Folks, I’d like to introduce you to Jen Cross: a fellow writer and community workshop leader who will be offering two incredible programs in the Central Valley this fall.
A graduate of the MA program in Transformative Language Arts at Goddard College, Jen’s an astounding writer, performer, and educator. I’ve long admired her work teaching AWA-style writing workshops for queer communities, survivors of sexual trauma, and other sex-positive groups in the Bay Area. Jen runs a full calendar (through her Writing Ourselves Whole site) of weekly, standalone, and (occasional) online programs… which is how I finally came to meet her in person this past spring, when I attended a daylong erotic writing program she had come to Sacramento to lead with Sutterwriters. This past summer I was enrolled in the first online workshop she taught for the Transformative Language Arts Network, and had the chance to get to know her and the space that she holds for her students much more deeply. Jen is an astoundingly talented, generous, fierce, affirmative, and warm soul, and I hope that more and more writers continue to find her programs in the years to come. More than anything, her teaching reminds me of the roots that art, activism, and healing share. In her words (from the Writing Ourselves Whole website): Transforming our language is one way we transform our lives. How we speak reflects the ways in which we see ourselves and the world around us. Altering and expanding our language has the effect of changing who we know ourselves to be.
If you’d like to work with Jen this fall, you might look into the two programs she’s teaching in Sacramento this November:
Reclaiming the Erotic Story: The Liberatory Potential of Writing Desire (Saturday, November 12, 2011)
Can erotic writing liberate more than our libidos? Does greater comfort with sexual expression lead to greater agency in our communities? Many of us assume that the erotic is solely the province of the individual, and not the realm of social change or communal liberation – but what happens when we all have wider access to and more comfort with erotic language and sexual expression? The full breadth of our erotic power can challenge what our society teaches us about our sexuality, which is both damning and provocative when it comes to personal expression and human relationships.
When we bring our longing into the light and find common ground with others, when we risk exposing that which we’ve been trained to be ashamed of, I find that many of us step into a deeply empowered (and more embodied!) self. In this workshop, we’ll try out some explicit writing, and will consider how empowering a creative engagement with sexual identity, desire, and expression, as well as the ability to write out our fantasies and desire, can affect our intimate relationships, our communities and our work in the world.
Write Whole – Survivors Write: For Survivors Of Sexual Trauma (Sunday, November 13, 2011)
Many of us who are survivors of sexual trauma feel fragmented or disjointed and have come to believe we must always live our lives this way.
In this Write Whole group, we are offered the opportunity to learn that we can live and feel whole in our experiences and desires – that we can create new art through writing, and transforming our pains and fears into power and love.
It bears repeating: Transforming our language is one way we transform our lives. Altering and expanding our language has the effect of changing who we know ourselves to be.
In this Write Whole workshop, you’ll write in response to exercises chosen to elicit deep-heart writing, engaging with such subjects as: body image, family/community, sexuality, dreams, love, faith, and more.
Though we come together as survivors, we are never required to write any particular version of “our abuse story.” In this space, you have the opportunity to write as you feel called to write, no matter what the subject.
Although the setting is a supportive one, this workshop is different from a “support group,” as the focus of the workshop itself is on each person’s writing. We create beauty out of the sometimes extraordinarily difficult stuff of our lives.
The cost for either of these workshops is $100. A $25 deposit secures your place with the balance due on the day of the class (there is a discount for participants who register for both). If you are interested in attending, contact John Crandall at firstname.lastname@example.org.