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New Online Class Now Available!

Hello, there!

I hope this message finds you well, inspired, and in the flow of your writing. I have some exciting news: my new self-paced online course - the first one I am offering directly through my website - is now available!

Cultivating Our Voices: Writing Our Lives, is a 6-unit class that you do on your own and at times that work for you and your schedule. I taught a previous version of this class last year and have greatly expanded it. Each unit contains a video introduction to guide you through the resources, a podcast lecture, curated readings, self-reflective writing prompts, and creative prompts to keep your spirit inspired. Check it out and get started!

Between now and August 1 use the discount code WRITE20 for 20% off

For those whose creativity is best supported in person, individually, or with a small group, I have spots available for personal writing sessions, manuscript development guidance, and coaching you through writing processes and projects. These individualized sessions can be done in person in the San Francisco Bay Area or via video conferencing from anywhere you have internet.

I also invite you to connect with me and our writing community on social media and at the various events noted on the calendar. In the meantime, you can find some writing inspiration on the blog!

Wishing you all the best,

Liz Burke-Cravens

New Online Class!

Cultivating Our Voices: Writing Our Lives an online self-paced class created by Liz Burke-Cravens

In this self-paced class, Cultivating Our Voices: Writing Our Lives, I help you develop a greater understanding of your writer voice and insights about yourself and experience.

The more numerous self-reflective and creative prompts will inspire a robust new body of writing in any genre you choose to work with!

Use discount code WRITE20 for 20% off!

Ongoing Class

Narratives of Self & Society: Writing Life Stories for Change is a self-paced online class created by Liz Burke-Cravens and offered through the Transformative Language Arts Network through January 31, 2020.

This self-paced online course, offered through the Transformative Language Arts Network, will continue to be available through January 31, 2020!

Take your time going through the 10-unit course that guides you in a step-by-step process of personal and social inquiry for the purpose of generating compelling life stories for social change.

Poetry Book of the Month

Our featured poetry book for July is Magical Negro by Morgan Parker.

I was fortunate to see her read from this work last March at the AWP Conference in Portland, Oregon and was blown away by her fierce feminist voice.

Throughout the month, I will share poems, videos, articles, and interviews by Morgan Parker and her work.

Connect with us in conversation on Facebook in our A Brave Space Poets group!

Upcoming Events

There are a number of exciting events coming up and I invite you to join me! I update the calendar frequently, so check back often to see what we are up to.

August 6Diane DiPrima will read her poetry and celebrate her birthday at Bird & Beckett Books in San Francisco, 7-9pm.

September 24Margaret Atwood will read from her new novel - the sequel to her acclaimed The Handmaid’s Tale - and engage in conversation with author Kelly Corrigan.

September 26-29: The Transformative Language Arts Network will be hosting their annual Power of Words Conference at the Casa Renewal Center in Scottsdale, AZ. I will be moderating a panel on Right Livelihood and will be presenting on Creating Online TLA Classes that Inspire, Build Community & Transform Our World on Saturday, September 28!

October 26: Poets Deborah Landau and Matthew Zapruder will read from their work in Berkeley.

Writing Prompt

What are the words you do not yet have? What do you need to say? by Audre Lorde


Creating Online TLA Classes that Inspire, Build Community, and Transform Our World

I'm looking forward to offering this presentation at the 2019 Power of Words Conference in Scottsdale, AZ 9/26-9/29.

Register before July 11 to get the early bird rate.

Scholarships are available too!

Creating Online TLA Classes that Inspire, Build Community, and Transform Our World

For many teaching artists, developing an online course from scratch or transferring a face-to-face workshop to an online environment can be a difficult challenge. In this presentation, Liz Burke-Cravens will share strategies, techniques, and tools for creating successful transformative language arts classes online and in hybrid formats. Topics will include organizing and planning your course, practicing self-care and ethics, creating meaningful opportunities for connection, integrating multimedia, and cultivating a rich online environment for creative expression and exploration, and other related topics. This presentation will be helpful for those already teaching TLA courses online and for those who would like to start.

July 2019 Poetry Book of the Month

The July 2019 Poetry Book of the Month is

Magical Negro by Morgan Parker.  

Magical Negro by Morgan Parker


From the breakout author of There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé comes a profound and deceptively funny exploration of Black American womanhood.

Magical Negro is an archive of black everydayness, a catalog of contemporary folk heroes, an ethnography of ancestral grief, and an inventory of figureheads, idioms, and customs. These American poems are both elegy and jive, joke and declaration, songs of congregation and self-conception. They connect themes of loneliness, displacement, grief, ancestral trauma, and objectification, while exploring and troubling tropes and stereotypes of Black Americans. Focused primarily on depictions of black womanhood alongside personal narratives, the collection tackles interior and exterior politics―of both the body and society, of both the individual and the collective experience. In Magical Negro, Parker creates a space of witness, of airing grievances, of pointing out patterns. In these poems are living documents, pleas, latent traumas, inside jokes, and unspoken anxieties situated as firmly in the past as in the present―timeless black melancholies and triumphs.


“Morgan Parker’s latest collection, Magical Negro, is a riveting testimony to everyday blackness. . . . It is wry and atmospheric, an epic work of aural pleasures and personifications that demands to be read—both as an account of a private life and as searing political protest.” —Glory Edim, Time Magazine

“2019 justly belongs to Morgan Parker. Her poems shred me with their intelligence, dark humor and black-hearted vision. Parker is one of this generation’s best minds, able to hold herself and her world, which includes all of us, up to impossible lights, revealing every last bit of our hopes, failings, possibilities and raptures.” —Danez Smith, T Magazine

“Morgan Parker continues to fearlessly explore what it means to be a black woman in the United States today. . . . Bold and edgy, the writing spotlights the strength and tenacity that enable the speaker to survive grief and inequity. It also gives voice to her disappointments and delights as she claims—and proclaims—agency over her body and her life.” —The Washington Post

“Parker’s voice is surprising, ranging from elegiac to conspiratorial to ecstatic; she interrogates both blackness and femininity like ports in a long personal journey, as places to land but also as points of departure.” —Vogue

“From dating white boys to imagining what Diana Ross was thinking in that famous photo where she licks her fingers after eating a pair of ribs, Parker’s second poetry collection runs the gamut. But each poem is written with her signature wry humor and caustic honesty.” —BuzzFeed

“One could spend hours discussing not only the whole collection, but each individual poem. . . . Dizzyingly interdisciplinary . . . A book that delights and astonishes even as it interrogates.” —The Los Angeles Review of Books

“Morgan Parker’s poetry is vital, in both senses of the word. . . . Poetry’s defenders need not answer those who would sing its dirges, but if they did, Parker’s work could serve as an indisputable response.” —Literary Hub

“If you’re anxious for your snug perspective to be rattled and ripped asunder, for the predictable landscape you stroll to become all but unrecognizable, for things you thought you knew to slap you into another consciousness―brethren, have I got the book for you. Bey’s bestie continues her reign with this restless, fierce, and insanely inventive way of walking through the world. Once again, children―ignore Ms. Parker at your peril.” —Patricia Smith

You can read more about Morgan Parker and her work here:

Join us to share your thoughts and participate in our discussions on social media (no need to be a member of Facebook to participate!). 

June 2019 Poetry Book of the Month

The June 2019 Poetry Book of the Month is Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky.  



Ilya Kaminsky’s astonishing parable in poems asks us, What is silence?

Deaf Republic opens in an occupied country in a time of political unrest. When soldiers breaking up a protest kill a deaf boy, Petya, the gunshot becomes the last thing the citizens hear―they all have gone deaf, and their dissent becomes coordinated by sign language. The story follows the private lives of townspeople encircled by public violence: a newly married couple, Alfonso and Sonya, expecting a child; the brash Momma Galya, instigating the insurgency from her puppet theater; and Galya’s girls, heroically teaching signing by day and by night luring soldiers one by one to their deaths behind the curtain. At once a love story, an elegy, and an urgent plea, Ilya Kaminsky’s long-awaited Deaf Republic confronts our time’s vicious atrocities and our collective silence in the face of them.

“These poems bestow the power of sacred drama on a secular martyrology. . . . Kaminsky is wonderfully attentive to . . . repeating patterns of details, contributing to the impression that his book is a through-composed whole, rather than simply a sequence of individual poems. . . . By situating these poems in a country at war, Kaminsky forces the reader to consider both the ways in which we define our social belonging and the loyalties according to which we operate. . . . A visit to this republic will not leave the reader unchanged.”The New York Times Book Review

“Evident throughout [Deaf Republic] is a profound imagination, matched only by the poet’s ability to create a republic of conscience that is ultimately ours, too, and utterly his own―a map of what it means to live ‘in a peaceful country.’”―Kevin Young, The New Yorker

“Described as a ‘parable in poems,’ Kaminsky’s soulful new collection opens on an act of horrific violence before meditating on silence and deafness in times of political unrest. The language is exquisite; the ethical questions Kaminsky poses are provocative.”Entertainment Weekly

“Re-envisioning disability as power and silence as singing, Kaminsky has created a searing allegory precisely tuned to our times, a stark appeal to our collective conscience.”―

“With lyrical and fearless language, Ilya Kaminsky has written an engrossing page-turner that challenges society’s silence, and celebrates the power of community in the face of violent atrocities.”The Seattle Times

“Within the world of these poems, silence becomes both a foreshadowing and an appeal, as these gaps leave room for the reader to participate in the poems’ revolutionary politics.”The Brooklyn Rail

Deaf Republic is nurtured by a commitment to poetry as a form of resistance, dialogue, and a noble spiritual vocation―ethos that hearkens back to poetry’s origins and its power.”Tablet Magazine

Deaf Republic contains some of the most exquisite lines you’ll find in contemporary poetry.”New York Journal of Books

“Kaminsky demands that we reevaluate our own language ― about deaf culture, about silence itself ― in a time when language in the larger, cultural public square has never been more vitriolic. . . . Deaf Republic is a masterfully wrought collection.”Los Angeles Review of Books

“Kaminsky speaks of our darkest days, of tyranny and death. Yet he sings of the world―of poetry and dance and sex and love―with the highest praise.”Commonweal Magazine

“Kaminsky’s Deaf Republic is both rigorous and profound. Kaminsky reveals himself as a showman of narrative, informed by a deep sense of character and tension, as well as a skillful lyricist, present with each syllable, each letter, each rhythm the breath makes as it darts its ways around his sparse and elegant poems.”Michigan Quarterly Review

“A bruising, haunting examination of humanity’s paradoxical reserve for great compassion and endless cruelty, Deaf Republic holds an unsettling gaze on how we love amid chaos and despair.”Carolina Quarterly

“In Kaminsky’s lines, sound takes visible shape. The ordinary things of the world transmogrify, and a small detail, stripped down, takes on the weight of a country.”The Critical Flame

“The product of 15 years of meditation, this chilling work―an important warning about the forces of repression and a quiet salute to the courage of the few who resist―heralds the maturity of an important voice in world poetry.”Library Journal, starred review

You can read more about Ilya Kaminsky and his work here:

Join us to share your thoughts and participate in our discussions on social media (no need to be a member of Facebook to participate!). 

Poetry Books of the Month 2019 - The Complete List

Hello friends and colleagues!

A few weeks ago, I attended the Association of Writers & Writing Programs conference in Portland, Oregon. Although it was an exhausting few days, I returned home with a full heart and deeply inspired to get to work on my own craft and writing projects. I went to numerous readings, panels, and keynotes delivered by an incredible array of writers and poets including Martin Espada, Ilya Kaminsky, Kamilah Aisha Moon, Tess Gallagher, Marilyn Chin, Maxine Hong Kingston, Dorianne Laux, Ada Limon, Morgan Parker, Evie Shockley, Dawn Lundy Martin, and many others!

At the AWP book fair, I picked up so many books, I’ve got the rest of the year covered for our Poetry Book of the Month series. I look forward to exploring the work of these amazing writers in the coming months!


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April 2019 Poetry Book of the Month

The April 2019 Poetry Book of the Month is Starshine & Clay by Kamilah Aisha Moon.  

About Starshine & Clay

A Rumpus Poetry Book Club selection.


“The Emperor’s Deer” from Starshine & Clay was selected by U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith to be featured on The Slowdown podcast.

Starshine & Clay

Kamilah Aisha Moon

“Breath caught in her throat,” Kamilah Aisha Moon writes of a mother waiting for a son to come home, “when your trachea snapped” (“To Jesse Washington”). Starshine & Clay is a history of injustice and oppression in America grounded in the lives, loves, and despair of individual men and women whose spirits fight on earth and dream of the heavens: “I think of / Joy, Théma, Kerry, Anthony, Phebus. Sandra & those / lynched by cops, satellite spirits who didn’t reach this orbit alive” (“Still Life as Rocket: 42”).

Starshine & Clay, which derives its title from Lucille Clifton’s collection Book of Light, weaves together iconic images of the U.S. such as the statue of Jefferson Davis, Confederate flag in hand, that withstood Hurricane Katrina (“Jefferson won’t be moved—/a bold, living relic of stone”) with the lives of those too often left unnoticed: “Oh broken bewildered girl I wasn’t born to be, break / yesterday under heel” (“Eternal Stand,” “These Are the Breaks”). Yet amid the tragic events on which Moon’s poems look, these lines offer, if not solace, then a reason for hope: “only spirit lasts out here, yet nineteen shacks / stubborn against the horizon. Some of us need / to build anyway—not just visit but live out closest / to the ominous, beautiful truth of it all” (“Day At the Dunes”).

Moon’s astonishing follow-up to award-nominated She Has a Name brings us solemn villanelle and freewheeling rhyme, sculpted minimalism and sprawling lines. It takes such range to see and hear America today, and Moon is a poet whose voice we need, whose tenderness and determination can help us look beyond as “We are left to imagine the day / it won’t require imagination / to care about all of the others.” (“Imagine.”)

“LOVE” from Starshine & Clay:

Once you’ve decided (it is a decision)
your skull won’t bleach
in the sun like a lost animal, what else
is there to do in any desert but study at the feet
of succulents drawing relief out of no where,
bristle with lessons? To walk & walk far past
whatever singed—the trudge
of faith every body afire knows until some
inexplicable, glorious flower or face
sirens the water & honey rooted in your cells, rolls
all of the little stones away & roars
without words, rise

You can read more about Kamilah Aisha Moon and her work here:

Join us to share your thoughts and participate in our discussions on social media (no need to be a member of Facebook to participate!). 

Right Livelihood Professional Training

For me, the Right Livelihood Professional Training was the perfect combination of expertly guided self-inquiry and practical tools for creating a life and livelihood based on my values and my vision for a more just and kind world. Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg and Laura Packer are stellar mentors who are both highly accomplished in their fields; the wisdom and strategies they so generously shared during the training continue to inspire me.

I wholeheartedly recommend this training!