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the Visceral self

Writing Through the body

 January 3 - january 24, wednesday evenings

Visceral means “relating to the viscera,” also known as your internal organs. It also means “relating to deep inward feelings rather than to the intellect.” We all have bodies, and when we write through them, we access stories that have been living inside us all along. Writing through the body brings our work more fully alive on the page, gives it a stronger pulse, more breath and electricity.

Join us as we explore embodied writing. The Visceral Self is a 4-week remote class open to writers of all genres. We will follow visceral writing techniques wherever they lead us, including the Big Ones: sex, birth, illness, trauma, pain, recovery, etc. We’ll contemplate the specificities of our bodies and the history embedded in them.

We'll read gut-punching, cheek-stroking, heart-clenching, jaw-dropping published work. We'll identify the writing techniques and devices that bring the body alive on the page, then try them out ourselves. Aided by craft-focused readings and generative writing prompts, we’ll also delve into the ways visceral, embodied writing can link personal experience to the wider world.

Elephant Rock does not discriminate against anyone, regardless of age, color of skin, national origin, race, ethnicity, religion, disability, gender expression and identity, sexual orientation, or anything else. We expect the same from our all of our participants.

how does this remote class work?

We gather online for four consecutive Wednesdays (6:00 - 8 PM CT). Class meetings (held via Zoom) include lively discussions of thoughtfully selected readings by masters of the body (think Maggie Nelson, Roxane Gay, Tony Judt, Nick Flynn, Dorothy Allison, and more). The readings serve as striking incarnations of the themes and techniques of visceral writing. We'll also use sensory exercises to tap into the language of the body and channel it into words. Class time includes structured discussions of readings as well as student work. Additional resources include a dedicated Elephant Rock portal for accessing essential class materials, one-on-one interaction with and feedback from course instructors, and a private Facebook community page for ongoing interaction outside class.

what will writers take away?

  • 3 micro essays (seedlings or vignettes to further develop) 

  • Access to engaged mentors and a supportive community of fellow writers

  • Deep knowledge of the techniques and devices that make written bodies feel real

  • A rich resource list to guide further explorations

  • Thoughtful feedback on the work you choose to share

  • More confidence to channel the stories only you (and your body) can tell

What is the Cost?

Tuition is $329, and a non-refundable deposit of $160 is required (via check or PayPal) to hold your spot. Full payment is due 15 days before the workshop begins.

Who are the teachers?

This course is led by Jeannine Ouellette and Sophie Ouellette-Howitz. Jeannine holds an MFA in Fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts and teaches writing through the Association of Writers & Writing Program's Writer-to-Writer Program, the Minnesota Prison Writers Workshop, and the University of Minnesota. Jeannine is the author of several nonfiction books as well as the children's book Mama Moon and her essays and fiction have appeared widely in magazines and literary journals. Of her work, Joyce Carol Oates has said, "It is simply beautiful; precisely imagined, poetically structured, vivid and compelling." Jeannine is the founder of Elephant Rock; read her full bio here. Sophie earned her B.A. at Smith College, where she concentrated in the formation of identity through literature. Her literary work has appeared or is forthcoming in Pigeon Pages, Past Ten, and others. Her essay "Study of Bones" was the first-place winner of the 2017 Pigeon Pages Fledgling Prose Contest and is nominated for the 2018 Pushcart Prize. She also works one-on-one with fiction and nonfiction writers to tighten up plot, finesse character development, and improve a manuscript's marketability. She has ghostwritten/shepherded into existence five books, including Three Loves: An Unconventional Love Triangle, an Indie Excellence Award and International Book Awards finalist.

What have others had to say about elephant rock workshops?

A participant in a previous Elephant Rock remote class said: “The Art of the Fractured class is one of the best I have ever taken, and that’s saying a lot given that I have taken many dozens over the past three decades." Read more love letters here. 

How Do I Register?

Make your deposit via check (elephantrockretreats@gmail.com for instructions) or PayPal. If you have questions, please let us know! Class size is limited and workshops tend to fill quickly. We hope to write with you.

course materials

This password-protected page (link coming soon!) includes the course syllabus, reading list, and additional resources for registered participants only.