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by Writing Workshops Staff

5 months ago

Meet the Teaching Artist: Confessional Writing From the Inside Out with Ashley Elizabeth

by Writing Workshops Staff

5 months ago

Meet the Teaching Artist: Confessional Writing From the Inside Out with Ashley Elizabeth

by Writing Workshops Staff

5 months ago

We're thrilled to welcome Ashley Elizabeth as a new instructor. She is a talented writer and teacher who is leading a special Zoom seminar titled Confessional Writing From the Inside Out. Ashley is a Pushcart-nominated poet and serves at the Chapbook Editor at Sundress Publications.

In her seminar, Ashley will help you explore your inner thoughts and feelings. You'll talk about writing that's personal and learn from famous poets like Olivia Gatwood and Ebony Stewart. Whether you're new to writing or you've been doing it for a while, this seminar will teach you how to express yourself better. You'll come away with a better understanding of confessional writing, some new pieces you've written, and feedback from others. Join Ashley on this journey to find your true voice through writing.

Hi, Ashley. Please introduce yourself to our audience.

Hi everyone, I'm Ashley Elizabeth, a writer, educator, food lover, and cat mom from Baltimore, Maryland. I have published two chapbooks with my debut full-length and another chapbook under contract. Though I primarily write poetry and nonfiction, I began my writing journey with fiction.

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?

Confessional writing is where a lot of my early writing started without me knowing there was a name for it, and helping other people move within themselves is something that I find honor in. It is difficult at times to write (and then ultimately publish) things that are heavy on the heart for numerous reasons. While I don't have all the answers, I can direct and provide safe spaces for others.

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?

Short answer, we will center ourselves, read, discuss, brainstorm, write, and share if we have enough time.

Long answer? We will ground ourselves in our mind and bodies, introduce ourselves, discuss what confessional writing is and how it can be applied across genres, read and discuss work from various writers, and engage with a few writing prompts. If we have time at the end, we will share out some of what we've written.

What was your first literary crush?

This is a hard question, but I think Zane as she influenced me as a younger writer when I was dabbling more in fiction than in poetry (if you know, you know). For poetry, however, it comes down to the several poets featured on Def Poetry Jam, especially Sarah Kay. Her presence is so commanding, and her work is incredibly layered.

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading Barracoon by Zora Neale Hurston. It's been on my TBR list for years, and I was able to start a couple of days ago. As a teacher in the middle of the school year, I am a slow reader and have only read the introduction, prologue, and the firse chapter or two. So far, I love the rawness and tenacity in this book.

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?

I work on whatever calls me. This may be a cheesy answer, but it is true. This is also why I normally have around four WIPs at a time. All of my work, however, is related to me/my identity in some capacity. If I come back to a piece often or if I have to stop in the middle of my day, that is THE piece.

Where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration in my culture and everywhere I go. Sometimes it's food, sometimes it's the sky, the smells in a certain area, the people I meet or even just walk past. I have a need to record the world as I experience it, so I do.

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?

A tough question. If I had to choose, it would probably be "Read often. Write often. Repeat." Reading exposes you to a lot of different techniques whereas writing allows you the practice needed to become truly great. Though I have spent more time writing than reading, I can tell that every bit is helping.  

What is your favorite book to recommend on the craft of writing? Why this book?

One that I go back to often is Chen Chen's You MUST Use the Word Smoothie: A Craft Essay in 50 Writing Prompts. It's a read AND practice.

Bonus question: What’s your teaching vibe?

I am very laid back and want to have fun. I also believe everyone in the class is valuabel and has something to share/teach to the larger group.  

Learn more about working with Ashley:

You can learn more about Ashley's upcoming Zoom seminar, Confessional Writing From the Inside Out, and sign up if interested.


Instructor Ashley Elizabeth (she/her) is a Pushcart-nominated writer and teacher whose debut full-length collection, A Family Thing, is forthcoming from Redacted Books/ELJ Editions (August 2024). She is also the author of the chapbooks you were supposed to be a friend (Nightingale & Sparrow, 2020) and black has every right to be angry (Alternating Current, 2023). Ashley is also the Chapbook Editor with Sundress Publications.

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