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About Najya

Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Najya Williams is a poet, filmmaker and performing artist. In addition to publishing her debut poetry chapbook, Cotton, Najya has released a spoken word album entitled mad black woman. You can also find her three original short films in the Film Gallery: MORE LIFE, BURN, and ALL GRAY.

Najya looks ahead to continue making a difference in not only her community, but the nation as a whole, one word at a time. Join her in this endeavor via her Instagram profile, @NajyaWilliams.

4-Week Online Open-Genre Workshop for Black Writers: Language as a Place of Struggle

“The oppressed struggle in language to recover ourselves, to reconcile, to reunite, to renew. Our words are not without meaning, they are an action, a resistance. Language is also a place of struggle.” – bell hooks, “Choosing the Margin as a Space of Radical Openness”

For writers, there are few feelings greater than that of what we feel when we begin a new writing project. We rise early, ensure our devices are charged and pens are primed and dive head first into an exciting new world of our own creation. However, after some time, that feeling of exhilaration can devolve into frustration, fatigue and the oh-so-dreaded writer’s block. I used to allow these feelings to keep me trapped in this place, but as my work and perspective have matured, I realized that those moments were an indication that I was finally scratching beneath the surface of my ideas, my craft, and most importantly, my inner self.

In this eight-week, four-session course, we will examine short articles, plays/monologues, poetry, and academic texts to identify the boundaries we place upon ourselves, the boundaries society places upon us, and the ways in which we can work “outside those margins” in a manner that will elevate our thinking and overall ability as literary artists.

Each session will open with a warm up activity that all participants will be invited to share or reflect upon. Afterwards, the workshop will be divided into two parts: “Conceptual” and “Craft.” During the “Conceptual” component, the instructor will facilitate group discussions about the higher-level takeaways from the week’s readings and how they can be used to aid in tackling the subjects and issues we struggle with most in our writing.

During the “Craft” component, I will guide the students through interdisciplinary exercises that push against traditional writing conventions, which will include audio journaling, story sketching, and breaking form. Each week, participants should come to class prepared to discuss the week’s reading and complete all in-class activities. By the end of the eight-week period, all participants will complete the first draft of a short writing project, as well as possess new craft and conceptual tools to employ in their future endeavors.

This course is open to Black women, Black femmes, and Black non-binary folks with any level of writing experience.

*Class meets every other week, on January 8th, January 22nd, February 5th, and February 19th.

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