Write your story of medical, physical, or psychological challenges and trauma. Guided by a pair of acclaimed writers on health and trauma join a safe space to talk and write about your personal experiences.

Jun 19, 2023 - Jun 23, 2023

Levels: All
Workshop Fee: $1595
Workshop Duration: 1-week (Monday-Friday)
Workshop Location: On-campus
Class Size: 10

Nonfiction writing about challenges both personal and global will be the focus of this five-day workshop led by writers Melanie Brooks and Suzanne Strempek Shea who’ve long addressed health and trauma in acclaimed memoirs, a craft book, biographies, essays and op-eds.

Pre-workshop reading and writing assignments, daily writing time, and lectures on related writings and craft issues will help writers interested in or working on stories of medical, physical, and/or psychological challenges and trauma. Whether they’re writing stories of their (or others’) healing from cancer, recovering from addictions, surviving abuse, healing from grief, or reckoning with the real-world issues of navigating the world as a woman, person of color and/or member of the LGBTQ community – or whatever their life or interests lead you to on paper – writers will find this workshop a safe space for exploration, and fertile ground for making progress toward the stories they want the world to read. Those with moderate writing experience, and any life experience, are welcome.

A special invitation is extended to those with backgrounds in social work, medicine, teaching, counseling, first response or other related medical and service fields.

Header image by Dave Bell.

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Melanie Brooks

Instructor: Melanie Brooks

Melanie Brooks is the author of Writing Hard Stories: Celebrated Memoirists Who Shaped Art from Trauma (Beacon Press, 2017). She teaches Creative Nonfiction in the MFA program at Bay Path University and professional writing at Northeastern University in Massachusetts and creative writing at Nashua Community College in New Hampshire. She earned an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast writing program. Her interviews and essays have been published in Psychology Today, the HuffPost, Yankee Magazine, The Writer Magazine, the Washington Post, Ms. Magazine, Creative Nonfiction, and other notable publications. Her forthcoming memoir, A Hard Silence, about living with the ten-year secret of her father’s HIV, will be published in September 2023. Though her Canadian roots run deep, she lives in New Hampshire with her husband, two children (when they are home from college), and two Labs.

Suzanne Strempek Shea

Instructor: Suzanne Strempek Shea

Suzanne Strempek Shea’s twelve books include the memoir Songs from a Lead-Lined Room: Notes--High and Low--from My Journey through Breast Cancer and Radiation, and This Is Paradise: An Irish Mother's Grief, an African Village's Plight and the Medical Clinic That Brought Fresh Hope to Both. Her writing on health and trauma has been published in Yankee, The Irish Times, Organic Style and, regularly for four years, in Obit magazine.

She taught for 18 years at the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA program in creative writing, and for 12 years was writer-in-residence and director of the creative writing program at Bay Path University in Longmeadow, Mass., where she founded the MFA program in creative nonfiction and co-founded the Narrative Medicine Certificate program. She has taught in the MFA program at Emerson College and in the creative writing program at the University of South Florida. She also has taught in Ireland, at Annie Deppe and Ted Deppe’s Curlew Writers Conferences in Howth and Dingle, and in Dingle via the Stonecoast Ireland residency. Suzanne created and co-leads the annual summer writing seminar in Dingle offered through Bay Path University’s MFA and is co-organizer of Iota Short Forms writing program. Suzanne lives in her native Western Massachusetts with husband Tommy Shea and dog Otis.