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, we will offer additional optional events to be announced.

Below are our workshops for 2024 – please note that workshop descriptions are still subject to change, and more descriptions are coming soon!

2024 Core Workshops

(M/W/F 10:00 AM-12:30 PM)

True to Their World: A Workshop on Character with Jessica Anthony

Moving quickly beyond “where characters come from” towards a more complex investigation into the art of writing the lives of others, we ask: how do I write the people I write? And why do I write them? Do I know? Are characters reflections of our world—or do they invent it? Through close readings of participants’ own fiction, this workshop discusses all manners of a character’s potential knowability and verisimilitude by way of imagery, gesture, voice, point-of-view, interiority, environment, conflict, dialogue and indirect speech. Writers are encouraged to experiment through short character exercises, and will share a story or excerpt in progress to be workshopped by our entire group. Conversation, while centered on character, is open to all questions on fiction. Additional readings may appear from among Borges, Paley, Hempel, Saramago.

Fiction with Jamel Brinkley

This core fiction workshop will investigate many of the expected topics: character, scene, setting, point of view, structure, dialogue, voice, time, emotional resonance, effectiveness of language, and so on. We will explore conventional and unconventional wisdoms. Our guiding principle throughout, however, will come from the great James Baldwin. In an essay titled “The Uses of the Blues,” he writes the following: “There is a sense of the grotesque about a person who has spent his or her life in a kind of cotton batting. There is something monstrous about never having been hurt, never having been made to bleed, never having lost anything, never having gained anything because life is beautiful, and in order to keep in beautiful you’re going to stay just the way you are and you’re not going to test your theory against all the possibilities outside… The failure on our part to accept the reality of pain, of anguish, of ambiguity, of death has turned us into a very peculiar and sometimes monstrous people… Now, you don’t know that … by looking. You don’t know what the river is like or what the ocean is like by standing on the shore. You can’t know anything about life and suppose you can get through it clean.” We will push beyond standing on the shore of what is most vital in our writing, identifying the best possibilities in our narratives and aiming to be more courageous in our storytelling.

Help, My Character Refuses to Leave the House: Building Tension and Conflict with Novuyo Tshuma

“In daily life, a writer may practice conflict avoidance, but in fiction a writer must welcome conflict and walk straight into it.” – Charles Baxter

Tension and conflict are indispensable to great stories. Whether through good old-fashioned action or unbearable inner turmoil, our characters need a solid sense of stakes in our writing. This can be notoriously difficult to do in fiction, especially as we draw from our own lives and the world around us for inspiration. In our daily lives, we may, rightly, avoid conflict, but in our fiction, we need to embrace it, and even actively search for it. We’ll look at how to successfully build and follow through tension and conflict in our writing. What are some of the ways we can welcome (more) tension into our stories? How do we build meaningful, rather than superficial, conflict in our writing? How do tension and conflict contribute to successful characterisation? We’ll look at how these crucial craft elements function in the best writing and plumb our own pages for insight and lessons. Expect fruitful, lively discussions of participants’ works-in-progress and experimentation with technique through a series of craft exercises.

The Power of Perhaps: Speculative “Nonfiction” with T Kira Madden

Terms like surrealism and magical realism are most often used to describe works of fiction, but what about the inherent magic, wonderment, and time travel of our true, lived experiences? In this generative class, we will discuss alternate realities, hypothetical what if’s and ways of perhapsing into the surreality of our everyday lives. We will focus on isolation and compression, and on finding the narrative heat and emotional potency in our memories, our selves, and all the selves we’ve been. We’ll talk magical objects, the electricity of sensory experiences, and forge new pathways and connections between seemingly disparate ideas. The scaffolding behind short published work (sent in advance) will serve as blueprints for our discussion and in class writing exercises.

Nothing Is One Thing: Creative Nonfiction with Chris Feliciano Arnold

One of the most alluring aspects of creative nonfiction is how it grants writers the freedom to experiment with shape and form in the service of telling the truth. We will explore how writers of creative nonfiction blur the lines between past and present, narrative and lyric, memory and history, beauty and pain, society and the self. Some of the most unforgettable writing in the genre leans into this sense of possibility, generating new hybrid forms that blend personal memoir, lyric essay, reportage, cultural criticism, travelogue, epistolary and more. Through close reading of short published works, discussion of our own works-in-progress, and in-class writing and revision exercises, we’ll explore how the form of an essay reflects and refracts its meaning, seeking new and unforgettable shapes for true experiences.

Intimacy of the Sentence: Prose Poetry and Lyrical Prose with Diana Khoi Nguyen

The word lyric has roots in the Greek stringed instrument, lyre, and thus the lyric mode necessitates musicality and sound in its expressive forms–be it emotive poetry, prose, or any other artistic form. For our two weeks together, I am thinking of “workshop” like a woodshop, that is, a space of sawdust, raw materials, craft, and conversation. We will begin by paying close attention to what happens when lyric is embroidered in a block of prose and how this transforms the nature of syntax, of the sentence at an elemental level. This will entail close reading passages across genres from writers such as Monica Youn, Jo Ann Beard, Jenny Erpenbeck, and Jane Wong, to name a few. Based on our discoveries, we’ll extract tools to craft lyrical sentences and pieces of our own of our own. Along the way, we’ll also hold “open studios” in which each writer will share a sample of what they have been working on, guiding our group’s interaction with their creative thinking, process, and work. This workshop is hybrid- and interdisciplinary-friendly.

Poetry with Solmaz Sharif

Description TBA

Writing the Luso/a Experience with Katherine Vaz

Disquiet provides the unique opportunity for those of us with roots in the Portuguese diaspora on all continents to gather with the common artistic goal of finding and expressing our individual voices, in whatever form that might take. Through the years, this group at the very heart of the Disquiet experience has elevated the work discussed to an exhilarating degree while creating familial-style bonds. We’ll study content and form, helping one another take our pages to the next level, while gaining inspiration from the city that radiates the culture and the stories many of us hold in our own pasts and hearts.


What When Where

* 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.