Glenda Reed | Literary

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Glenda Reed | Literary

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Glenda teaches creative nonfiction and storytelling with a focus on understanding and finding meaning in personal lived experience. Glenda sees arts education not only as a means of activating the creativity and aliveness of her students but also as a tool to get to know oneself for full self-actualization. She believes narrative structure has the power to reveal truth latent in lived experience.

In her programs, Glenda guides students in the exploration of stories haunted by the real, the tangible, and that which lies beyond the concrete, and encourages students to root their stories in the fictional techniques of setting, plot, dialogue, backstory, and subtext. Through in-class discussions, writing and storytelling exercises, and sharing opportunities, Glenda walks her students step-by-step through the creative process from idea generation to completion. Students practice critical language skills and have the opportunity to use writing as a means of grappling with the issues of our time. 

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Book This Artist
I love the class. Glenda is a gentle soul with very insightful ideas into the writing process. The lessons are well-thought-out and planned and the helpful hints are actually helpful. I will definitely take another class with her.
— Find the Meaning in Your Memoir class participant, The Loft Literary Center, Minneapolis, MN

Glenda teaches writing with COMPAS, at the Loft Literary Center, and at libraries across Minnesota, and mentors through the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop. She is an award-winning feminist writer, artist, educator, and adventurer. Her work has received funding from the Jerome Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, and the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, among others, and has twice been recognized by the Minnesota State Arts Board with an Artist Initiative Award. Glenda is a winner of The Moth StorySLAM. Her work has appeared in literary journals and anthologies, including Creative Nonfiction and The Best Travel Writing. She is a Loft Literary Center Mentor Series Fellow (2015/16) and holds a BA from Beloit College.

Sample Programs: Customizable To Site’s Needs

Residencies

“Flash” Memoir: Tell the Stories of Your Life in 500 Words

“Flash” memoir offers a fun and low-stakes way to tell the stories of our lives. Perhaps participants are new to writing or they’ve been thinking about writing their life story and aren’t sure where to begin. Together we will make a lifetime timeline using memories, anecdotes, and family histories. We’ll then pick one event, memory, or moment from each participant’s timeline to write as a “Flash” memoir piece--a super-short-form true story under 500 words. We’ll read example flash memoir pieces from literary magazines, including Brevity, Creative Nonfiction, and The Sun. We’ll try our hand at a 140-character Twitter memoir and 1-paragraph stories. At the end of our time together participants will have a completed flash memoir piece as well as a map to continue writing a longer work of memoir, if so desired, and resources for continued support.

Together we will:

  • Create a custom timeline that follows the big and small, tragic and wondrous events in each participants’ life.

  • Use guided writing exercises focused on self-compassion and kindness to help participants pick a personally meaningful subject matter to write about.

  • Discuss and practice strategies for writing into insights, deeper understandings, and new ideas about our own stories.

  • Discuss and practice elements of craft including story structure and plot, characterization, dramatic action, and specific detail.

  • Discuss the role of anxiety in the act of creation and practice strategies for befriending our anxiety.

  • Read heartfelt and poignant stories to help inspire our own work.

  • Work together to create a safe and vibrant community in which participants feel comfortable sharing and discussing their writing.

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“Flash” Fiction: Explore 500-Word Stories

Writing a story can be a daunting prospect. Together we will break down the basic elements of story, including structure and plot, character and rising tension, as well as the importance of specific detail. Participants will start with a true experience from their life and explore ways to fictionalize the events and people into characters engaged in dramatic action. We’ll keep it short, super-short! Our goal is to write flash stories that are 500 words or less. We’ll get inspired by reading works by authors, including Diane Williams dubbed the Godmother of Flash by the Paris Review and Syrian writer Osama Alomar. We’ll start by writing our own 6-word stories stemming from the legend of Hemmingway’s “For sale: Baby shoes, Never worn,” and build from there as we add and layer detail, character, desire, obstacles, and meaning. By the end of our time together, participants will have a completed short-short story and the tools and resources to continue a writing practice.

Together we will:

  • Use guided writing exercises focused on self-compassion and kindness to help participants pick a personally meaningful subject matter to write about.

  • Discuss and practice elements of craft including story structure and plot, characterization, dramatic action, and specific detail.

  • Discuss the role of truth in fiction and the power of writing our own narratives.

  • Discuss the role of anxiety in the act of creation and practice strategies for befriending our anxiety.

  • Read exciting and surprising stories to help inspire our own work.

  • Creating a safe and vibrant community in which participants feel comfortable to share and discuss their writing is a key component of our time together.

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Your Photograph is a Story: Snapshot Memoir

Every photograph has a story to tell. Who is in the photo? What is your relationship to the people pictured and how did these people come to be documented in that shared place? To kick off our time together, residents will be asked to bring in a photograph that holds personally meaningful significance. Participants will use specific detail to give words to what is happening their picture and then expand the narrative to include what’s beyond the frame, both in time and place. Discussions, readings, and writing exercises will help guide participants to craft and shape a true-life story. At the end of our time together participants will have a photo-narrative of a moment from their personal or family history to leave as a legacy for family and friends.

Together we will:

  • Use the five senses to explore how best to bring your photograph to life in words.

  • Get to know the people and relationships pictured in the photograph as well as those that lie beyond the frame and how to write real people as characters.

  • Explore the political, historical, and cultural context of the story pictured and how to give voice to these realities using a writing exercise inspired by How Dare We! Write: A Multicultural Creative Writing Discourse.

  • Do multi-stage exercises that walk participants step-by-step through the writing process.

  • Discuss and practice revision tools to help participants complete their narrative.

  • Present Snapshot Memoirs to an audience of peers.

*A final book compilation of Snapshot Memoir participants’ stories can be assembled when funding is available.

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Give Voice to Your Stories: The Art of Storytelling

Participants explore the contemporary art of storytelling by listening to 5-minute, true-life stories told by youth and adults from all walks of life living across the country and across the globe. Example stories are chosen in collaboration with students and teachers to fit current classroom units and focus of study. Students practice listening comprehension and critical language skills by listening to stories, reading story transcripts, and responding. We discuss and identify foundational elements that help make a successful story and participants then practice these new skills by crafting a story of their own. An important aspect of this work involves discussing boundaries, safe spaces, supportive listening, and what makes a story appropriate to tell both for the audience and the storyteller. We work independently, in pairs, and in groups to craft and hone our stories around a shared theme selected by the class. At the end of our time together participants have the opportunity to share their own 5-minute, true-life stories.

Together we will:

  • Listen to and read example stories and discuss foundational story elements.

  • Brainstorm story ideas independently and in pairs. Identify foundational story elements in our own true-life tales.

  • Craft 5-minute, true-life stories.

  • Hone and practice our 5-minute, true-life stories. Discuss elements of performance that can enhance our stories.

  • Share stories with an audience of peers.

Curriculum Connections: Writing Standards, Listening & Responding

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Workshop

Leave a Legacy: Memoir Writing

The longer we live, the more stories we have. Some stories don’t just want to be told, they need to be healed. Often the stories we come back to again and again in our lives are entangled with experiences that baffle, constrain, and misconstrue who we think we are or who we would have liked to have been. The act of writing allows us to tell ourselves our own stories in new ways. Time is a great healer, but sometimes we need more than the passage of the hours, we need to reimagine our own narratives in order to shift our relationship to their own histories.

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