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Haunted: Writing into Death & The Dead with Sonya Lea — begins November 8th
November 8 @ 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm$200 – $400
Haunted: Writing into Death & The Dead
Begins November 8th, 2022
Four weekly 2-hour sessions over Zoom on Tuesdays from 5-7PM PST (11/8, 11/15, 11/22, 11/29)
“Many people live and die without ever confronting themselves in the darkness. Pray that one day, you will spin around at the water’s edge, lean over, and be able to count yourself among the lucky.” ― Carmen Maria Machado, Her Body and Other Parties
“What would you read to someone who was dying? Annie Dillard had asked our class. She wanted this to be the standard for our work. There, at the memorial service for my friend, I thought of another: Dying, what stories would you tell?” ― Alexander Chee, How to Write An Autobiographical Novel: Essays
“My grief bloomed as depression, just as it had after my brother died at 19, and I saw little sense, little purpose in this work, this solitary vocation. Me, sightless, wandering the wild, head thrown back, mouth wide open, singing to a star-drenched sky. Like all the speaking, singing women of old, a maligned figure in the wilderness. Few listened in the night.
What resonated back to me: the emptiness between the stars. Dark matter. Cold.” —Jesmyn Ward, “On Witness and Respair: A Personal Tragedy Followed by Pandemic.
We explore the places where the dead gather with the living, where death is apparent in the mundane, where ghosts reside in the more than human histories, where climate change creates new dead zones on the body and the land, where haunted landscapes trouble the cultural narrative, and even alter the narrative that we’re writing.
This is a generative course to learn to blend memoir and fiction writing with philosophy, magic, ritual, and other otherworldly practices of one’s community, traditions, and imagination. For memoirists, inquiry into death can move a personal story beyond the self, situating it within a relational landscape. For fiction writers, this is the time to develop awarenesses of the philosophic backgrounds of your characters, and to explore the ancient or historic lines that haunt your story. We will look at models of memoir, fiction, and nonfiction writing that embrace ghosts, ancestors, grief, loss, burials, ceremonies, and an inquiry into the nature of identity and death.
This class is held during the seasonal celebration of death and ancestors in many cultures. It’s open to writers exploring philosophies, ritual, and practices through an autobiographical or fictional story, as well as those looking to hone their craft weaving the personal/emotional with the supernatural, or those situations beyond the conventionally known.
This is an online class that’s focused on reading and discussion of models, as well as generative writing. We will write together at the first two meetings. (Meetings will be recorded for those who can’t attend in person.) The final two classes will be a workshop model where every student receives a chance to read from their work and receive feedback. This means that you’ll be offering feedback on your fellow student’s work and will need to have time to prepare in weeks three and four, as well as complete a piece of any length in between our meetings. Sonya will provide written and verbal feedback for every student if they wish.
Two-hour class meetings will be held over video chat, using Zoom. Tuesdays, November 8, 15, 22 & 29, from 5PM to 7 PM PST. There will be a private ritual you’re sent instructions to complete on October 31st or November 1st. Material to read in preparation for the class will be about 15-20 pages. No one is required to share or receive comments.
If you have questions, please contact Sonya at firstname.lastname@example.org
The following payment model is inspired by and borrowed from the payment model of Bayo Akomolafe’s class, We Will Dance With Mountains: Into the Cracks.
This workshop offers a sliding scale based on your relative financial standing. In an effort to reflect disparity in economic condition and access to wealth, the following payment system is designed for those with more wealth to help cover the costs of those with less access to wealth and resources. We trust your discernment of your current financial situation and how you fit into the global economic context.
As you decide what amount to pay, please consider your present-day financial situation governed by income, but also the following factors: historical discrimination faced by your peoples; your financial wealth (retirement/savings/investments); your access to income and financial wealth, both current and anticipated (how easily could you earn more income compared to other people in your community, country, and the world; are you expecting an inheritance); people counting on your financial livelihood including dependents and community members; the socio-economic conditions of your locale (relative to other places in your country and in the world); your relationship to food & resource scarcity.
$350 Supporter (Note: This amount reflects the “real” value of this course.)
Scholarships are also still available for anyone needing further financial assistance. Please email Daniel at email@example.com for more info, or if you are feeling challenged in any way by the financial requirements of participation.
Sonya Lea (she/they) is an American-Canadian writer with a background in nondual philosophy, wilderness exploration, and Celtic spirit practices. She has been a Tarot reader for therapists, healers, artists, and kin for twenty-five years. Her memoir, Wondering Who You Are, (Tin House) was about the identity death of her husband in a surgery, and its impact on their relationship. She was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award and won an Artist Trust Award. She has received a Canada Council Award and a grant from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts for her forthcoming essay collection about the last public execution in America, in Owensboro, Kentucky, where she was born. Her essays have appeared in Salon, The Southern Review, Brevity, Guernica, Ms. Magazine, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and more. She lives in Banff National Park and Seattle.
“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
“Into the unknown, into the mundane, into the weird, into the intimate ordinary, into sex and despair and what love really looks like. Sonya Lea’s book does everything memoir ought to do, and something more: It tenderly, relentlessly explores the nature of identity itself.”
—Claire Dederer , author of Monsters: A Fan’s Dilemma & Love and Trouble
“Lea’s account of her loss, and her adjustment to the new man her husband has become, is unflinching.” BBC
“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
“I have worked with Sonya in a group workshop setting, face to face and have participated in one of her online programs. These opportunities were enlightening and inspirational for me. Her considerate feedback, delivered in her soft spoken and confident way, assures her participants are learning, growing, and improving in their writing abilities.” ~Hon. Karen Sorensen, Senator, Alberta Rockies, Canada
“Sonya is the mentor you want as your ally if you are ready to go out on a limb with your writing— to take risks, to venture to the edge and beyond with your authentic voice. Sonya listens and responds with laser precision; she inspires and empowers me to be more than I am.” ~ ~Writer Ann Amberg, Whidbey Island, WA
The work you guided us through over the four days felt (dare I say it) transformational. Your holistic approach helped me to access the knowing and vulnerability that is not only improving my writing but also improving my life. This sense of awareness is affecting how I interact with people, lead at work, and approach challenges I encounter — on the page and off. ~Writer Meagan Walker, Seattle, WA