The current group of creative nonfiction/
For more info on Heightening Stories, check out our Facebook page.
Wednesday, December 18
6:30 to 8:30 pm
40-19 Gleane St.
Elmhurst NY, 11373
E,F,M, R trains to 74th Street and Roosevelt Ave
or the 7 to 82nd Street
Three Community Writing Workshops for 2014:
Read the descriptions in a PDF file: workshops for Jan-Apr 2014 info
Creative Nonfiction/Autobiographical Fiction
10 Wednesday nights, 6:30 – 9:30 pm
Jan 22 – Apr 2
in Jackson Heights, Queens
Limited to 8 members
This ongoing community-oriented group encourages members to write stories that are both bravely personal and socially conscious. Held in a supportive environment in the instructor’s home, the weekly sessions will include discussions of exemplary contemporary fiction and nonfiction, craft exercises to help you develop material and learn writing techniques, and constructive group feedback sessions. Content and lesson topics are adjusted to the needs of each group and have included writing on race, class, gender, & sexuality and their intersections; cross cultural & queer experiences; the immigrant experience; and health, wellness and the body. By the end of the twelve weeks, you will have completed or revised up to twenty pages of writing (one long piece or a few short essays, stories or chapters) that will be ready to publish. You can also choose to read an excerpt at a group reading on April 9.
To apply: please email firstname.lastname@example.org two paragraphs that 1) explain your interest and/or experience in contributing to a writing community (i.e., why would you be a successful member of this writing group?) and 2) describe your writing goals and/or the writing you would like to do with this group. Attach a 1-3 page sample of writing. Application deadline: Saturday, January 18
Jumpstart Your Writing
an online workshop to re-invigorate your creative process
8 Sunday nights, 7 – 8:30 EDT
Jan 26 – March 23
This online workshop will give you exercises, feedback and community to re-invigorate your creative process, whether you’d like to start writing for the first time, begin a new project, continue your work with a fresh eye, or delve back into a project you’ve spent time away from. Geared for prose writers working autobiographically in fiction or nonfiction. Weekly readings and exercises will be given during the week for you to work on your own. Members will then post responses to exercises in order to get feedback from Nancy and the other participants. We’ll meet through videoconferencing to discuss writing process issues and to report on our progress. Content of readings – short stories, memoir and personal essays – will cover issues of race, gender, sexuality, class, health, etc. Writing topics will cover detail, dialogue, character, point of view, setting, plot and structure. Revisions will be built into our schedule depending on the needs of the group.
To apply: please email email@example.com three paragraphs that 1) explain your interest and/or experience in contributing to a writing community (i.e., why would you be a successful member of this writing group?) and 2) describe your writing goals and/or the writing you would like to do with this group. Please also 3) explain your computer’s eligibility requirements: updated Adobe Flash Player and web camera. Attach a 1-3 page sample of writing. Application deadline: Wednesday, January 22
Community Writing Exercise Studio
Saturday 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
February 1: on immigration, place, and homeland
March 15: on family, ancestry and history
April 5: on intersections of identity: race, class, gender and/or sexuality
Drop in on any session
Sliding scale: $5 – $25/session.
The Community Writing Exercise Studio is geared for all writers, from beginning to advanced, to flex their creativity and to explore issues of place, community and identity. For each session, we’ll do two to three different writing exercises: one based on a short creative text, the other on an interactive visual, musical, conversational or storytelling prompt, and the third option based on the collaborative work and requests of the group. We’ll also allot time for you to read the results of the exercises (if you so choose) in order to receive supportive responses from the group. The Studio can give you an introduction to creative writing, a means to experiment creatively, an entry into a project and/or a means to share your writing in community.
To register for your first session, please email firstname.lastname@example.org (at least 48 hours in advance) and 1) describe your experience with writing 2) your interest in the topic of the session and 3) the rate you can afford to pay.
Me as her again goes e-book!
By mid-December, Me as her again will be available on Kindle, Nook and other e-reader platforms. As soon as I know when they’re made an appearance on Amazon or Barnes & Noble (and elswhere) I’ll post here!
This year, the Laundromat Project helped me with my community-based art skills and the fundamentals of social practice art. I’m excited to help fundraise for their new projects next year, bringing more art to neighborhoods and laundromats. Please consider donating $10 by clicking on this link: http://www.razoo.com/story/Nancy-Agabian-Fundraising-For-The-Lp-S-People-Powered-10k-Challenge?referral_code=share
The Laundromat Project
I had an enriching summer as a Create Change Fellow, participating in The Laundromat Project’s Professional Development Program. With four other social practice artists and many artists and community members in Harlem, we created The Harlem Story Walk, a dynamic storytelling event on September 21 that traveled up and down Lenox Avenue. On Sunday, November 10, I’ll be presenting a case study of our experiences at the Arts & Democracy Cultural Organizing for Community Change Workshop. The event will take place from 10 am to 6 pm, and our case study will be presented at 2:30.
I also had the great opportunity to create a conversation with another LP Fellow, Ladi’Sasha Jones. You can read our wide-ranging dialogue on oral history, girlhood, and the body here: http://laundromatproject.org/blog/2013/11/01/creative-conversations-2013-nancy-agabian-ladisasha-jones
On Thursday, November 14, at 7:30 pm, I’ll be reading an excerpt from my book-in-progress, “The Fear of Large and Small Nations” at The Boundless Tales series at Waltz-Astoria,
Stay tuned for the Heightening Stories Workshop reading on December 18. I’ll be adding new writing workshops starting in January, online and in my home, and will keep you posted in the next month. Also in 2014: the Living Breathing Stories Salon.
Feel free to email me with questions or comments. And thanks for all your support! Have a wonderful late fall!
Please bear with me as I make some renovations over the next month or two. It will soon look a lot better around here!
Jumpstart Your Writing
Four weeks: June 30 – July 28
Five weekly group video calls: Sundays 8 – 9:30 pm EST
(Recorded if you miss a session)
Limited to seven participants
This four week online writing workshop will give you exercises, feedback and community to re-invigorate your creative process, whether you’d like to start writing for the first time, begin a new project, continue your work with a fresh eye, or delve back into a project you’ve spent time away from.
Geared for prose writers working autobiographically in fiction or nonfiction, and with an eye towards social change.
Weekly readings and exercises will be given during the week for you to work on your own. Members will then post responses to exercises in order to get feedback from Nancy and the other participants. We’ll meet through videoconferencing to discuss writing process issues and to report on our progress, so there will be accountability built into this month long project. Content of readings – short stories, memoir and personal essays – will cover issues of race, gender, sexuality, class, health, etc. An introductory video session and online survey will insure that you’ll receive exercises on topics designed for your interests and needs. Possible topics could include:
deciding on a writing schedule
sharpening your eye for detail and your ears for dialogue
experimentation with character and point of view
transmitting a sense of place
radical approaches to structure
You’ll end the month with a plan for developing and continuing your work.
To apply, please email email@example.com two paragraphs that 1) explain your interest and/or experience in contributing to a writing community – whether online or in person, and 2) describe your writing goals for this workshop. Attach a 1-3 page sample of writing. Application deadline: June 23.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
_______________________About the instructor, Nancy Agabian: I have nearly twenty years experience teaching writing in community. In academia, I’ve taught memoir, personal essay, literary journalism, poetry, fiction and playwriting. Writing and teaching interests include (but aren’t limited to): family histories; social change & justice; performance art and activism; housing design & reform; cross cultural & queer experiences; the intersections of race, class, gender & sexuality in identity; and the personal as political. Former students have gone on to publish, perform, teach, and attend MFA writing programs.
MFA in Nonfiction Writing from Columbia University
Author of the memoir Me as her again: True Stories of an Armenian Daughter, nominated for a Lambda Literary Award and a Saroyan International Writing Prize
Instructor of creative writing at Queens College and NYU
I’ll be offering Heightening Stories again starting April 3, so please click on the Teaching link above for more info.
More classes will take place this summer, starting in June — including an online version – so please stay tuned!
I have a reading Friday, February 22, plus a few more on the horizon, where I’ll be breaking out some excerpts of my memoir-in-progress about Armenia, “The Fear of Large and Small Nations”. And, since 2013 is the 5-year anniversary of Me as her again, I will read from it, too, and will have copies with me for sale and signing. More details below:
Friday, February 22
Hamazkayin‘s 2nd Annual Presentation of Young Armenian-American Authors
with Christopher Atamian, Alan Semerdjian, and Aida Zilelian-Silak
23-14 Ditmars Blvd Astoria, NY 11105
Near the NQ Ditmars stop
$10 drink minimum
Saturday, March 16
41-11 49th Street Sunnyside, NY 11102
Near the 7 46th Street stop
Friday, April 19
Four Queens in Manhattan
with Panagiota Lilikaki, Judith Sloan, and Sweta Srivastava Vikram
29 Cornelia Street, NYC 10014
Near the ABCDEFM W. 4th Street stop
$10 drink minimum, $5 cover
Heightening Stories has been a great success: a supportive and creative community of writers from diverse backgrounds. Over the fall, eight folks read, talked about writing, shared their experiences with Sandy, got to know each other and produced new work. A few people will be taking a break when the workshop continues in January, so there’s an opportunity for a few people to join us. Please contact me at email@example.com if you are interested in applying. More info in the flyer below:
Richard Jeffrey Newman, a poet, the host of the Jackson Heights Poetry Festival, and my neighbor, has generously invited me to Blog Hop: an internet, chain mail, q-and-a dance. I’m going to answer a series of questions about my book-in-progress and at the end I’ll list a few truly interesting, talented authors that I think you should check out. Thanks for stopping by from Richard’s blog, and thanks for investigating my friends! And thanks, Richard, for inviting me.
Q: What is the working title of your book?
A: The Fear of Large and Small Nations
Q: Where did the idea come from for the book?
A: I was keeping a blog during the year that I lived in Armenia on a Fulbright, where I was intending to interview artists, activists, feminists and queer people to find out how social change was progressing after the Soviet collapse. After a few interviews, I realized I needed a translator and interpreter to work with me in most cases, and such a formal interview format wasn’t conducive to learning deeply about people’s lives. I thought that I would have to live in Armenia for a few years to really learn the language and build trust with people over time in order to do the project. I soon realized the blog was more like the kind of work that I had hoped to do: understanding the place through simply living and relating to people. As I became romantically involved with someone, however, I realized there were some topics that I couldn’t immediately publish, so I started writing unpublished blog posts that I told myself I would save for the book.
Q: What genre does your book fall under?
A: It’s composed of blog posts, journal entries, memoir, and meta-writing, among other texts, so I am calling it nonfiction.
Q: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
A: I can’t think of any short, middle-aged, prominent-nosed, salt-and-peppered actresses to play me. Maybe a younger Olympia Dukakis. (The sad thing is that I can’t think of any contemporary actresses with gray hair who aren’t actually elderly. Gray hair on actresses is now anathema in Hollywood.) For the romantic lead its easier: Gael García Bernal. These two examples just give an idea of type; I would choose unknown actors in Armenia and the diaspora.
Q: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A: I’m cheating with a semi-colon:
“The Fear of Large and Small Nations” is about the relationship between an older Armenian American bisexual woman and a younger iconoclastic Armenian man, scrutinized by their traditional families, progressive friends, and the Department of Homeland Security; their story serves as a metaphor for the complex contradictions between political ideals and personal liberation, in countries both large and small, powerful and vulnerable.
Q: Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
A: I’ll try to get an agent and if it doesn’t work out, I’ll submit to independent presses that I admire. If that doesn’t work out, I’ll self-publish. I would like to reach a diverse audience; even though the publishing industry is rapidly changing, I still think the best way to reach readers is to get published on a press with a respected name and marketing ability. Maybe I’ll change my mind, though, by the time I finish the manuscript in the next year or so.
Q: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
A: Not counting the year that I wrote the blog from 2006-07, I started the manuscript in October 2009 and completed it in the late fall of 2011.
Q: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
A: Cleopatra’s Wedding Present by Robert Tewdr Moss, which is a great book to read now, about a gay British man’s experiences in Syria. Stories I Stole, by Wendell Steavenson, on her years living in Georgia post Soviet Union. Cafe Europa, by Slavenka Draculic, about Eastern Europe, also following the collapse of Communism. The Romanian by Bruce Benderson, which is also centered on a love interest, a Romanian hustler he met in Hungary, also after the fall of Communism. All are both personal and political books: you discover the personality and life of the writer as they describe what they observe about a particular land and culture.
Q: Who or What inspired you to write this book?
A: I was inspired by Shushan Avagyan and Lara Aharonian. Shushan is a translator, publisher and a writer, and Lara is a writer and an activist who founded the Women’s Resource Center in Armenia. They are both outspoken and independent women who have made an incredible difference in Armenia – for women, for artists and writers, for everybody. At the same time that I was writing the blog, I was writing a book with them. We called it “In the (Un)Space”: we felt that the space we made among each other was the one place where we could truly be ourselves, and we wrote to each other about our lives. My portion was called “The Experiment”; the idea that going to Armenia was an experiment in feeling, experiencing and documenting how it changed me as a second generation Armenian American far removed from her homeland – and how I could possibly make a difference with my writing – has always stayed with me as I’ve been writing “The Fear of Large and Small Nations”.
Q: What else about your book might piqué the reader’s interest?
A: It’s a love story and an anti-love story woven together across borders: the different cultures influence the dynamics of the couple. One narrative thread describes a relationship progressing in Armenia, and the other describes the relationship falling apart in America. And yet the whole thing is about accepting oneself despite the land you live on.
Here are the writers whose work you should check out next:
...I appreciated very much Nancy Agabian’s guidance of the workshop. She created a supportive and yet critically honest writing environment that I never imagined possible.
Nancy is wonderful at getting her students to rethink and find new ways to approach their own histories. Rather than making me feel like I was revealing my private life, she easily engaged us in conversation around the issues and topics that arise from writing about our personal lives.
Nancy sparked my interest for writing creatively while staying true to myself…I highly recommend taking her workshops! You will leave with a fresh perspective and a love for what is already inside of you.
Nancy was able to make me feel comfortable enough to write and to share my writings with the group. She did an amazing job of fostering a supportive environment where we could share unfinished work and new ideas with each other. She is a good listener and very aware of letting the students bring their own ideas into the workshop. It was a workshop where we all felt very much a part of the process, not just passive participants.
Participating in [Nancy's workshop] gave me the sense of community I needed to find my voice as a writer. Our weekly meetings and writing assignments provided the structure I needed to become a more disciplined and reflective writer, while being able to give fellow writers the gift of honest feedback. Writing about cultural identity, immigration and my connection to my homeland enabled me to process the many experiences that have brought me to the place I am now. I feel more confident in my ability to write and I hope more classes like this are offered for Queens-based writers.
Nancy Agabian is an incredibly accomplished writer and teacher…She takes great creative care of her students. As a teacher she is challenging, nurturing, and provides safe support for any voice. Nancy Agabian is everything a writer can hope for.