Writing Place, Writing the Self: Memoir Workshop with Tyler Mills

    Thursday, March 24, 2022 at 6:00 PM until Thursday, April 21, 2022 at 8:00 PMEastern Daylight Time

    Instructor: Tyler Mills
    Two hour VIRTUAL sessions on Thursdays
    6:00pm to 8:00pm EST
    Workshop is limited to 12 participants

    Course Description

    This virtual writing workshop will invite you, through specific prompts, to write about places you lived, worked, and travelled. We all come from somewhere special, a place that we can see and smell and hear through memory. Our experience of place is often a story about ourselves—who we once were, who we are now, what pushed us and changed us. As Joan Didion writes in The White Album, “A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that [they] remake it in [their] own image.” 

    Whether you are working on a memoir or essay collection—or even coming to the genre of nonfiction for the first time—this class will inspire you to write about yourself through place and in doing so, you will write about love, frustration, hope, loss, and what changed you or surprised you.

    Each week, you will submit a mini memoir (700-3,000 words) based on that week’s prompt that we will discuss in class, and you will receive feedback from me and from your peers in real time, via Zoom. Our conversations will be empathetic and dynamic and lead to approaches you can take in revising your work and in writing the next piece. By the end of this course, you will have a set of mini memoirs that you can develop and build into a larger project.

    Course Outline

    • Week 1: Introductions, discussion of narrative detail, the unsettled self, and mood in essay excerpts by Joan Didion, Hilton Als, Mary Karr, Annie Dillard, and Camille Dungy

    • Week 2: Origins: Where I Come From, Change, and Conflict (prompt)

    • Week 3: Work: Weird, Unusual, and Quotidian (prompt)

    • Week 4: Travel: Where I’ve Gone, How I’ve Changed (prompt)

    • Week 5: Play: Fun, Wild, Extreme, or Private, i.e., What I’ve Learned through “Play” (prompt)

    Who Should Take This Class? 

    Essayists new to the genre and those who are knee-deep in a manuscript, as well as poets and fiction writers interested in trying out narrative creative nonfiction as well as lyric essays grounded in place.           

    Your Instructor

    Tyler Mills is a poet, essayist, and editor. She is the author of City Scattered (Snowbound Chapbook Award, Tupelo Press 2022), Hawk Parable (Akron Poetry Prize winner, University of Akron Press 2019), and Tongue Lyre (Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award winner, Southern Illinois University Press 2013), and co-author with Kendra DeColo of Low Budget Movie (Diode Editions Chapbook Prize, Diode Editions 2021). She is also the author of an in-progress essay manuscript, The Bomb Cloud, winner of a 2021 Café Royal Cultural Foundation NYC Literature Grant, which investigates her grandfather’s possible involvement in the Nagasaki mission in conversation with the legacy of nuclear history in New Mexico, where she lived for four years. She taught at universities in Maryland, Chicago, and New Mexico. Her poems have appeared in The Guardian, The New Yorker, The New Republic, The Believer, and Poetry, and her essays in AGNI, Bennington Review, Brevity, Copper Nickel, and The Rumpus. The recipient of residencies from Yaddo, Ragdale, and the Vermont Studio Center, and fellowships from Bread Loaf, Sewanee, and the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop, Tyler Mills teaches for the Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College, edits The Account, and lives in Brooklyn.         


    “I was always looking forward to this class, and I am sad it is over!I enjoyed the prompts, I enjoyed the discussions, and I enjoyed the community that Tyler did such a lovely job crafting. I feel like I have gained much more confidence in my writing.” - former student

    “I’ve really seen myself grow in terms of ability to produce self reflective pieces; things like focusing on carnal details, allowing myself to be vulnerable, and experimenting with dialogue has helped expand my writing tool kit.” - former student

    “Thank you for a wonderful and inspiring class. I really enjoyed it. My main goal was to jumpstart my writing again and set the goal to complete my memoir and begin the publishing phase. This class was the push I was looking for and needed.” - former student

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    Note: Details about Zoom links and any other information relevant to the workshop will be emailed to you the week before workshops begin. If you have questions about the registration process, please call us at 914-323-6170 or email writinginstitute@sarahlawrence.edu.

    Refund Policy: No refunds are given on one-day intensives, advanced classes, and yearlong classes where space is limited. 100% refund before 1st class, 50% refund after 1st class, no refunds after 2nd class for all other workshops. ALL cancellations and requests for refunds must be received in writing. Please contact writinginstitute@sarahlawrence.edu with questions or to submit a refund request.