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University of Chicago Workshop: Megan Stielstra

  • Terrace Seminar Room, Logan Center 801 915 E 60th St Chicago, IL, 60637 United States (map)

In this workshop, we’ll examine how telling our stories aloud can intersect, inform, and inspire the personal essay. Intended for both experienced writers looking to take current drafts to the next level and beginning writers looking for their most authentic material, we’ll push the pencils aside to dig into the story, encouraging discovery and examining literary craft in new ways. Through a series of interactive activities, we'll develop our own experiences in personal narrative storytelling that's effective both on and off the page. How does telling a story to an immediate audience help us write that first draft? How does hearing the work aloud heighten our understanding of its structure, movement, and language? How does the live performance influence the rewriting process?

Lunch will be provided afterwards for those who RSVP. Please RSVP by emailing 

Megan Stielstra is the author of the essay collection Once I Was Cool. Her work is included in The Best American Essays 2013, Poets & Writers, The Rumpus, PANK, and elsewhere, and her story collection, Everyone Remain Calm, was a Chicago Tribune Favorite of 2011. She’s the Literary Director of the critically-acclaimed 2nd Story storytelling series and has told stories for all sorts of theaters, festivals, and bars (many, many bars) including the Goodman, Steppenwolf, Museum of Contemporary Art, Neo-Futurarium, and The Paper Machete live news magazine at The Green Mill, as well as Chicago Public Radio, NPR, and Radio National Australia. She teaches writing and performance at Columbia College Chicago and serves as the Associate Director of The Center For Innovation in Teaching Excellence.

“Stielstra is a masterful essayist.”—Roxane Gay, An Untamed State
“Stielstra’s Once I Was Cool isn’t just edgy, funny, surprising, a ricochet of wow. It’s practically actionable. The words reach out from the page. They direct us to look, to think, to ask. […] Make some room for Stielstra.”—The Chicago Tribune

“Stielstra’s inimitable voice is a fiercely unique creation.”—Joe Meno, Hairstyles of the Damned