar reliably turn.  And yet steady reliability is far from how time feels.  Time “flies”; it “drags”; a moment “feels like forever.”  The subjective departs from the objective; sensation prevails over fact.  In fiction, the microscopic and fleeting can dilate to occupy pages; years pass in a sentence; a life concludes in two beats.

Unfamiliar places warp and disquiet our “normal” sense of time—in reading as in life—and so we become differently susceptible to sensation, to time as sensation.  This workshop will delve into that susceptibility, that warping disquiet.  We’ll look closely at how time functions in various fictions, how the past impinges on the present, and at how disruptions of an orderly clock-bound impulse erupt into the unbound universal.

T/Th, 10 AM - 12:30 PM Centro Nacional de Cultura

* All workshops are subject to enrollment considerations. Workshops may be canceled if adequate enrollment is not reached.

** Instructors sometimes drop out or reschedule, and, in this unlikely scenario, DISQUIET will replace them and notify participants.