Leigh teaches non-fiction and poetry writing workshops for Catapult, Brooklyn Poets, and the 92nd Street Y, and was formerly a teaching artist in the NYC public schools. She also offers coaching and editorial services to writers, specializing in full-length manuscripts, and publishing strategies. Use this contact form if you are interested in writing coaching.
Online Workshop, July 10 - August 11, 2017
Registration now open
American adults watch an average of five hours and four minutes of TV every day. This online workshop is for writers who want to translate that screen time into poetry. Using the Wet Ink platform, we’ll read poems written to Beyoncé, Lil Wayne, Kelly Clarkson, Amy Winehouse, Tim Riggins and the Real Housewives, and work on forms that are ekphrastic, epistolary and elegiac. Students will receive weekly writing prompts to generate new work in response to the media they love (or hate) to consume, and ongoing feedback from the instructor and their classmates.
EIGHT-WEEK Advanced nonfiction workshop: memoir
At Catapult, Tuesdays, September 12 - November 7, 2017
Currently accepting applications
Mary Karr says you’re too young and must wait. Your mom advises, “Make sure it has a point, like Eat, Pray, Love.” Your best friend from third grade wants to know if he gets any lines. At parties, people laugh at you when you tell them what you’re working on.
Congratulations, you’re a memoirist!
This advanced workshop will provide a support group for writers working on book-length projects based on their own personal experiences. We’ll look at different tactics for chronology and structure, how to hone in on a voice that will carry the reader from cover to cover, and what to do about the bigmouth in your head that says you need permission to write it all down. The instructor will also discuss the path to publication, including whether to finish the manuscript or submit on proposal, and will bring in one or two industry professionals to speak to the class.
“Leigh Stein is proof that we write because we must. And when you answer that call, Leigh helps the words arrive and find the best place on the page. You learn to challenge yourself, through image, metaphor, and all the tools in Leigh’s bag until the work is done.” –Cynthia Manick, author of Blue Hallelujahs, which was workshopped in Leigh's "Your Turn Now" class
“Leigh is such a wonderful teacher. She considered the work of each student so carefully and drew on her incredible editing skills as well as her vast knowledge of multiple writing fields and styles to provide perceptive, detailed feedback and advice specific to each of us. In the energizing environment of her class, we were encouraged to learn from each other, to think of our work in the context of the larger literary community, to aim high and to get there. Leigh’s remarkable accomplishments are matched only by her generosity. I feel very lucky to have taken a class from her.” –Emily Blair
“Not only is Leigh a sympathetic reader, an excellent and super fast editor, but she also has great ideas about where your work could find a good home and shine there. She is happy to give you the benefit of her vast contemporary reading and enormous network of fellow writers. I learned more from her in 9 months than from all my previous teachers. I only wish I could take more classes from her. See you in class?” —Julie Hart
Steve Almond has said, "write about what you can't get rid of by other means." The memoir is a genre driven by obsession: what happened (how could that have happened), what was said, what was lost, what was broken, what was mended. This class is for writers who are haunted by a true story they feel compelled to tell. We'll learn strategies for telling that story by playing with chronology and structure, balancing the voice of wisdom and hindsight with the voice of innocence, and writing vivid scenes that capture another time and place. The workshop will include assigned reading, writing exercises and discussion of student work.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR WILLINGNESS TO SAY IT: Poetry after violence
(February 20 - March 24, 2017, online) SOLD OUT
In his poem “In the loop,” Bob Hicok writes after the shootings at Virginia Tech, where he teaches,
People wrote, called, mostly e-mailed
to say, there’s nothing to say. Eventually
I answered these messages: there’s nothing
to say back except of course there’s nothing
to say, thank you for your willingness to say it.
This online workshop will look at the work of Hicok and other contemporary poets in the wake of violence—from Claudia Rankine’s Don’t Let Me Be Lonely, a hybrid work about mourning and injustice mediated by television, to Maggie Nelson’s Jane, a book of “true crime” verse, to Guns and Butter, a collection of concrete poems about love and danger by Montana Ray. For poets who are willing to say something, but may be unsure how to say it, this workshop will offer weekly writing prompts via Wet Ink to generate new work and receive feedback. We’ll experiment with form and point of view, writing as victims, survivors, perpetrators, bystanders, descendants and/or witnesses of violence. Students will receive weekly feedback from the instructor and other students on their work in the class. [Content note: because of the subject of this workshop, prospective students are advised that the course will include texts about police brutality, violence against women, sexual assault and gun violence.]
YOUR TURN NOW
Polishing Your Book for Publication
“It is your turn now, / you waited, you were patient. / The time has come, / for us to polish you,” writes Rumi. Designed for advanced students working on a book-length poetry project (either a chapbook or full-length collection), this workshop will incorporate thorough manuscript critique, analysis of contemporary poetry collections, and relevant writing assignments to help prepare students’ manuscripts for publication. We will look at what makes a collection of poems successful, from establishing an authorial voice to creating thematic cohesion. The professor will also offer pragmatic guidance on avenues of publication for each student’s work, including information on poetry prizes, contests and small presses with open reading periods.
WOMEN WHO PITCH
On average, women's voices are represented in opinion pieces at the staggeringly low rate of 20%. Learn how to get your voice out there and heard! Stephanie Land has been a full-time freelance writer for nearly two years; most of her published articles (in outlets like The New York Times) started with one thing: the perfect pitch. Stephanie will be joined by Leigh Stein, executive director of the nonprofit organization Out of the Binders, which aims to advance the careers of women writers. Learn from them how to draft a pitch, find editors, get paid, transition from personal essays to reported pieces, and most of all, how to craft an email that gets read, from the subject line to the signature. Come prepared to workshop a specific pitch and learn how to break into publications.
PROSE FOR POETS
Sarah Manguso has said, “I’ve never wanted to make up stories, so before I could fill a page I was called a poet, and after I could fill a page I was called an essayist.” This online workshop is designed for poets working on projects that fill the page, whether creative nonfiction pieces, flash or short fiction, prose poems or hybrid work. We’ll look at work by poets who teeter on the brink of prose (Anne Carson, Jennifer Denrow, Nick Flynn, Robert Hass, Maggie Nelson and Claudia Rankine) and the instructor will provide exercises that highlight the particular strengths that poets bring to prose (imagery, sound, juxtaposition, feeling), while also practicing more “prosaic” skills such as point-of-view, pacing and plot. Using the Wet Ink workshopping platform, students will have the opportunity to present their work-in-progress and receive feedback from the instructor and their classmates. This online workshop is perfect for students who want to work around their own schedules, in any time zone!
NONFICTION WORKSHOP: OBSESSION AS ENGINE
“When young writers ask me what they should be writing about, I always say the same thing: write about what you can’t get rid of by other means.” – Steve Almond
Dear writers, what’s haunting you? Maybe it’s a strange story from your family history you’re not sure you should tell, a past relationship that left you wounded, or a landscape you keep revisiting in memory. Maybe you tried writing fiction about your fixation but the true story still keeps you up at night. In this workshop, we’ll examine literary nonfiction and hybrid work driven by authorial obsession, and learn techniques to transform the raw material of our personal experiences into compelling text that resonates with readers. Submission and publication strategies will also be discussed. Essayists, memoirists of all ages, and writers of genre-bending or hybrid work are encouraged to apply!