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Meet the Teaching Artist: Writing with the Senses with Yara Zgheib

by Writing Workshops Staff

7 months ago


Meet the Teaching Artist: Writing with the Senses with Yara Zgheib

by Writing Workshops Staff

7 months ago


Born in Beirut with pieces of her heart in Paris, London, Boston, and one particularly beautiful, one-road Tuscan village, Yara Zgheib is the author of No Land to Light On (Atria, 2022), which has been longlisted for the 2023 Dylan Thomas Prize and selected as a Simon and Schuster Pick and Indie Book Read.

Lauded as a “masterful story of tragedy and redemption” written in “soul-searing prose,” the novel was chosen by The Washington Post, The L.A. Times, and Newsweek as one of the top books of 2022.

Yara’s debut novel, The Girls at 17 Swann Street (St. Martin’s Press, 2019), was a People Pick for Best New Books, a Barnes and Noble pick for Best Books of 2019, and a BookMovement Group Read.

She is currently at work on her third novel, Why Paris. (with a period), which will be published by Harper Collins in 2024, as well as a musical with composer Alex Wakim and the Music Theater Factory of New York.

And we're thrilled to offer Yara's new 6-Week Zoom class, Writing with the Senses: Lessons from Art, Music, Cinema, which will teach students how to integrate elements of art, music, and cinema into their writing.

Hi, Yara. Please introduce yourself to our audience.

I write, I read, I walk in cities and walk into lampposts. I love the smell of the streets very early in the morning. I love art and jazz and travel and things like fresh bread and fruit and good conversations, old friendships, poetry. I believe in beauty. I was a dancer and a political analyst and a French teacher but I've always been a writer. My favourite author says: "I write every day. It isn't an obligation. It is how I live.

What made you want to teach this specific class? Is it something you are focusing on in your own writing practice? Have you noticed a need to focus on this element of craft?

This is my jam and I love it!

Give us a breakdown of how the course is going to go. What can the students expect? What is your favorite part about this class you've dreamed up?

Each session will focus on a medium (art, music, cinema...) and what we can learn from it as writers: how do we train ourselves to really "see" Cézanne's colours then write them on a page, so that a reader on the other side of the world can see them too? How did Proust manage to make us taste his famous madeleine? What makes your heart race in a Godard movie or a Django album? How do you achieve that same experience with words? Each seminar will involve a discussion, case studies (lots of looking at art, watching movies, and listening to music), and practical applications, the best part.

What was your first literary crush?

Hemingway, of course Hemingway. Then came Camus and the rest.

What are you currently reading?

The Listening Room, by Kathleen Rooney. It is a masterpiece.

How do you choose what you're working on? When do you know it is the next thing you want to write all the way to THE END?

It's like falling in love, I think. You don't choose, you dive in and you're all in, for better or worse. You HAVE to tell this story. It matters so much your chest hurts on days when you cannot write or write poorly.

Where do you find inspiration?

Everywhere! Living, reading, deep living and deep reading. There is so much world out there.

What is the best piece of writing wisdom you've received that you can pass along to our readers? How did it impact your work? Why has this advice stuck with you?

"Make it true." - Marta Dvórak. Whatever story you're telling, fiction or not, write the truth. Be as honest and vulnerable and show up every day.

Learn More About Working with Yara:

You can learn more about Yara's upcoming class, Writing with the Senses: Lessons from Art, Music, Cinema, and Life, 6-Week Zoom Workshop, and sign up now!

Join Yara Zgheib in this journey to explore new dimensions in writing and enhance your craft!

Instructor Yara Zgheib is a reader, writer, traveler, and lover of art and jazz. She was born in Beirut and has pieces of her heart in Paris, London, Boston, and one particularly beautiful, one-road Tuscan village. Yara is the author of The Girls at 17 Swann Street (St. Martin’s Press, 2019), No Land to Light On (Atria Books, January 2022), and a forthcoming third novel, Why Paris. (with a period), which will be published by Harper Collins in 2024.

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