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 Jeffery Renard Allen, Molly Antopol, Robert Olmstead

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.


Jeffery Renard Allen‘s workshop, Distortion:

This workshop will offer you a chance to receive thorough feedback on fiction that you submit prior to coming to Lisbon. As well, we will talk some about the use of distortion as a narrative technique for enchanting a setting, for giving depth to a character, for creating vivid images and metaphors, for strengthening prose style, and as an overall approach to layering subtext. The texts that we will use to illustrate this technique will also serve as the basis for generating new material.


Molly Antopol‘s workshop description:

This workshop will help you develop your skills as a fiction writer: to hone your voice, and strengthen your command over such elements as tone, pacing, characterization, setting and plot. We’ll workshop your fiction as a group, and will also use writing exercises and short in-class readings to inspire new work. You’ll leave Lisbon with a clear vision of where to take your story or chapter, as well as new ideas for the next piece.


Robert Olmstead‘s workshop description:

“…a murder of crows…a skulk of foxes…an ostentation of peacocks…a wisdom of wombats…a company of fiction writers…”

Our company of writers will gather for reasons of FICTION. With generosity, sympathy, honesty and idea we will thoughtfully discuss the pages you offer, be they short story, chapter, excerpt, fragment or shard. Our best conversations will be serious and funny. We will say smart, wise, helpful and dumb things. We will respect freedom of art and discourse. We will share tips and techniques, tactics and strategies. We will spontaneously recommend to each other great and influential books, film, poetry, art, music. We will devise new terms of venery for our collected selves. We will change each others’ minds in big and small ways. We will come away feeling not so alone.

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

Poetry with Denise Duhamel

Denise Duhamel‘s workshop, Laying the Foundation: Concrete Imagery in Poetry

Using Pablo Neruda’s “Ode to things” (“Oda a las cosas”) as our maxim, this workshop will explore arrivals to the sublime via naming and detail. William Carlos Williams wrote, “No ideas but in things,” and Pound applied “imagism” to H.D. who was influenced by Sappho’s compressed lyrics. This is just to say there are many ways to achieve what Mark Doty calls “metaphor meaning—and meaning intensely.” Poems about any subject are welcome with the understanding that this class will do its best to veer away from abstraction. In addition to workshop, we will generate new poems and seedlings for poems via prompts that oblige us to pay attention to precision. Participants should be open to the explosive, cathartic, heartbreaking and hilarious effects of symbolism.

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

Memoir & Nonfiction with Chanan Tigay

Chanan Tigay‘s workshop description:

The majority of time in this Creative Nonfiction workshop will be dedicated to discussing participants’ work, with an eye toward drawing connections between craft principles and your own writing practice. In a focused but informal setting, we will examine elements in the submissions such as structure, tension, arc and character, paying particular attention to the ways in which conventions of craft are applied and understood—and oftentimes reinterpreted or subverted. We’ll further hone these skills through a series of in-class exercises. We’ll also be reading and discussing the occasional piece of published work to see how the best in the business do what they do–and what we can steal (um, borrow) from them to take our work to the next level. Leaving Lisbon, participants will know what questions to ask themselves as they write new works of nonfiction, leading them to create first drafts that are more complete and polished than those they were producing upon entering the workshop.

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

Writing the Luso Experience with Katherine Vaz

Katherine Vaz‘s workshop description:

Writing the Luso Experience will be a multi-genre workshop with an emphasis on exploring how Lusitanian influences might inform and expand our creative energies. How to write from cultural or immigrant experience is one aspect that’s welcome, but all narrative approaches are invited. We’ll help one another hone in on the heart of the material in order to figure how to best open and render that, making it memorable in an emotionally resonant way for readers. A mini-course on “plot for poets” is included, along with a special section on magical realism. This is a unique workshop to share Portuguese (or Brazilian or African) sensibilities, or bicultural ones, in a city that can truly be a fount of inspiration for Lusos in particular. We’ll work in detail on each other’s manuscripts with a mind toward good pacing, character detailing, shading and color, textured backdrops, poetic impact, and strong storytelling.

M/W/F, 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 an oasis 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

Form and Fantasy with Erica Dawson

Form and Fantasy: In The Book of Disquiet, Pessoa writes, “I see life as a roadside inn where I have to stay until the coach from the abyss pulls up. I don’t know where it will take me, because I don’t know anything.”  When we write, we often don’t know where we’re going and, once we do, we have absolutely no idea how to get there. Many poets use traditional forms, like sonnets and ballades, as a map to the finish line.  Oftentimes, though, you  lose the wonder and fantasy of wandering–some of the best parts of writing–along the way.  In this workshop, through reading, writing, and real wandering, we will look at poetic forms as a way to help us capture what seems chaotic without crushing its charisma. This workshop is open to poets and non-poets alike.”

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

The Fernando Pessoa Game with Terri Witek

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

Place and Setting with Jensen Beach

Writing is necessarily a collaborative act. That is, one of our primary jobs as writers is to provide the sensual raw materials that will allow our readers to conjure up a place and the dramas, actions, events, and emotions that unfold in that place. In this workshop we’ll explore ways we can develop the specific worlds of your prose. We will look closely at the complex and complicated relationship between reader and writer as it is expressed in descriptions of place and setting.

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

Performance and Storytelling: The Oral Tradition on the Stage and the Page with Arthur Flowers

Storytelling. From the dawn of humanity to the Nobel Prize, storytelling as cultural narrative has been one of the primal functions of the human condition; gathering folk around the sacred fire and passing on essential cultural knowledge. It is through narrative, through storytelling, that we make sense of our lives and our world – and the primal principles of storytelling are still central to literary achievement. From doing dramatic readings to performance poetry and narrative innovation, this seminar will explore the dynamics of effective presentation and performance, the relationship between performer and audience, and the role of storytelling on the stage and in the text.

T/TH, 10AM to 12:30PM 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.

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610 S. Pleasant St., Amherst, MA 01002 Tel (813) 257-5028

DISQUIET is a project of US-based Dzanc Books and the Portuguese Centro Nacional de Cultura with support from the Luso-American Development Foundation and many other organizations that make it possible for DISQUIET to offer, if we don’t say so ourselves, an incomparably immersive experience in literary and cultural Lisbon.

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