Workshops

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).

2016



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, Layli Long Soldier

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 Layli Long Soldier: 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

Parody and Satire with Christopher Cerf

We’ll use your submitted work as the springboard for four sessions devoted to the how-tos and what-fors of writing satire and parody – exploring the similarities and differences between the two genres, and how they frequently overlap.  We’ll exchange first drafts (one-to-five pages maximum as a starting point) before our first meeting in Lisbon. You should write in one of these general categories:

  • A pastiche of a famous (or infamous) author or poet;
  • A satiric essay or short story (Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” or Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” are notable examples);
  • A “fake news” article or other spurious document (à la The Onion or Andy Borowitz);
  • A script for a satiric comedy sketch (think Tina Fey skewering Sarah Palin, or the Pythons’ incomparable “Semaphore
  • Version of Wuthering Heights”);
  • A parody or satiric song lyric (there are plenty of excellent models out there, from Tom Lehrer, Randy Newman, and the Muppets, to Weird Al and beyond).

We’ll draw upon some of the most inspired and outrageous works in each of these categories (sharing, I suspect, more than a few laughs as we do so), all in the service of helping your project reach its greatest comic/satirical potential.  (You won’t be confined to your initial category if you decide to change it during the course.  The workshop is designed for you to leave with a second, polished draft that will either continue as a work-in-progress or feel complete.)

 

 

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

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

Adventures in Form with David Caplan

In this workshop, we will study poetic forms as a means of exploration and adventure. We will try unusual forms and see how more familiar forms might be used in new ways, whether in conjunction with new subjects or in new combinations.  Each session will consist of discussing examples and writing exercises based on what we notice. This workshop is open to poets and non-poets alike.

T / Th, 10:00 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.