A Writing and Reading Course with “Dear Layla”

by Mark Chmiel

In this winter/spring course, we will read (or reread) and write on themes from my recent book, Dear Layla Welcome to Palestine. Precedent for this method: last spring we used themes from The Book of Mev and last summer poems from Alice Walker as prompts for our own personal and social explorations and investigations.

This time around, some of the topics we may consider include friendship, poetry, anger, commitment, accompaniment, offscripting, dynamics of oppression, letters, modes of solidarity, reading, focus, genres, prophetic interference, reentry, and the transformative power of music and theater.

I can imagine people who know very little about the Middle East being able to contextualize the story and make connections with their own journey, friends, and struggles.  This is what Lindsey Weston did with an earlier draft.

Each session will allow time for quiet, individual writing sessions, paired and group sharing, and consideration of poems and meditations beyond Dear Layla.

One requirement in our class is for each participant to work on a piece of writing to send out into the world by the end of the eight weeks. That could mean writing a letter to someone, starting or rejuvenating a blog, posting on Facebook, or creating a Youtube.

I am happy to meet with participants in between classes to discuss whatever is on your mind.

Essentials:
1 copy of Dear Layla Welcome to Palestine (e-book, paper, or cloth).
1 notebook and pen or laptop.

Recommended:
Natalie Goldberg, Thunder and Lightning: Cracking Open the Writer’s Craft

We meet weekly on Wednesdays for eight sessions starting February 3. We’ll go from 6:30 to 8:15 p.m., give or take.

Matthew Hyde and Patrick O’Neal have offered us their lovely home for these sessions—4537 Tower Grove Place, Saint Louis 63110.

Tuition is $150, payable to me at the end of the first class.

Email me if you want to participate: Markjchmiel@gmail.com.  Please share this announcement with anyone you think may be interested in joining us.

Present moment, wonderful moment,

Mark

 

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