Blue Stoop
A Home for Philly Writers

Classes

Craft Classes & Writing Workshops

We offer 3 eight-week writing workshops in the fall (September-November) and another 3 eight-week writing workshops in the spring (January-March) as well as shorter weekend intensives throughout the year. Generally, introductory workshops are offered in the fall, with more advanced classes offered in the spring.

Tuition for our full-length classes is $400, a fee we set intentionally so we can adequately compensate our instructors; we pay our instructors between $2000-3000 per course, depending on enrollment. Tuition for weekend intensives is $250 and instructors receive $600-1300 depending on enrollment. Financial aid is available for both our eight-week and intensive classes, including full scholarships. Click here for more details on financial aid.

If you have college teaching experience and a record of publication and would like to propose a class, contact us. For a list of our past classes, click here.

Foundations of Writing Poetry
Sep
3
to Oct 15

Foundations of Writing Poetry

This 7-week class will meet Tuesdays from 9/3-10/15 6-9pm
Location: Pen & Pencil Club upstairs, 1522 Latimer Street 
6-12 students; class will not run with less than 6 students
$350, financial aid available
To apply, send a paragraph about you and a writing sample of up to 5 pages of any genre of writing to info@bluestoop.org
Students must apply by 11:59pm August 19. If admitted, must pay by August 30 to reserve their spot

Poetry forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action," writes Audre Lorde. In this sense, poetry is a means for investigation and the transformation of our lives, our worlds, the past, present, and future.

In this course, we will explore and develop core competencies to discover, shape, and amplify that light. Students will encounter a wide range of poets working with various strategies (Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Hayden, Brigit Pegeen Kelly, W. S. Merwin, Chris Abani, Aracelis Girmay, Anne Boyer, Cathy Park Hong, Claudia Rankine, Willie Perdomo, among others) to understand the possibilities of line, syntax, image/metaphor, sound, structure/order of information, tone, point of view, and revision as elements of the craft. Students will also read a few craft-specific texts to support the development of a shared vocabulary. Each class will include a workshop where students will take turns contributing 1-2 of their own original poems for discussion. Prerequisites for the class include curiosity, humility, and enthusiasm.

Cynthia Dewi Oka is the author of Salvage: Poems and Nomad of Salt and Hard Water. A three-time Pushcart Prize Nominee, her poetry has appeared widely online and in print.  She has been awarded the Fifth Wednesday Journal Editor’s Prize in Poetry, and scholarships from the Voices of Our Nations (VONA) and Vermont Studio Center. As a 2016 Leeway Foundation Art and Change Grantee, she partnered with Asian Arts Initiative to create Sanctuary: A Migrant Poetry Workshop for immigrant poets in Philadelphia, and in 2017, she received the Leeway Foundation Transformation Award. She has also served as a poet mentor for The Blueshift Journal’s Speakeasy Project. Originally born and raised in Bali, Indonesia, Cynthia is currently based in the Greater Philadelphia Area and pursuing her MFA as a Holden Fellow at Warren Wilson College.

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Foundations of Writing Fiction
Sep
9
to Oct 28

Foundations of Writing Fiction

  • Pen & Pencil Club 1522 Latimer Street, Philadelphia PA 19102 (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

This 8-week class will meet Mondays from 9/9-10/28 6-9pm
Location: Pen & Pencil Club upstairs, 1522 Latimer Street 
6-12 students; class will not run with less than 6 students
$400, financial aid available
To apply, send a paragraph about you and a writing sample of up to 5 pages of any genre of writing to info@bluestoop.org
Students must apply by 11:59pm August 19. If admitted, must pay by August 30 to reserve their spot

The short story is a guileful medium: a contest between writer and reader that requires all manner of deceptions, tricks, anticipations, feints, and subversions. Lean and economical, a successful short story is like a perfect trap into which the unwitting reader stumbles, each carefully laid sentence formed with the purpose of ensnaring its prey in a net of toppled expectations before releasing them back into the world forever altered.

In this course, we will discuss the fundamental elements of this most dangerous form, including setting, exposition, character, dialogue, pacing, perspective, beginnings, and endings. We will read pieces from masters of the story like Octavia Butler, Italo Calvino, Lorrie Moore, and George Saunders, as well as contemporary practitioners like Randa Jarrar, Carmen Maria Machado, Ottessa Moshfegh, and Charles Yu. Students will submit their original stories to be read and workshopped by the rest of the class. In addition to honing their skills as writers and editors, students will learn the basics of the publication process so that they, too, can send their stories out into the world to ensnare readers of their own.

Michael Deagler’s fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, New England Review, Kenyon Review Online, Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading, and elsewhere. He has received fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA, and the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts in Nebraska City. Originally from Philadelphia, he can be reached at mdeagler (at) gmail (dot) com, or on Twitter @MichaelDeagler.

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Foundations of Writing Criticism
Sep
11
to Oct 30

Foundations of Writing Criticism

This 8-week class will meet Wednesdays from 9/11-10/30 6-9pm
Location: Pen & Pencil Club upstairs, 1522 Latimer Street 
6-12 students; class will not run with less than 6 students
$400, financial aid available
To apply, send a paragraph about you and a writing sample of up to 5 pages of any genre of writing to info@bluestoop.org
Students must apply by 11:59pm August 19. If admitted, must pay by August 30 to reserve their spot

Culture is a multiverse, an intersection of time, place, and identity. There is no one genre of music, one canon of literature, or one growing trend. In this eight week course on cultural criticism, you will consider the unique creative possibilities of using your perspective to explore the larger implications of the art, rituals, and social institutions that make up a place. Students do not need to have written cultural criticism before, only to be open and interested in the exploration of their ideas as it intersects with our collective cultural ideas.

In this course, students will read cultural criticism from a diversity of writers (possibilities include Hannah Giorgis, Wesley Morris, Doree Shafrir, Susan Sontag, Greg Tate, etc.) to develop an understanding of the structure and language of criticism. Students will then brainstorm, research, and work on short writing assignments in preparation to draft a longform essay. In the second half of the course, students will workshop their essay drafts to give the writer direction to rethink and revise. The class will also allow for discussion of publication possibilities.

Camille Acker is the author of the short story collection, Training School for Negro Girls, published by (Feminist Press in 2018. She grew up in Washington DC and holds a B.A. in English from Howard University as well as an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from New Mexico State University. Her writing has received support from the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, Voices of Our Nations Arts, Millay Colony for the Arts, Norman Mailer Writers Colony, and the Callaloo Writers' Workshop, among others. She was a fiction co-editor for Dismantle: An Anthology from the VONA/Voices Workshop (Thread Makes Blanket Press, 2014). She has taught at New Mexico State University, University of Illinois at Chicago, and Chicago Writers Studio. Her writing has appeared in a number of outlets including The New York Time Book Review, LitHub, Publishers Weekly, Electric Literature, VICE, and DAME Magazine.

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School of Guerilla Poetics Intensive ** SOLD OUT**
Sep
14
to Sep 15

School of Guerilla Poetics Intensive ** SOLD OUT**

  • Cherry Street Pier, Studio 12 (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

This class is sold out. Email info@bluestoop.org to be placed on a waitlist

School of Guerilla Poetics
w/ Yolanda Wisher

Muriel Rukeyser said that “In school we learn how precious poetry is, how important it is to civilization, but we are not taught how to use it.” This weekend intensive will explore some of the precious and practical uses of poetry beyond the Norton Anthology and MFA. If you are interested in cultivating a public poetry practice in settings like schools and parks, train stations, Laundromats, prisons, and shelters; if you want to work with integrity as a poet with marginalized and vulnerable communities; if you want to respectfully reach and revolutionize communities with poetry through event organizing and digital platforms, this course is for you. Philly iconography—row houses, stoops, and sneakers on telephone lines will frame our study of the poetry reading, the workshop, and the festival as three modes of civic engagement and community organizing. Guest speakers and a course pack of poems and essays rooted in a lineage of “poetry for the people” movements in Philly and beyond will root our conversations. Each class will feature a curated panel discussion with poets who have been active in community spaces and programs in Philadelphia.

Cost: $250 (financial aid available)
Schedule: September 14, 10-4 pm (w/lunch break), September 15 10-4pm (w/lunch break)
6-10 students (need 6 students to run)
Registration: Rolling, by application, closes August 26, 2019
To apply: email a little bit about you to info@bluestoop.org. If applying for financial aid, please also fill out this form.

Questions this course will explore:

—How are poets working outside of traditional academic spaces to promote poetry, catalyze it, and widen its audience? What other paths are available to poets besides college/university study and teaching and publication? How are poets both private/public cultural producers and what is their responsibility to the communities they are part of? How can we shape learning experiences and events around poetry that break with elitist assumptions and are inclusive to folks of various educational and cultural backgrounds? As a poet who wants to do more than write, how do you engage others in poetry in a way that centers open interpretation, personal voice, and welcomes lenses of race, gender, sexuality, culture, politics, colonialism, trauma, etc.? What makes poetry readings, workshops, and festivals effective vehicles for community organizing and what are the possibilities and/or limitations of their impact? What does “poetry for the people” look like in 2019 and beyond? What can we learn from radical grassroots movements involving poetry in the past? How can we better acknowledge, resource, and sustain the invisible public labor and contributions of poets?

Experimental and generative, this course will function as kitchen table, lab, and stage, with an emphasis on reflection and collaboration. We will start and end the session with writing in response to creative prompts. Participants will play a role in documenting Philadelphia’s tradition of community poetics for future audiences through their own written reflections on the reading and panels. They will also work in pairs to conduct interviews with one or more of our guest speakers. Our work together will be messy, moving, poignant, tender, powerful, and unfinished. This is a school for the unschooled or the refused to be schooled. All walks of life and levels welcome.

YOLANDA WISHER is the author of Monk Eats an Afro (Hanging Loose Press, 2014) and the co-editor of Peace is a Haiku Song (Philadelphia Mural Arts, 2013). Wisher was named the inaugural Poet Laureate of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania in 1999 and the third Poet Laureate of Philadelphia in 2016. A Pew and Cave Canem Fellow, she has been a Writer in Residence at Hedgebrook and Aspen Words. Wisher taught high school English for a decade, served as Director of Art Education for Philadelphia Mural Arts, and was the 2017-2018 CPCW Fellow in Poetics and Poetic Practice at the University of Pennsylvania. Wisher founded and directed the Germantown Poetry and Outbound Poetry Festivals and currently works as the Curator of Spoken Word at Philadelphia Contemporary. She regularly performs a unique blend of poetry and song with her band The Afroeaters and is part of the first cohort of artists with studios at the Cherry Street Pier on the Delaware River Waterfront.

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Novel Writing Intensive
Jun
22
to Jun 23

Novel Writing Intensive

Devote the weekend to your novel during this two-day intensive with Annie Liontas, author of Let Me Explain You, named Editor’s Choice by The New York Times Book Review.  Whether you are beginning your first novel or are looking to reboot a beloved project, our craft talks and workshop discussions will deepen your knowledge of your book and offer a path forward.  

We’ll begin by asking what promises a novel makes and what questions drive it. On day one, we will look briefly to the work of master writers for guidance as we think about our own choices and challenges.  We will then move into critiques of your opening pages, relying on inquiry and a Socratic approach, asking questions that help the writer see their work more sharply. On day two, we continue workshops and talk novel architecture, pacing, and look to tools and strategies that writers can take home. Our intensive concludes with brief one-on-one conferences, encouraging you to tackle a frustration, make a plan, light a fire.

Participants need to have written as little as a single chapter but might have built as much as an entire novel.  To encourage dialogue and develop common language, some light reading will be assigned in advance of the intensive.  Optional additional reading includes Sally Rooney’s Conversations with Friends. Writing a novel is a great deal of digging in the shadows, but when you’re among compatriots, somebody holds up a lantern every now and then.  Come join us this June!   

Cost: $250 (financial aid available)
Schedule: June 22, 10-4 pm (w/lunch break), June 23 10-4pm (w/lunch break)
6-10 students (need 6 students to run)
Registration: Rolling, by application, closes June 3, 2019
To apply: email 5-15 pages of your project & a little bit about you to info@bluestoop.org. If applying for financial aid, please also fill out this form.

Annie Liontas' novel Let Me Explain You (Scribner) was featured in The New York Times Book Review as an Editor's Choice and was selected by the ABA as an Indies Introduce Debut and Indies Next title.  She is the co-editor of the anthology A Manner of Being: Writers on their Mentors.  Her work has appeared in The New York Times Book Review, BOMB, Guernica, Ninth Letter and Lit.  She teaches creative writing at George Washington University.  Follow her @aliontas.

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Young Adult Novel Intensive
Apr
6
to Apr 7

Young Adult Novel Intensive

Spend the weekend working with Philadelphia-area New York Times bestselling author Nova Ren Suma, author of the YA novels The Walls Around Us, A Room Away from the Wolves, and more. This intensive two-day workshop will feature craft discussion on writing for a young adult audience and an opportunity for you to come away with feedback on pages from your own YA novel as well generative exercises that will deepen and expand your work-in-progress.

 The workshop will begin on Saturday with an interactive craft discussion on YA voice and the genre-bending possibilities in the YA field. We will then hold brief critiques of the opening pages of your YA novel, led by Nova with an eye toward constructive feedback and asking questions that will help you revise and write forward. On Sunday we will continue the workshop discussions, and close the weekend with generative writing exercises tailored to help you find the heart of your YA novel, finetune your character’s voice, and follow your story through to the end. All you need in order to sign up is a YA work-in-progress—as little as the opening chapter of a YA novel and some ideas for where you may take the story, or as much as a draft of the whole book and an open mind. Writers working on upper middle-grade fiction and cross-over adult novels are also welcome in the group, though our main focus will be YA. Each student will also get a written feedback letter from Nova on their novel openings (about 20 pages).

Cost: $250 (financial aid available)
Schedule: April 6, 10-4 pm (w/lunch break), April 7 10-4pm (w/lunch break)
6-10 students (need 6 students to run)
Registration: We are no longer accepting applications for this course.

Nova Ren Suma is the author of the YA novels A Room Away from the Wolves, which is nominated for a 2019 Edgar Award and was named a Best Book of 2018 by NPR and School Library Journal, the #1 New York Times bestselling The Walls Around Us, and other novels. She is co-editor-in-chief of FORESHADOW: A Serial YA Anthology (foreshadowYA.com), a new online YA short story publication. She has an MFA in fiction from Columbia University and has been awarded fiction fellowships from the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the MacDowell Colony, and Yaddo. She has taught creative writing at Columbia University, Arizona State University’s Your Novel Year program, and elsewhere. She is currently core faculty in the Writing for Children & Young Adults low-residency MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts and lives in Philadelphia. For more information, visit www.novaren.com.

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