TLA Classes

We offer online classes to help you deepen your understanding of Transformative Language Arts, explore the craft of various genres and arts related to TLA, and develop your livelihood, community work, and service related to TLA.

Designed and taught by leading teachers, transformative language artists and activists, and master facilitators (want to be one of them?), these classes offer you ample opportunities to grow your art of words, your business and service, and your conversation with your life work.

The online nature of the classes allows you to participate from anywhere in the world (provided you have internet access) at any time of the day while, and at the same time, the intimate and welcoming atmosphere of the classes helps students find community, inspiration, and greater purpose.

All classes include hands-on activities (writing, storytelling, theater, spoken word, visual arts,music and/or other prompts), plus great resources, readings, and guidance. We use the online educational platform, Moodle.

Enrollment Cost

Classes are priced by the number of weeks they run. Members pay $35/week, non-members pay $40/week. Most classes run for 6 weeks, so members would pay $210 and non-members would pay $240.

NOTE: When there is a sale, the class page only displays the non-member discounted price. If you are a member, it will show the member discount once you start the registration process.

Cancellation & Refund Policy

Cancellations: A nonrefundable fee of 10% is included in each registration. No cancellations after the class begins. In the case of extenuating circumstances, please contact us.

Low Enrollment Cancellations: Classes that do not meet a minimum enrollment may be canceled a minimum of 3 days prior to the first class meeting with full refunds for all registrants.

Incomplete: Students seeking certification in TLA Foundations who cannot complete a class due to extenuating circumstances may be granted a discounted registration on the next available offering of that class. To be eligible for the discount students must communicate their circumstance to the teacher as soon as possible.

Upcoming Classes

    • 01 Jan 2018
    • 31 Dec 2018
    • Online

    NOTE: This class does not have a set time frame -- you may register and move through the material at any time of the year.

    This self-paced poetry class combines innovative writing prompts, inspiring essays and videos on the craft and passion of writing powerful poetry about our lives and times, and written discussions on the history and possibilities of poetry that speaks to social transformation.

    Each unit highlights both state and national poet laureate past or present, and a historic poet dedicated to changing the world, including a writing prompt and writing craft or writing life discussion from that poet, some of the poets laureate's poems with writing prompts, a discussion of a poet from the past or present who crafts poetry for social transformation, and exciting links to interviews, essays, and videos.

    By the end of this 12-unit class, you will have written dozens of new poems (over 10 writing prompts in each unit), learned more about poetry as a craft and way of life, considered various ways to speak truth to power for individual and social change, and interacted with the writing and poetics of 37 American poets.

    Poets highlighted in the class: Each unit will feature a state poet laureate, a U.S. (or tribal) poet laureate, and a historic poets, including the following: Walt Whitman, W. S. Merwin, Marilyn L. Taylor, Emily Dickinson, Dick Allen, William Stafford, Sue Brennan Walker, Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, William Trowbridge, Robert Penn Warren, Muriel Rukeyser, Mark Strand, Grace Paley, Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda, Adrienne Rich, Joyce Brinkman, Juan Felipe, Herrera, Denise Low, Wendell Berry, Rita Dove, David Romtvedt, Sharon Olds, Luci Tapahonso, Kimberly Blaeser, Yusef Komunyakaa, Joy Harjo, Marjory Wentworth, Audre Lorde, Elizabeth Woody, Natasha Trethewey, Li-Young Lee, JoAnn Balingit, Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Naomi Shahib Nye, Tracy K. Smith, and Richard Blanco. (Photo: from left, Audre Lorde, Meridel Le Sueur, and Adrienne Rich.)

    Recommended supplementary text: An Endless Skyway: Poetry from the United Poets Laureate of America, edited by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Denise Low, Walter Bargen, and Marilyn L. Taylor. Ice Cube Press. NOTE: Special discounted rate for supplementary text available to those who enroll in this class.

    Week by Week

    Each unit includes:

    • 10-15 writing prompts 

    • 3-6 poems by visiting state poet laureate, U.S. or tribal poet laureate, and historic poet.

    • Handout on craft or other consideration by visiting poet laureate.

    • Essays and videos on poetry as a catalyze for social change and ecological stewardship.

    • Links to articles, interviews, websites, etc. featuring visiting poet laureate

    Who Should Take This Class

    This class is appropriate for those with any amount of experience writing poetry, from those who are interested in learning more and might be a bit nervous about it, to writers with years of experience who want to generate new work and brush up on elements of craft and be exposed to new contemporary writers, and how writing can be a positive force for change.

    NOTE: This class cannot count towards TLA Foundations Certification requirements.


    This is a self-paced online class. By self-paced, we mean that you do this class on your own without interacting with the teacher or a cohort group, and according to your own schedule, allowing you to engage with the the material on your own timeline. Each unit is full of resources, reflections, discussion questions, and writing prompts. Students should expect to spend 4-7 hours per unit perusing resources and readings and engaging in several writing prompts (although with so much material and so many writing prompts, students can certainly spend more time revisiting each unit to find more inspiration and ideas).

    About the Editor

    Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Ph.D., the 2009-13 KansasPoet Laureate, has created this class through study, experience, and in conversations with over a dozen state poets laureate (many of whom shared their best handouts and writing prompts). Caryn is the author of two dozen books, including the recent Miriam's Well, a novel; Following the Curve, poetry; and Everyday Magic, a collection of beloved blog posts and personal essays. Founder of Transformative Language Arts at Goddard College where she teaches, Mirriam-Goldberg also leads writing workshops widely, particularly for people living with serious illness and their caregivers. With singer Kelley Hunt, she co-leads Brave Voice writing and singing retreats.

    • 24 Oct 2018
    • 04 Dec 2018
    • Online
    • 8

    Explore how to use narrative-based models to strengthen your professional voice, better communicate who you are and what you do as a transformative language artist, and further shape the emerging field and practice of TLA.

    TLA practitioners, artists, activists, facilitators and scholars, we're often asked, “What's Transformative Language Arts?” In this class, we'll hone our abilities and build tools for communicating both the effectiveness of using the written, spoken and sung word for personal and communal change, and the specifics of our individual and community TLA work. Especially when working with people and cultures whose narratives are invisible and silenced, this kind of communication is particularly important to foster a new world of possibilities for healing, creativity and voice. Such models also lift the TLA profession and the reputation of the great people doing good work in the world.

    Yvette will use her TLA-inspired model to offer practical “how to” guidance that strengthens the profession, helps you establish an expert voice, and better creatively showcase your work for a variety of audiences and uses. This course provides a framework of three anchors for promoting your TLA skill and expertise: Scholarly Personal Narratives, Authoethnography, and Story Branding.

    If you are imagining a way to effectively and passionately convey your the whys, whos, and whats of your practice and to market yourself effectively, this is the course for you. In a nutshell, this course will guide participants to succinctly name: This is my body of work. This is who I am. This is who I work with.

    Participants can expect to:

    • Share experiences to further the knowledge of the TLA field through writings and professional presentations
    • Advocate, educate, and pass on TLA practices to promote learning and development
    • Weave between research, writing, practice, theory, and experience
    • Develop a TLA niche and target audience to support Right Livelihood
    • Apply templates for storytelling
    Participants will reflect on and write a high level overview of their TLA theory and practice suitable for publication in order to make an impact and advance TLA’s reputation in the field. The framework used to write their overview can be repeated in writing about more detailed TLA research and practices. Using a story branding process, participants will build a narrative model for marketing and branding themselves and creating a story profile for their target market.

    Week by Week

    Week One: Introduction to TLA Practice as Personal Story, Research, and Theory: This week, we'll explore who we are, what's our TLA practice, and our goals for the class as well as learn more about various forms of sharing our TLA work to lift up the field of TLA while enhancing our own work.

    Week Two: Who Am I and What is My Work: This week, we dive deeper into first person storytelling on our histories and how it connects to our TLA work. We shall produce several short personal essays.

    Week Three: Personal Essay Feedback and Introduction to Elements of Scholarship Personal Narrative: We will exchange strengths-based feedback to refine our short personal essays. We'll also be introduced to Scholarly Personal Narrative and ways we can turn our experience into relatable scholarly research that adds value to the TLA field of study. We will begin thinking about possible TLA SPN topics.

    Week Four: Diving Deeper into Scholarly Personal Narrative: We will select an SPN topic, how our experience (personal essays) connect with the topic, and how the topic connects to a larger world view. We'll outline/mind map a piece of SPN writing. We'll brainstorm pertinent external resources that need to be noted in our SPN. Through sharing feedback with one another, we can further enhance how we convey our work, experience, goals, capacities, and vision.

    Week Five: SPN Manuscript Draft and Brainstorm Uses for our TLA Class Writings: We'll develop a solid SPN draft and exchange strengths-based feedback. We will brainstorm creative ways to use our personal short story writings and SPN manuscript to further our TLA practice.

    Week Six: Build a Framework for Story Branding: We'll wrap up class by identifying and selecting publishing outlets, marketing opportunities, and branding options for our refined TLA writings.

    Who Should Take This Class

    This online class is for facilitators and practitioners (whether you're a writer, storyteller, performer, activist, educator, healer, or community leader) wishing to creatively document your work; craft strong writing of your background, experience and offerings for your print and web marketing materials; and create various form of TLA scholarship centered on your story and vision. This online class works well for individuals wishing dedicated time to write about their storytelling, personal narrative, and narrative storytelling based facilitation practice. This course will help participants write about their practice from a creative-scholar-based framework, and learn how to establish their “brand” and marketing through stories.


    Participants can expect to spend 3-6 hours a week in an online format checking out posted resources, assigned readings, brief slide presentations, sample writings for discussion, and templates, creative prompts, and exercises to initiate writing. Participants will receive and give strengths-based and positive feedback when responding to peers’ work.

    About the Teacher

    Yvette Angelique Hyater-Adams, MA-TLA, Principal and Chief Storytelling Officer at Narratives for Change: I am a writer, teaching-artist, and transformative narrative coach. Currently, my research and writing projects center around analyzing personal experience for women and girls to understand their cultural realities. This social action writing confronts pressing issues that women and girls face, and I publish as research reports, journal articles, book chapters and on blogs. In addition to my writing projects and teaching creative and expressive writing, I help leaders and teams embrace transformative change using narrative models that promote transparency, positive reframing of language, and from a strengths-based philosophy. My history includes deep experience and training in applied behavioral science and mindfulness-based practices. I have a strong business background as Senior Vice President and corporate banker heading up a change management strategy division; as President, and Chief Executive Officer for a boutique change management consulting firm, and as President of a non-profit education institution for adult experiential learning and professional development. Today, I run Narrative for Change, a social enterprise whose mission is creative pathaways for women and girls to advocate for herself and her tribes through written, spoken, and visual storytelling.

    • 24 Oct 2018
    • 04 Dec 2018
    • Online
    • 1

    We live in concentric circles, starting at our most local home of our bodies, and rippling out through our homes, communities, ecoregions, continents, planet, and the cosmos. Drawing on a bioregional perspective that home informs who we are and how we are to live, this class will bring participants together in council, creatively writing out our truths and into our questions to find companionship along and joy throughout the journey. The writing and storytelling prompts will be accompanied by occasional expressive arts explorations as we seek home through poetry, stories, songs, and other forms of TLA (your choice!). Along the way, we'll explore identity, callings, embodiment, personal history, ecology, and what it means to both live in time and place. Most of all, we'll be illuminating how to make the visible – what's right here in/of our bodies, dwellings, local terrain, weather and skies – more visible, and use that new vision as a lantern to lead us toward greater homecoming.

    Ah, not to be cut off,

    not through the slightest partition

    shut out from the law of the stars.

    The inner -- what is it?

    if not the intensified sky,

    hurled through with birds and deep

    with the winds of homecoming.

    ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

    Week by Week

    Week 1 / Home to the Body: Our Most Local Address: Our most intimate home is the local ecosystem of being a body. We'll romp and roll through prompts and questions about what our bodies have to say and how they say it over our history, and consider through what we create the possibilities of more embodied writing and living.

    Week 2 / Dwellings and What It Means to Make a Home: What does it mean to live in a house, apartment, yurt or wherever you hang your hat and aim yourself toward a good night's sleep on a regular basis? Drawing on such works as Gaston Bachelard's The Poetics of Space, we'll write and play our way into the signs and symbols we find right at home and over time in our various dwellings.

    Week 3 / Watersheds and Watershed Moments: Our homes are part of a watershed, the area that is drained by a river, creek, stream or other defining ground of our waterways. At the same time, we'll look at the watershed moments of our lives that changed everything, and how to gain greater vision of what such moments mean, and how to understand, honor, and learn from our inner and outer watersheds.

    Week 4 / Ecoregions and Mapping Our Stories: Expanding out, we land in our land form, whether we live in the tallgrass prairie, the eastern woodlands, the Sonoran desert, the Rocky Mountains or elsewhere. In exploring a little more about the common plant and animal associations of your area, you can also cultivate greater connections with the more-than-human species among us. At the same time we look at mapping where we live in place, we'll play with mapping where we are in time by following the lines and curves of the stories we've lived.

    Week 5 / Earth and Sky: We're part of an evolving, ailing, regenerating, suffering and changing planet. At the same time, the sky begins at our feet, and we live in weather -- both inner and outer. This week journeys into the centers of our earths and sweeps across the skies of our imaginations as we use our writing to connect with the larger planet and constantly shifting sky.

    Week 6 / The Cosmos: The Visible and Invisible: Our plant floats in a vast universe, and beyond our universe, universes beyond universes, only a sliver visible to us. In concentrating on what we can learn about the cosmos and our local universe, we'll also journey through the cosmos of our infinite imaginations. This week also includes some circling back to body and place prompts to better see the concentric circles of home where we live, what we've created, and what calls to us beyond this call.

    Who Should Take This Class

    This class is ideal for people who do word arts–writing, storytelling, spoken word, theater, and other forms of TLA–and are ready to put themselves out there more in the world and in their work. The innovative exercises and engaging discussions make this class appropriate for both new and seasoned word artists.


    This is an online class, yet we strive to come together in council, reaching across the miles to hold one another's words and reflect deeply on what we discover individually and together. Each week will include an exploration of a particular writer (in various genres), such as David Abram, Linda Hogan, William Stafford, Pattiann Rogers and others; a discussion on the craft of strong writing; several writing, storytelling and/or expressive arts prompts to lead you to your own best words; and a discussion question to ponder.

    Each week, a new section of the course will open full of resources, reflections, exercises, discussion questions, and writing, storytelling and expressive arts prompts. Students should expect to spend 2-3 hours per week perusing resources and readings, answering a discussion question, engaging in exercises, and responding to peers’ work

    About the Teacher

    Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Ph.D., the 2009-13 Kansas Poet, is the author of over 20 books, including most recently, the novel Miriam's Well; a collection of essays, Everyday Magic; and a new book of yoga and embodiment poetry, Following the Curve.  She also wrote Needle in the Bone, a non-fiction book on the Holocaust; The Sky Begins At Your Feet, a bioregional memoir on cancer and community; and five poetry collections, including the award-winning Chasing Weather: Tornadoes, Tempests, and Thunderous Skies in Word and Image with weather chase/photographer Stephen Locke. Founder of Transformative Language Arts at Goddard College where she teaches, Mirriam-Goldberg also leads writing workshops widely, particularly for people living with serious illness and their caregivers. With singer Kelley Hunt, she co-leads Brave Voice writing and singing retreats. Caryn is a long-time organizer of the bioregional movement, and helped found the Kansas Area Watershed Council, an the Continental Bioregional Congress. She's also co-founder of the TLA Network and serves on the TLAN council. She lives just south of Lawrence with various humans and animals, in love with her people, place, community, and the big, wild sky. More at (Photo by Stephen Locke)

    • 16 Jan 2019
    • 12 Feb 2019
    • Online
    • 15

    This class has been designed for and offered to those who feel overwhelmed by life's challenges or those who feel too stuck to make a plan for something more.

    Each week, participants will be given a poem and prompts that will gently guide them in journaling and poetry writing exercises (and optional "supporting exercises" for those who want to go deeper into the work).

    By using creativity of writing, participants will begin to identify what weight needs to be unpacked and how, and begin to re-pack what is most important and meaningful to them.

    Week by Week

    Week 1 - "Naming Things"

    Each week, I will provide poems and journaling/poetry writing prompts to help you identify and release the mental, emotional, spiritual or physical weight that is slowing your life. I will also provide optional supporting exercises designed to support your emotional processing of what's coming via your writing. Examples are to buy a plant (even if you don't have a green thumb) that you will care for and observe as we go through this series, or dance in front of a mirror as a way to celebrate your releasing of toxic emotions (and, for some, to move outside of your comfort zone).

    Week 2 - "Balancing Act"

    Last week we looked at what you’re carrying. This week, we’re going to take it a step farther. How are you balancing what you’re carrying? How does the weight feel? Is it too heavy? Just right? Chances are there are some things you’re carrying that you are ready to let go. Before we get to the letting go stage (next week) let’s linger here a little longer for clarity.

    Week 3 - "Letting Go"

    Week 1 you looked at what you’re carrying and you named all of it. Placing names and calling things as they are are powerful tools! Then, last week you looked how are you balancing what you’re carrying. How the weight feels. This week we’re focusing on what you can, and are ready and willing to let go of. It’s time, right?

    Week 4 - "Unpacking"

    When we commit to doing (thinking) something new or different we are often sidetracked by common challenges. This week, you will look at what you believe will try to and may “trip you up” as you move forward with letting go and beginning again. Awareness, after all, is one of our greatest tools to living a full and wonderfully authentic life.

    Optional Bonus (added as a gift to end week 4): "New Venture"

    Now that you've identified what you need to let go of, it's time to begin to think of “new ventures.” This week you looked at all the places in your life and all of what you’re carrying and blessed it, as well as began to think about how you could “live out your ecstasy on earth.” Now that you’ve given some thought to (and hopefully let go of) what is holding you back, what is your new voice saying to you? Where are you headed now?

    Who Should Take This Class

    This series is designed for those who are wanting to work through what "weight" might be holding them from living a fuller life. Those who feel stressed out and in need of clarity. Those who are burden and are looking for a place (internally) to process life (external) demands and to "find" themselves. And, ideally, those who are willing to go a beyond the surface and dig deeper into the balance and changes their life needs in order to live a life they were created to live.


    This is an online class. Each week, a new week will open full of resources, reflections, discussion questions, and writing prompts. Students should expect to spend 3-5 hours per week perusing resources and readings, answering a discussion question, engaging in several writing prompts, and responding to peers’ work. From our interactions, we sustain a welcoming and inspiring community together.

    About the Teacher

    Jacinta V. White is a published poet and a 2017 recipient of the Duke Energy Regional Artist grant. She has been facilitating group and individual poetry writing sessions -- using poetry as healing -- for more than 15 years, through her company, The Word Project. Just three years ago, Jacinta launched Snapdragon: A Journal of Art & Healing -- an international online journal publishing poetry, creative nonfiction and photography. Knowing from personal experience the healing balm poetry provides, Jacinta is committed to assisting others and expanding the conversation on art and healing. Read more at

    • 16 Jan 2019
    • 26 Feb 2019
    • Online

    We all take, save, and inherit photographs of the people, places, and things that bring meaning, mystery, hope, and connection into our lives. These treasured personal archives will be the source of inspiration for writing as a means of restoring meaning, purpose, hope, and resilience during and after loss. Expressive writing prompted by personally chosen photos can help loved ones cope with what Pauline Boss calls the “ambiguous loss,” associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

    In this course, we’ll use expressive writing, in poetry and prose, to help build resilience, restore meaning and purpose, and honor and celebrate relationships through legacy stories. TLA practitioners and writers at all levels of experience will imaginatively encounter personal photos sparked by questions that generate remarkable and uplifting writing experiences.

    Objectives & Goals:

    1.    Participants will use personal photos as prompts for creative writing -  poetry, memoir, or stories that capture the personalities, relationships, rites of passage, cultural identity, and family history evoked by personal photos.  

    2.   Participants will recognize the healing aspects of storytelling from photos to build resilience and restore a sense of meaning, purpose, and value to life after loss.

    3.   Participants will use photos to probe and preserve memories, find purpose and meaning amidst loss and change, and express truth and beauty from relationships after loss.

    4.   Participants will explore the expressive benefits of writing from landscape and nature photos to connect with aspects of spirituality, safety, comfort, beauty, and transcendence.

    5.    TLA practitioners we will explore specific applications in your work with individuals and groups, such as coping with memory loss, Alzheimer’s, and dementia, and the healing power of telling end-of-life or legacy stories.

    Week by Week

    Week One: Entering the Three-Dimensional World of Photographs to Stimulate Meaning, Surprise, Delight, and Possibility

    Week Two: Embracing The Imaginative Wonder of Exploring Role Reversal & Altered Point of View in Photos

    Week Three: Writing Truth & Beauty – Telling Relationship Histories, Exploring Significant Rites of Passages, and Recognizing Gifts that Keep On Giving

    Week Four: Exploring Nature, Landscape, & Favorite Places Photos to Stimulate Curiosity, Spirituality, Comfort, Relief, & Aesthetic Satisfaction & Transcendence

    Week Five: Crafting & Revision: Developing Your Raw Material (Exploring forms, including Portraits, Essays, Poems, Monologues, [Unsent] Letters, Dialogues, and Creative List-Making)

    Week Six: Applications for TLA Artists, Writers, and Loved Ones – Ways to Share The Healing Power of Generating Legacy Stories from Photos

    Who Should Take This Class

    This course will serve writers and TLA practitioners at all levels of experience, as well as anyone interested in personal and artistic development.  Professionals and para-professionals who work with memory challenged seniors, as well as family members of those suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s, and caretakers of those with memory challenges, will find dynamic creative outlets for personal and professional development. Writers and artists with an interest in exploring the healing aspects of personal photos may also be quite interested.


    This is an online class with (optional) weekly video-conference. Each weekly “workshop” posted online will consist of engaging content designed to spark personal reflection, sharing, discussion, and dynamic writing to be shared in the group forum online. Each week, participants will (1) upload at least one personal photo to share with others that they will use as the foundation of their weekly writing exploration; (2) review writing in progress of classmates and respond & reflect in discussion forum; (3) be invited to participate in a (recommended but optional) live Zoom video-conference presentation and discussion (these will be recorded and posted for others).

    Participants should expect to spend 3 hours or so on the weekly writing prompt, revisions, reading and commenting on the work of others, viewing and participating in live discussion, and sharing works in progress live. We’ll create a safe and supportive environment, offering respectful support that inspires the development of every writer’s voice.

    About the Teacher

    Kelly DuMar, M.Ed. is a playwright and poet who facilitates Writing Truth & Beauty workshops across the US, including The Mass. Poetry Festival, The International Women’s Writing Guild, The Power of Words Conference, Southern Writers Conference, and Winter Wheat Conference. Her poems are published in many literary magazines and her award-winning poetry chapbook, All These Cures, was published by Lit House Press in 2014. Kelly’s award winning plays have been produced around the US and Canada, and are published by dramatic publishers. Kelly is a certified psychodramatist and former psychotherapist. She founded and produces the Our Voices Festival of Women Playwrights at Wellesley College, now in its 10th year, and she moderates, Let’s Talk TLA, a bi-monthly tele-conference and poetry open mic for members of the Transformative Language Arts Association. Kelly serves on the board & faculty of The International Women’s Writing Guild. Her upcoming poetry chapbook, Tree of the Apple, about her father’s Alzheimer’s, will be published soon by Two of Cups Press. You can learn more about Kelly, her nature photography and writing at her website,


    • 06 Mar 2019
    • 16 Apr 2019
    • Online
    • 16

    What is the physicality of a wound? What types of loss feel nearly impossible to come back from? What kind of life settles into our bones if we don’t take the time to grieve these losses? Can we dive into the wound, the loss: excavate and unearth it?

    We will focus on surviving and survivorhood; what it looks and feels like to live beyond traumatic experiences. The dominant narratives about the survivor body— oft pathologized as disembodied, disassociated and unwell— will be turned on their heads. We can never actually leave our bodies, as hard as we might try (and as wise as we are in our reasons for trying) and are therefore always already embodied.

    Too often survivors that are also writers are told to not dwell in the trauma, that writing from personal and traumatic experience isn’t “legitimate” writing. I don’t believe that to be true and am regularly heartened and inspired by the writing people do while diving into the wound(s).

    In this 6 week workshop we will engage with work written by a wide range of writers, generate our own body of work through interrogating the roots of trauma and how it manifests in the body and explore body-based writing can help support us as we write into the wound. The trauma doesn't have to just live in our body; it can be moved from living within our skin and be rewritten onto paper (and computer screens).

    "How people feel, what they feel, what breaks them, how trauma resonates through their lives . . . that’s a legitimate space in poetry." —Claudia Rankine

    "Write backwards from the dissipated, exploded, violent body. Write the blows backwards until you make a real body. This movement of a body through space, how to reduce the pain of this body, the pain of a static, habitual, repeated movement-- impact-- is what I mean by healing. Not resolution, but a rewriting in neuromuscular terms of gesture." — Bhanu Kapil

    “What’s fertile in a wound? Why dwell in one? Wounds promise authenticity and profundity, beauty and singularity, desirability. They summon sympathy. They bleed enough light to write by. They yield scars full of stories and slights that become rallying cries. They break upon the fuming fruits of damaged engines and dust these engines with color. And yet—​beyond and beneath their fruits—​they still hurt. The boons of a wound never get rid of it; they just bloom from it.”— Leslie Jamison

    Note: "Wound Dwelling" is language drawn from Leslie Jamison's work on wounds and pain.

    Week by Week

    Week One: The Survivor Body(ies)

    Week Two: The Survivor Body as a "Failed Body" and Using Failure to Create

    Week Three: Wound Dwelling as a Creative Practice an Embodied & Somatic Practice

    Week Four: Wound Dwelling as an Embodied & Somatic Practice

    Week Five: Wound Dwelling: The Body(ies) in Pleasure and Pain

    Week Six: Wound Dwelling: Moving Beyond Dominant Narratives

    Please note: There is no class for the July 4th week.

    General outline for each week:

    • Review guidelines for holding space for each other and writing into traumatic material in order to foster a safe(r) space
    • 2-3 readings from other writers drawing from poetry, creative non-fiction, and a little trauma theory
    • Questions to generate discussion
    • Offerings of writing prompts, response, and discussion

    Who Should Take This Class

    This class is for anyone who is looking to mine the embodied knowing of traumatic experience — all bodies, genders, and identities. Whether someone is looking to delve more deeply into personal experience or needing to get through writer’s block that lives deep in the well of their body it will be helpful for people who are writing memoir, creative non-fiction, poetry, and fiction.


    This is an online class. Each week, a new section of the course will open full of resources, reflections, exercises, discussion questions, and writing prompts. Students should expect to spend about 4 hours per week perusing resources and readings, answering a discussion question, engaging in exercises, and responding to peers’ work.

    Note from the teacher: Working with trauma is inherently risky and challenging writing often comes from places of harm. I want to offer a space that is safe but also know that I can’t guarantee (because of the vast scope of trauma) that we won’t be triggered at times. I’m very invested in creating a container for us to write in and I will offer guidelines for writing together that honor individual experience and affirm the difficult writing we will share with each other. I come to this work as a survivor of multiple forms of violence, as a writer and artist and I have a background as a community organizer and as an emergency room rape crisis counselor. I want to be in and create spaces that honor the myriad ways our survivorhood can look, spaces that honor all genders, identities and experiences and I want to be open to growing and shifting the spaces I create to meet the needs of the individual people I work with.

    That said, it is important to note that I am not a licensed therapist so if you feel like you are at a particularly tender or charged moment in your healing process it might also be helpful to have a therapist or someone you trust to be on deck to offer further support. If you have specific concerns or accessibility needs, please contact the facilitator.

    About the Teacher

    Jennifer Patterson is a grief worker who uses plants, breath, words to explore survivorhood, body(ies) and healing. She is the editor of Queering Sexual Violence: Radical Voices from Within the Anti- Violence Movement (2016), lectures across the country, and has had writing published in places like OCHO: A Journal of Queer ArtsNat. Brut, The EstablishmentHandJob, and The Feminist Wire. New publications are forthcoming. She is also the creative nonfiction editor of Hematopoiesis Press.  A queer and trans affirming, trauma-informed herbalist and Breathwork facilitator, Jennifer offers sliding scale care as a practitioner through her own practice Corpus Ritual and is a member of The Breathe Network and Breathwork for Recovery. She facilitates writing and Breathwork workshops at healing centers, LGBTQ centers, a Hasidic and Orthodox Jewish healing center, a needle exchange and harm reduction clinic, veterans hospitals, online with the Transformative Language Arts Network, sexual violence resource centers, the collective What Would an HIV Doula Do?, and at colleges and universities. A graduate of Goddard College’s MA program, Jennifer is finishing a book project focused on translating embodied traumatic experience through somatic practices and critical and creative nonfiction. You can find more at
    • 06 Mar 2019
    • 16 Apr 2019
    • Online
    • 14

    Theodore Geisel (better known as Dr. Seuss) said, “I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living. It's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life's realities.”

    We will play with writing concepts from fantastic folktales, visions and odd visionary angles, quotations, verse, and literature, developing our own collection of narrative and non-narrative writing that guides us toward a comfortable point of view about the realities of who we are.

    We’ll share the weekly wordings of our collections, with no restrictions beyond the requirements of each week’s prompts and no judgment, in printed format as well as spoken word if possible.

    Through this process, we will approach both a personal and communal awareness of the playful and cleansing power of language, in keeping with the Jewish proverb: “As soap is to the body, so laughter is to the soul.”

    Week by Week

    Week 1: Oh, the Places You Didn’t Want to Go!

    Facing the past; using it as food for thought and for writing.

    Week 2: Through the Looking Glass

    Finding the distortions in and contortions of our life story; turning them into fantastic adventures.

    Week 3: The Path of Needles or the Path of Pins: Other Possibilities of Seeing Red

    Accepting our choices in life and acknowledging the strengths and tools we now recognize in our “basket of goodies”

    Week 4: "Here There Be Dragons..."

    Being willing to step toward or face more dangerous ideas or memories; changing perspective to construct "sense from non-sense," additional moments that seem to have no reason or reasonable outcome.

    Week 5: Through the Wrong End of the Telescope

    Turning big pains into small boo-boos, and big joys into notable treasures.

    Week 6: Communal Voices

    Sharing our voices and our reflections in a conference call.

    Who Should Take This Class

    Writers, spoken-word artists/storytellers, anyone interested in playing with the concept of fact-to-fantasy poetic or narrative sharing and its connection to personal knowledge and growth.


    This is an online class. Each week, a new week will open full of resources, reflections, discussion questions, and writing prompts. Students should expect to spend 3-5 hours per week perusing resources and readings, answering a discussion question, engaging in several writing prompts, and responding to peers’ work. From our interactions, we sustain a welcoming and inspiring community together.

    About the Teacher

    Fourth-generation, nationally recognized Affrilachian storyteller and Ohio teaching artist Lynette (Lyn) Ford has shared programs and workshops on telling and writing stories with folks of all ages for more than twenty-five years. Lyn’s work is published in several storytelling-in-education resources, as well as in her award-winning books: Affrilachian Tales; Folktales from the African-American Appalachian Tradition; Beyond the Briar Patch: Affrilachian Folktales, Food and Folklore; Hot Wind, Boiling Rain: Scary Stories for Strong Hearts (2017 Storytelling World Award winner, also a creative-writing resource), and, Boo-Tickle Tales: Not-So-Scary Stories for Ages 4-9, written with storytelling friend, Sherry Norfolk and recently nominated for an Anne Izard Award. Lyn is also a Certified Laughter Yoga Teacher, and a great-grandmother.

Past Classes

05 Sep 2018 Cultivating Our Voices: Writing Life Stories for Change // with Dr. Liz Burke-Cravens
27 Jun 2018 & They Call Us Crazy: Outsider Writing to Cross the Borders of Human Imagination // with Caits Meissner
27 Jun 2018 Wound Dwelling: Writing the Survivor Body(ies) // with Jennye Patterson
27 Jun 2018 Changing the World with Words: TLA Foundations // with Joanna Tebbs-Young
04 Apr 2018 Stories with Spirit: Creativity as a Spiritual Practice // with Regi Carpenter
14 Mar 2018 Writing for Social Change: Redream a Just World // with Anya Achtenberg
21 Feb 2018 Funding Transformation: Grant Writing for Storytellers, Writers, Artists, Educators, & Activists // with Diane Silver
10 Jan 2018 Fantastic Folktales & Visionary Angles to Transform Our Stories // with Lyn Ford
18 Oct 2017 Writing Our Lives: The Poetic Self & Transformation // with Dr. Liz Burke-Cravens
18 Oct 2017 Changing the World with Words: TLA Foundations // with Joanna Tebbs-Young
06 Sep 2017 Your Memoir as Monologue: How to Create Dynamic Dramatic Monologues About Healing and Transformation for Performance // with Kelly DuMar
06 Sep 2017 Wound Dwelling: Writing the Survivor Body(ies) // with Jennifer Patterson
14 Jun 2017 The Five Senses and Four Elements: Connecting with the Body and Nature Through Poetry // with Angie River
14 Jun 2017 The Poetics of Witness: Writing Beyond the Self // with Caits Meissner
19 Apr 2017 Diving and Emerging: Finding Your Voice and Identity in Personal Stories // with Regi Carpenter
01 Mar 2017 How Pictures Heal: Honoring Memory & Loss through Expressive Writing from Personal Photos // with Kelly DuMar
01 Mar 2017 Changing the World with Words: TLA Foundations // with Joanna Tebbs-Young
11 Jan 2017 Your Callings, Your Livelihood, Your Life // With Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg
11 Jan 2017 Values of the Future Through Transformative Language Arts // with Doug Lipman
26 Oct 2016 Leverage Your TLA Expertise for Publication, Community, Business, and Livelihood // with Yvette Angelique Hyater-Adams
26 Oct 2016 Not Enough Spoons: Writing About Disability & Chronic Illness // with Angie River
14 Sep 2016 Wound Dwelling: Writing the Survivor Body(ies) // with Jennifer Patterson
14 Sep 2016 Creating a Sustainable Story: Self-Care, Meaningful Work, and the Business of Creativity // with Laura Packer
29 Jun 2016 Coming Home to Body, Earth, and Time: Writing From Where We Live // with Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg
29 Jun 2016 Making the Leap into Work You Love // with Scott Youmans
18 May 2016 Changing the World with Words: TLA Foundations
18 May 2016 Saturated Selfies: Intentional and Intense Photography and Writing
28 Mar 2016 Gathering Courage: Still-Doing, Big Journaling, and Other (Not So Scary) Ways to Begin Accommodating the Soul
15 Feb 2016 Living Out Loud: Healing Through Storytelling and Writing
15 Feb 2016 Soulful Songwriting: How To Begin, Collaborate, And Finish Your Song
04 Jan 2016 Your Memoir as Monologue: How to Create Dynamic Dramatic Monologues About Healing and Transformation for Performance
04 Jan 2016 The Five Senses and the Four Elements: Connecting with the Body and Nature Through Poetry

"The Transformative Language Arts Network" is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Kansas, P.O. Box 442633, Lawrence, KS 66044

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