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Refuse the Given World: Breaking Blocks Through Play

September 7 – October 12, 2021
Tuesdays, 5:00–7:00 p.m. (six sessions)
online via Zoom


“When I sit down and start writing, I feel the given world recede, and I can just play.”

—Sam Lipsyte

Remember when you were a little kid, playing on the floor for hours and hours? Our best writing days are often imbued with that same sense of timelessness, freedom, wonder, and escape—in other words, our work often works best when it feels like play.

In this generative writing course, we will tap into a playful mindset—by using silly rules, obstructions, oblique strategies, games, dreams, ephemera, constraints, and more—to unlock problematic works and/or generate new material. You will leave this class with more than a dozen techniques for starting a new project, breaking a block, or working through something sticky in a piece of writing.

This course will pull techniques from music, visual art, design, and film in addition to those from writing. Authors Jayne Anne Phillips, Han Kang, Leah Dieterich, Jess Arndt, Garielle Lutz, Amy Hempel, Sandra Cisneros, Ben Marcus, Carmen Maria Machado, and others will guide our discussions and exercises.

Access Program
We want our writing classes to be accessible to everyone, regardless of income and background. We understand that our tuition structure can present obstacles for some people. Our Access Program offers writing class registrations at a reduced rate. The access program for writing classes covers 60% of the class tuition. Most writing classes have at least one access spot available. Contact Susan Moore at susan@literary-arts.org if you would like to take a writing class at the Access Rate.


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Kimberly King Parsons

Kimberly King Parsons is the author of the debut collection Black Light (Vintage), which was longlisted for both the 2019 National Book Award and the 2019 Story Prize, and was a finalist for the 2020 Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction, the 2020 Texas Institute of Letters Best Work of First Fiction Award, and the 2020 Oregon Book Award. Her story “Foxes” was among the trio that won The Paris Review 2020 National Magazine Award for Fiction from the American Society of Magazine Editors. Parsons is a recipient of fellowships from Columbia University, Yaddo, and the Sustainable Arts Foundation; her fiction has been published in The Paris Review, Best Small Fictions 2017, Black Warrior Review, No Tokens, Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. She lives with her partner and sons in Portland, where she is completing a novel (forthcoming from Knopf) about Texas, motherhood, and LSD.
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