Workshop Descriptions

Whose Truth Is It Anyway?: A Workshop on Memoir, Health, Living, and Dying
Nina Angela McKissock

A long time hospice nurse/former pilot/world traveler will share what she learned when writing her memoir profiling twenty-one patients' stories. We'll discuss writing prompts to begin the process, as well as the legal liabilities when writing memoir. McKissock understands the life-altering impact of serving the dying and vulnerable and, through writing prompts, will inspire you to take the first steps toward sharing your own valued experiences.

Cellular Composition: Writing Water, Environment, and Self
Mary Heather Noble

Water is the most abundant molecule in our cells, accounting for roughly 70% of total cell mass. And given the permeability of our cell membranes, what’s in our water often ends up in our cells — making water pollution issues a matter of personal and public health. But while writing about the science behind these fluid boundaries is essential, it isn’t always effective in exerting positive change in environmental health policy. As Rachel Carson revealed with the public response to Silent Spring, people are more often moved by stories that engage their memories and emotions.

In the literary world, we often talk about “writing from the bones,” or “writing what we know on a cellular level.” This personal narrative —stories grounded in memory and emotion— will be the focus of our time together. In this workshop, we will examine the work of writers and scholars such as Sandra Steingraber, Rebecca Altman, Kristen Iversen, and others to learn how they have woven both science AND the self into their environmental health literature. We will study their methods and then embark on our own cellular compositions, using targeted writing exercises to generate strands of personal history to weave into our own environmental health stories.

Narrative Medicine: Restoring the Art of Medicine through Reflective Writing and Poetry
Gillian Pidcock

Storytelling is at the core of compassionate care. In this workshop you’ll learn how narrative practices are being incorporated into medical education. We’ll discuss how patients, caregivers, and health professionals are rediscovering their inner creativity to resist the dehumanizing forces that cause unnecessary emotional suffering and burnout. You’ll experience a reflective writing workshop where we’ll read, write, and witness using poetry as our medium.

The Power of the Pen for Health Justice: How and Why Writers Can Advocate for Health as a Human Right
Fran Quigley and Vince Mondillo

A filmmaker and a writer/lawyer will lead this workshop. The participants will be briefed on the transformative impact that writers can have on access to healthcare locally and globally, provided instruction on best practices and opportunities for writers advocating for health justice, and then guided through exercises and follow-up feedback and discussion on crafting effective stories and messages promoting health as a human right.