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Class Catalog

Browse Winter 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.

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Winter Registration Dates

All registrations open at 10:30 am

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


Early Bird Pricing Dec. 2 through Dec. 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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Writing the Op Ed

Intermediate | The Seattle Times accepts brief letters for their op ed page. At 650 words, an opinion piece requires more shaping, but stretches your influence much further. In this class, you’ll learn how to select a topic, choose the…

Course Type: 1 Session  |   Instructor: Kathleen Alcala

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Start Date: 02/09/2020 – 1:00 pm
5 seats available

Kathleen Alcala

Kathleen Alcalá is the author of a short story collection, three novels set in 19th Century Mexico and the Southwest, and a collection of essays based on family history. Her work has received the Western States Book Award, the Governor’s Writers Award, and a Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Book Award. She received her second Artist Trust Fellowship in 2008, and was honored by the national Latino writers group, Con Tinta, at the Associated Writing Programs Conference in 2014. She has been designated an Island Treasure in the Arts on Bainbridge Island.

Kathleen's latest book is The Deepest Roots: Finding Food and Community on a Pacific Northwest Island, by the University of Washington Press. In it, she explores our relationship with food and the land through research and numerous interviews with the people who bring us our food on Bainbridge Island.

Kathleen has a B.A. in Linguistics from Stanford University, an M.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Washington, and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of New Orleans. Kathleen has a great affinity for the story-telling techniques of magic realism and science fiction, and has been both a student and instructor in the Clarion West Science Fiction Workshop.

Kathleen was a faculty member at the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts on Whidbey Island until it closed in 2016. She still lectures and gives readings and workshops in creative writing.

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Creative Storytelling through Songwriting

All Levels | Not so different from a poem or short narrative, songwriting is simply storytelling with a musical backdrop. Songs share intimate tales of heartbreak, joy, rage, triumph, and defeat; understanding how to write them adds a useful skill…

Course Type: 6 Sessions  |   Instructor: Sassy Black

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Start Date: 02/10/2020 – 5:00 pm

Sassy Black

A graduate of Cornish College of the Arts, SassyBlack, who first started performing in clubs at 18, hit the public consciousness in 2008 with her hip-hop duo, THEESatisfaction, releasing two records on Sub Pop. Since, she has fostered a solo career, writing and producing all of her music and releasing 11 projects since 2015. With melodies often compared to Herbie Hancock and a voice often compared to Sarah Vaughan, Black has received acclaim from myriad publications, including Pitchfork, Noisey, Afropunk, SPIN, and Essence.

With the gravity of a celestial body the gods themselves would fawn over, the artist will release her next record, Ancient Mahogany Gold, fall of 2019. Black, who has shared stages with performers like Princess Nokia and Charles Bradley, has played popular summer festivals like Capitol Hill Block Party and SXSW. And along with her music, which has been featured on the Adult Swim compilation, LUXE, her acting prowess has been featured on the HBO series, Vinyl, and Comedy Central’s Broad City. In short, she’s a modern day creative oracle.

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Online Class | How to Get Started as a Freelancer

Introductory | Is it possible to turn freelancing into a full-time job? Nicole Dieker has been a full-time freelancer for nearly a decade, and she’ll teach you everything she knows about how freelancers make money; how to pitch (even when…

Course Type: 4 Sessions  |   Instructor: Nicole Dieker

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Start Date: 02/11/2020

Nicole Dieker

Nicole Dieker teaches writing, freelancing, and publishing classes (including Hugo House online classes) and works one-on-one with authors as a developmental editor and copyeditor. She's been a full-time freelance writer since 2012, and spent five years as a writer and editor for The Billfold, a personal finance blog where people had honest conversations about money.

Nicole's debut novel, The Biographies of Ordinary People: Volume 1: 1989–2000, published in May 2017; The Biographies of Ordinary People: Volume 2: 2004–2016 followed in May 2018. The two books are a Millennial-era Little Women that follow three sisters from childhood to adulthood.

“I took Nicole’s freelancing class. By the end of the class, I had submitted my first pitch, had it accepted and the article published. She guided us through the process of building a freelance career, with concrete steps to get started, ongoing resources for growth and answers to wide-ranging questions. She taught one of the most informative classes I’ve taken and she did it while providing individualized information for each member of the class.” — Beth Swanson, freelance writer and journalist

Visit NicoleDieker.com to learn more, or to read Nicole's daily blog posts about the art and the finances of a creative career.

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Mining Darkness for Light: The Art of Humorous Memoir

“The secret source of humor itself is not joy but sorrow.” ~ Mark Twain The strange and magical thing about humor is that its roots are often in sadness, shame, anger, frustration or humiliation. The stories we find the funniest…

Course Type: 1 Session  |   Instructor: Courtenay Hameister

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Start Date: 02/11/2020 – 1:00 pm

Courtenay Hameister

For 10 years, Courtenay Hameister was the Host and Head Writer of Live Wire, a radio variety show now syndicated on over 110 public radio stations nationally. She wrote and performed over 200 humorous personal essays and lead a revolving team of comedy writers, including some NYT bestselling authors. She’s also a playwright, columnist and screenwriter whose work includes the web series "The Benefits of Gusbandry," which The New York Times called "A masterpiece of pretension-puncturing.” Her memoir, Okay Fine Whatever: The Year I Went From Being Afraid of Everything to Only Being Afraid of Most Things was a semi-finalist for the 2019 Thurber Prize for American Humor.

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Sensing Your Character

Paying attention to the five main senses when describing a character is important. However, humans have as many as twenty different ways to physiologically perceive the world around us (including balance, temperature, and proprioception). In this class, we’ll generate characters…

Course Type: 1 Session  |   Instructor: Natanya Ann Pulley

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Start Date: 02/12/2020 – 12:00 pm

Natanya Ann Pulley

Natanya Ann Pulley is a Diné writer of fiction and non-fiction. Her clans are Kinyaa’áani (Towering House People) and Táchii’nii (Red Running into the Water People). She’s published work in numerous journals including Split Lip, The Collagist, The Offing, Waxwing, and As/Us. Her essays have been anthologized in Counternarratives from Women of Color Academics, #NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women, Women Write Resistance, and most recently Shapes of Native Nonfiction. A former editor of Quarterly West and South Dakota Review, she is the founding editor of Hairstreak Butterfly Review. She received a Phd from the University of Utah in Fiction writing with an emphasis in the Evolution (and De-evolution) of Novel Forms. Natanya is an assistant professor of English at Colorado College where she teaches texts by Native American writers, Fiction Writing, and Experimental Forms in Ethnic Literature. Her short story collection With Teeth was a 2018 Many Voices Project winner, published by New Rivers Press in Fall 2019.

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Submitting and Tracking Your Work

All Levels | This session is designed to help writers search for and familiarize themselves with literary journals and track their submissions in an organized and efficient way. It will help students create a personal strategy for submitting that meets…

Course Type: 1 Session  |   Instructor: Joe Ponepinto

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Start Date: 02/15/2020 – 1:00 pm

Joe Ponepinto

Joe Ponepinto is the publisher and fiction editor of Tahoma Literary Review, a nationally-recognized literary journal, and teaches fiction writing at Tacoma Community College. His novel, Mr. Neutron, will be published by 7.13 Books in spring 2018. His stories and criticism have been published in dozens of journals in the U.S. and abroad.

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Wounded Little Liars: Characters in Fiction and Nonfiction

All Levels | These people in your stories… Who hurt them? Who loved them once and left them? What are your characters doing to their world and themselves because of their wounds? In this one-day deep-dive into your characters’ truths…

Course Type: 1 Session  |   Instructor: Sonora Jha

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Start Date: 02/15/2020 – 1:00 pm

Sonora Jha

Sonora Jha is the author of the novel Foreign, published in 2013 by Random House India. She is a professor of journalism and media studies at Seattle University. Formerly a journalist in India and Singapore, her recent political essays and Op-Eds have been published in the New York Times, the Seattle Times, Seattle Weekly and the Globalist. Apart from her academic and journalistic writing, she is currently finishing work on a memoir. Sonora is a 2016-2018 Hugo House Writer-in-Residence.

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Speak Beauty to Power

Earth calls for testimony, but not stridency. In poetry and episodic prose, we will forge testimony to protect places we love, and sustain the planet, with utterance kin to natural beauty. As a river testifies, so shall we—flow, light, grace….

Course Type: 1 Session  |   Instructor: Kim Stafford

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Start Date: 02/15/2020 – 10:00 am
4 seats available

Kim Stafford

Kim Stafford is the author of a dozen books of poetry and prose, most recently Wild Honey, Tough Salt (Red Hen Press). In 2018 he was named Oregon's Poet Laureate by Governor Kate Brown. He teaches writing at Lewis & Clark College, at Fishtrap, and at the Sitka Center.

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The Art of Subtext

All Levels | Charles Baxter claims that the greatest fallacy of modern storytelling is that everyone is always listening to each other. In truth, we’re distracted, caught up in our own lives, and in general quite terrible at listening and…

Course Type: 4 Sessions  |   Instructor: Piper Lane

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Start Date: 02/16/2020 – 1:00 pm

Piper Lane

Piper Lane holds an MFA from the University of Washington and an MA from Ohio University. She coordinated the reading series Castalia, cofounded the Black Jaw Lit Series, and served as prose editor for the Seattle Review. She teaches creative writing at UW. She won UW’s Eugene Van Buren award for fiction and Ohio University’s LitFest Nonfiction essay contest.

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Morrison, Lorde, and Shange: Poetry, Place, and Protest Across Generations and Genres

All Levels | We will critically read, intensely discuss, unpack and explore the masterful words and the social and literary impact of Toni Morrison, Audre Lorde, and Ntozake Shange. You’ll create a collection of three pieces of mixed-genre work using…

Course Type: 6 Sessions  |   Instructor: Anastacia Renee

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Start Date: 02/18/2020 – 7:10 pm

Anastacia Renee

Anastacia-Renee is a multi-genre writer, educator, and interdisciplinary artist. She is the recipient of the 2018 James W. Ray Distinguished Artist Award for Washington artists (Artist Trust), and has served as the 2017-2019 Seattle Civic Poet and the 2015-2017 poet-in-residence at Hugo House. Anastacia-Renee is a two-time Pushcart nominee and 2017 Artist of Year (Seattle). She is the author of five books: Forget It (Black Radish Books), (v.) (Black Ocean) 26 (Dancing Girl Press), Kiss Me Doll Face (Gramma Press), and Answer(Me) (Winged City Chapbooks, Argus Press) and has received writing fellowships and residencies from Cave Canem, Hedgebrook, VONA, Artist Trust, Jack Straw, Ragdale, Whiteley, Mineral School, and Hypatia in the Woods. Her cross-genre writing has appeared in a TEDx talk; the anthologies Women of Resistance: Poems for a New Feminism, Sinister Wisdom: Black Lesbians—We Are the Revolution, and Revise the Psalm: Work Celebrating the Writing of Gwendolyn Brooks; and Ms. Magazine, Split this Rock, Painted Bride Quarterly, Crab Creek Review, Seattle Review, The Fight & the Fiddle, Duende, Poetry Northwest, Synaethesia, Banqueted, Torch, Mom Egg Review, The Magazine of Glamorous Refusal, Pinwheel Journal, and many more. She teaches poetry and multi-genre workshops at Hugo House, libraries, universities, and high schools.

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Fall Back in Love with Your Writing

Acclaimed author Courtney Maum will teach writers how to reengage with texts they’ve fallen out of love with or are simply struggling to complete. Whether you are stuck in the mucky middle of a first novel draft, can’t find the…

Course Type: 1 Session  |   Instructor: Courtney Maum

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Start Date: 02/19/2020 – 1:00 pm
This class is full

Courtney Maum

Courtney Maum is the author of the novels Costalegre, Touch, and I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You and the chapbook Notes from Mexico. Her writing and essays have been widely published in such outlets as BuzzFeed, The New York Times, O, The Oprah Magazine, Interview, and Modern Loss. She is the founder of the learning collaborative The Cabins, and she also works as a product namer and publishing consultant from her home in Connecticut. Find out more at courtneymaum.com.

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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
3 seats available

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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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
4 seats available

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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