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The Braided Essay as a Social Activism & Personal Growth Catalyst

So often, essays fall flat because they're too anchored in a particular experience that is meaningful to the writer without offering enough payoff to readers. At the same time, paying journals and magazines are actively seeking fine reported essays.

In this class, instructor Candace Walsh will guide you through the writing of a braided personal essay that weaves your personal narrative with the examination of a related social issue (i.e. racism, sexism, the U.S. healthcare system, anti-trans legislation, ageism, addiction, etc.) and evidence-based research, plus any of the following: pop culture, theory, history, media, and more.

Along with writing, you'll closely read and discuss emblematic texts: Melissa Febos's essay "The Mirror Test," Melissa Faliveno's essay "Switch-Hitter," and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's novel Americanah. Each class will begin with a short lecture, and then move on to discussion, generative writing, and workshop-like sharing of work.

By the end of six weeks, you'll have a promising braided essay draft on a social issue that combines your lived experience with a critique of the issue's existing representation, and demonstrates your informed, credible expertise.
Instructor: Candace Walsh is a fourth-year PhD student in creative writing (fiction) at Ohio University. She holds an MFA in fiction from Warren Wilson College. Recent or forthcoming publication credits include The Greensboro Review, Passengers Journal, Leon Literary Review, Entropy, Complete Sentence, Craft, and Akashic Books' Santa Fe Noir (fiction); Vagabond City, HAD, Roi Fainéant, Husk, and Beyond Queer Words (poetry); and New Limestone Review and Pigeon Pages (creative nonfiction). Her craft essays and book reviews have appeared in Brevity, descant, New Mexico Magazine, and Fiction Writers Review. She co-edits Quarter After Eight literary journal. A passage from her novel in progress made the longlist of the 2018 First Pages Prize. She received the 2022 Ohio University College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award. Walsh has also taught writing workshops, intensives, and seminars at Lighthouse Writers Workshop, Taos Summer Writers’ Conference, and Santa Fe Summer Writers’ Conference. Her 2012 book, Licking the Spoon: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Identity (Seal Press) won the 2013 New Mexico-Arizona LGBT Book Award, and two of the three essay anthologies she co-edited were Lambda Literary Award finalists.


Details: The Braided Essay as a Social Activism & Personal Growth Catalyst takes place Wednesdays July 19, July 26, August 2, August 9, August 16, and August 23 from 6:30-8:30pm online remotely via Zoom.

Prerequisites: None

Genre: Nonfiction

Level: Intermediate

Format: Reading and generative workshop with discussion and workshopping 

Location: This class takes place online remotely via Zoom.

Size: Limited to 12 participants (including scholarships).

Scholarships: Two scholarship spots are available for this class for writers in Northeast Ohio. Apply by April 24.

Cancellations & Refunds: Cancel at least 48 hours in advance of the first class meeting to receive a full refund. Email

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