Where I’m From: Writing the Landscape of Home

Embroidery artwork by Ana Teresa Barboza

In this six-week writing workshop, we will write into and through our concepts and frameworks for home as well as our personal relationships to the places that have been home to us. We will celebrate their complexity: beauty, difficulty, their physical attributes, their histories (laudable and problematic). We will consider how they have shaped the people who know them intimately, including ourselves. We will explore other places as foils, juxtaposed against our homelands. We will consider the homelands of our ancestors and how all the places of our people are carried within us.


In our course, participants will read and discuss selections from nonfiction writers whose work centers on place. We will partake in both in and out of class generative writing exercises, and as we progress in the course, participants’ writing will become raw material for the class with each student having the opportunity to bring in a draft and receive feedback from both the instructor and fellow students in a workshop setting. Together, we will ask questions about home and homelands, refine our ideas about how to best shape setting on the page, and consider the way shaping place in writing invites the reader further into the story.

The Details: 

Six Mondays, 6-8 p.m.*

June 19, June 26, July 10, July 17, July 24, July 31

(July 10 class will be held from 7-9 p.m.)

At the Southern Arizona Workspace (or SAWS, the space behind EXO on 6th and 7th)


Cost: $190-240, Sliding Scale (The sliding scale is here to accommodate those for whom the higher end is a stretch. However, these classes are part of how I make my livelihood so please pay what you are able)


This class will be capped at 12 participants so register soon to reserve your spot.

Register Here



Documentary Storytelling in Prose


Stuart Franklin’s contact sheet from Tiananmen Square, 1989, containing the famous “tank man shot”. Photograph: Magnum Photo

@ The University of Arizona Poetry Center

Class meetings: Six consecutive Wednesdays, 6-8pm, from March 22 to April 26, 2017, in the University of Arizona Poetry Center Conference Room 207.

While most people think of film when they hear documentary, writers have long been documentarians of their time. They draw not only from their own experiences but also from the culture, people, and places that concern and interest them in order to investigate, curate, and create meaning. In this six-week nonfiction writing course, we will think about and practice what it means to document. We will read journalistic pieces, essays, prose poetry, and hybrids of these by authors committed to documenting, analyzing, and reflecting on the times they live in—authors like Joan Didion, James Baldwin, Lauren Redniss, Maggie Nelson, Sarah Stillman, Claudia Rankine, and others.

All nonfiction writing is rooted in the self because the “I”—or eye—decides the angles explored, the questions asked, the lenses used, the information included or discarded, the subject matter and voices included. Our backgrounds, identities, and areas of interest and expertise determine what and how we write. Rather than strive for neutrality—which is itself a construct rooted in who has power, authority, airtime in a culture—we will acknowledge and address the subjective in documentary writing, engaging the more challenging work of situating the self.  We will become documentarians: practicing research and reporting methods and embarking on “gonzo” missions, and experiments of documentation in different forms, to generate writing. We will explore the ways in which research, interviews, and external source material can enliven our work by adding context. Students will generate writing and workshop one piece generated during the course.

Cost: $192, SOLD OUT


Words from Students: 


Lisa, the time I spent in your class was such a gift. You have such charm and wit, and an adeptness in the way you conjured writing out of me, by presenting thought-provoking short prompts or helping me see the possibility in connecting two unrelated ideas or types or sorts or breeds of things. In class, I admired your calm demeanor, the way you offered forth heartfelt respect for each student’s perspective, and gently guided the discussions in productive directions to enable us all to write more and better while learning from you and one another. I came away with places to start for new writing as well as more a fully-formed essay that would not be where it is without you having shepherded it along. A really wholehearted thank you. I hope to have the opportunity to learn from you again in the future.

—Holly Gardner

I recently had the good fortune to work with Lisa in a six-week writing workshop, which I found to be a rewarding opening to a meaningful exploration of the things in the world that I want to be observing and documenting.  Lisa’s approach combines an impressive understanding of the written word in its many forms, a gentle sense of humor, nurturing and open hearted facilitation, and a a deep reverence for the power of writing to connect us with our deeper selves.  I hope to have the opportunity to with Lisa again as I continue to explore the role of writing in my life!

—Dan Kruse

“The class, “Where I’m From,” was both fun and inspirational. Lisa selected readings in a wide variety of styles that enriched our own writing and discussion. Our class discussions were lively and recognized everyone in the group. I hope to take more classes with Lisa.”

—Christine Baines

“I highly recommend any class or workshop taught by Lisa. You can be assured her curriculum will be strong, her homework assignments challenging, and her writing prompts will jump start your creative juices. Best of all, is the warm and supportive atmosphere Lisa creates that allows everyone to always freely and safely express themselves. And isn’t that what a true artist is devoted to?”

—Tony DiRusso

“The environment that you created was so supportive, thoughtful, and challenging that I found myself growing in each class–as a reader, as a participant of the writing community that emerged, as a writer, and as a person. I left not only feeling that I had gotten great practice and feedback on my writing, but also that I was more able to affirm the relevance of the questions I am asking, which is a gift that has gone far beyond this class. The feedback you provided, the readings you assigned, and the way you facilitated the course made all of these things possible in ways that far exceeded any expectations I had.”

—Katie Sharar

“I’m looking forward to taking another class with Lisa. Her teaching style is informed, enthusiastic and relaxed. The level of participation in discussion and completing assignments was one of the highest I’ve seen in a class. Lisa made it impossible to fail or feel slighted. She kept us excited about the content of the class. It was fun and productive. I think we were all pleased with the writing we produced – and how often can that be said about a class?”

—Student, anonymous evaluation

“This was a delightful class to attend and I can’t thank Lisa enough for the growth it encouraged in my writing, and in my appreciation of others. Lisa was an instructor who gave the class her full attention from the first class to the last. A great gift to her students.”

—Student, anonymous evaluation