Zoe Strauss

Zoe Strauss

Blue Stoop, named after a poem by Thomas Devaney, started when a critical mass of Philadelphia writers came together to start the process of working towards creating a hub for literary culture, a place where writers in our city can meet, work, take or offer high-quality and inclusive writing classes, as well as hold readings and events. Right now it's spearheaded by the writers Joshua Demaree and Emma Eisenberg. We are offering three craft classes during the fall 2018 season. To get updates about this project, subscribe here

6-12 students, Art Church, 5219 Webster Street (34 Trolley to 53rd st, Market Frankford to 52nd st)

$400 (Financial aid is available)

For more information or to apply for a class, please email bluestoopphl@gmail.com by August 6th 2018  with a short summary of your interest in the class, and a sample of work in the genre you're applying for--either 2-3 poems or 5-7 pages of prose. If applying for financial aid, please also fill out this form

Identity in Poetry: Writing the Other, Writing the Self

Raena Shirali

Wednesdays, 9/5-10/24 2018

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What is the relationship between author and speaker, and how does that intimacy or distance operate within a poem? What are the various tactics for engaging with and/or subverting poetic traditions, like confession and persona? Ideal for writers who have experience with the basics of poetry, this course will seek to answer these questions, as we explore poetic approaches including ekphrasis and lyric. In the first half of this course, students will perform close readings and generate original poems; the second half will continue an exploration of texts, while we workshop poems generated in prior weeks. Readings will include both poetry and craft essays, and will feature Jericho Brown, Cathy Linh Che, Alfred Corn, Rita Dove, Carolyn Forché, Solmaz Sharif, and Wisława Szymborska, among others.

Raena Shirali is the author of GILT (YesYes Books, 2017), winner of the 2018 Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award. Her honors include a Pushcart Prize, a VIDA Scholarship for Sundress Academy for the Arts’ residency program, the Philip Roth Residency at Bucknell University’s Stadler Center for Poetry, and poetry prizes from Boston Review, Gulf Coast, and Cosmonauts Avenue. Shirali earned her MFA from The Ohio State University in 2015, and has since taught creative writing at several high schools, MFA programs, and colleges, including Indiana University, College of Charleston, Wright State University, Mississippi State University, University of Wisconsin, Drake University, & elsewhere. Serving currently as an editor for Muzzle Magazine and Vinyl, she is also a co-organizer for We (Too) Are Philly, a summer poetry festival highlighting voices of color in Philadelphia.


What Makes A Memoir?: Balancing personal narrative with essayistic questioning

Berry Grass

Tuesdays, 9/4-10/23 2018

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When you're reading a memoir, what keeps you reading past the point where someone telling their story at a social gathering would lose your interest? There's something in the voice -- something voiced -- that invites readers along, guides them, makes them feel the author's story. How do you write your story in such a way that shows readers why it should matter to them, while also honoring why it matters to you? That's what we'll be looking at in this course. We'll locate successful narrative voice in memoir writing at a fulcrum between the two major forms of creative nonfiction: true narrative, and the essay. This course is ideally suited for writers who are looking to expand and explore their sense of craft, particularly when it comes to the role of the narrator/narration itself. We'll find out how to balance an essayistic approach of self-inquiry & dealing with the surprises of memory and research with the storytelling details that enable us to portray our experiences vividly. The first half of the course will focus on readings (which may include short memoirs, book-length memoirs, & craft articles) & in-class exercises, while the second half of the course will begin to focus more on workshopping our own writing. Readings may include work by: Jesmyn Ward, Patricia Hampl, Hanif Abdurraquib, Alexander Chee, Alison Bechdel, Elissa Washuta, and Roxane Gay.

Berry Grass is the author of Hall of Waters (The Operating System, 2019). Their essays & poems appear in DIAGRAMThe Normal SchoolBarrelhouseBOAATThe Wanderer, and Sonora Review, among other publications. They host Tragic: the Gathering -- an occasional transgender literature reading series, and serve as Nonfiction Editor of Sundog Lit. Originally from Kansas City, they hold an MFA from the University of Alabama, and they currently live and teach writing in Philadelphia. 


Innovating Fiction: Non-traditional elements & forms

Emma Copley Eisenberg

Mondays, 9/10-10/29 2018

Ideal for students who already have a grasp on the traditional elements of the short story, this class will look at ways to play with each of these elements and how and why these nontraditional choices succeed or fail. We'll explore alternative structures to the "rising action, climax, falling action" way we've been taught to write stories, as well as alternative forms, ways of using time, dialogue, points of view, and the choice to feature speculative, magical, or paranormal elements. In the first half of the course, students will write weekly exercises; the second half will transition to workshopping works already in progress. Readings will feature Lydia Davis, Zora Neale Hurston, Ursula K. Leguin, Carmen Maria Machado, Alice Munro, Grace Paley, and others.

Emma Copley Eisenberg's stories and essays have appeared in Granta, Tin House, the Virginia Quarterly Review, the Los Angeles Review of Books, American Short Fiction, Electric Literature Recommended Reading, Gulf Coast, and others. Her first book, THE THIRD RAINBOW GIRL is forthcoming from Hachette in 2020. She has received fellowships or residencies from the Tin House Summer Workshop, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Carey Center for the Global Good, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation and others and has previously taught writing at the University of Virginia, Temple University, and in the MFA program at Rosemont College. She lives in West Philadelphia, where she is the co-director of the Blue Stoop Literary Center project.