TLA Classes

We offer online classes to help you deepen your understanding of Transformative Language Arts, explore the craft of various genres and arts related to TLA, and develop your livelihood, community work, and service related to TLA.

Designed and taught by leading teachers, transformative language artists and activists, and master facilitators (want to be one of them?), these classes offer you ample opportunities to grow your art of words, your business and service, and your conversation with your life work.

The online nature of the classes allows you to participate from anywhere in the world (provided you have internet access) at any time of the day while, and at the same time, the intimate and welcoming atmosphere of the classes helps students find community, inspiration, and greater purpose.

While each class is unique to the teacher's style, all classes include hands-on activities (writing, storytelling, theater, spoken word, visual arts, music and/or other prompts), plus great resources, readings, and guidance. We use the online educational platform, Moodle. Currently we offer two class formats:

  • Community Online Classes have a set period of time, ranging from four to six weeks with a small cohort of five to 15 people. Every Wednesday a new weekly module opens for you to engage with on your own time, with forums and opportunities to share, interact, and receive feedback from peers and the teacher. If the teacher wants to schedule a live meeting, they will coordinate directly with enrolled participants. Classes remain open and available to enrolled participants for at least a month after the class end date.
  • Self-Paced Online Classes have no set period of time and no cohort. All modules are available upon enrollment for you to engage with on your own time. Each self-paced class includes one forum to share, interact, and give/receive feedback from peers.

Enrollment Cost

Classes are priced by the number of weeks they run, and member's get a $20 discount. Early Bird rates end two weeks before the class start date, and registration increases by $40 thereafter.

NOTE: When there is a sale, the class page only displays the non-member discounted price. If you are a member, it will show the member discount once you start the registration process.

Cancellation & Refund Policy

Cancellations: A nonrefundable fee of 10% is included in each registration. No cancellations after the class begins. In the case of extenuating circumstances, please contact us.

Low Enrollment Cancellations: Classes that do not meet a minimum enrollment may be canceled a minimum of 3 days prior to the first class meeting with full refunds for all registrants.

Incomplete: Students seeking certification in TLA Foundations who cannot complete a class due to extenuating circumstances may be granted a discounted registration on the next available offering of that class. To be eligible for the discount students must communicate their circumstance to the teacher as soon as possible.

Self-Paced Online Classes

Community Online Classes

    • 23 Oct 2019
    • 03 Dec 2019
    • Online
    • 6

    Want to immerse yourself into poetry you may already love or will get to fall in love while also generating a lot of new poems of your own? This six-week class leads you on a journey through sparkling poetry from many contemporary and and some more ancient poets from across America and around the world, including Rumi, Mary Oliver, Adrienne Rich, Sharon Olds, Tomas Transtromer, Seamus Heaney, Wislawa Szymborska, William Stafford, Pattiann Rogers, Rainer-Maria Rilke, Tess Gallagher, Audre Lorde, Jane Hirshfield, Simon Ortiz, and Gregory Orr. 

    Each week features two or three of the poets, including a sampling of their poetry, links to articles and interviews, and a summary about what their work offers us as readers and writers. Additionally, each week highlights a discussion on the craft of writing poetry, writing tips, and lots of writing prompts to help you open doors to new poems. We come together to share our poetry, responses to one another's poetry, and sparks for new ways to consider the poetic power of language. By the end of the workshop, you'll have a big bunch of new poems and, through the poets we're exploring, lots of inspiring poet-companions you're now familiar with and can visit regularly in libraries and bookstores.

    Week by Week

    Week One: Ordinary Magic – Tess Gallagher and Seamus Heaney: Looking at the poetry of people who show us the extraordinary in the ordinary – in the U.S. and in Ireland -- we'll open up our eyes to see writing prompts and potential in what's around us wherever we are.

    Week Two: Wild at Heart – Pattiann Rogers and Tomas Transtromer: Poets who write deeply about the earth and sky can show us new ways to see what's in and beyond our own backyards. This week's poets, from Sweden and the U.S., open windows into the natural sciences and the mysterious living earth all around us, showing us new and ancient ways to write about what endures and what changes in the other-than-human world.

    Week Three: Liberation and Illumination – Andre Lorde, Adrienne Rich, and Simon Ortiz: Poets who write of transformation and freedom, including women and writers of color, illuminate what it is to break silences, speak of recovered or emerging traditions, and amplify the voices that show us more of who are as a people. Poets this week hail from the U.S., the Acoma Pueblo nation, and the Virgin Islands.

    Week Four: Wandering Mystics – Rumi, Mary Oliver, and Rainer-Maria Rilke: This week's poetry takes to the less-traveled path through exploring the spirit-journeying poems of writers from Germany, Persia/Afghanistan, and the U.S. We'll accompany these poets through mystical treks accompanied by angels (Rilke), the seen and unseen (Rumi), and dogs and other plants and animals (Mary Oliver) as we wander into our own new poetry.

    Week Five: Healing Fountains – Gregory Orr, Wislawa Szymborska, and Sharon Olds: Through exploring the poetry of personal and communal healing, we can find and write some of our own healing fountains, surfacing what's ripe for revising in our lives and life stories to craft more authentic and generous narratives to write and live. This week features poets from Poland and the U.S.

    Week Six: Maps to Where We Live – Jane Hirshfield and William Stafford: Poetry can also help us revision where and how we live, lighting from within the details and big picture views of our lives. By considering the work of these poets who write so vividly of the present, and what it means to land in the here and now of each moment, we can better embrace the patterns our lives and poetry give us.

    Who Should Take This Class

    This is a generative class for all people who drawn to poetry, whether you're just getting started or have a long-time practice. All the writing prompts and interactive activities are designed to meet you where you are and gather us into a vibrant poetry community for the duration of our time together.


    This is an online class, yet we strive to come together in council, reaching across the miles to hold one another's words and reflect deeply on what we discover individually and together. Each week includes ample writing prompts, a short essay on the poets we're visiting with this week, a discussion and examples of the craft of strong writing, and a short meditative piece (often a podcast) about this week's theme, including considerations for your own immersion into the writing life.

    Expect to spend a minimum of 2-5 hours per week on writing. Participants are also asked to respond to at least three other participants' work each week, deepening our dialogue altogether. Most of the exercises will give participants options to write in the genre of their choice.

    About the Teacher

    Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Ph.D., the 2009-13 Kansas Poet Laureate, is the author of two dozen books, and founder of Transformative Language Arts  at Goddard College where she teaches. Her books include Miriam's Well, a novel; Following the Curve, poetry; Everyday Magic: Fieldnotes on the Mundane and Miraculous; Needle in the Bone, a non-fiction book on the Holocaust; The Sky Begins At Your Feet, a bioregional memoir; and Chasing Weather, poetry with photography from Stephen Locke. A writing and right livelihood coach, working with people to bring what wants to be written and lived into being, Mirriam-Goldberg offers community writing workshops widely, and with Kelley Hunt, Brave Voice retreats. She also co-leads the Right Livelihood Professional Training with Laura Packer. For over three decades, Caryn has worked extensively with many arts and ecological/bioregional not-for-profit organizations as a grant-writer, fundraiser, staff or board member, and consultant on collaborative and community arts, group process, and better meetings. Born hard-wired to make something (in art, music, and especially writing), Caryn’s long-time callings include writing as a spiritual and ecological path, yoga, cultivating a loving marriage, family, and community, and helping herself and others make and take leaps into the miraculous work of their lives.

    • 23 Oct 2019
    • 03 Dec 2019
    • Online
    • 19

    Have you ever discovered that a detail you’d once magically, unwittingly predicted in a poem suddenly became true? In this generative workshop, we’ll strive to harness that same mystical energy to write our collective future into existence— through poetry. Inspiration will be mined from movement workers, social change influencers, the inherent genius of nature’s patterns, the starfish’s regenerative limb! We’ll cast hope into the universe through ritual, spellmaking, disruption, and interactive poem-experiments— guided by a motley crew of visionary writers and thinkers. Where we are used to lamenting and pushing against the conditions of what are, participants will be encouraged, when possible, to work from an emergent lens, feeling towards what could be instead.

    This course is designed for each student to connect to their own unique social justice intention. Given that the purpose of the workshop is to help participants expand awareness beyond ego-driven concerns, locate and amplify individual sources of creativity, and sense into futures of potential, the workshop offers no prescriptive answers or solutions. Instead, participants will be offered unusual writing exercises meant to coax forward new and unexpected ideas. A series of options will be presented for each individual to select from to ignite or catalyze their own creative responses.

    A sample poem that helps illustrate the kind of possibility we are after: Field Trip to the Museum of Human History by Franny Choi imagines a world where the brutality of American policing is an ancient system of the past.

    We’ll be inspired by readings from adrienne maree brown, CA Conrad, Aja Monet, Ada Limón, Joy Harjo, June Jordan, Margaret J. Wheatley, Layli Long Soldier, Kimiko Hahn, Harryette Mullen, Daniel Borzutsky, Natalie Diaz, Jaki Shelton Green, Etheridge Knight, Audre Lorde, Maggie Smith, Matthew Olzmann, Tracy K Smith, Joshua Jennifer Espinoza, José Olivarez, Otto Scharmer, Joshua Bennett, Tom Sleigh, Lucille Clifton, F.J. Bergmann, Martin Espada, Elizabeth Alexander, Ross Gay, Aracelis Girmay, Naomi Shihab Nye, Khadijah Queen, Vievee Francis, Matthew Mendoza, Mary Oliver, Nazim Hikmet, Big Energy Poets, dg nanouk okpik, Alberto Rios and many more!

    Week by Week

    Each week we’ll engage with a series of diverse readings and thinkers, as well as multiple poems, revolving around a central theme. In response, unexpected poem-generating experiments will be engaged, as well as short and long writing prompts will be offered in service of generating new work well beyond the course conclusion. Many different entry points and options will be laid out for the participant to choose from, encouraged to work intuitively in the direction of what calls their attention, and moves their spirit. Breaking from hierarchical models of top-down power, participants will be asked at times to co-create exercises and curate readings. We’ll share encouraging feedback throughout the process—staying away from deep critique, opting instead for questions, curiosities and other methods of pushing the imagination further.

    Week 1 — Clarifying: Setting intention. Welcoming. Naming what is: what are we trying to change? / return to? / conjure? / address? / confront? / move forward?

    Week 2 — Returning: What was? Looking back to honor what we’ve lost: what’s been destroyed, taken for granted, colonized. What we miss. Taking stock, then, revising history.

    Week 3 — Reimagining: What are we allowed to be? How can we reimagine accepted norms, values, institutions, structures and relationships?

    Week 4 — Conjuring: Stretching to make the “unreal” a reality by engaging magic, ritual and fantasy to conjure a new world into existence.

    Week 5 — Offering: Looking through the lens of gratitude. Examining the present. Locating, pinpointing and amplifying the good that already exists.

    Week 6 — Preparing: Creating maps towards change: manifestos, process notes, blueprints and instructions.

    Who Should Take This Class

    This generative workshop is for writers looking to confront our broken world with a sense of possibility, to combat writer’s block, begin a new collection, try something out of the ordinary and have some fun! Please note: this experience offers a great deal of choice, and invites the writer to draw from their own interests and internal dialogues. It is not a class that can, or will, dictate how to address our world through a lens of justice, but rather asks the writer to shake open possibilities for emergent futures that can’t yet be seen. If nontraditional learning spaces are not your cup of tea, this class may not resonate. If you are easily overwhelmed by choice and a variety of stimuli, this class may not be for you. If you are open to take a nonlinear journey that requires experimentation and a suspense of typical outcomes from poetry classes, then please join us. The hope is that each participant will leave with a packet of seeds for both their own portfolio, and, if we’re lucky, a glimmer of a better future we can cull forward.

    Class Format

    This is an online class. Students should expect to spend at least 3 hours per week engaging resources and readings, trying out writing/creation prompts, and briefly responding to peers’ work from a lens of “I notice, I wonder, I wish.” Our interactions will work towards sustains a welcoming and inspiring community together.

    About the Teacher

    Caits Meissner is a DIY-spirited, poly-creative writer, artist, and cultural worker. She is the author of the illustrated hybrid poetry book, Let it Die Hungry (The Operating System, 2016), and her poems, essays, and literary comix have been  published in The Guardian, The Literary Review, Narrative, Adroit, Drunken Boat, The Rumpus, VIDA Literary Review, The Feminist Wire, The Normal School, Poetry Magazine’s Harriet blog, and The Offing, among many others. In 2010, she released the wolf & me, an album that Okayplayer named "an impressive blend of poetry, singing and stellar production that takes on a variety of complexions." Erykah Badu called her blend of poetry and music, "Fresh, honest, and loving," with "a delicate heart like mine." With an extensive history in teaching and facilitating community arts programs, Caits currently serves as Director of the Prison & Justice Writing Program at PEN America.

    • 15 Jan 2020
    • 25 Feb 2020
    • Online

    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! 

    “Memoir as Monologue taught me the power of my own story. Kelly’s guidance on creating effective drama, her concrete feedback on improving my work, the nurturing environment she created for participants and the excellent resources she brought to the table opened a whole new world for me. This was one of the most effective online classes I’ve taken.” Diane Glass, 2016 class member

    Read an interview here with Kelly on this dynamic class.

    Week by Week

    Week One: Memoir vs. Monologue: How Dramatic Writing Makes the Leap from Page to Stage

    All kinds of expressive writing, from diary/journal writing to memoir to poetry, foster healing and personal growth. Writing for the stage offers a uniquely imaginative process for healing and transformation as well. We’ll explore how writing for the stage differs from writing a memoir or personal essay. You’ll learn tools for adapting personal story for dramatic writing as a theatrical experience that engages an audience. Elements of dramatic structure will be introduced.

    Week Two: The Art of Crafting Set-Up

    We’ll explore taking a short piece of memoir and shaping it theatrically, focusing on developing an effective dramatic set-up. Crafting an effective monologue  set up involves imagination and immediacy, a distinctive voice, cohesive narrative structure, meaningful theme, and cohesive plot. We’ll explore personal themes of life choices, mistakes, roads taken and not taken, encountering internal and external obstacles, new beginnings, thresholds, rites of passage as the source for crafting dramatic monologues.

    Week Three: Conflict – Experiencing Obstacles, Crafting Resilience

    Conflict is a universal experience, a fact of life, and a necessary element of dramatic writing. How we meet it, how we shape it, how we share it is the stuff of wise living and great storytelling. We’ll experiment and explore conflict as a personal encounter and literary device and as a necessary stage of any journey toward wholeness. This session will explore how to artistically construct compelling narratives from personal conflicts, shaping the experience of resilience to involve and inspire an audience.

    Week Four: Showing Versus Telling – Voice as a Vehicle for Dramatic Action

    The memoir writer uses written description and authorial narration to illustrate setting, character, internal thoughts, external actions, feelings, motivations, needs, conflicts and consequences. The dramatic writer of monologue must craft, from the voice of a single character/speaker, compelling speech and gesture to show, rather than tell a story. We’ll explore how monologue presents a speaker’s needs, motivation and conflict in a way that involves the audience by establishing a “willing suspension of disbelief.”

    Week Five: Creative Tools for Revising & Fine-Tuning

    Focus on how the process of revision moves from page to stage - and stage back to page; additional thematic writing prompts for use with writing already generated in class; discussing strategies for going deeper; dealing with creative blocks and putting it all together – theme, arc, voice, stagecraft.

    Week Six: The Art of Collaboration – Presenting Your Monologue

    Whether or not you plan on personally performing your dramatic monologue or putting it in the hands of an actor, your writing will take on additional dimension in the journey toward sharing it with an audience. We’ll explore aspects of collaborating with a director, an actor, a designer, producer or publisher in the process of reaching an audience as well as resources for finding potential collaborators.

    Who Should Take This Class

    This class is ideal for people who do word arts–writing, storytelling, spoken word, theater, and other forms of TLA–and are ready to put themselves out there more in the world and in their work. Because of the innovate exercises and engaging discussions, this class would be very appropriate for both new and seasoned word artists who want to learn more, and find greater community together.


    This is an online class. Each workshop will present engaging content designed to spark personal reflection, discussion, and dynamic writing prompts. Additionally, because developing voice is an essential element of this class, there will be a group phone conference offered once weekly so participants can read and listen to monologue drafts being read aloud. Students should expect to spend 3 -5 hours or so on suggested readings, reflecting and sharing on a probing question, engaging in creative writing prompts, sharing writing in a phone conference and responding to peers’ work. We’ll create a safe and supportive environment, offering respectful support that inspires the development of every writer’s voice.

    About the Teacher

    Kelly DuMar is pleased to be teaching her fourth online class for TLAN. She’s a poet, playwright and workshop facilitator from the Boston area, and author of three poetry chapbooks: “girl in tree bark," (Nixes Mate), “Tree of the Apple,” (Two of Cups Press), and “All These Cures,” (Lit House Press). Kelly is also author of a non-fiction book, Before You Forget – The Wisdom of Writing Diaries for Your Children. Kelly’s award winning plays are produced around the US and are published by dramatic publishers. Kelly founded and produces the Our Voices Festival of Women Playwrights at Wellesley College, now in its 13th year, and leads a variety of workshops for writers across the US. She’s on the board and faculty of The International Women’s Writing Guild and produces the IWWG Summer Conference Play Lab and the  IWWG Annual Boston Writing Conference, now in its fourth year. Kelly facilitates a weekly writing workshop for women, the Farm Pond Writer’s Collective, now in its fifth year. Kelly is a certified psychodramatist and a Fellow in the American Society for Group Psychotherapy & Psychodrama. You can follow Kelly’s daily nature blog, “#NewThisDay Writing From My Photo Stream,” and join her mailing list at

Past Classes

24 Apr 2019 Changing the World with Words: TLA Foundations // with Joanna Tebbs-Young
06 Mar 2019 Fantastic Folktales & Visionary Angles to Transform Our Stories // with Lyn Ford
16 Jan 2019 How Pictures Heal: Honoring Memory & Loss through Expressive Writing from Personal Photos // with Kelly DuMar
24 Oct 2018 Coming Home to Body, Earth, and Time: Writing From Where We Live // with Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg
24 Oct 2018 Leverage Your TLA Expertise for Publication, Community, Business, and Livelihood // with Yvette Hyater-Adams
05 Sep 2018 Cultivating Our Voices: Writing Life Stories for Change // with Dr. Liz Burke-Cravens
27 Jun 2018 & They Call Us Crazy: Outsider Writing to Cross the Borders of Human Imagination // with Caits Meissner
27 Jun 2018 Wound Dwelling: Writing the Survivor Body(ies) // with Jennye Patterson
27 Jun 2018 Changing the World with Words: TLA Foundations // with Joanna Tebbs-Young
16 May 2018 Values of the Future Through Transformative Language Arts // with Doug Lipman
04 Apr 2018 Stories with Spirit: Creativity as a Spiritual Practice // with Regi Carpenter
14 Mar 2018 Writing for Social Change: Redream a Just World // with Anya Achtenberg
21 Feb 2018 Funding Transformation: Grant Writing for Storytellers, Writers, Artists, Educators, & Activists // with Diane Silver
10 Jan 2018 Fantastic Folktales & Visionary Angles to Transform Our Stories // with Lyn Ford
18 Oct 2017 Writing Our Lives: The Poetic Self & Transformation // with Dr. Liz Burke-Cravens
18 Oct 2017 Changing the World with Words: TLA Foundations // with Joanna Tebbs-Young
06 Sep 2017 Your Memoir as Monologue: How to Create Dynamic Dramatic Monologues About Healing and Transformation for Performance // with Kelly DuMar
06 Sep 2017 Wound Dwelling: Writing the Survivor Body(ies) // with Jennifer Patterson
14 Jun 2017 The Five Senses and Four Elements: Connecting with the Body and Nature Through Poetry // with Angie River
14 Jun 2017 The Poetics of Witness: Writing Beyond the Self // with Caits Meissner
19 Apr 2017 Diving and Emerging: Finding Your Voice and Identity in Personal Stories // with Regi Carpenter
01 Mar 2017 How Pictures Heal: Honoring Memory & Loss through Expressive Writing from Personal Photos // with Kelly DuMar
01 Mar 2017 Changing the World with Words: TLA Foundations // with Joanna Tebbs-Young
11 Jan 2017 Your Callings, Your Livelihood, Your Life // With Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg
11 Jan 2017 Values of the Future Through Transformative Language Arts // with Doug Lipman
26 Oct 2016 Leverage Your TLA Expertise for Publication, Community, Business, and Livelihood // with Yvette Angelique Hyater-Adams
26 Oct 2016 Not Enough Spoons: Writing About Disability & Chronic Illness // with Angie River
14 Sep 2016 Wound Dwelling: Writing the Survivor Body(ies) // with Jennifer Patterson
14 Sep 2016 Creating a Sustainable Story: Self-Care, Meaningful Work, and the Business of Creativity // with Laura Packer
29 Jun 2016 Coming Home to Body, Earth, and Time: Writing From Where We Live // with Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg
29 Jun 2016 Making the Leap into Work You Love // with Scott Youmans
18 May 2016 Changing the World with Words: TLA Foundations
18 May 2016 Saturated Selfies: Intentional and Intense Photography and Writing
28 Mar 2016 Gathering Courage: Still-Doing, Big Journaling, and Other (Not So Scary) Ways to Begin Accommodating the Soul
15 Feb 2016 Living Out Loud: Healing Through Storytelling and Writing
15 Feb 2016 Soulful Songwriting: How To Begin, Collaborate, And Finish Your Song
04 Jan 2016 Your Memoir as Monologue: How to Create Dynamic Dramatic Monologues About Healing and Transformation for Performance
04 Jan 2016 The Five Senses and the Four Elements: Connecting with the Body and Nature Through Poetry

"The Transformative Language Arts Network" is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. P.O. Box 873 Lansdowne, PA 19050 USA

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