Creative Nonfiction ~ Rebecca Brown

To “Essay” Means to Try: a workshop in short, creative, personal nonfiction

The word “essay’ comes from a French word meaning “to try,’ and was first used by Montaigne to describe the short, simple, personal things he wrote to try to understand himself.  Over the centuries, Montaigne’s idiosyncratic “essays” have given rise to into things we now call “memoir,” “creative nonfiction,” “the lyric essay,” etc.  In this workshop, we will look at historic and contemporary examples from around the world and the US of haibun, vignette, collage narrative, biography, memoir, etc. in order to inspire our own writing.  Please come to class with an open mind, a willing heart and an eagerness to read, write and discuss our own and others’ work.   This workshop is not designed to discuss or review work you have already written; rather it is is designed to generate new work and explore different ways of approaching your work.  Writers of all genres and all levels are welcome.


Back by popular demand, Rebecca Brown is a writer, visual artist and curator who is also known for her teaching and activism. She was the first writer in residence at the Richard Hugo House and she is co-founder of the Jack Straw Writers Program. “Excellent workshop (CNF); The creative non-fiction workshop was fabulous; Rebecca is incredibly learned and generous with knowledge and expertise…” commented her workshop participants.

Author a dozen books published in the US and abroad, Brown’s books include American Romances (City Lights, 2009, winner of the Publishing Triangle Award); The Last Time I Saw You, The End of YouthThe Dogs: A Modern Bestiary, Annie Oakley’s Girl and The Terrible Girls (all with City Lights) and The Gifts of the Body, (HarperCollins). Her Excerpts From a Family Medical Dictionary was published by Granta (UK), University of Wisconsin Press (USA) and Asahi Shimbun, Japan. Her altered texts and installations have been exhibited in the Frye Art Museum, Hedreen Gallery, Arizona Center for Poetry, and Simon Fraser Gallery (Vancouver, BC). She has been awarded a Stranger Genius Award, Boston Book Review Award, Pacific Northwest Booksellers’ Award, Lambda Literary Award and (twice) the Washington State Book Award. She co-edited, with Robert Corbett, Experimental Theology (Seattle Research Institute, 2003), an anthology of responses to modern views of God and godlessness, and with Mary Jane Knecht of the Frye Art Museum, Looking Together: Writers on Art (University of Washington Press).

Brown wrote the libretto for The Onion Twins, a dance opera in collaboration with Better Biscuit Dance and has collaborated with numerous other dancers, musicians, theater, opera, film and visual artists. She has taught and lectured in the US and abroad and is currently Artist in Residence at University of Washington, Bothell, and on the MFA in writing faculty at Goddard College, Vermont.