Writing to Transform Trauma: A Weekend Intensive for Black Writers & Artists

/ Home » Event Series » Writing to Transform Trauma: A Weekend Intensive for Black Writers & Artists

It is no secret that the historic and continuing violence on Black bodies has left many feeling hopelessness, fatigue, fear, and uncertainty.

After eight years of engaging Minnesota BIPOC writers and arts activists in public conversations to explore issues their work addresses through readings, panels, open conversations, and community-based writing workshops to explore issues of importance to them, More Than a Single Story is excited to announce its first weekend intensive for Black writers and artists.

Artists go to their creativity to heal in times of great stress. In this weekend intensive, we will engage thirty Black writers and other artists in a weekend of generative workshops. This process will open new awarenesses and expand participants’ emotional resources to help them respond to trauma.

The workshops will be led by four Black writers who will work collaboratively with other artists to deepen paricipants’ artistic expression with an eye toward healing both recent and long-standing trauma. By the end of the weekend, participants will have more tools to enhance their healing journeys.

“This work is funded in part by the Minnesota Humanities Center with money from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund that was created with the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008.”


June 2-4, 2023

PRICING: $50-$100

MN Humanities Ctr
987 Ivy Ave E. St Paul, MN 55106


Due to limited space, we can only accept 30 participants. Eligibility include Minnesota writers, and other artists who are interested in developing their writing practice as a way toward healing trauma.

DEADLINE: April 10, 2023

Selected participants will be notified by May 10, 2023

Workshop Descriptions

Visual Prisms

Young Adult Fiction writer, Shannon Gibney and Visual Artist, Leslie Barlow

How do you decide what genre to write in? What are the aesthetic and content concerns of that decision? And how does the work change or stay the same, depending on how it’s presented? In this workshop with writer Shannon Gibney and painter Leslie Barlow, you will explore how visual arts approaches such as scale, medium, and content can deepen your writing practice.

Writing in the liminal spaces

YOUNG ADULT Fiction writer, Shannon Gibney

In this workshop, writers will investigate the terrain of writing between and within multiple genres, including fiction, memoir, essays, journalism, and poetry. The use of collage techniques and strategies for adding pictures, documents, and letters to deepen and complicate story will also be explored.

Juicy Alchemy: Embodiment, Sensuality and Creative explorations

Fiction writer and playwright, Junauda Petrus and Afro-Caribbean dancer, Andrea Potter

What ways can our bodies, desires and imagination guide us in our writing? In this writing and movement workshop we will be uncovering layers of the self and our writing, through dance, movement and creative writing activities in the genres of speculative fiction and erotic writing. We will allow the wild desire and visceral imaginations that dwell in our tummies, toes and titties (of all genders) to surface and be held, listened to and cast upon the page. As we write, we will ground and move in our body to find new spaces and places in our writing. Writers and movers of all experiences, accessibility, genres and interests are welcome to play. Even if you are shy or limited in body movement, there is space for you here.

Re-Wilding the Teen Self


What was your teen self like? What were their dreams and angst and magic? What would you all tell each other if you got to connect across time and space? In this embodied writing workshop participants will be allowed to invite their inner teen to the space and nurture and honor them with creative writing tenderness. Our adolescence and teenage-hood were seasons of discovery and exploration that helped develop us into who we are and dreamed of being. It was a time of life filled with sensation, curiosity, disappointment and first heartbreak as well as learned resilience. Through thoughtful embodiment and creative writing we will channel that part of ourselves and explore it on the page. So much can be discovered and healed back into ourselves with sweetness and playfulness. All writers of all experience, genres and interests are welcomed.

Auntie Pandora’s Box


Find sensory connections stuck between flat visual images and our remembering. Play with focus and blurring, cropping and dilation. In this workshop, explore your own personal archive to find snapshots in which imperfect timing perfectly illustrates a moment or a series of them and use photographic technics to break open opportunities in writing. For inspiration, we will revisit the moments just before and after time was frozen in our images. And by experimenting with sequence and narrative timelines and taking time to examine closely, we’ll create seeded notebooks, a handmade image journal, that will lead us to the beginnings of lyric essays.

Oracle and Intention in Creative Nonfiction


Sometimes, while writing from our personal experiences, it can feel like our memories dry up or are just out of reach. In this workshop, we will combine our well-worn moments of memory with chance to find new access points to remember the stories to serve as seeds for new writing and seek new opportunities to make meaning. We will create our own oracle boxes of reminiscences to draw from, incorporating personally meaningful historical touchpoints before diving in to see how randomization can equal inspiration.

Syntactic AutoTune: Writing Through Sonic Processing


From Dub and Trap’s reverb to Rock and Funk’s distortion, musicians and producers work many processes to create signature sounds that redefine their music. While listeners may perceive these effects as textures, they are actually transformations of signals and information. In this workshop, we examine how sonic processing—interdisciplinarily transmuted to writing techniques—can transform stalled drafts of poetry and sudden prose. We’ll apply “glitch,” “delay,” and other effects to our word-based composition processes and see what rocks.

All Hooks: Repetition and Revision FTW


So, I was listening to Beyoncé’s “Formation,” trying to figure out why it caught my ear the way it did; then I realized, the whole song is a series of hooks, choruses, layered throughout the mix. Repetition is groove, loop, hook, a serious tool in Black aesthetic trickbags. In this workshop, we will engage elements of repetition: chime, pun, and recursive constraints to compose poems that move even when they seem to stand still, work refrain till it don’t stop, and catch you reading twice when you think you’re only reading once.