When the Body Breaks: Writing About Illness and Health


A Weekend
With Martha Serpas and Chelsea B. DesAutels
April 13 & 14

Out of stock

What does it mean to occupy a body? What do we do when ours, or the bodies of our loved ones, begin behaving unpredictably? This generative narrative health workshop is open to prose and poetry writers interested in exploring illness and the body. We will examine anxieties, fears, and the deep desire to make sense of and describe our experience; the rupture of diagnosis; the joy of remission and recovery; and the intimacy, satisfaction, and alienation involved in caring for others.  Prose writers, poets, and literary explorers with any level of experience are welcome. Participants will have opportunities to bring work-in-progress and to start new narratives and poems. The weekend will follow the conventional narrative medicine model: we will share literature, respond to that literature, and discuss new ideas. Generous time for composing and individual conferring will encourage writing beyond our weekend and allow for constructive feedback in response to writers’ individual needs.

Chelsea B. DesAutels’s work appears or is forthcoming in The Adroit Journal, Copper Nickel, Ninth Letter, Pleiades, TriQuarterly, Willow Springs, and elsewhere. Chelsea is the recipient of the Inprint Verlaine Prize in Poetry. She has received grants from the Vermont Studio Center and Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Chelsea recently served as Poetry Editor of Gulf Coast. She teaches at the University of Houston, where she is an MFA candidate, and with Writers in the Schools. Chelsea holds degrees from Wellesley College and the University of Minnesota Law School.


Martha Serpas’s poetry collections include Côte BlancheThe Dirty Side of the Storm, and The Diener;  her work has appeared in magazines and journals like The New Yorker, Poetry, and the Southern Review.  She co-produced Veins in the Gulf, a documentary about southern Louisiana’s coastal erosion crisis. A graduate of Yale Divinity School, Serpas returned to teach there as a visiting professor. She has also taught at Image: A Journal of the Arts and Religion’s Glen Workshop East and Seattle Pacific’s low-residency MFA program in  writing and spirituality. She is a professor of creative writing at the University of Houston and serves as a hospital trauma chaplain.

Shopping Cart
Follow by Email
Join our Waitlist Thank you for your interest in this class! We'll alert you right away if a seat opens up. If we run another round of this class, we'll let you know about that, too.
Scroll to Top