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).
Below are our workshops for 2023. Updated workshops for 2024 coming soon!
2023 Core Workshops
(M/W/F 10:00 AM-12:30 PM)
Fiction with Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
The workshop is about communal growth through fiction. I believe that in revision stories discover themselves as writers it’s our job to do that work and support others in facilitating that discovery. Generosity, grace, close attention and love are all sort of different ways of saying the same thing and it is with these ideas we’ll read each other’s work. We’ll try to meet the fiction where it is and try our best to work on the author’s terms. Again, this workshop is about growing with and through each other. Looking forward to growing with you.
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 Barthelme, Borges, Cusk, Paley, Pessoa, Saramago.
Refresh, Refresh with Juan Martinez
The goal of this workshop is twofold: (1) to help ourselves and our peers with work we’re currently engaged in and (2) to refresh our practice. It’s easy to fall into a rut, to think we’re only capable of working in certain modes, and it’s not true. We can do a lot more. We’ll work through a series of exercises to generate material drawn from two seemingly disparate sources: the fantastical and our own lives. We will, of course, also discuss and help each other work through the material we’re submitting; be prepared to read and annotate closely. But we’ll also come out with fresh stories as well as new approaches to our creative output, and we’ll find constructive and supportive ways to sustain ourselves and our literary community. Writing can be hard, it can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be—not all the time, at least—and there is real joy involved. Let’s get back to that joy.
Where You At? Nonfiction with Mikael Awake
This nonfiction forum combines the usual elements of a workshop, like feedback and prompts, with those of a discussion seminar, namely inquiry-driven dialogue. Before convening in Lisbon, participants will distribute their work which will then be discussed as part of our sessions at Disquiet. It doesn’t matter if the work’s been published or not, but if a piece is more than a few years old, some time will be reserved to discuss the writer’s trajectory in relation to the piece. Sessions will be split between discussing pieces submitted by participants – guided by their own questions – and using assigned readings to prompt further discussion and writing. An underlying goal is for participants to consider, articulate, and continue to clearly situate their work in relation to other participants, including me, who bring with us specific relationships to genre, tradition, language, and politics.
Nonfiction with Lili Loofbourow
During our time together, we will workshop the drafts you’ve been working on with generosity, precision, and full authorial participation (no silent writers here). As readers, we’ll be not just attentive but generative. As authors, we will articulate our specific struggles—whether technical, ethical, structural, or philosophical—as part of a larger ongoing discussion of what “creative nonfiction” means now. The field is a tad askew the internet age, especially since some of its experiments and analytical practices have gone mainstream. We’ve never been savvier (for instance) about the constructedness of a narrator’s persona, since most of us have at some point or another built a “profile” of some sort that involved some … curation. Game recognizes game: the idea of an unreliable narrator in nonfiction no longer scans as particularly heady stuff. So what does? What moves in nonfiction thrill you? Which strategies–formal or otherwise–seem worth attempting?
Savviness is of course no cure for anxiety. Social media saturates us in text, much of which could at least theoretically fit under the umbrella of “creative nonfiction,” but the environment fostered by those technologies happens to be metatextual too. Sometimes pathologically so. Surrounded by people reacting, and pressured to react ourselves, we are never not workshopping—and watching text be workshopped—in real time. If you use Twitter, you have probably, in just a few minutes, seen dozens of sentences analyzed, rebutted, condemned. All this can produce a certain kind of reflexive, exhausted hyperliteracy. It can also breed paralysis. This workshop isn’t a way out, but it is a way forward.
Poetry with Abigail Chabitnoy
What is it we seek to create in the space of a poem? Company, conversation, line of inquiry? What if we’re just trying to pass the time? Perhaps what we are most in need of is wonder, described in Why Indigenous Literatures Matter by Daniel Heath Justice as “a word rooted in meaningful uncertainty, curiosity, humility; it places unsolvable mystery, not fixed insistence, at the heart of engagement.” Though outside the everyday, Justice insists, wondrous things need not be alien either. In this workshop, we will spend time discussing the poems you submit before coming to Lisbon and the poems you write during your ten-day stay in the context of a consideration and re-imagining with how we engage with the world. We will bring a few voices in prose into our conversation and begin each class with a look at a contemporary poem.
Short Poems with Timothy Liu
Everyone knows that poems are concentrated art forms made out of language. Many of the most memorable poems written in (and translated into) the English language are under ten lines long. We will spend some time looking at a few of the most famous examples (including Basho, Sappho, W.C. Williams, Robert Creeley, Linda Gregg, Charles Simic, Jean Valentine, Bill Knott, Morgan Parker, W.S. Merwin) and discuss what makes a short poem work, how to go about memorizing them, and then workshopping up to six poems of your own of any length.
Writing the Luso Experience with Chris Feliciano Arnold
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.
2023 Optional Workshops
(T/Th 10:00 AM-12:30 PM)
Poetry Prompts with Portuguese Poets with Erica Dawson
In this generative workshop, we will work with the poetry of Sophia de Mello Breyner, Daniel Jonas, Carlos de Oliveira and others to create new work of our own. Bring a pen and paper or a device. Be prepared to walk Lisbon’s streets for inspiration. You’ll head home, in the end, with four new poems and ideas for many more! Prose writers, feel free to join in the fun, too!
Visual Storytelling for Writers and Poets with Deanne Fitzmaurice
Like writers, photographers use all their tools—lighting, composition, layering and serendipity—to help capture the telling moments and raw emotion that contribute to a memorable and impactful story. 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, musicians, street life … the sky’s the limit! Regardless of your focus, Deanne’s techniques to creating storytelling images and visual narratives may offer new
ways to think about story,
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 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.
The Fernando Pessoa Game with Terri Witek and 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.
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 ourlives 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.
* 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.