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“Personal essay takes the messy unfiltered stuff of life and molds it into something of beauty, meaning, wisdom, and hopefully, a great story,” says instructor Gila Lyons. “It is no small task, but wrangling the blur of life into something crystalline reinforces Isak Dinesen’s famous words, ‘All sorrows can be bourne if you put them in a story.’ And I would add, all joys, confusions, and ponderings as well.”

In this course we’ll read and talk about a diverse array of personal essays by some of the greats, including Jo Anne Beard, Sherman Alexie, Leonard Michaels, and Joy Harjo. Class will be comprised of generative writing exercises and workshops in which we’ll cover such elements as character development, dialogue, plot, humor, and self-revelation. Come see why this innovative form is enjoying such a renaissance for beginning and advanced writers alike!



    Gila Lyons‘ writing has appeared in The New York Times, Oprah Magazine, Healthline, Health Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Vice, Vox, The Huffington Post, Salon, Poets & Writers, and other publications. Her pieces have been anthologized in books and anthologies, most recently in ABOUT US: Essays from the Disability Series of the New York Times. Gila has served as one of three “Alices” at Go Ask Alice!, Columbia University’s award-winning health and sexuality website, as well as a health writer for The Chopra Center and KHealth. She holds an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University.

  1. Saturday, October 20, 2:00pm-4:30pm
  2. Saturday, October 27, 2:00pm-4:30pm
  3. Saturday, November 3, 2:00pm-4:30pm
  4. Saturday, November 10, 2:00pm-4:30pm
  5. Saturday, November 17, 2:00pm-4:30pm
  • Gila is a talented teacher, very encouraging and effective and thoughtful. The freewrites and pair & shares, the readings and discussions were all lively and interesting and helpful.

  • I really liked that the class was centered on reading, writing, and
    discussing the readings and each other's writing, with minimal
    lecturing. This approach really works for me. All of the writing
    exercises were helpful, and I liked that they were connected to the
    readings we had just done. The teacher was great and I appreciated her positivity and questions that showed active listening/reading.



Friday, October 20, 2017 @ 9:00 pm PDT
Saturday, November 18, 2017 @ 12:30 am PDT
Event Category:


2121 Bonar St, Studio D, 2nd Fl
Berkeley, CA United States
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Registration Deadline

Registration closes 24 hours before the start time for a class.

Cancellation Policy

10 days or more before the start date for a class, the registrant will receive a credit minus a 10% fee OR a refund minus a 20% fee.

3-9 days before the start date for a class, the registrant will receive a credit minus a 20% fee OR a refund minus a 30% fee.

2 days or less before the start date for a class, the registrant will not receive a credit or a refund.

The Writing Salon cannot offer refunds, credits, or makeup sessions for classes a student might miss.

In the event of an emergency, we may consider a refund or credit, whether partial or full. We review these requests on a case-by-case basis, and we ask that you notify us as near as possible to the start date for the class.

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