The Art and Craft of the Personal Essay, with Emily Lackey

Whether our stories are invented or true, the key to good writing is the same: we want to tell an interesting, heartfelt tale that shines a light on some larger truth. At its heart, the personal essay is one of the most powerful vehicles for illuminating a universal theme through the writer’s intimate, lived experience. But the essay can take a myriad of different forms, and can be daunting to master. In this workshop, writers will closely read a number of effective essays, examining the elements that make them powerful and, ultimately, impossible not to publish. Each month, we’ll read and analyze three essays of a single form—lyric essays, graphic essays, hermit crab essays, and personal reportage—discuss what makes the pieces work, and try our hand at each. By the end of the workshop, writers will come away with a deep understanding of what is possible in a personal essay, and the techniques necessary to write compelling and consequential essays of their own. Online.

This workshop meets on February 1st, March 7th, April 4th, and May 2nd, from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. ($195)

Emily Lackey is Writers in Progress’s Assistant Director. Her stories and essays have been published in Glimmer Train, Prairie Schooner, Post Road, The Literary Review, Longreads, The Rumpus, Green Mountains Review, and The Huffington Post, among others. She was a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and an artist-in-residence at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts and Newnan ArtRez. After receiving her MFA from the University of New Hampshire, she taught writing at the University of New Hampshire and in the graduate writing program at Southern New Hampshire University.   Find out more at

Emily Lackey