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Teacher Spotlight: Natalie Serber

Natalie Serber is the author of the story collection Shout Her Lovely Name, a New York Times Notable Book of 2012 and a summer reading pick from O, the Oprah Magazine, and an Oregonian Top 10 Books of the Pacific Northwest and an Indie Next Pick. Her memoir, Community Chest, was published by Two Sylvias Press. Her fiction has appeared in The Bellingham Review, Gulf Coast, Inkwell, and Hunger Mountain. Essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, O, the Oprah Magazine, Salon, The Rumpus, The Oregonian, The San Francisco Chronicle, Fourth Genre, and Hunger Mountain.

Natalie will be teaching Memoir Bootcamp (extended session) this Winter! Here is more about the class.

Q: What happens in a typical class?
A: We always start by looking at a poem together, just to shift our focus from our lives, from finding parking, from daily preoccupations to being in the space together, focusing on language. Next, we take about 7 minutes for everyone to write in their journals, or wherever, what’s on their minds. We dump on the page, again, in the service of letting go and becoming present.

The majority of class time is spent discussing the work. Participants will have read and thought about the work of their peers and we will divide the time between the participants who are ‘up’ for the day. The conversation is about what is working on the page, what strengths we see in the language, imagery, form, characterization, etc… We always give the writer a chance to redirect the discussion to what might be concerning them about their piece.

At the close of class, we discuss goals: whether we met our writing goals in the past week, and what we hope to get done in the week ahead.

Q: Why do I like teaching this class?
A: I love teaching the memoir workshop because people get real and truthful and vulnerable straightaway. When you are telling your truth on the page, you are ready to hear and receive the stories of others with compassion, patience and curiosity. We build a community in this workshop and that makes me very happy.

Q: To whom do you recommend this class?
A: If you have a pressing story, that you’re driven to tell, and you have been working on it, getting words on the page, this is the workshop for you. You will put yourself around like-motivated people, who are generous about putting their smart eyes on your pages. You will become so motivated by the commitment of your peers, amazed by the stories you’ll hear, and inspired to tell your truth.

Q: What do you hope students will get out of the workshop?
A: A deepened commitment to get their story on the page, a community of writers to support them on their journey, and an understanding that they must read great work to write great work.

You can read more of Natalie’s work at www.natalieserber.com. 

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