Miracles and the Strange: Writing Inspiration from Sephardic Folktales and Modern Speculative Fiction
February 1, 2023 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm EST
An event every week that begins at 12:00 pm on Wednesday, repeating until March 1, 2023
Traditional Sephardic folktales take the experience of the marginalized Jewish diaspora and create narratives of hope and justice through inexplicable miracles and magical events. In this generative workshop, we will use these folk tales of miracles as inspiration to write our own speculative stories, using elements of the strange amid a backdrop of realism. We will look to modern fiction by Karen Bender, Lina María Ferreira Cabeza-Venegas, Shirley Jackson and Samanta Schweblin, and examine how these writers grapple with social and cultural experiences, especially the realities of violence, misogyny, and anti-Semitism, through speculative approaches to storytelling. By the end of the workshop, each participant will have developed the beginning of their own piece of short fiction confronting social anxieties, fears, and the lived experience of being Jewish in the moment in history.
Leslie Contreras Schwartz is a multi-genre writer, a 2021 Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow, and was the 2019–2021 Houston Poet Laureate. She is the author of four collections of poetry, including Black Dove / Paloma Negra (FlowerSong Press, 2020), a finalist for the Helen C. Smith Memorial Award for 2020 Best Book of Poetry from the Texas Institute of Letters; Fuego (St. Julian Press, 2016); and Nightbloom & Cenote (SJP, 2018), a semi-finalist for the 2017 Tupelo Press Dorset Prize, judged by Ilya Kaminsky. Her poet laureate community projects include Writing and Mindfulness: Creative Writing Exercises, a free e-book on mindfulness and writing, and the poetry film IT’S A MASK IT’S A VIRUS IT’S A KNEE, a collective, communal poetry film composed of poems written by Houstonians about their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. She is currently a faculty member at Alma College’s MFA low-residency program in creative writing. For more about her work, visit lesliecschwartz.com.
All sessions will be recorded and sent to participants. We encourage live attendance for you to get the most out of the experience.