Ellen Blum Barish

Ellen Blum Barish
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That memorable moment in your book group. That book list that got you to register for another English lit class in college.

These are the moments that I am going for in my workshops. To resurrect the joy of talking about detail, scene, language, pacing, storyline, structure, theme and voice in writing. What was the author trying to say here? What is the thread? Is there a larger idea? Why did she choose this word over that one? What makes the work sing? Does the metaphor work?

We read a published essay or section of memoir that I send via email link along with a writing prompt. When we gather together, we have a lively discussion of the piece and one or two student-generated works. We talk about what worked and what didn’t and why in a gentle and supported way.

You will be introduced to new writers and learn how to talk about a piece of personal narrative beyond “I loved that” or “That didn’t work for me.” I ask that we say why we feel this way by offering concrete language for discussion (see Ellen’s Eight.) 

My mission is to stimulate, inspire and move you to generate new work.

I’ve taught writing in university classrooms, coffeehouses, art studios, library auditoriums, writers group gatherings and residencies, women’s centers, bookstores, professional offices, the back rooms of bars and restaurants, log cabins in the words, in living rooms and online.

Upcoming Workshops


Reading and Writing the Personal Essay via Zoom
Six-Week Private Workshop (Skokie)
Wednesdays, 1-3 pm ($200)
April 22 – May 27, 2020 
(Email me to register)

One True Sentence (Single session, online)
StoryStudio Chicago (Chicago)
Tuesday, April 28, 6:30-9 pm
(Register here)

Lighthouse Lit Festival (Single sessions, online)

“Truth in Memoir” June 10

“Essay as Song” June 15

“One True Sentence” June 23