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May 12–June 9, 2021. Wrestling with the Self in Memoir with Christine Hemp is a Course

May 12–June 9, 2021. Wrestling with the Self in Memoir with Christine Hemp

Time limit: 60 days

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Full course description


Wrestling with the Self in Memoir with Christine Hemp (Five-Week Workshop)


Wednesdays on Zoom, May 12–June 9, 2021

3:00–6:00 p.m. Iowa/Central Time (4:00–7:00 Eastern; 1:00–4:00 Pacific; 2:00–5:00 Mountain)

Fee: $600

Course Description

This generative workshop is for any memoir writer (novice or advanced) eager to get a grip on who is telling your story. For example, you’re writing furiously about your mother; you’re proud of that scene where she kills and skins the rattlesnake in the kitchen sink. But that was before you found out she wasn’t your mother, before you knew what you know now. In other words, who exactly is the I recounting that long-ago event? Since literary memoirs are more circular than sequential, more intuitive than logical, it’s crucial you know where you are telling the story from. Perspective is vital.

In this workshop, you will learn how to create a vantage point—the place to unpack emblematic episodes and observe former versions your self. You will discover the beauty of structure. Expect to write both in and outside of class. Each week you will have a specific, manageable assignment, often tailored to each student’s concerns.

With Sven Birkerts’ The Art of Time in Memoir, Mary Karr’s The Art of Memoir, and successful memoirs as guides, we’ll write from the Now as well as the Then, giving meaning to the past while (as memoirist Sands Hall says) “forging a new self.” No matter what stage your manuscript is in, this class is for anyone who wants to stretch as a writer. You will leave with new work and stronger forearms for having wrestled with the “I.” Prepare for fun (and at least one epiphany). 


We will meet once a week from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. (Central Time) for five weeks. We will write both in and out of class, take breaks, often separate into small groups, and learn the joy of sharing our work. The first class will give us a chance to introduce ourselves and talk briefly about your intentions for the workshop. Each subsequent class will include discussion of the reading packet, participant work, and a specific craft question, such as revision, braiding, and narrative arc. You will be given an assignment each week. It may or may not include shards of earlier work. Each student will receive a private one-on-one, 30-minute conference.

The goal of this workshop is for you to leave with at least three new chapters that reflect a new command of time and perspective in memoir. For anyone who needs help with structure. Prepare for surprise.


Christine Hemp has aired her essays and poems on NPR; she has sent a poem of hers into space on a NASA mission to monitor the birth of stars; and her program Connecting Chord has united cops and youth offenders—in Britain and the U.S.—through poetry and writing. She is a speaker for Humanities Washington; her talk, "From Homer to #hashtags,” addresses our rapidly changing language. Hemp’s debut memoir, Wild Ride Home: Love, Loss, and a Little White Horse was recently released by Arcade/Skyhorse. Booklist says, “This memoir seems written directly from Hemp’s soul.” Her work has appeared recently in the New York Times,, and Psychology Today. She is a private coach and also teaches at Hugo House Seattle. She lives on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula with two horses, two cats, and one husband.

Registration & Fees

The fee for this course is $600. Payment in full is required to register.

Registrations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Class size is limited to 10.

Note: Your credit card payment will be processed by an external provider and will appear on your credit card statement as “UI Writing—Magid Center.” 

Refund & Cancellation Policy

If you need to cancel your enrollment in a Festival class, please let us know as soon as possible. We can only offer full refunds if you cancel two weeks prior to the start of class. After that, before the start date of class, we can offer a 50% refund. We cannot refund day-of cancellations, and we cannot refund or partially refund tuition once the class has begun.

Terms & Community Policy

The Iowa Summer Writing Festival is a community built on an assumption of shared enterprise, in the spirit of mutual respect. We reserve the right to a) revoke the registration of or b) dismiss from the program any person who disrupts the learning/working environment of others. Participants in the Festival are subject to all University of Iowa policies governing conduct in our community, whether online or in person.



Contact the Iowa Summer Writing Festival: Phone: (319) 335-4160.

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