Registration Open for Fall 2016 Classes

PERSONAL ESSAY INTENSIVE
Online Class Taught by Ariel Gore

September 5-16

The personal essay is one of the most enduring and adaptable literary forms, allowing for experimentation and a dissolution of the traditional boundaries between memoir and journalism. Over the 12-day intensive we’ll survey the form, explore the market, and write at least one personal essay for publication. Workshop size is limited, so please sign up early.

$185

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LIT STAR TRAINING
The Original Literary Kitchen Online Writing Workshop

Taught by Ariel Gore 

September 17-November 20

A new session of Lit Star Training – the 8-week writing course taught by Ariel Gore – starts September 17, 2016. Writers in Lit Star Training spend at least a few hours each week on their writing and online critiques. You can log in any time of the day or night. Writers in the group are new and seasoned, wanting to work on memoir or fiction. The class works as well for those writing to weekly assignments and for people who are beginning or working on longer projects.

The class is $295. You can pay a $95 deposit right here to save your spot.

  

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Austin Writing Retreat with Ariel Gore

AUSTIN IN OCTOBER - email arielfiona@gmail

Wayward Writers Retreat and Writing Workshop with Ariel Gore

October 21 – 24

This fall, we’re taking over author Spike Gillespie’s beautiful Tiny T Ranch outside Austin, Texas. Ten minutes from the Austin airport. Twenty minutes from downtown Austin.

Gather with your community, write, recharge, and write some more. We’ll create new stories & revise stories in progress, focusing on generating new material and pushing ourselves to new edges in our work. The Tiny T ranch is quiet, gorgeous, and recently renovated. The sky is amazing. All the fresh air you can breathe. The stars at night are big and bright.

SCHEDULE
Friday, October 21
Arrive and make your way to the Tiny T Ranch – some airport pick ups available!
Workshop starts at 5 p.m.
 
Saturday, October 22
Spend the morning writing, exploring the ranch, or checking out Austin.
Workshop Noon – 3 p.m.
Ariel Gore and Spike Gillespie reading at the Molly Ivins Pavillion back at the ranch – 6 p.m.
 
Sunday, October 23
Workshop 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Spend the afternoon writing, exploring the ranch, or checking out Austin.
Firepit storytelling at sunset.
 
Monday, October 24
Depart – some airport rides available!
 
Basic breakfasts will be provided. For lunches, snacks, and dinners, bring food to prepare for yourself or to share in the huge communal kitchen.

COSTS

Only one room left! It’s a private room! 

 

Workshop + single occupancy private room for the three nights  $525 

 

 

 

You can also save your spot with a $150 deposit and pay the balance by September 1 . Click below to register with a deposit . . .

Group size is strictly limited, so please sign up early. Email arielfiona at gmail with any questions.

*Friendly dogs on the property.

Literary Kitchen Scholarship Fund

Sometimes we get requests for scholarships for Ariel Gore’s online and in-person writing workshops. Use this button if you’d like to donate to the scholarship fund! Feel free to make a note if you want your donation to support a writer in a particular circumstance or community, or go toward a specific class, and note if you’d like your donation to be anonymous.

The God of Sluts

“I think about how Anabelle seemed to believe that sex was wrong for girls like us–and how just about everyone agreed, even the bible. But I am that kind of girl. And somehow, deep inside–in a place that has survived the shame that sets my life on fire every day–I know that they are all just full of shit. I just know that sex is okay, even for girls. And if god and the bible don’t know that, well then god and the bible are full of shit, too.”

 

 


The God of Sluts

By Chanelle Gallant

 

 

“Well, then I guess there’s no God.”

I decide this as I walk home from my best friend Anabelle’s house in the suburbs of Ottawa. I’ve just told her about my first consensual blowjob, with a boy named Julius. After he came in my mouth, I spat it out and said “no offense.” He laughed. I told her that part, too–how I was accidentally funny. She looked down at the ground under the swings in the empty playground where we were slowly swaying, her perfectly highlighted strawberry blond waves hanging around her face and said, “I didn’t think you were that kind of girl.”

Oh. Shit. Maybe not so funny?

Hot shame rushes across my face, the shame that accompanies every waking moment of being a fifteen year old girl.

On my walk home I think about what kind of girl I am. I think about how Anabelle seemed to believe that sex was wrong for girls like us–and how just about everyone agreed, even the bible. But I am that kind of girl. And somehow, deep inside–in a place that has survived the shame that sets my life on fire every day–I know that they are all just full of shit. I just know that sex is okay, even for girls. And if god and the bible don’t know that, well then god and the bible are full of shit, too. I choose blowjobs and joking with boys about their come over a god that would hate girls like me.

Fifteen years later on a bright August afternoon I’m sitting at a Prisoners’ Justice Day vigil at the Don Jail in Toronto. I’ve been going to protests and vigils and actions for years. This one, though, was the first time I’d ever seen a preacher speak: a tall, thin Black man with warm eyes and a white collar. He stands on a little patch of grass and motions to the jail behind him as he says, “The lives of people locked up matter because all lives deserve dignity. All life is divine.” I feel something old crack and move in my chest.

I’d only even gone to the event because I was hoping to see an ex girlfriend who I’d broken up with in the spring. Our short romance ended when I slammed the phone down on her after she stood me up for the last time–but fuck I still missed her. And now here I was on this little patch of grass outside the city jail trying to look unaffected while my eyes welled up. Quiet down now, heart.

But whatever steel wall I’d erected at fifteen to protect my slutty queer self from god’s Army of Slut-Shamers started to crack. Here now was a different kind of god, a god that apparently saw the value in us all and had bigger things to worry about than what I did in bed. Still. “I am an atheist,” I reminded myself as I left the vigil, a little horrified and angry at my tears. I held my head high, my kitten heels digging into the grass, so the ex would fully appreciate that any tears I had were not for her.

I didn’t give it much more thought until a few years later when I was in Laos sitting in the passenger seat of a jeep barreling down a gravel road, windows open, dust blowing in my hair. I was living in Thailand working with a sex workers’ organization and needed to renew my visa so I popped across the border to Laos, figuring I’d see some of the country before returning to Bangkok. I stayed with a friendly Australian ex-pat who kept his lechery limited to discreetly glancing at my tits when he thought I wasn’t looking. He put me up on his couch and offered to show me around. So that’s how I came to be driving through the rural roads of southern Laos in his jeep with a small piece of bamboo in my hand. We bumped and shook over the rough roads and waved back at the kids in school uniforms piled into the back of a truck ahead of us. It had been months since I’d seen any of my too-radical-for-religion friends. I looked down at the bamboo, noticed its minute and exquisite symmetry and thought: “God.”

That night, alone in my bungalow room near the border, I looked at the book I was carrying. Good god, could I have been any more earnest? It was Wayne Dyer’s Your Sacred Self. “I’m not religious,” I’d reassured myself when I bought it at the  second-hand book shop in Vientiane, “I’m just curious.”

Looking at the dorky yellow cover of that book, remembering the years I spent in Cathedrals (“I just find them comforting!”), and my original college major (religious studies) I realized two things: First, that I was a Christian and had been circling it for years, holding tight to my threads of denial as the evidence mounted.

Second, that I was a white woman from the Global North having a spiritual awakening in the  Global South. The horror: I was Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love. I’m an intersectional activist, an abortion-loving queer lady of the night. Surely if god had any mercy, she would make me anyone but Elizabeth Gilbert discovering anything but her Christianity. In a Buddhist country colonized by a Christian one, no less,  all of this having started while listening to a Black Christian preacher whose faith communities were born in resistance to genocide and whiteness.

I whipped my copy of Your Sacred Self across the room in rage, crying as it smashed into the wall. I didn’t know what was more humiliating: being in my own personal Eat, Pray, Love or that I had been heading toward it for years and didn’t know it.

 

Chanelle Gallant is a writer, educator and long time activist in intersectional sex working and feminist communities. She has writing upcoming in Make/Shift and The Rumpus. You can find her at www.chanellegallant.com 

Lake Michigan Writing Workshop with Ariel Gore

Gather with your writing community to create new stories, revise stories in progress, and get kind and excellent feedback. Appropriate for writers at all levels working or desiring to work on short stories, memoirs, novels, or essays.

Lake Michigan Retreat April 22 – 24, 2016 – ONE SPOT LEFT

Come to the midwest for a weekend of writing in a retreat setting. We’ll be staying and writing in a log cabin just steps from inland Goshorn Lake. Hot tub, pool table, kayaking, beach-sitting… and of course writing.
This beautiful retreat cabin is near Saugatuck, Michigan, about 40 minutes from Grand Rapids or 2 hours from Chicago.

$250 for the writing workshop

*Limited Lodging available in the retreat house for an additional fee ($50 – $125 for both night depending on your bed/privacy preferences). Contact shellfeijo@gmail.com to reserve.

First workshop starts Friday evening at 6 pm
Saturday workshop Noon – 3 pm
Sunday Brunch workshop 9 am – Noon

$50 deposit saves your spot.

Warehouse Sale!

 

 

 

 

For a super-limited time . . .

Get free copies of both The End of Eve, Ariel Gore’s award-winning memoir, and The People’s Apocalypse, edited by Ariel Gore and Jenny Forrester, when you sign up for a Literary Kitchen writing class in October while supplies last.

Or get both book for $10 — postage included! Replace the copies your friends stole & stock up for Christmas.

Write in Portland with Ariel Gore

Come in from the Rain - CLASS FULL
Portland, Oregon Writing Workshop with Ariel Gore
December 11 – 13

Gather with your writing community to create new work, revise work in progress, and get kind and excellent feedback. Appropriate for writers at all levels working on memoirs, novels, short stories, or essays.

Schedule
Friday, December 11, 5-7 pm, followed by dinner
Saturday, December 12, noon-3 pm
Sunday, December 13, noon-3 pm, followed by an all ages evening reading at 6 pm. Contact MegJeske at gmail dot com to get on the roster as a reader–or just plan to come and listen.

Portland, Oregon locations TBA

Workshop size is strictly limited, so please sign up early.

$175

 

Online Poetry Workshop with Award-Winning Poet Rosebud Ben-Oni

I recommend Rosebud’s workshop to anyone—experienced or beginning poets. She is so humble in her critiques and has many great suggestions.

—Sarah Maria Medina

POETRY & POP: AN ONLINE CREATIVE WRITING WORKSHOP

Get more writing done! Take Rosebud Ben-Oni’s workshop!

 

 

How can popular culture shape your poetry and create a unique voice? This 6-week workshop will lead writers through a series of questions, prompts and exercises utilizing existing popular culture to help craft poems. Students will offer feedback on each other’s work. We will also analyze existing poems that utilize popular culture, in order to better fuel creativity and spark discussion on how poetry informs and responds to social and political ideologies.

Note to poets who took Rosebud’s spring workshop: Prompts and exercises are all new, so come on back and pick up where you left off.

October 24 – December 5

$225 for the 6-week workshop
A $65 deposit saves your spot
Class size is strictly limited, so please sign up early!

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About Rosebud Ben-Oni
Born to a Mexican mother and Jewish father, Rosebud Ben-Oni is a recipient of the 2014 NYFA Fellowship in Poetry and a CantoMundo Fellow. She was a Rackham Merit Fellow at the University of Michigan, a Horace Goldsmith Scholar at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a graduate of the Women’s Work Lab at New Perspectives Theater in NYC. She is the author of SOLECISM (Virtual Artists Collective, 2013) and an Editorial Advisor for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. Her work appears in POETRY, The American Poetry Review, Arts & Letters, Bayou, and Puerto del Sol  among others. Find her Facebook, Twitter and at 7TrainLove.org

How to Write a Memoir

 

 

 

 

 

by Lisbeth Coiman

Let life hit you in the face

And scar you.

Let it rip through your heart

And squeeze it.

Let it grab your brain

And melt it.

Let it shatter your expectations.

 

Turn around

Let the way back disappear,

But follow the new path

Opened in front of you.

Let it take you to a wrong turn,

And miss the exit.

 

Go uphill

Left and right.

Let the road take you

Where you didn’t want to go,

But get there anyway.

Upside down

Inside out

Backwards

And vice versa.

 

Then,

Sit down.

Let your soul

Heal on paper.

Revolutionary Mothering: An Interview In Letters

 well, theresa turned eight years old last week.  and i have backpacked through tear gas and couchsurfed through revolutions.  i have also cried harder and longer in fear and anger and loneliness, more than i could have ever imagined possible.  i have been more scared and more fearless, loved harder and had bones broken and pride broken and god, its been weary. i did what i wanted, but im not sure if id truly knew the price this world would extract for doing so, if i still would have done it.

–Mai’a Williams

Sarah Maria Medina

12/04/2015 Sunday

S.C.D.L.C, Chiapas, México

Dear Mai’a,

I’m writing to you from barrio Guadalupe, from a little house that rests alongside the road that runs past the farm lands. For the past few nights, after my daughter slept, I read chapters from your book, Revolutionary Mothering, all the while firecrackers popping off from the church up the hill. As I read the essays, poems and plays by the different mamas included in the anthology, I found myself humming, snapping, nodding, “Yes, damn, yes.” Someone was finally saying the words I’ve been searching for, and I was so filled with emotion, because, at the same time I was feeling so blessed to hold all these powerful mama stories in my hands, I was grieving the absence of this book from when I was a teenager. Grieving back to when at eighteen, I looked out on my future, and had to decide whether or not to keep my first pregnancy. Only fathered by my Puerto Rican pops weekends and summers, raised by a white mother on a riverboat, I was well politicked on feminist abortion rights, but so badly needed to hear about reproductive integrity, about the racism in overpopulation discourse, about the forced sterilization of Indigenous and Puerto Rican women. I found these discourses, but not until later, and they were articles that I came across because I searched hard for them through old microfilms at Hunter in New York, when I was looking at the Young Lordettes’ histories (the women of the Young Lords). I wish that your anthology had existed then, and am so hopeful for all the mamas who will find this book in their future. – I just had to pause my letter to you, and run up to our little herb garden, from where my daughter was calling me. “Mama,” she was shouting. A flower had bloomed, one that we hadn’t planted. It turned out to be a lily, and she felt that was a blessing as her name means water lily in Taino. – Yes, this anthology you having lovingly pieced together with your co-editors, Alexis* and China**, gives me hope. Now it’s evening and time to heat up the boiler for our baths. The dogs of the barrio are howling, and the birds that live in the tree across from our house are singing out their last songs.

Bless,

Sarah Maria

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Mai'a Williams

Dear Sarah Maria,

i am so sorry for this letter coming so late.  when i first read it was the day before i was moving from quito, ecuador, back to the states. there were half-filled boxes and maletas and a thousand tiny things to do before the flight.

then we arrived in minnesota and it was time for theresa’s birthday party on the 19th of april.  i am always nervous about christmas and birthday for her.  i am not very good at making celebrations for people.  the presents, the decorations, the balloons, the food.  i am better at telling strange stories and taking us on strange adventures.  at dancing with her one in the morning on top of a roof to salsa and reggaeton.

then i fell ill for the past week.  some virus.

and now i am finally writing you.

when we first dreamed of revolutionary mothering as an anthology, i said to lex, i want it to be the book i was looking for when i was pregnant.  the book that would tell me that this wasnt easy.  when i was pregnant i didnt feel like a madonna, like some glowing ethereal creature.  i felt heavy and tired and nauseous and tired and hungry and tired.  i felt like i was preparing to go to war.  i remember my in laws and my mother and my husband and well everyone around me telling me with words and looks that i was now going to settle down, have a little house with a little yard and a little life with a little child, and i would see that would be enough for me.  all of my big dreams of traveling and revolution and backpacking through war zones and dancing late at night to the sounds of live fire and live bands would have to be put aside.

well, theresa turned eight years old last week.  and i have backpacked through tear gas and couchsurfed through revolutions.  i have also cried harder and longer in fear and anger and loneliness, more than i could have ever imagined possible.  i have been more scared and more fearless, loved harder and had bones broken and pride broken and god, its been weary. i did what i wanted, but im not sure if id truly knew the price this world would extract for doing so, if i still would have done it.

when theresa was 6 months old, we moved to san cristobal de las casas and studied spanish for a couple of months and lived there for 6 months, until we ran out of money.  i loved it.  it was 2008 and i carried theresa in a rebozo and breastfed her in bars and hung out with zapatista women.  theresa, of course, doesnt remember any of this, so she is determined that we should go back there to live, now that we are done with ecuador.

so tell me about being a mama in chiapas, and maybe someday we will meet each other face to face in southern mexico.

with much love,

mai’a

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28/04/2015

Mexico City, DF, Mexico

Dear Mai’a,

I am writing to you from a little hotel room we rent sometimes when we come to Mexico City, when we need to escape everyone and everything for a few days. The sunlight is pouring in through the yellow drapes from the balcony, and I’m sitting on the hardwood floors in the only spot that has Wi-Fi in our room.

We came to DF this week for a poetry reading in a Queer Festival of Languages, and there has been something so liberating for me to have my poems translated into Spanish, almost as if they take on a new life of their own, become a story that is no longer just my own. And that is why, this letter is also arriving later than I wanted it to.

I like so much your description of your immediate community suggesting in small ways that you would settle down in a little house once your daughter was born, and how you sought the opposite, carried her through countries in the midst of their revolutions, danced with her across rooftops to Reggaeton and Salsa, sought new words to explain oppression and racism and liberation. This is beautiful and inspiring, and I too would have loved to have held your book in my hands as I was pregnant, and also as I was leaving the little cabin the forest that my daughter spent her first months in, because sometimes I feel sad that she has had so little stability, so many houses. But then when I read your words, I feel inspired by this community of other mothers that extends out across the world from us, that have chosen another way of raising their child, and I feel less alone in this.

For me, living in Mexico, has offered me the space from the wounds I suffered when I grew up in the States, and this space has offered me the time to grow as a poet and writer, to turn my wounds into stories, into art. And this is something I also like about Revolutionary Mothering, that it doesn’t stop at the essay form, but that there is also a play, and poems and art. And that mothering includes queer ball culture and other radical inclusions of what it means to mutha our children and our communities.

I like to imagine you with Theresa tucked into your rebozo in Chiapas, meeting with the strong Zapatista women. We have travelled up the mountainside to visit their caracol. And have been blessed with being surrounded with such an openness about child raising, an inclusion of children within the public sphere, such as how normal nursing is in public here in the mountains.

You inspire me Mai’a. How are you and Theresa settling into Minnesota? Are your wings readying to fly away again?

Until our paths cross,

Bless,

Sarah Maria

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dear sarah maria,

it is my turn to apologize for the late reply.

summer has finally come to minnesota, the days get longer and longer and the evenings are filled with the smell of sweet grass and the sound of birds and insects.  it has been so many years since i had summer in the states.  oddly familiar and yet bringing back all these memories of being a kid, riding bikes and reading books in the back yard.  picking dandelions and capturing fire flies in small glass jars.

sometimes i feel bad too that theresa has had so little stability. god, so many apartments, countries, languages, friends, sets of clothes, political realities. but then, last year, i was talking with china, another editor of the revolutionary mothering anthology, and she talked about moving so often with her daughter.  often times out of economic necessity.  and i met her daughter, who is in her twenties, and who is awesome.

and when i hung out with china, i saw so much of myself in her.  she was the punk rock mom, back when there was no such thing as punk rock moms.  i am the global activist mom, in a time when there is no such thing as such.

and now, of course, there are punk rock moms!  there are books and magazines and blogs and fashion dedicated to the punk rock mom lifestyle.  and maybe, a couple of decades from now, there will be global activist moms networks and co-ops and shared housing and poetry readings.  it seems almost inevitable, as the world on the one hand grows smaller and on the other hand as it becomes clearer that our survival requires that we fight for this planet and the most marginalized among us.  whether that be plant or animal, icebergs or babies.

oh!  i can just imagine how amazing it must be to hear your poems translated into another language, especially spanish which is a language which has its own rhythm and poetic life.  how beautiful.  every time i write to you, i just want to pack up and go to mexico.  i still havent seen frida’s house.

i am sad that this may be my last letter to you in this series.  i have thoroughly enjoyed this.  it marks my transition from ecuador to minnesota.  i have no idea what we are going to do next or where.  this summer, theresa is taking ballet and hip hop classes.  i applied to a montessori school for her near her father’s house in case we are here in the fall.  i bought a 1970s shwinn coaster bike so i can get around this small college town.  i am writing a lot in dollar store notebooks in downtown cafes and taking my health seriously for the first time in years.

perhaps we will see each other in mexico.

la lucha continua,

mai’a

ps did you see this weird lil interview that lex did with me about revolutionary motherhood?  if not, here you go…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJy7Djn_6bc

abrazos!

Here is Maia’s website: https://about.me/maiawilliams