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Class Catalog

Browse Spring Classes!

Hugo House: Your best source for writing classes in Seattle.

For more information on the schedule, scholarships, the various formats of our writing classes, and cancellation policies, check out our About page. Or, go meet our talented instructors.

For help finding classes, contact our registrar or call us at 206.322.7030.

If you would like to receive our quarterly catalogs in the mail, please contact us.


Spring Registration Dates

All registrations open at 10:30 am

$500+ donor Registration: March 2
Member Registration: March 3
General Registration: March 10


Early Bird Pricing March 2 through March 16:

  • $10 off one-session classes
  • $20 off classes that are two to six sessions
  • $35 off classes that are eight sessions or more

Early bird pricing will automatically apply at checkout. 

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Introduction to Playwriting

Introductory | Students will be introduced to playwriting; the main mechanics, concepts and theory behind a dramatic text; and the necessary tools to develop characters, conflicts, and engaging scenes for the stage. We will learn from great international playwrights (Harold…

Course Type: 6 Sessions  |   Instructor: Ana Pastor

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Start Date: 02/20/2020 – 7:10 pm

Ana Pastor

A native of Barcelona, Ana Pastor studied European Theater, Playwriting and Literature. She wrote and directed "El Oyente" (2006), and a free adaptation of a Jean-Paul Sartre play (2010). Her short story "La noche del elefante" received the 2011 Fungible award. She is a translator and a Spanish language teacher, and writing fiction is her passion.

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Where’s the Story?

The classic short story focuses on what William Faulkner called “the human heart in conflict with itself.” In this workshop, we will analyze a story to see how that conflict drives story structure. We will then generate story ideas, evaluate…

Course Type: 1 Session  |   Instructor: Gish Jen

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Start Date: 02/20/2020 – 1:00 pm
This class is full

Gish Jen

Gish Jen has published short work in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, and dozens of other periodicals, anthologies and textbooks. Her work has appeared in The Best American Short Stories four times, including The Best American Short Stories of the Century, edited by John Updike. Nominated for a National Book Critics’ Circle Award, her work was featured in a PBS American Masters’ special on the American novel and is widely taught.
Jen is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has been awarded a Lannan Literary Award for Fiction, a Guggenheim fellowship, a Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study fellowship, and a Mildred and Harold Strauss Living; she has also delivered the William E. Massey, Sr. Lectures in the History of American Civilization at Harvard University. Her newest novel is her eighth book. Called THE RESISTERS, it will be published by Knopf in February 2020.

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Comedic Storytelling Section II

All Levels | There’s an art to making painful, strange, or even mundane life experiences funny. The students will learn to dig inside their own lives to find humorous, relatable material, to unify an audience, making them laugh at their…

Course Type: 1 Session  |   Instructor: Margot Leitman

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Start Date: 02/22/2020 – 1:00 pm
5 seats available

Margot Leitman

Margot Leitman is an award-winning storyteller, best-selling author, speaker and teacher. A leading expert in the growing field of storytelling, Leitman has written two books on the subject: the best-selling, Long Story Short- the Only Storytelling Guide You'll Ever Need and her latest What’s Your Story? A Workbook For the Storyteller in All of Us, both from Sasquatch Books. Her comedic memoir, Gawky…Tales of an Extra Long Awkward Phase is available from Seal Press/ Perseus Books.

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Under the Skin: An Exploration of Autotheory

Intermediate / Advanced | Since Maggie Nelson’s 2015 book The Argonauts referenced autotheory, the term has had some buzz in the literary world. Autotheory—loosely defined as writing that mixes embodied personal narrative with philosophy, criticism, or theory—is often hybrid not…

Course Type: 2 Sessions  |   Instructor: Arianne Zwartjes

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Start Date: 02/22/2020 – 10:00 am
This class is full

Arianne Zwartjes

Arianne Zwartjes teaches for the Sierra Nevada College low-residency MFA program, and has also taught at the University of Arizona and the United World College. In her other life she has worked as an outdoor educator, a wilderness-medicine instructor, an EMT, and a carpenter. She is the author of the lyric nonfiction, medical-humanities book Detailing Trauma: A Poetic Anatomy, and the prose-poetry collection The Surfacing of Excess. Her writing won the 2011 Gulf Coast Nonfiction Prize, was a Best American Essays Notable Essay, and has appeared in Tarpaulin Sky, Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, Ninth Letter, The Feminist Wire, and elsewhere. Visit her and her writing at ariannezwartjes.com.

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Henry James and Sally Rooney

All Levels | “Chief on my list for the last few years has been Henry James. I feel extraordinarily connected to his novels, like my whole life is there.” So says Sally Rooney, the young and celebrated Irish novelist. In…

Course Type: 4 Sessions  |   Instructor: Liza Birnbaum

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Start Date: 02/22/2020 – 1:00 pm

Liza Birnbaum

Liza Birnbaum's fiction and essays have appeared in Web Conjunctions, jubilat, Open Letters Monthly, and other publications. She is a founding editor of Big Big Wednesday, an annual print journal of literature and visual art, and has taught creative writing in a number of settings, most recently at an alternative school for young women who are pregnant or parenting. In 2019, she will be a funded resident at the Lillian E. Smith Center at Piedmont College. She holds an MFA from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

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Comedic Storytelling

A Second section of Comedic Storytelling will take place on February 22, 2020, and is open for registration now. All Levels | There’s an art to making painful, strange, or even mundane life experiences funny. The students will learn to dig…

Course Type: 1 Session  |   Instructor: Margot Leitman

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Start Date: 02/23/2020 – 1:00 pm
This class is full

Margot Leitman

Margot Leitman is an award-winning storyteller, best-selling author, speaker and teacher. A leading expert in the growing field of storytelling, Leitman has written two books on the subject: the best-selling, Long Story Short- the Only Storytelling Guide You'll Ever Need and her latest What’s Your Story? A Workbook For the Storyteller in All of Us, both from Sasquatch Books. Her comedic memoir, Gawky…Tales of an Extra Long Awkward Phase is available from Seal Press/ Perseus Books.

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Writing to the Moon and Back

“The moon making a poem possible… what can we say about that?” -Mary Ruefle All Levels | 50 years after the lunar landing, let’s look toward the moon anew. This generative class, open to all genres, features eclectic writing experiments…

Course Type: 6 Sessions  |   Instructor: Sierra Nelson

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Start Date: 02/24/2020 – 7:10 pm
This class is full

Sierra Nelson

Sierra Nelson is a poet, performer, and installation artist. Her books include forthcoming poetry collection The Lachrymose Report (Poetry Northwest Editions), lyrical choose-your-own-adventure I Take Back the Sponge Cake (Rose Metal Press), and chapbook In Case of Loss (Toadlily). Earning her MFA in Poetry from University of Washington (2002), Nelson is a MacDowell Colony Fellow, Carolyn Kizer Prize winner, Pushcart Prize nominee, and winner of the Carolyn Kizer Prize and Seattle Office of Arts & Culture's CityArtist Grant. She is also co-founder of literary performance groups The Typing Explosion and Vis-à-Vis Society, and president of Seattle's Cephalopod Appreciation Society. For more info: songsforsquid.tumblr.com

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How to Get Away with Murder

All Levels | Imagine: You’re designing a murder to blame on the villain of your choice, throwing suspicion on innocent bystanders, and plotting the deed so that you walk away unscathed. In this class, we’ll learn how to create this…

Course Type: 6 Sessions  |   Instructor: Wendy Kendall

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Start Date: 02/24/2020 – 7:10 PM

Wendy Kendall

Wendy Kendall is a mystery author now marketing her first Cozy Mystery series. Catch her exciting mystery author interviews about books and the writing craft on her Podcast—Kendall & Cooper Talk Mysteries on YouTube, iTunes, and KBFG radio 107.3 FM. Or listen to her new author interview podcast A Novel Talk with Wendy Kendall and Carl Lee on YouTube. Wendy's love of writing and reading shows as a syndicated columnist for Recommended Reads, and new column Kids Are Bookin’ It. She is also a Chanticleer Organization Book Reviewer, a freelance blogger, editor, and speaker. Visit her website wendywrites.org

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Online Class | #OwnVoices: Digital Storytelling

All Levels | Digital storytelling—the single or combined use of text, images, video, audio, social media (like ‘tweets’ or ‘bookstagrams’), or interactive elements (such as live chats)—is a powerful way to showcase diverse narratives. This course will focus on how…

Course Type: 4 Sessions  |   Instructor: Rachel Werner

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Start Date: 02/27/2020

Rachel Werner

Rachel Werner is the Content Marketing Specialist for Taliesin Preservation—a National Historic Landmark and the home, studio, school and 800-acre estate of Frank Lloyd Wright. She is also guest faculty at The Highlights Foundation; a 2018 We Need Diverse Books mentorship finalist; and a 2017 World Food Championship judge. Formerly the digital editor at BRAVA (a Wisconsin-based publication created by women for women), she enjoyed overseeing culinary, arts, style and live event coverage while working in the media in addition to contributing print, photography and video content to BLK+GRN, Madison Magazine, Entrepreneurial Chef, Hobby Farms Magazine and Urban Farm. She is equally grateful to have presented this year at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Writer's Institute and Write to Publish at Portland State University on digital marketing and social media strategy for writers.

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The Tools of Voice

One of the most effective ways in prose to, as Susan Sontag says, “preserve the works of the mind against oblivion,” is to craft a distinctive voice. Voice is made up of qualities that include diction and structural choices, syntactical…

Course Type: 1 Session  |   Instructor: Mitchell S. Jackson

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Start Date: 02/28/2020 – 12:00 pm
This class is full

Mitchell S. Jackson

Mitchell S. Jackson’s debut novel The Residue Years (Bloomsbury) received wide critical praise. Jackson is the winner of a Whiting Award. His novel also won The Ernest J. Gaines Prize for Literary Excellence and was a finalist for The Center for Fiction Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, the PEN / Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction, and the Hurston / Wright Legacy Award. Jackson’s honors include fellowships from the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center, the Lannan Foundation, the Ford Foundation, PEN America, TED, NYFA (New York Foundation for the Arts), and The Center for Fiction. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Harpers, The New York Times Book Review, The Paris Review, The Guardian, Time Magazine, and elsewhere. His nonfiction book Survival Math: Notes on an All-American Family (Scribner) was published in the spring of 2019. He is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Chicago.
Jackson is also a well-regarded speaker who has delivered lectures and keynote addresses at events including the annual TED Conference, the Ubud (Bali) Writers and Readers Festival, and the Sydney Writers’ Festival, as well as institutions including Yale University, Brown University, Cornell University, and Columbia University. A formerly incarcerated person, Jackson is also a l justice advocate who, as part of his efforts, visits prisons and youth facilities in the United States and abroad.

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The Path to Story

Over this two-day generative workshop with Jarhead author Anthony Swofford, you will read the first pages of a number of fiction and nonfiction works and discuss “the path” into the works for the reader and the writer. With a series…

Course Type: 2 Sessions  |   Instructor: Anthony Swofford

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Start Date: 02/29/2020 – 10:00 am

Anthony Swofford

Anthony Swofford is the author of the memoirs Jarhead and Hotels, Hospitals, and Jails and the novel Exit A. Swofford’s essays, reportage, and opinion pieces have appeared in Harper’s, The Guardian, Slate, and the New York Times, among other places. He has taught at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and West Virginia University. He received his fiction MFA from Iowa. In 2020 Knopf will publish his biography of Carlos Arredondo, a Gold Star Father and hero of the 2013 marathon bombing in Boston. He’s currently writing a feature adaptation of this book. His next prose project is a campus novel called Eight Great Atheists. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, the writer and photographer Christa Parravani, their three children, a fish with a host of names, a dog named Kingsley Exley Lizard, and nearby coyotes.

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From Start to Finish: Get to a Draft in One Day

All Levels | In this generative workshop, you’ll learn to cultivate deadline discipline with a series of timed prompts based on Anzaldúa’s “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” applicable to both fiction and creative nonfiction. Together, we will create new…

Course Type: 1 Session  |   Instructor: Kristen Millares Young

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Start Date: 03/01/2020 – 10:00 am
This class is full

Kristen Millares Young

Kristen Millares Young is the author of Subduction, a novel forthcoming from Red Hen Press on April 14, 2020. A prize-winning investigative journalist, book critic and essayist, Kristen serves as the 2018-2020 Prose Writer-in-Residence at Hugo House. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Guardian, the New York Times, Poetry Northwest, Crosscut, Hobart, Moss, Proximity, Seattle’s Child, Pacifica Literary Review, KUOW 94.9-FM, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Miami Herald, the Buenos Aires Herald and TIME Magazine. Her personal essays are anthologized in Pie & Whiskey, a 2017 New York Times New & Notable Book, Latina Outsiders: Remaking Latina Identity and Advanced Creative Nonfiction: A Writer's Guide and Anthology (Bloomsbury of New York and London, 2021).

Kristen was the researcher for the New York Times team that produced “Snow Fall,” which won a Pulitzer and a Peabody in 2013. Her stories have been recognized by the Society for Features Journalism, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. Kristen has been a fellow at UC Berkeley’s Knight Digital Media Center, the Jack Straw Writing Program, and the University of Washington Graduate School, where she was a Graduate Opportunities and Minority Achievement Scholar.

Kristen graduated magna cum laude from Harvard with a 2003 degree in History and Literature, earning her Master of Fine Arts from the University of Washington in 2012. She teaches creative writing in English and Spanish at Hugo House, the University of Washington Continuum College, the Port Townsend Writers’ Conference and the Seattle Public Library. Kristen serves as board chair of InvestigateWest, a nonprofit news studio she co-founded in 2009. InvestigateWest’s reporting has led to the passage of fifteen new laws to improve the environment and the lives of foster families, people of color caught in the criminal justice system, health care workers, and advocates for government transparency.

Teaching philosophy: What do powerful writers know? They know that personal experience – each human being’s subjective perception of the world – is the single largest factor for determining how that person views the world. What do powerful writers do? They take their lived experience and, using both recollection and imagination, transform it into words that compel others to feel what the author has found and portrayed. What do powerful writers discover through careful examination of their work? They learn that their characters and plots often reach for epiphanies unfounded by the scenes provided in their narratives. That recognition compels writers to seek revelations from other sources, whether readings or workshop commentary, and to revise their work, again and again. In revision awaits transformation. Why does writing matter? Writing teaches us to understand the world around us. In turn, it helps us to be understood by others. There can be no greater hope.

Writers I return to: Come to my class. We’ll get into all of that and more. Or you can take the easy way out and check out my instagram @kristenmillares, where I post the covers of favored books.

Favorite writing advice: Ass in chair.

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Writing Home

All Levels | Home can be where we learn to first understand our place in the world, and a place we return to again and again for answers about how to be. Looking at several example essays by writers like…

Course Type: 4 Sessions  |   Instructor: Margot Kahn Case

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Start Date: 03/02/2020 – 5:00 pm
This class is full

Margot Kahn Case

Margot Kahn is the author of the biography Horses That Buck, winner of the High Plains Best First Book Award, and co-editor of This Is the Place: Women Writing About Home, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. Her essays and reviews have appeared in The Rumpus, Lenny Letter, The Los Angeles Review, BUST, and Publishers Weekly, among other places, and her poems have appeared in numerous journals. She earned an MFA from Columbia University and has been supported by the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, 4Culture and ArtistTrust. She is currently at work on a new biography and co-editing the forthcoming collection Wanting: Women Writing About Desire.

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True Stories, Real People: When Your ‘Characters’ Know Where You Live

Introductory / Intermediate | How do you bring nonfiction subjects to life without getting sued — or stabbed? This class will cover the challenges and thrills of writing about real human beings — public figures, dead people, friends, and trickiest…

Course Type: 4 Sessions  |   Instructor: Neal Thompson

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Start Date: 03/05/2020 – 5:00 pm

Neal Thompson

Neal Thompson is the author of five books, most recently the memoir, Kickflip Boys (Ecco, 2018). A former newspaper reporter, Neal's journalism has appeared in Esquire, Outside, and the Wall Street Journal, among many other publications. He's writing a book about the Irish immigrant Kennedys. He lives in Seattle with his family.

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More than Memories: Making Meaning in Memoir

Memories aren’t enough. We have to connect them to culture, to history, to zeitgeist—and then be as clear and specific about our unique perspectives as possible. In this generative workshop, we’ll open a number of creative doorways (and windows and…

Course Type: 1 Session  |   Instructor: Kimberly Dark

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Start Date: 03/07/2020 – 10:00 am

Kimberly Dark

Kimberly Dark is the author of Fat, Pretty and Soon to be Old, The Daddies and Love and Errors. Her essays, stories and poetry are widely published in academic and popular online publications alike.

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