Want to write with me this summer?
Enroll in my online course through the Loft Literary Center called “Still Life: Writing Memoir and Personal Essays with and about Photographs.” In “Still Life,” we will explore the relationship between memory, imagination, and photography as we write with and about photographs—photographs culled from both personal collections and images found in a variety of sources, including the public domain, archival collections, and thrift stores.
This class might be for you:
- If you have a specific memoir or essay project that you’re stuck on. Our emphasis on photography might enliven your writing process and help you discover new material.
- If you primarily write in other genres, but want to explore creative nonfiction. Writing about images may help you work through some of the initial discomfort you might feel when thinking about writing about yourself.
- If you are an experienced memoirist or essayist looking for a new challenge. Perhaps this course will help you explore a family photo collection or get started on a new project.
- If you are looking for structure and support while you work on writing projects this summer. Our class will generate prompts based on photographs and the example essays we read together. You’ll find plenty of inspiration to get you started and some supportive deadlines and feedback to help you finish.
In many ways, writing with and about photographs was the key that unlocked new possibilities for my personal essays. The practice helped me beat writer’s block and explore the limits of my memory and imagination. Sometimes I write about photographs, and other times I simply make the contemplation of images part of my writing process.
I first started writing with and about photographs in Brenda Miller‘s “Autobiography & Photography” graduate seminar. For my final project, I wrote the first draft of my lyric essay “Ossification,” which later won Fourth Genre‘s 2015 Michael Steinberg Essay Prize. Since then, I’ve maintained a critical interest in memoirists and essayists who write with and about photographs.
In this course, we’ll study work by some of my favorite essayists, like Judith Kitchen’s Half in Shade. We’ll also take a look at new favorites like Kirsten Radtke’s graphic memoir Imagine Wanting Only This, in which she asks difficult questions about a photo collection she unearthed while exploring urban ruins. Our work together will also include prose written by photographers, like Sally Mann’s memoir Hold Still. We’ll even listen to a Radio Lab episode featuring documentarian Errol Morris. Through his investigation into the first war photographs ever made, he arrived at a new understanding of how photographs forge connections to the past and help us realize emotional truths.
In short, it’s going to be a great summer! We’ll meet for six weeks online starting June 21st. I hope you’ll join us!
P.S. Want to get updates from me about opportunities like this one? Why not sign up for my Tiny Letter?