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, at the same time, the intimate and welcoming atmosphere of the classes helps students find community, inspiration, and greater purpose.

All classes include hands-on activities (writing, storytelling, theater, spoken word, visual arts,music and/or other prompts), plus great resources, readings, and guidance.

Enrollment Cost

Classes are priced by the number of weeks they run. Members pay $35/week, non-members pay $40/week. Most classes run for 6 weeks, so members would pay $210 and non-members would pay $240.

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.

Gift Certificates

Want to purchase a class for a very lucky someone, but not sure which one they'd be most excited about? Get them a gift certificate that they can redeem for the class of their dreams! Here's how it goes:

  1. Click on the button to the right -- you'll be taken to a PayPal page (NOTE: You must have a PayPal account to purchase a gift certificate.)
  2. Enter your name, the receiver's name and email, and a personal message (if you want). You have the choice to have PayPal email it for you, or you can print it out and include it in a card.
  3. Purchase the gift certificate. Your special someone will receive a redemption code with their gift certificate and can use it to enroll in a class of their choosing! (NOTE: Only non-member rates are available for gift certificates. If the receiver of the gift certificate is a member of the TLA Network, they will get the discount and then have credit to go towards something else -- score for them!)

Upcoming Classes

    • 06 Sep 2017
    • 17 Oct 2017
    • Online

    What is the physicality of a wound? What types of loss feel nearly impossible to come back from? What kind of life settles into our bones if we don’t take the time to grieve these losses? Can we dive into the wound, the loss: excavate and unearth it?

    We will focus on surviving and survivorhood; what it looks and feels like to live beyond traumatic experiences. The dominant narratives about the survivor body— oft pathologized as disembodied, disassociated and unwell— will be turned on their heads. We can never actually leave our bodies, as hard as we might try (and as wise as we are in our reasons for trying) and are therefore always already embodied.

    Too often survivors that are also writers are told to not dwell in the trauma, that writing from personal and traumatic experience isn’t “legitimate” writing. I don’t believe that to be true and am regularly heartened and inspired by the writing people do while diving into the wound(s).

    In this 6 week workshop we will engage with work written by a wide range of writers, generate our own body of work through interrogating the roots of trauma and how it manifests in the body and explore body-based writing can help support us as we write into the wound. The trauma doesn't have to just live in our body; it can be moved from living within our skin and be rewritten onto paper (and computer screens).

    "How people feel, what they feel, what breaks them, how trauma resonates through their lives . . . that’s a legitimate space in poetry." —Claudia Rankine

    "Write backwards from the dissipated, exploded, violent body. Write the blows backwards until you make a real body. This movement of a body through space, how to reduce the pain of this body, the pain of a static, habitual, repeated movement-- impact-- is what I mean by healing. Not resolution, but a rewriting in neuromuscular terms of gesture." — Bhanu Kapil

    “What’s fertile in a wound? Why dwell in one? Wounds promise authenticity and profundity, beauty and singularity, desirability. They summon sympathy. They bleed enough light to write by. They yield scars full of stories and slights that become rallying cries. They break upon the fuming fruits of damaged engines and dust these engines with color. And yet—​beyond and beneath their fruits—​they still hurt. The boons of a wound never get rid of it; they just bloom from it.”— Leslie Jamison

    Note: "Wound Dwelling" is language drawn from Leslie Jamison's work on wounds and pain.

    Week by Week

    Week 1 // The Survivor Body(ies)

    Week 2 // The Survivor Body as a "Failed Body" and Using Failure to Create

    Week 3 // Wound Dwelling as a Creative Practice an Embodied & Somatic Practice

    Week 4 // Wound Dwelling as an Embodied & Somatic Practice

    Week 5 // Wound Dwelling: The Body(ies) in Pleasure and Pain

    Week 6 // Wound Dwelling: Moving Beyond Dominant Narratives

    General outline for each week:
    •    Review guidelines for holding space for each other and writing into traumatic material in order to foster a safe(r) space
    •    2-3 readings from other writers drawing from poetry, creative non-fiction, and a little trauma theory
    •    Questions to generate discussion
    •    Offerings of writing prompts, response, and discussion

    Who Should Take This Class

    This class is for anyone who is looking to mine the embodied knowing of traumatic experience — all bodies, genders, and identities. Whether someone is looking to delve more deeply into personal experience or needing to get through writer’s block that lives deep in the well of their body it will be helpful for people who are writing memoir, creative non-fiction, poetry, and fiction.


    This is an online class. Each week, a new section of the course will open full of resources, reflections, exercises, discussion questions, and writing prompts. Students should expect to spend 2-3 hours per week perusing resources and readings, answering a discussion question, engaging in exercises, and responding to peers’ work.

    Note from the teacher: Working with trauma is inherently risky and challenging writing often comes from places of harm. I want to offer a space that is safe but also know that I can’t guarantee (because of the vast scope of trauma) that we won’t be triggered at times. I’m very invested in creating a container for us to write in and I will offer guidelines for writing together that honor individual experience and affirm the difficult writing we will share with each other. I come to this work as a survivor of multiple forms of violence, as a writer and artist and I have a background as a community organizer and as an emergency room rape crisis counselor. I want to be in and create spaces that honor the myriad ways our survivorhood can look, spaces that honor all genders, identities and experiences and I want to be open to growing and shifting the spaces I create to meet the needs of the individual people I work

    That said, it is important to note that I am not a licensed therapist so if you feel like you are at a particularly tender or charged moment in your healing process it might also be helpful to have a therapist or someone you trust to be on deck to offer further support. If you have specific concerns or accessibility needs, please contact the facilitator. 

    About the Teacher

    Jennifer Patterson is a grief worker who uses words, threads, and plants to explore survivorhood, body(ies) and healing. She is the editor of Queering Sexual Violence: Radical Voices From Within the Anti-Violence Movement (2016), facilitates trauma-focused writing and embroidery workshops, and has had writing published in places like OCHO: A Journal of Queer Arts, The Establishment, Handjob, and The Feminist Wire. A queer and trans affirming, trauma-informed herbalist and Breathworker, Patterson offers sliding scale care as a practitioner with The Breathe Network as well as through her own practice Corpus Ritual. Recently, she finished a graduate program with a thesis focused on translating embodied traumatic experience through somatic practices and critical and creative nonfiction. You can find out more at

    • 06 Sep 2017
    • 17 Oct 2017
    • 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! 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 is a poet, playwright and expressive arts workshop facilitator who loves leading new and experienced writers through dynamic writing exercises and meaningful sharing that leave you feeling engaged, intrigued and surprised by the depth of your experience. Kelly’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 a non-fiction book, Before You Forget – The Wisdom of Writing Diaries for Your Children. Kelly’s poems are published in many literary magazines, and her award-winning poetry chapbook, “All These Cures,” was published by Lit House Press in 2014. 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. Her website is

    • 18 Oct 2017
    • 28 Nov 2017
    • Online

    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.

    Every week includes website to visit and engage with, whether that engagement be simply perusing a site and learning about a movement, organization, watching a video or listening to a podcast. Weekly writing prompts give you room to work and play through what you know, are coming to know, and how this knowledge cross-pollinates with what you do and who you are.

    This class is also required for TLA Foundations Certification.

    To order a copy of The Power of Words: A TLA Reader (required text for class), please scroll down.

    Week by Week

    Week One: TLA history, fields and traditions

    An overview of theory and practice, including genres, arts and community practices, ethics, and your own values informing your TLA. Explore TLA in many forms–from poetry therapy to social change theater to healing storytelling–and share what ignites your soul and work.

    Week Two: TLA in Service: health, healing, spirituality, and personal growth.

    We’re explore how TLA can help people find their way home through health or emotional crises or wounds, spiritual callings, and many manner of personal growth. Starting with the personal, and recognizing how the personal is political, we look at ways in which TLA can foster health, healing, and homecoming, and also some of our cultural biases and blindnesses about such directions.

    Week Three: TLA as Catalyst: community, culture, history, and social change.

    We’ll look at TLA in relation to community-building, culture-shifting, history-revisioning, and social change, and particularly explore what it means and can mean to be part of various communities.

    Week Four:  TLA and Right Livelihood: Ways to Make a Living and a Life.

    What are our callings for how we make a living and how we live a life? We’ll dive into how TLA intersects with our life’s work (whether that work relates to a paycheck, volunteering, or other aspects of our life), and develop plans for where we’re led to go.

    Week Five: TLA in Action: Facilitation, Consulting, Collaboration, Coaching and More.

    Looking at the ethics of our work, art, and community involvement, we’ll discuss and write about the specific forms of TLA we do and want to do.

    Week Six: TLA and You: Plans, Visions, and Maps.

    Deepening our plans for the work, art, and community-making ahead, we’ll clarify what’s right for us to pursue next, what support and tools we need along the way, and the future envision.

    Who Should Take This Class

    This class is ideal for a wide variety of people, including professionals who want to infuse TLA into their teaching, counseling, pastoral work, arts collaboration, and community work; writers, storytellers, performers and other artists who want to develop their facilitation of writing, songwriting, expressive arts, drama therapy and community theater, collaborative arts, storytelling, and integrated arts; and perspective or current students or alumni of TLA studies.


    This is an online class. Each week, a new week will open full of resources, reflections, discussion questions, and writing prompts. Students should expect to spend 3-5 hours per week perusing resources and readings, answering a discussion question, engaging in several writing prompts, and responding to peers’ work. From our interactions, we sustain a welcoming and inspiring community together.

    Required Text: The Power of Words: A Transformative Language Arts Reader, edited by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg and Janet Tallman. You can purchase the text on Amazon.

    About the Teacher

    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. Her blog and coaching information can be found at

    Read TLA Founder Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg’s article, “Why I’m a Transformative Language Artist” in Huffington Post.

    • 18 Oct 2017
    • 05 Dec 2017
    • Online

    Poetry offers a unique opportunity to deepen and broaden our sense of self, of others, and our place in the world. It provides a unique way for us to explore the raw material of our lives—the taboo, the unspoken, and the painful and beautiful truths of our existence. In this class, we will explore reading poetry as transformative engagement and writing poetry as transformative practice. This class will focus on three main areas: explore our own responses to reading of a variety of contemporary poets’ writings on themes such as childhood, grief and death, adolescence, and love and intimacy; elements of the craft, including diction, metaphor, voice, style, imagery; and generating a new body of work.

    Week by Week

    Week 1: Reading and writing poetry as transformative processes.

    Week 2: The image/writing and knowing.

    Week 3: Simile and metaphor/writing about family.

    Week 4: Line breaks/writing about death and grief.

    Week 5: Voice and style/writing about love and the erotic.

    Week 6: Revising and polishing your poems.

    Who Should Take This Class

    This class is appropriate for those with any amount of experience writing poetry, from those who are interested in learning more and might be a bit nervous about it, to writers with years of experience who want to generate new work and brush up on elements of craft and be exposed to new contemporary writers.


    This is an online class. Each week, a new week will open full of resources, reflections, discussion questions, and writing prompts. Students should expect to spend 3-5 hours per week perusing resources and readings, answering a discussion question, engaging in several writing prompts, and responding to peers’ work. From our interactions, we sustain a welcoming and inspiring community together.

    About the Teacher

    Dr. Liz Burke-Cravens is a poet, educator, writing coach, passionate scholar and determined optimist. As an educator she is committed to critical and transformative approaches to teaching and learning. Her writings have appeared in Ireland and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History: A Multidisciplinary Encyclopedia, Volume 2, The Irish Herald, Soulstice: A Feminist Anthology Volume II, and Sandy River Review. She lives in Oakland, California with her wife, Amber, and their two dogs, Schmoopie and Mr. Bits.

"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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