Testimonios and Documentary Writing: Flood Museum


    with Miah Arnold and Raj Mankad
    7 Wednesdays from 6 to 9; 2 Sat flex times
    9/19-10/31; 6/7 or 6/8 & 10/20 or 10/21
    FREE (25 dollar registration fee returned at end of class)

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    Product Description

    In this very special course offered by Grackle and Grackle and funded by the Houston Flood Museum we hope to help you raise up the voices of Harvey survivors.  We are seeking 10-15 writers interested in learning about documentary poetics, testimonios, and oral histories. In this class, the students won’t tell their own stories; they’ll help Harvey survivors and heroes to tell theirs. This is not a journalism class, however; the students won’t write stories about the stories they hear in class. Rather, just as a writer who went to a workshop to write their flood narratives might express their experience in a number of different forms, our students will allow room for the storytellers to use the creative outlet they want to use most. They will write down the stories, poems, songs alongside the tellers, revise the work with the tellers, create new artistic works with the tellers.

    This will be a ten-class collaborative project. Wednesdays students will come together to discuss the art of testimonio, of documentary poetics, of oral histories and their crossing points; their historical strengths and failures. We’ll read and discuss traditional approaches to these forms, practice writing each other’s words, and expressing each other’s ideas in ways that are collaborative though driven by the storytellers. Finally, we’ll spend three days working with communities from the north side of Houston, whose houses or lives were disrupted by the storm.

    From my own life experiences, I have learned that not all people affected by history or catastrophic events feel comfortable penning their own stories. The goal of this workshop is to teach Houstonians who want to help survivors and heroes to craft their stories with the help of the storytellers; this is a skill we hope we can build on in future projects. Another goal is to help people uncomfortable with writing to become more comfortable with it, and to ensure that people who might not tell their stories if they had to write them down, get to tell their stories.

    Because of the funding offered us by the Flood Museumthis class is free. To hold a place in class, it costs $25, and the money will be refunded at the closing of the project. To have the money refunded, you will need to have come to the classes and completed the work.. Raj and Miah will spend entire days at the meeting sites to ensure that even people with very busy schedules can find three hours on Saturday or Sunday to connect. The collaborative work gleaned from the project may be incorporated into the museum, which will be virtual (online) and in other publications around the city.

    Wednesdays September 12, 19, 26, 3, 10, 17, 24 (6-9);
    Saturday or Sunday October 6, 7 (At least 3 hours between 12 and 5 either day) &
    Saturday or Sunday Oct 20 or 21 (At least 3 hours between 12 and 5 either day)

    APPLICATION GUIDELINES: Please send a link to any writing you might have online (in a personal blog or a publication, for example), or and send in 1-3 paragraphs about why you’d like join to: miah@grackleandgrackle.com  If you are unable to pay the $25, let us know when you apply, and we will work with you. Please only apply if you can meet the time commitment — 7 Wednesday nights, and 2-4 Sat/Sundays. You don’t need t pay until you hear back about whether or not to take the class, but do register for the class online and choose the method you will pay by if selected. You can wait to hear before following through with the process. DEADLINE: AUGUST 30TH 2018. 

    Miah Arnold, PhD, has taught creative writing for the past twenty years through Houston non-profits including Inprint, Writers in the Schools, and Aurora Picture Show as well as University of Houston, University of Houston-Downtown, Houston Community College, and Georgia College. Her essay “You Owe Me” about working for M.D. Anderson via Writers in the Schools was selected by Best American Essays in 2012. Her first novel, Sweet Land of Bigamy, was published in 2012.



    Raj Mankad, PhD, has served as Editor of Cite: The Architecture + Design Review of Houston, a publication of the Rice Design Alliance, since 2008. From 2003 to 2008, he was Managing Editor of Feminist Economics, an academic journal based at Rice University. His writing and community organizing helped bring about the launch of Sunday Streets HTX in 2013. His work has won recognition from the Lonestar Awards, the Print Magazine Regional Design Annual, the New York Art Directors Club, and the American Institute of Architects. He is a Senior Fellow of the American Leadership Forum and a Next City Vanguard Fellow.

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