Part Monster: Writing “Craziness”

Tuesday, May 7, 2019 - 6:00pm to Tuesday, June 11, 2019 - 8:00pm

Class Meetings: Tuesdays, May 7 - June 11, from 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM, in the Poetry Center Conference Room 207

Registration opens April 15, 2019 at 11 AM. ***SOLD OUT***

In her bestselling book Heart Berries, Terese Marie Mailhot opens the door to her lover and sees the black eye that she gave him. “When I opened [the door], I had to face that I was part monster,” she writes. In this six-week class, writers explore what it means to write “crazy,” from the quiet stutterings of mental illness to the way violence can echo in us. Beginning with an overview of how physiological trauma and shame interact with our writing processes, this class will focus mainly on the craft questions of “crazy”: How can syntax bring readers into the experience of mental wobbliness, erraticness, escalation, shutdown? How do we write scenes that are inherently dramatic—like outbursts or suicide attempts—without crossing the line into melodrama? As writers, how do we bear the exposure of behavior that makes us feel “part monster,” committing to truth-telling while building complex and likeable characters? This class is not a support group; nor is it intended to be a replacement for mental healthcare. But for those who are already seeking the necessary support for their conditions and histories, this class will offer a stable, supportive environment to work on a craft level the stories that so many of us carry. Writers will have the opportunity to turn in one essay for group workshopping and should plan to complete weekly writing exercises and readings by published authors, including Sarah Fawn Montgomery, Louise Erdrich, Charles Bowden, Kiese Laymon, and Emily F. Maloney.