Summer requires fearlessness.  Spring can be fearful; 
for its blossoms apprehension is like a home.  But fruit 
requires a calm and heavy sun.” 
Rilke, The Florence Diary, May 17, 1898

In honor of the generativity of summer, here are 7 generative intensives that will allow you to immerse yourself in a specific aspect of your writing/writing process.

  • Each workshop is limited to 7 people to offer close attention to each person.
  • Each workshop includes a 30-minute private session, to be scheduled later
  • Location: 4052 18th St. @Emergence Healing Arts Studio

Sundays 9:30-2:00.  (with 30 min. break)

Cost:  $100 per workshop
Register for one Intensive by May 10 and get an additional one free
(work exchange is available. Please inquire)

MAY 10        THE RESILIENT LINE:  (Mother’s Day Edition)

JUNE 14        DRAWN FROM LIFE: Writing as Gesture

JUNE 28        LONG STORY LONG: An Expedition Beyond Boredom

JULY 12         PLAYING SCALES: Expanding Your Writing Repertoire

JULY 26        THE VERB:  A Revision Workshopout

AUG 9          THE SENTENCE:  A Revision Workshopout

AUG 23         THE SLOW POEM: Writing with all the Time in the World

For further details, and to register, please email me here

MAY 10, 9:30 – 2:00

Why love what you will lose?  There is nothing else to love. 
Louise Glück

Major shifts and challenges in our lives can spark our most urgent writing. At the same time, when something so deeply affects us, how do we begin to write “about” it?  In Heaven’s Coast, by Mark Doty, one of the indelible memoirs of the devastation of AIDS, Doty allows the reader into his struggle to find ways to speak after his partner’s death.  In this intensive workshop we will explore ways to write into, or through their own experience. In generative exercises we’ll practice working with particular detail and dialogue, and other elements that create immediacy. We’ll discuss how routine can create stability for the unsettling process of writing in this difficult terrain. Writers who are exploring ways to move through resistance or who would like to begin to approach something they have not yetfound a way to write about may find the workshop especially helpful.  Each participant will have opportunities to read their work and discuss some aspect of their process throughout the day.  Readings will include the work of Gregory Orr, Mark Doty, Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Nick Flynn, Elizabeth McCracken, Jillian Weise, Emily Rapp, Marie Howe, and Meghan O’Rourke.


July 12, 9:30 – 2:00
Some of our strongest writing comes as a surprise, and in that moment seems effortless. We can’t schedule or plan for such moments, but there are practices we can do to help cultivate our responsiveness and technical skill. Even the most virtuosic pianists play scales to maintain their fluidity, spontaneity, and precision.  By playing scales, a pianist moves through the sounds of each key, through dynamics of touch, speed, tone, and volume, with the freedom that comes from these qualities not being tied to a specific piece. In writing, we rarely set out to write just to move through the paces of what language offers in terms of sound, syntax, word formation, or figurative language. We demand that we have something to say before we even sit down to write.  One consequence of such an all-or-nothing relationship with writing is more often the latter:  nothing! This workshop will offer students an array of exercises in form, image, and perception that will allow them to deepen their relationship to language and to generate new work. Each participant will have opportunities to read their work and discuss some aspect of their process throughout the day.  Each person will develop a tailored set of “scales and arpeggios” that will continue to serve their writing practice. A workshop for writers in all genres.


JUNE 14, 9:30 – 2:00
In this workshop, we’ll borrow from the drawing studio in writing “sketches” from verbal prompts, simple phrases that can spark associations, images, narrative, & dialogue. Working gesturally in this way can spark immediacy, ease and naturalness. Often students find that they write about something they’ve long wanted to approach.  Students will shape their sketches into one longer piece, or a series of connected shorter works. Students will come away from the workshop with a tailored set of prompts for future writing, and a sheaf of short pieces to develop further into poems and essays.


AUGUST 23, 9:30 – 2:00

We all have pieces we know we want to write, but they hover near-completion for years, requiring some mysterious process we must go through in ourselves before the piece finds its form. In this workshop, we’ll entertain the proposition that some writing actually takes the time it takes, rather than conforming neatly to our imagined schedule of perfection.

We will experiment with dismantling all the self-critique that attends pieces we’ve been writing forever, and see what happens when we bring these elusive pieces into a more neutral regard. Finishing something can be a terrifying prospect, but sometimes all that is necessary is for there to be a sense of witness and kindred company.

We’ll cultivate a stable and responsive circle of listening in which students can find camaraderie and perspective in their writing process. Students will engage in writing exercises and will learn several practices that will help them move through resistance and find entry points. Students will have the opportunity to share their work with the group and receive informal feedback. The workshop is open to writers in any genre, and exercises can be easily applied to poetry or prose.


The Attending Eye

with  Shundo David Haye
Saturday, May 5
10 am – 5 pm

SFZC Conference Center at 308 Page Street

What do we see? How does what we see change as we regard it? How do we change in this encounter? Immerse yourself in a day of looking closely.

To take photographs means to recognize—simultaneously and within a fraction of a second—both the fact itself and the rigorous organization of visually perceived forms that give it meaning. It is putting one’s head, one’s eye and one’s heart on the same axis.
—Henri Cartier-Bresson

In this workshop, we will engage in different modes of attention, stimulating our receptivity and our agility of response. We’ll sit zazen. We’ll cultivate our close observation in a combination of writing and photography exercises. We’ll support each other’s work in an immersive, exploratory environment.

Can our openness allow us a fresh regard for what is right in front of us?

Hear how the mouth
so full
of longing for the world,
changes its shape?

—Mark Doty, “Difference”

Please bring:

  • a camera,
  • plenty of fresh paper and a juicy pen
  • a ready mind
  • your lunch

Fee: $80; $72 current SFZC members; $64 limited income. Some partial scholarships available; see About Registration, Scholarships and Cancellations. No one turned away for lack of funds.

The Intimate Thread: Reading as a Devotional Practice

With Jody Greene, at Yoga Tree, Castro October 12 & 13

Over two afternoons, this workshop will explore reading as a practice of awareness, attentiveness, and devotion. We will consider reading as a sacred, embodied act, one that gathers body, breath, and mind in a single-pointed effort to attend with care.

When we read, we enter into an intimate relationship with the traces another person has left on the page, and join a living, vibrant conversation. Reading in this way requires us to slow down, to set aside some of the usual devices and distractions that can fracture our attention, and to suspend for a moment some of our expectations about the world and the people around us. In reading, we open eyes, ears, and mind to encounter the new; even and especially when we are rereading or re-encountering something we have met many times before. We greet the work anew, the work answers back, and a conversation unfolds.


10 am – 5 pm

So, put yourself in the way
of the poem. It needed your willing
impediment to be written. Remember the lily, growing through
the heart of the corpse?
You had to be willing to let it through the sunshine
error of your life,
be willing not to finish it—

Brenda Hillman, from Death Tractates

In this workshop, we’ll dedicate our attention to those poems we resist writing. Those poems we imagine we might write, oh, some day, when we’re ready. Exploring what these poems are requesting of us, we’ll experiment with possible entry points and cultivate a supportive environment to allow the poems to take shape.

We’ll cultivate a friendliness with apparent obstacles, holding out the possibility that they might mark where our most necessary work lies. Working through the internal and material obstacles that arise in writing a poem enacts dramas of desire, resistance, and surrender.

Language is in the way of the poem. The poet is in the way of the poem. The resistance shapes you as you shape the materials. In his “Meridian” speech, Paul Celan said, “The poem wants to reach an Other, it needs this Other, it needs an Over-against.” To use another metaphor, in writing a poem, is the poet the forge, the iron, or the flame?

The course will include in-class writing, reading, and responding to participants’ work. Participants are invited to send one poem of their own to the instructor in advance with an accompanying question or suggestion for discussion to help tailor the day’s discussion.

Please bring:

  • plenty of fresh paper and a juicy pen
  • a piece of your writing (1-2 pages) that feels in some way elusive, resistant, or inert, but that you would still like to explore further (optional)
  • your lunch

$90; $81 current SFZC members; $72 limited income. Please bring your lunch.  Registration: 888.743.9362 or 415.475.9362.

THE FEAST OF LOSSES:  Writing into Transience

Saturday, September 15, 2012 9:00 – 5:00

Memoir Journal Master Class Series

“Death is the mother of beauty.” –Wallace Stevens

In this workshop, we’ll investigate the possibility that there is no monolithic proposition that can be simply called loss. We’ll explore the relationship of creativity and grief. Grief can feel like a singular unprecedented experience and to encounter writing that speaks from within that experience can help us start to find our way through it. Is there a place no writing can reach? Or can writing actually help us reach into depths of feeling previously inaccessible to us? What do we find there and how is it different from what we fear?

The course will be generative, experiential, and analytical. We’ll do a series of intensive writing exercises throughout the day and participants will have an opportunity to have their work discussed in the group.

(workshop takes place at Art Jam, Art Jam, 725 Gilman St., Suite E, Berkeley)



July 14, 2012 9:00 – 5:00, Memoir Journal Master Class Series

The essential trait of the poet, for John Keats, is the capacity for “being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.” The uncertainty Keats speaks of is not a blandly passive “,” but rather an actively curious posture, an empathic receptivity, and flexibility of response.  In writing memoir, as well, an adventuresome relationship with doubt and uncertainty helps us find a way into writing that considers the “story” in an open and fresh way, and helps us see experience prismatically.

What Robert Motherwell said of painting is perhaps true of tolerating uncertainty as well:  it cannot be taught, but it can be learned. This workshop will be analytical, experimental/experiential, and generative. In our discussion, we will draw upon practices and points of references from other arts and sciences to cultivate strategies for negotiating friendly obstacles in the writing process.

(workshop takes place at Art Jam, Art Jam, 725 Gilman St., Suite E, Berkeley)

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4 Thoughts on “WORKSHOPS

  1. Hi Genine, Just returned from a 3 week residency at Atlantic Center for the Arts with Marie Howe and she talked about your work as expansive and improvised and real flow of the mind onto the page, probably those were not her words but I was excited by the references and have just read about you and read some of your work. Which I love. Esp. the work with Mark Epstein et al. Looking at isolation and creativity. Here’s a question: do you ever offer workshops outside the Bay Area? I am a poet and teach poetry in Santa Fe NM. I can be reached at
    all best to you, Barbara Rockman

  2. What beautifully imagined courses, Genine. The descriptions are themselves a teaching…

  3. Joeth Barlas on May 8, 2015 at 2:24 pm said:

    SF is So Fortunate to have you — located you after reading your wondrous The Wild Braid with Stanley Kunitz. Please let us know if you’ve ever near Boston.

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