Course Catalog

Radical Memoir

Why radical? This class is for anyone who wants to become effective and uncompromisingly honest in plumbing a story from life. You’ll learn to communicate sorrow, anger, joy, and humor through craft exercises that explore tone, setting, character, dialogue, and metaphor. We’ll consider ways to tell our stories without self-pity or melodrama. You’ll learn to take emotional risks with clarity and to stop defending your reputation. Come write your story in any form: essay, letter, prose poem, manifesto, vignette, list, abecedarian, Wikipedia entry.

Instructor: Sonya Lea

Class Type: 6 Sessions

Start Date: 02/24/2015

No Class On: 03/17/2015

End Date: 04/07/2015

Days of the Week: Tuesday

Time: 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Minimum Class Size: 5

Maximum Class Size: 15

$220.50 Member Price:
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$245.00 General Price:

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Sonya Lea

Sonya Lea’s memoir, Wondering Who You Are has won awards and garnered praise in a number of publications including Oprah Magazine, People, and the BBC, who named it a “top ten book.” Her essays have appeared in Salon, The Southern Review, Brevity, Guernica, Cold Mountain Review, The Prentice Hall College Reader, The Rumpus and The Butter. Lea teaches at Hugo House in Seattle, and she’s leading a pilot project to teach writing to women veterans through the Red Badge Project. Originally from Kentucky, she lives in Seattle. Find her at www.wonderingwhoyouare.com.

Teaching philosophy: My superpower is my transparency—the sensual, subversive style of my writing that allows my whole self to be seen, even the ugly parts. I create a beautiful space for bravery to emerge. I don’t just teach writing—I write nearly every day. I have a disciplined creative life, and I want to show writers how to design one too.
My writing and teaching is informed by these things:

1. The exploration of identity, memory and time.
2. The form of the story follows its themes.
3. Successful prose writing includes having an understanding of one’s mind. Things like the role of intuition, obsession, disclosure, emotional risk-taking, and the inter-weaving of seemingly disparate elements play a part in creating transparency, and ultimately freedom.
4. The truths we write about are subjective and personal. From them we create a world that may be contrary to what external authority tells us is good for us.
5. The process of writing shows us how we each might wake up to who we are.

Writers I always return to: Margaret Atwood, Lidia Yuknavitch, Susan Orlean.

Reviews for Wondering Who You Are:
"...a memoir as addictive as a thriller...An admirable and heartening story about love, the resilience of marriage and what 'in sickness and in health' really means." Oprah.com

"Her stunning account of his recovery efforts and her willful refusal to give up on marriage to the stranger occupying her husband’s body is fantastically heartfelt and inspiring." Booklist (Starred Review)

"I was carried forward by the linguistic ferocity of a self-proclaimed badass, but also by great empathy for the husband whose medical tragedy lies at the heart of this story..." Chicago Tribune

"a quietly wrenching memoir that’s as much about what makes any of us who we are as it is about Lea’s own story." Minneapolis Star-Tribune

"With poetic prose and remarkable candor, Lea shares the details of helping her husband regain a sense of purpose...and her own difficult transition." Seattle Magazine

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