mcclungnew25 Saturdays, November 5 – December 10, 2-4:30pm 
Skip November 26
$275 members/$295 others  
Testimonials for Kathleen

*Class is sold out. If you’d like to be placed on the waiting list, send an email to

Memoir is not reserved only for the rich and famous. Beautiful and haunting memoirs—books and essays—can grow out of our ordinary lives, carefully observed. Both the distant past and the not-so-long ago can be mined, remembered and re-created in writing. This class is a guide to the mining and refining process.

“The gold of memoir,” says instructor Kathleen McClung, “combines the gifts of a novelist—vivid characters and settings, lively and suspenseful narration—with a poet’s introspection and close attention to language.

“In this class we’ll focus on finding and shaping evocative stories from our own lives, stories that build from our specific and unique life events and move toward resonant, universal themes. Through readings, discussions, and writing exercises, we’ll explore the basic elements of memoir: selecting key moments and passages, scene-setting and dialogue, using fresh sensory detail, reflecting and musing on the meanings of our experiences so that our work “speaks” to readers. We will find and fine-tune our own distinctive writing voices, essential for this genre.

Class participants will have opportunities to try their hand at writing and sharing short memoir pieces and will be guided in giving and receiving encouraging, constructive feedback for ways to develop/deepen the writing. Readings will include excerpts from Judith Barrington’s Writing the Memoir and Tristine Rainer’s Your Life as Story, as well as work by a variety of contemporary memoirists.”

Kathleen McClung has mentored hundreds of writers at Skyline College, the Writing Salon, and other colleges, and she has taught/advised student teachers in the credential program at Mills College. She has also edited books at small presses including UCSF Nursing Press, Food First Books, and Westview Press. She serves as a reviewer for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, sponsored by the Stanford University Libraries, sponsor/judge for the Soul-Making Keats Literary Competition, and coordinator of Women on Writing community events. Her memoir, poetry, and fiction have been published in the Healing Muse, Bloodroot, Unsplendid, Poets 11, Spirituality & Health, Tilt-a-Whirl, Tule Review, A Bird Black as the Sun: California Poets on Crows and Ravens, and elsewhere. In 2012 Kathleen won the Rita Dove Poetry Award, and Naomi Shihab Nye selected her work as the winner of the national poetry competition sponsored by the Cultural Center of Cape Cod. Finishing Line Press published her chapbook, Almost the Rowboat, in January 2013.

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