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Free Writes 

Friday Free Write with Jenn Ghivan

Stranger Things, Duende, & Writing into the Upside Down

February 24, 2023
1:00 - 2:30 pm EST

(Only click at time of event, or a few mins before)

The underbelly is the vulnerable spot. It could also be the dark spot, the seamy place, the liminal margins. This is the place we are most helpless, most in need of defense. And yet, this is where, in the writing of duende, we must confront. In Stranger Things, the Netflix sci-fi/horror throwback, the children and adults must both contend with the Upside Down, a parallel world distorted, a shadow world askew … The children in the show describe it as “a place of decay and death, a plane out of phase, a [place] with monsters. It is right next to you and you don’t even see it.” In this workshop, we will more than see it. We will create writing that maps the hidden creatures in our society, our psyches, our pasts—membrane-thin strings connecting the outer shells with the inner viscera of our collective and individual histories. Subverting expectations of the work, ourselves, and the world around us, we will locate and (re)create maps to the underbellies, to the duende world where madness and abandon often eclipse logic and where, as Tracy K. Smith writes, “skill is only useful to the extent that it adds courage and agility to intuition.” Join me as guide into the Upside Down, where our craft skills will help us unleash our inner beasts to battle with the beasts already residing breath-on-the-back-of-the-neck close.

Jennifer Givhan is a Mexican-American and indigenous poet and novelist from the Southwestern desert and the recipient of poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and PEN/Rosenthal Emerging Voices. She holds a Master’s degree from California State University Fullerton and a Master’s in Fine Arts from Warren Wilson College. She is the author of five full-length poetry collections, including Rosa’s Einstein (University of Arizona Press), and the novels Trinity Sight and Jubilee (Blackstone Publishing), which were finalists for the Arizona-New Mexico Book Awards. Her newest poetry collection Belly to the Brutal(Wesleyan University Press) and novel River Woman, River Demon(Blackstone Publishing) both draw from her practice of brujería. Her poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction have appeared in The New Republic, The Nation, POETRY, TriQuarterly, The Boston Review, The Rumpus, Salon, and many others. She’s received the Southwest Book Award, New Ohio Review’s Poetry Prize, Phoebe Journal’s Greg Grummer Poetry Prize, the Pinch Journal Poetry Prize, and Cutthroat’s Joy Harjo Poetry Prize. Jenn would love to hear from you at and you can follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for inspiration, prompts, and real talk about the writing life and publishing world.

Friday Free Write with Khalisa Rae

Call and Response Writing: - Exploring Sound & Mining the Music, Rhythm, and Lyric in Our Poetry

March 17, 2023
1:00 - 2:30 pm EST

(Only click at time of event, or a few mins before)

From Janis Joplin to Madonna, to Earth Wind and Fire and James Brown, in this free write we will find the music within our writing by responding to some of the industry's most influential voices. Music is poetry set to a beat, rhythm, and meter. Far too often, our poetry and prose is missing musicality, rhythm, and sound. Sound is so important to everything we create, which is why writers like Terrance Hayes and Jericho Brown have written whole collections based on music. Let's bring back the sound and sonic brilliance to our work by exploring and playing with our favorite singer/ songwriters. Songs have the ability to evoke emotion, draw out memories, make us feel something new and different. Khalisa will help you spark inspiration with a beat, catchy tune, and hidden messages and metaphors found in music that we may have missed. Join her for this free write where we talk back to the greats in hopes of inspiring new work!

Khalisa Rae is an award-winning storyteller, poet, and activist, and the author of the acclaimed poetry collection, Ghost in a Black Girls Throat, the chapbook, Real Girls, Have Real Problems,and the sold-out play production, 7+ Deadly Sins of Being a Woman. As a arts and humanities historian and  lover of Black Southern narratives, stories and poetry have been featured in the Cameron Art Museum, Southern Humanities Review Anthology, NC Museum of History and more. A lifelong advocate for women's rights and steward and literary education, Khalisa has taught on both the collegiate level, public school, and is a former Catapult instructor. As a trained performer and playwright, her powerful work has been featured in countless literary journals and magazines such as Pinch, PANK, Autumn House, Jezebel, Bitch Media, Blavity, NBC-BLK. Her powerful feminist poetry has landed her an Appalachian Arts and Entertainment Award, a Gwendolyn Brooks Prize, numerous Pushcart nominations, among countless others. Khalisa Rae is currently the founder of Think in Ink: BIPOC Literary Collective, Women Speak reading series, and the forthcoming YA novel in verse, Unlearning Eden. Find her online at

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