Sunday Masterclasses

Our masterclass series lets you dive in deep - whether you're drawn to poetry, fiction, life writing or creative nonfiction. You can bring along a coffee and enjoy intriguing explorations, stimulating writing exercises and wide-ranging discussions.


We asked six fantastic authors what they'd most passionately love to teach. From this emerged a wonderfully eclectic programme of masterclasses. There really is something for everyone here, so have a look and take your pick! You'll find details of all the masterclass tutors at the bottom of this page and also on our People page.


These sessions welcome writers at all levels. Any questions, just get in touch with our Programme Director: kate@writingroom.org.uk

NAZRENE HANIF: WRITING A LIFE IN FRAGMENTS

I think of it like a sort of magpie way of writing where I collect things that seem shiny to me and build a nest around them…’ Jenny Offill


Life is by nature fragmentary. As the poet and author Maggie Nelson once said: ‘We can’t see the whole until we’re dead, and then we can’t see it.’ When writing about our experiences, we must accept that the picture is incomplete. How do we piece together what we know so far, assemble the shards of memory to create a compelling and comprehensive narrative?


In this class, we'll explore the possibilities of the fragmented form and play with structure and genre through writing prompts. From Nelson to Chimamanda Adichie Ngozi, Ocean Vuong and TS Eliot to Teju Cole – we'll read extracts from works of creative non-fiction, fiction and poetry, to learn different applications of the fragment and discuss their effects.


Writing a life in fragments opens us to inspiration. Anything can be a tool for creation: an anecdote, a dream, a diary entry, a photo, a text message, a quotation, a souvenir, a lost object. Students will be guided in generating ideas from the fragments of their life, seeing the unfinished or abandoned as something worth preserving.

JOANNA BROWN: LISTENING FOR HIDDEN HISTORIES

Whose stories do we get to hear in historical fiction? How do we flip the narrative to open up space to hear a more diverse range of voices? Using a rich range of archival material to inspire, this workshop explores techniques to develop unique character perspectives and voices for compelling historical fiction for adults.


GWEN MACKEITH: THE ART OF DIALOGUE - EXPLORING THE CRAFT OF WRITING CHARACTERS' SPEECH

In this second workshop we will explore the various aspects of crafting dialogue in our own work, paying close attention to:  

  

- the riches of the regional, historical and cultural characteristics of speech 

- the typography of dialogue and how it interacts with the rest of the text 

- cultivating subtext 


With in-depth analyses of diverse examples in fiction, we will explore techniques for enhancing the dialogue in our own stories, allowing our characters to come alive through their voices and to take us where our stories need to go.


There is no need to have attended the first workshop to attend this second one.

APRIL YEE: THE INSTANT SESTINA

Struggling to write a sestina? This workshop will help unlock this most complex yet rewarding of verse forms. We will review contemporary poems by Raych Jackson, A. E. Stallings, and Chad McCracken to gain insight into the sestina’s emotional weight and humorous potential, as well as its proclivity for memory and monologue. Participants will leave with a step-by-step plan and key tips to complete their own work.

JEHANE MARKHAM: POEMS OF THE GARDEN

In this workshop we'll consider poetry with a natural setting. We'll start with the Garden of Eden and the expulsion of Eve. We'll move on to small holdings, the countryside and love of the land. Paradise. Although it's not all roses. We'll read and discuss published poems and we'll write and share nature poetry of our own.

TRAVIS ELBOROUGH: A SENSE OF PLACE

A chance to work with the writer and TV/Radio commentator Travis Elborough, trying out a whole raft of techniques to bring the places in your writing vividly to life. Travis will take you through a magical mystery tour of prompts via images, symbols, maps and ideas, to help you build your settings and make them leap from the page. Writing will be done in the session and shared by those who wish to share.


Our Masterclass programme is pending dates for 2024! Please check back.

Joanna Brown/J.T. Williams

CHILDREN'S/YA AND ADULT FICTION AUTHOR

Joanna Brown - aka J.T. Williams - is a writer with a passion for hidden histories. She writes to shine a light on the Black British past, blending archival research with creative storytelling to reimagine and recover lost life stories. A lifelong Londoner, she walks the city to uncover its secrets.


Joanna has worked as a primary school teacher and a creative writing facilitator for budding writers of all ages. She spearheaded the Black literature education
programme Africa Writes: Young Voices and has led writing sessions for school groups at the British Library, showcasing their unique collections for research and
writing.


In 2020, Joanna’s short memoir, Birds can be heard singing through open windows, was Highly Commended for the Spread the Word Life Writing Prize. She is currently a PhD researcher at Royal Holloway, London, developing fiction exploring the Black British past.


Joanna also writes for children with inclusive fiction studio Storymix as J.T. Williams. Her debut novel The Lizzie and Belle Mysteries: Drama and Danger was published by Farshore Books in June 2022. The follow-up, Portraits and Poison will be published in April 2023.


Twitter: @OjiBrown73
Facebook: Joanna Brown

Travis Elborough

NON-FICTION AUTHOR & COMMENTATOR

Described by The Guardian as “one of Britain’s finest pop culture historians”, Travis Elborough has been a freelance writer, author, broadcaster and cultural commentator for two decades now.

Travis’s books include Wish You Were Here: England on Sea, The Long-Player Goodbye, a hymn to vinyl records that inspired the BBC4 documentary When Albums Ruled the World, in which he also appeared, and A Walk in the Park, a loving exploration of public parks and green space. His latest, Through the Looking Glasses: The Spectacular Life of Spectacles, was published in July 2021 to immediate acclaim, saluted as ‘fascinating’ by The Observer, while New Statesman stated, ‘It will make you look at specs with fresh eyes.’


He has also collaborated on the popular and award-winning series of ‘Unexpected’ Atlases with the cartographers Alan Horsfield and Martin Brown, the most recent of which, Atlas of Forgotten Places, appeared in November.

Nazrene Hanif

WRITER AND EDITOR

Nazrene Hanif explores ideas of (not) belonging, creating narratives that reflect her existence in between cultures, language and class.


Her creative non-fiction has been published by Ache magazine and received special mention in the Spread The Word Life Writing Prize 2021. She is currently researching ESEA artists and the history of erasure and violence against Asian women for her first book, while completing the MA Creative & Life Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Nazrene has contributed to writers’ workshops, such as the Centre for Language, Culture and Learning’s ‘Decolonising Creative Writing' conference, and read at events alongside prize-winning authors Isabel Waidner and Jessica Andrews. She is interested in all forms of storytelling, working in essay, criticism, fiction, memoir, poetry, sound and visual art. With ten years in editorial and broadcast media, she has contributed features to publications including the British Journal of Photography, and in 2020, she led the content strategy for the new COS Magazine and podcast series.

Nazrene is based in London, often found elsewhere and sometimes on Instagram: @nazrenehanif.

Gwen MacKeith

WRITER AND TRANSLATOR

Gwen MacKeith is a writer and a literary translator. Her short stories have appeared in the arts quarterly, Ambit Magazine and her flash fiction was short-listed for the Ambit Magazine flash fiction competition. She was awarded a PhD in 2007 from University College London in Hispanic studies in which she examined the work of the Argentine fiction writer, Antonio Dal Masetto (1938 – 2015).


She held the position of post-doctoral research fellow between 2008 and 2011 at King’s College London for the theatre in translation project, “Out of the Wings”, an AHRC collaboration between King's College London, Queen's University Belfast and the University of Oxford which created a resource to make the theatres of Spain and Spanish America accessible to English-speaking researchers and theatre professionals.


Gwen's anthology of translations by the internationally-acclaimed Argentine dramatist, Griselda Gambaro, was published by Methuen/Bloomsbury in May 2022.


She is currently completing her first novel and is represented by the David Higham agency.   

Jehane Markham

POET AND DRAMATIST

Jehane Markham is a poet, librettist and dramatist. She has published five collections of poetry, the most recent Forty Poems (Dreams, Dances & Disappointments, May 2022).

She has written for radio, stage and TV. Jehane has written the libretto for several fringe musicals and a children’s opera for the Royal Opera House, On the Rim of the World, 2009/10/11. Her last community opera was performed at Leiston House.

She has given workshops in primary schools, worked with ex-prisoners in a creative writing workshop in Camden and lectured on the craft of editing poetry at The London Metropolitan University. For several years she ran Writing Room's first full poetry course.

Jehane wrote the book and lyrics for The Six Swans, a musical adaptation of two fairy tales by The Brothers Grimm, for the Wonderful Beast Theatre Company, performed at Leiston Abbey, 2014.

April Yee

WRITER AND TRANSLATOR

April Yee is a writer and translator published in Salon, Newsweek, The Times Literary Supplement, and Ploughshares online. A Harvard and Tin House alumna, she reported in more than a dozen countries at sites ranging from Chernobyl to Iraqi oil fields before moving to London, where she is a National Book Critics Circle Fellow and the University of East Anglia’s Malcolm Bradbury Memorial Scholar. She also serves as a reader for Liminal Transit Review, trustee for SeeBeyondBorders UK, and mentor for University of the Arts London’s Refugee Journalism Project.

In 2022, she was shortlisted for the Manchester Poetry Prize and won the Ivan Juritz Prize and the Jeannine Cooney Scholar for Excellence in Fiction. In 2021, she was editor-in-residence at The Georgia Review, and her fiction and essays won or were listed for the Fitzcarraldo Essay Prize, the Alpine Fellowship, the Women’s Prize Trust’s Discoveries, the Mendocino Coast Writers’ Conference Contest, the Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers Award, and the University of East Anglia’s David T. K. Wong Fellowship.

She has presented at the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, Bath Spa University, and the Oxford Centre for Life Writing, and has received support from Ledbury Poetry Critics, Faber Academy, the Community of Writers, the Society of Environmental Journalists, and (with multidisciplinary collaborators) the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum.

She tweets at @aprilyee.






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