GenderQueer Literature

The Art and Practice of Queer Storytelling

A 6-week studio workshop with the Constellation, a place for writers

By the end of the course, students will enjoy, evaluate, and practice the craft of writing queer narratives within a variety of genres. This course is open to queer writers/poets and our allies, in short, anyone who would like to immerse themselves in creating authentic queer characters. 

There’s a growing openness to other gender roles and identities for example but how do you write about such characters? There’s so much more to it than simply changing pronouns. This is important work, to make space and the stories of those of us on the edges.

Writers and Poets we’ll look at include:

Gloria Anzaldua, Richard Blanco, Jericho Brown, Ivan Coyote, Cooper Lee Bombardier, Donika Kelly, David Levithan, Carmen Maria Machado, Corrinne Manning, Eileen Myles, Ruben Quesada, Hasanthika Sirisena, Jeanette Winterson, Lidia Yuknavitch, and others. 

With a conversation about queer culture as well as writing craft, we’ll dive into generative work from gender-queer perspectives. After talking about social expectations, roles, emotional reactions, physicality, mainstream media and yes, pronouns, we’ll free write together. We’ll all bring in and share prompts from videos, headlines, photos, music, poems, short stories, and flash fiction. With a freedom of experimentation, economy, wit, your work will offer a sense of place, mood, scene and atmosphere in under three pages. These pieces are often less narrative and more evocative. They give us, the readers, a slice or quality of life, a moment of discovery, or a flash of illumination. They are complete and when you finish, the last line stains and lingers.

Writers will leave with a good sense of characterision and at least 3-5 new short works created over the six weeks of conversation and practice. 

Generate fresh queer stories. 

Create non-conforming gender characters. 

Focus on the craft of writing beyond the coming out/transition focus. 

Process: Read/Evaluate/Practice

  • First few weeks, we will focus on character building questionaire to build out authentic gender-queer/ queer narrators
  • Revise characters with a queering touch, how can we say it without saying it? 
  • Write short stories with each of our new protagonists
  • Evaluate gender markers including point of view, setting, concerns, attributes, languages, and character 
  • Co-create a reading list of contemporary, published queer narratives across a range of genres
  • Engage in Conversations about writing from within a queer persective
  • Consider terms and the changing social landscape re gender/queer identities
  • Create stories that move beyond coming out/transitioning. 
  • Role of Validation, bullying, presentation, representation, publication 
  • Expectations: Students show up for each other as they read their work aloud and get feedback from each other, collaborative and positive 
  • Revision Process: Using the premise that each writer asks questions of cohort before reading own work and we help them reach those goals with suggestions and opportunities to develop

Over 6 weeks = three new short stories (300 to 1500 words) and/or write new material as a basis for longer work. 

Multi-Week Classes

Running for 6 consecutive weeks, this workshop-style course is for students interested in generating new work, or developing and revising their current projects while getting feedback from instructors and fellow students. For Queers and our allies. Love us or leave us. 

Max: approx 12 participants

Location: Zoom
Type(s): Generative Workshop, Workshop
Genre and Form(s): Experimental, Flash, Gender, Gender Studies, Hybrid, Mixed Genre, Sexuality.

BIO: Sarah (sleam) Leamy is a doctoral researcher at the University of Birmingham (UK) with a focus on Androgynous Narratives and the representation of gender ambiguity in contemporary western literature. She is the author of When No One’s Looking (Eloquent Press), Lucky Shot (SBG), Lucky Find (Blue Mesa Books) and Van Life. Other work is (or soon to be) in Los Angeles Review, Finishing Line Press, Hunger Mountain, Santa Fe Project Quarterly, Devil’s Party Press, Dune Review, and Best Emerging Poets of NM amongst others. She has just finished working on a new hybrid memoir, Stay, with Lidia Yuknavitch. Finishing Line Press is publishing a gender-queer chapbook, Hidden, in Spring 2021. G’Dog, short stories collection, is under contract for publishing in 2022. Sarah presents at various colleges and conferences on writing from a gender-queer perspective. She is passionate about sharing the importance, craft, validation and conversation about representing outsider experiences through storytelling.

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