Past TLA Network Classes

Past Classes

Your Memoir as Monologue: How to Create Dynamic, Dramatic Monologues About Healing and Transformation for Performance - Kelly DuMar. There’s beauty and meaning to mine from your life story, and this workshop will help you artistically express what you’ve overcome and achieved, and creatively share your experience to benefit others through the medium of theatre. You’ll learn how to write successful dramatic monologues based on your life that are personally meaningful, emotionally satisfying, and relevant and engaging for an audience. In class, through thematic writing prompts and creative exploration, you’ll develop your ordinary and extraordinary life experiences into powerful, dramatic monologues that can be performed – by you or an actor – with universal appeal. In class meetings will present elements of dramatic structure and explore the artistic qualities necessary for an effective dramatic monologue. We’ll explore the role of conflict, plot, communicating subtext, voice, narrative, and the importance of set-up. New writing will be generated in and out of class, shared in class and aspects of revision will be presented and practiced. Beginning and experienced writers in any genre are welcome! Read an interview here with Kelly on this dynamic class.

The Five Sense and Four Elements: Connecting with the Body and Nature Through Poetry - Angie River. We move our bodies through this world, experiencing it daily, but often not connecting with either the world or our selves in a conscious and intentional way. This six-week class will help us to slow down, breathe deeply, and experience our bodies in this world. Through a variety of readings and texts, online discussions, and creative writing exercises, participants will investigate what it means to be in their bodies in the natural world. Participants will be invited to engage in the natural world in whatever means possible for them – be that on a park bench in a busy city, through an apartment window in the suburbs, camping in a forest, walking through open fields, or working in a garden – and to embrace their bodies in their current state of being. Creative writing will focus on the senses of the body, the elements of nature, and the ways we can be more aware of those things in our daily life. We will explore these themes through various forms of poetry including traditional nature-based forms such as the bantu, haiku, and renga, as well as forms such as the pantoum, free verse, and communal writing. Read an interview here with Angie about the class!

Coming Home to Body, Earth and Time: Writing From Where We Live - Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg: We live in concentric circles, starting at our most local home of our bodies, and rippling out through our homes, communities, ecoregions, continents, planet, and the cosmos. Drawing on a bioregional perspective that home informs who we are and how we are to live, this class will bring participants together in council, creatively writing out our truths and into our questions to find companionship along and joy throughout the journey. The writing and storytelling prompts will be accompanied by occasional expressive arts explorations as we seek home through poetry, stories, songs, and other forms of TLA (your choice!). Along the way, we'll explore identity, callings, embodiment, personal history, ecology, and what it means to both live in time and place. Most of all, we'll be illuminating how to make the visible – what's right here in/of our bodies, dwellings, local terrain, weather and skies – more visible, and use that new vision as a lantern to lead us toward greater homecoming.

The Word Artist in the Public Square - Denise Low: Creation begins in isolated moments and finds fulfillment in shared community experiences. Literary citizenship is a term that can refer to, according to Becky Tuch, “attending readings, subscribing to literary magazines, interviewing writers, reviewing books, reading a friend’s manuscript, blurbing books.” These are ways to support fellow writers and literacy. Explore ways these generous acts spread out into communities as support for an informed citizenship. Learn personal ways to engage in the public square of readings, social media, reviews, contests, and conferences. Learn ways the individual can keep artistic integrity and be effective in the cross-currents of public presentations of creative works.

Creating a Sustainable Story: Self-Care, Meaningful Work and the Business of Creativity - Laura Packer: Being a creative person in contemporary America is hard. The story many of us are told since childhood would have us believe that being an artist, writer or other creative person is contradictory to financial stability; that living a creative life means we have to give up creature comforts; and that we must work in isolation, achieving success only upon our deaths. This isn't true. There are many joyful, sustainable and meaningful ways that we can craft our work and our lives. We can chose our path. We can chose the life of an impoverished, isolated creator, or we can chose a path of meaningful work, creativity, collaboration, support and fiscal possibility. Using creative tools, writing exercises, brainstorming and dreaming aloud, this class will help you think about your work in practical terms, will help you develop the language to talk with non-artists about what you do and why they should care, will help you build or expand your support network, will help you plan for sustainable self-care and will help you develop the resources to succeed.

Making the Leap into Work You Love - Scott Youmans:  Does your new year’s resolution call for initiating a new career? Are you wondering how you might bring your gifts to the world in new and powerful ways? Has your current job been giving you a stomachache, but you’re not quite sure what to do instead? Are you curious about how to breathe new life into a job that has grown stale? Whether you are ready to leap across the chasm tomorrow or have only just begun to consider the gap between the work you have and the work you desire, Making the Leap into Work You Love can offer you the time, structure, and community to help you clarify and amplify the gifts you are longing to share with the world.

Selfies: Exploring the Self and Body Through Photography and Writing - Angie River: In this age of social media people often have their phones out snapping photos of themselves and documenting their daily lives through pictures. How often, though, do we stop to really look at these digital narratives and explore what they mean to us? This course uses a series of paired photography “selfie” and writing prompts to explore our identities and bodies. We will investigate the ways we view ourselves, and how we present ourselves to others. There will be ‘homework’ of selfies and writing for participants to complete during weeks one, two and three. Participants will have the opportunity to share this work with other participants if they so choose!

Songwriter's Playground - Martin Swinger. Martin knows how to scaffold the complexities of effective songwriting into simple bits which are easy to explore, play with and adapt to your own comfort levels. In four lessons, Martin will use inspiring writing prompts and exercises to enlighten and strengthen songwriting confidence. He’ll explain in layman’s terms how to use song parts and tools to shape and form lyrics, develop effective melody, and finally share your song with the world. He does not guarantee you’ll write a pop hit or win a Grammy. He does promise you will be able to create songs which make you happy to sing. You want a Grammy? Repeat these lessons 10,000 times!

Writing from the Root and Through the Body- Marianela Medrano-Marra. Writing from the Root and Through the Body" is a course designed to help you explore the relationship between your culture of origin, the language of the body and the manifestation of a true sense of self. Through guided writing and the readings of specific poems you will be offered a multiplicity of lenses to expand the perception of culture beyond a racial or ethnic identity, transcending and including it. At the end, you will walk away with a body of work that presents you as more than a name, a language, a body and set of cultural practices. In other words, writing that shows the vastness of being You.

Your Calling, Your Livelihood, Your Life - Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg. What work calls to you as your own as this point in your life? How can you develop a livelihood — or transform your current livelihood — with your deepest vision, values and voice? In this class, you’ll explore long-term conversations with your callings (in our art, work and life), approaches for exploring and revising myths and messages about who you should be, cultivating spaciousness for your deepest work, hunting and gathering sources and supports, making the work you love come true, and staying engaged with your life’s work as your life shifts and unfolds. This class includes writing and other arts to bring more of your dreams to the surface as well as soulful planning tools. By the end of the class, you will have a body of writing, plans and maps, and other arts and tools to guide your life from the heart of your callings. During the class, we'll look at how to expand and deepen the lifelong conversation with your calling, and then how to translate your callings into your livelihood and life.

Writing As A Way of Healing: Ourselves & Others - Sharon Bray. Writing as a Way of Healing: Ourselves and Others provides a supportive and encouraging environment for you to write from painful life experiences.  You’ll be part of a virtual community of writers who explore together, through dialogue and written exercises, how and why writing can help us heal. Short lectures and examples from literature define the ongoing dialogue, and  weekly writing prompts and exercises will be offered to inspire your stories. You'll share written work together online, offering affirmative and supportive feedback to one another.  Confidentiality, safety and support are fundamental to the class environment. You'll experience and model a community where writing together is a healing experience.

Changing the World with Words: Transformative Language Arts Foundations – Joanna Tebbs Young. This thorough introduction to Transformative Language Arts (TLA) encompasses the personal and the global, the contemporary and the historic, and how TLA can be practiced through writing, storytelling, performance, song, and collaborative, expressive and integrated arts. Each week includes short readings, a lively discussion, and invigorating writing prompts to help you articulate more of your own TLA callings. Participants should plan on spending 3-5 hours on class assignments each week. We will also have two 40-minute conference calls (time to be determined in concert with everyone’s schedules), at the beginning and end of the class, to get to know one another and discuss questions and topics voice-to-voice. This class is also required for TLA Foundations Certification.

Diving and Emerging: Finding Your Voice and Identity in Personal Stories - Regi Carpenter. This six week course explores the crafting and performance of personal stories for growth and community. We will focus on strengthening our imagination, story structure, emotional impact and performance skills. The class will be a balance of listening, reflecting, crafting and sharing. Our intent is to deepen awareness of the power stories play in personal and communal intellectual, emotional, and social development.


Regi Carpenter is an internationally known spoken word artist, author and educator. She has been performing her stories of small town life in northern New York for over twenty years. A featured teller at many festivals throughout the United States she conducts workshops and classes fro people of all ages who want to learn to write and tell stories from their own lives. Her book, “Where There’s Smoke, There’s Dinner-stories of a seared childhood” will be published by Familius Publishing in Sept. 2016. Regi also teaches storytelling at Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY.

Kelly DuMar's award-winning plays have been produced around the US and Canada, and are published by Brooklyn, Heuer,Youth Plays, and Smith & Kraus Audition Anthologies. She’s also author of Before You Forget – The Wisdom of Writing Diaries for Your Children, and a poetry chapbook All These Cures. Kelly has been a leader of new play development in the Boston area for over a decade, and she founded and produces the Our Voices Festival of Women Playwrights at Wellesley College, now in its 10th year. She’s a certified psychodramatist and a playback theatre artist. Kelly is honored to serve on the board of The International Women’s Writing Guild and the TLA Council, and she facilitates Let’s Talk TLA, a bi-monthly teleconference where she interviews a notable TLA practitioner.

Denise Low, Kansas 2007-2009 Poet Laureate, is active as a writer, educator, publisher, poet, and critic. Recent books are Mélange Block, poetry based on geologic structures and mixed-blood experiences (Red Mountain Press  2014) and Jackalope , trickster fiction (Red Mountain Press 2016). Low is author of over 25 books. She posts commentary about  poets and writers on her blog. Members of the Associated Writers and Writing Programs elected her to the national board in 2008-13, and she served as president of the AWP board 2011-2012. The Poetry Foundation selected samples of her work for its site, where she is listed among Native American poets.

Marianela Medrano-Marra is a Dominican writer and professional counselor with a PhD in psychology. She offers workshops and readings in various venues in Connecticut and other parts of the country. In her workshops, she combines literature, psychology, and her research on the Sacred Feminine to help others find new ways of knowing the wholeness of  being human. She has published the following poetry books: Oficio de Vivir (1986), Los Alegres Ojos de la Tristeza (1987), Regando Esencias/The Scent of Waiting (1998) andCurada de Espantos (2002).  Her work also appears in literary magazines such as Brooklyn Review (1995), Punto 7 Review (1996) Sisters of Caliban (1996) Callaloo (2000), The Afro-Latin@ Reader (2010), among many others.

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg Kansas 2009-2013 Poet Laureate, is the author of 19 books, including five collections of poetry (most recent: Chasing Weather: Tornadoes, Tempests, and Thunderous Skies in Word and Image with photographer/weather chaser Stephen Locke), a novel, several memoirs, and notable anthologies, such as, with Ruth Farmer, Transformative Language Arts in Action. Founder of Transformative Language Arts at Goddard College where she teaches, Caryn teaches community writing and livelihood workshops widely. With singer-songwriter Kelley Hunt, she offers Brave Voice writing and singing retreats and collaborative performances.

Laura Packer is a performing storyteller, writer, coach and communications consultant with for- and non-profit businesses. She has performed in venues as varied as festivals, universities, hospices, retreats, on the streets, fringe festivals and more. Her writing has been published in a variety of print and online publications. Laura has worked with organizations ranging from NASA to 4-person non-profits. She loves applying artistic and creative tools to the practical and prosaic, and thinks solving business problems in new ways can actually be a lot of fun.

Angie River is a writer, educator, activist, and performance artist. She has taught writing workshops and done performances in various states across the country, and is published in Tidepools Literary Magazine, Reading for Hunger Relief,”The Body is Not an Apology webpage, and the upcoming anthology Queering Sexual Violence, as well as having her own blog and zines. Angie fully believes in the power of writing to help us gain a better understanding of ourselves, to build connections and community, and to make personal and social change. She earned a MA in Transformative Language Arts from Goddard College.

Martin Swinger is a celebrated musician whose songs boldly span subjects of Autism, oysters, dyslexic theology, Betty Boop and Buddha with performance panache and ingenious lyrics which are surprising, intimate, outrageous, and universal. A Nationally awarded songwriter and arts educator, Martin shares songwriting and singing techniques, skills and games with Kindergarten through adult learners, encouraging the shyest musician to find expression.

Scott Youmans has facilitated versions of this class for over a decade and has leaped many times himself, from start-up company to self employed entrepreneur, to an established company with heart-centered ethics. He holds a Masters degree in Transformative Language Arts from Goddard College and has completed one year of a Master of Divinity degree at the multi-religious Starr King School for the Ministry. Scott is known for his skillful facilitation techniques and integration of poetry and spirituality into his classes. He currently offers his gifts to many communities, including as manager at Sounds True, a publishing company that inspires, supports, and serves personal transformation and spiritual awakening.

Joanna Tebbs Young is a Writer and Transformative Writing Facilitator and Coach. She holds a Masters degree in Transformative Language Arts from Goddard College and is a certified instructor through the Center for Journal Therapy. Joanna writes weekly columns for two local newspapers and offers workshops at her writing center in Rutland, VT. She has taught throughout Vermont and New England, including at the Kripalu Institute. Her blog and coaching information can be found at

"The Transformative Language Arts Network" is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Kansas, P.O. Box 442633, Lawrence, KS 66044

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