BLAISE ALLYSEN KEARSLEY
Hello, it's me. I know the name looks complicated. I would like to help you with that:
My first name is pronounced BLAZE, my middle name is just ALISON, but with some
different letters, and my last name sounds like KEEEER-S-LEE.
That's it for this first section of my website. It's been pretty demanding already.
IT'S HERE. I'm thrilled and honored to be included in the new anthology, Nonwhite and Woman: 131 Micro Essays on Being in The World edited by Darien Hsu Gee and Carla Crujido. (Title inspired by the Lucille Clifton poem "won't you celebrate with me.") Badass BIPOC women contributors include Tayari Jones, Deesha Philyaw, Eugenia Kim, and many more. Grab a copy—maybe at Bookshop or your local spot because Bezos doesn't need your biz.
Blaise Allysen Kearsley is a New York-based Black-biracial writer and teacher and the creator/producer/host of How I Learned, a long-running storytelling, comedy, and reading series. She has appeared at The Moth, Risk, Literary Death Match, Mortified, The Gotham Storytelling Festival, and at various venues that serve booze and sometimes snacks.
Her writing has appeared in Catapult, Longreads, VICE, The Boston Globe, Midnight Breakfast, Electric Literature's The Nervous Breakdown, Oldster, Elle.com, three creative nonfiction anthologies—Nonwhite and Woman (forthcoming from Woodhall Press, September 2022), Cringe (Crown Publishing, 2008), and Mortified: Real Words. Real People. Real Pathetic. (Gallery Books, 2006). She has written for several magazines and online outlets dating back to 2001 that are perhaps not worth mentioning by name and probably don't even exist anymore.
She teaches mostly memoir and personal essay writing at Gotham Writers Workshop, 7 Daughters of Eve Theatre & Performance Co., Writing Workshops, and Blaise Writers Workshop, which she founded in 2017. She is currently a contributing editor at Vestal Review, the oldest flash fiction journal on the planet.
In another life she took a lot of pictures with actual cameras, and some of those pictures were published in places like New York Magazine, Gawker, Playbill, The Morning News, JPG Magazine, and Nerve.
She lives in Brooklyn but if you need her for something somewhere else, maybe she'll go there.
[ select writing
🜃 A Jet All The Way Oldster, 2022
🜃 The Story of My Father's Hands Catapult, 2022
🜃 Finding Oneself in 'Surviving the White Gaze' The Boston Globe, 2021
🜃 Why Mr. Bauer Didn't Like Me Longreads, 2019
🜃 The Mail Club Midnight Breakfast, 2016
🜃 3 Songs About Being Young and Disenfranchised Before The Internet The Weeklings, 2014
Blaise Writers Workshop + Consulting provides a safe space for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ writers.
In a perfect world that would go without saying.
[ current workshops + one-on-one
The Topography of Memory in Personal Narrative
[ FULL ]
6 weeks; Tuesdays, beginning July 26th; 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. EST (Zoom)
Open to all. Limited to 10 writers.
Memory is fluid, faulty, and fallible. How is our writing hindered or enhanced by the limitations of memory? How can we navigate the gaps in our recall? What do we do when the memories are vague or elusive?In this workshop we'll shake the current foundation and excavate past and recent memories, unearthing core stories and important secondary events. What are the brain-encoded stories we need to tell?
For the creative inspiration we'll draw from the work of Brian Broome, Gerald Walker, Danzy Senna, craft essayists, and Ramón Santiago y Cajal, Josh Korda, and more for the neuroscience.
We'll read short excerpts in class with some longer texts for homework. There will be writing prompts, sharing, and guided feedback.
Ties That Bind:
Writing About Family in Creative Nonfiction
6 weeks; Wednesdays, August 17 - September 28*; 7:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. EST (Zoom)
*No class on September 14th.
Invite only or by referral or writing sample. Limited to 8 writers.
It's a slippery slope. Even the funny, affectionate family stuff can stab your insides and fray your wires.
We'll consider how (and how not) to write about bloodline, adoptive, and chosen family, members who are still here or in the everywhere, in an honest, unflinching way. We'll examine intention, approach, perspective, and narrative core, also looking at the outside story—the context of race, class, gender, time and place. We'll discuss ways to write about trauma—not just our own, but the intergenerational trauma of others, and dig deep with prompts, readings, and sharing.
$450 / $410 - $420*
*$30 off when returning for a 2nd workshop. $40 off for 3 or more.
Sliding scale for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ writers.Payment plans available.
Feeling + Form, Situation + Story
Friday, September 9th, 12:00 - 3:00 p.m. EST (Zoom)
Open to Personal Narrative and Fiction Writers.
This is a one-off, 3-hour exploration of how to work our stories like a puzzle and sculpt the structure into a thing of beauty.
We'll discuss both classic, non-linear, and inventive structures including the ABDCE approach, dual perspectives (past and present), and other ways of wrangling the work into a shape that serves the story and drives the plot forward.
$75 / $50 for BIPOC and LGBTQ+; $65 for returning writers.
Driving a Car at Night in the Rain
Monday, September 26th, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. EST (Zoom)
Open to all.
A famous author once said writing is like driving a car at night in the rain. You can only see as far as the headlights, but you can make the whole journey that way.
This is a 2-hour workshop on how to see your work through multiple drafts. And, my god, how many more drafts????? How do you finesse the thread, kill your darlings, zhuzh the descriptions, round out the characters, and make your sentences sing? How do you approach revision like—as Kiese Laymon calls it—an act of love? (Even if it kills you.)
One : One / Consulting
One-on-one work is for writers looking for personalized creative direction and guidance, whether you're working on a book or trying to finish stand alone pieces to pitch for publication.During one-hour sessions (remotely or in person, as the pandemic allows), we'll identify your goals and projects, and develop a work plan. You'll receive extensive critical feedback and other forms of support catered to your needs.In the universally perpetual quest for accountability and momentum, signing up for 3 sessions at a time is recommended.
Sliding scale for BIPOC + LGBTQ+ writers.
Payment plans available.
Free initial consultation
[ things people say
"I've taken several workshops over the years, all over the country, and this was by far the best. Blaise is a goddamn treasure."
"I feel so inspired, enriched, encouraged, and empowered in my writing practice. I've been sitting at my desk since we all logged off just feeling how full of gratitude my heart is—for you, the workshop, and the entire group."
"Blaise is a gifted teacher and her class has been water in the desert for me."
"During quarantine I had to show up for myself and others who counted on me, even when I felt like all I wanted to do was hide under my couch. Being part of this creative group of writers saved me."
"Thank you for creating this generous space for us to try new things and be vulnerable, for the insightful feedback, and for leading us through the last 8 weeks. I'm really grateful."
"Blaise was really able to build a community on Zoom. This is an incredibly difficult thing to do, and she made it seem so easy."
"What Blaise does is so specific and special. You can't find that in other workshops."
"I love that the readings center BIPOC, women, and LGBTQ voices. That has been an important and edifying element."
"This is a fantastic format. The small class size ensures everyone gets ample time and submission opportunities. Blaise is such a skilled reader and editor, and her notes are always valuable. She offers wonderful perspectives, and assembles groups of writers with keen perspectives of their own. Highly recommend."
"I want to thank you for not only helping me improve my writing, but the confidence and practical knowledge I got from your classes to polish and submit my work. Your feedback and mentorship has meant so much to me."
"I genuinely looked forward to each week. The feedback and advice you gave sent me back out into the world with confidence and purpose."
"Submitting something for publication for the first time was one of my goals for our eight-week workshop and that gave me the push I needed to hit the send button. Everything this group taught me about specificity, vulnerability and vivid storytelling made a huge difference."
"You treat every question with such a genuine desire to give the best possible answer and it made me happy every time. I admire that you focus on building people up. For someone like me, that means the world."
Work by current and former students has appeared in Modern Love, Blavity, The New York Times, The New Yorker, McSweeney's, Elle.com, Rolling Stone, Manifest Station, Refinery29, 11th Street Journal, Dame Magazine, and elsewhere.
Get notified about upcoming workshops.
[ how i learned
Photo: Jon Boulier
Blaise Allysen's Kearsley's HOW I LEARNED series, a live reading/storytelling/comedy show, was born on the Lower East Side in 2009 and had a 10-year(!) run. The series featured Aparna Nancherla, Janelle James, Alexander Chee, Anna Sale, Ayo Edebiri, Ophira Eisenberg, Isaac Fitzgerald, Nick Flynn, Mira Jacob, Nore Davis, Lizz Winstead, Joel Kim Booster, Sasheer Zamata, Isaac Oliver, Jo Firestone, Mike Albo, Phoebe Robinson, Choire Sicha, Dan Kennedy, Rob Sheffield, Rosie Schaap, David Crabb, Jami Attenberg, Kevin Allison, and many, many, many, many, many more.
Named one of "Five Best Comedy Shows Hosted By Women" by CBS New York and one of the Best Storytelling Series and Best Reading Series by Time Out New York.
"Hostess Blaise Allysen Kearsley makes sure to keep it awkwardly funny." -CBS New York
"...Always hilarious, sometimes touching, and without fail entertaining." -Brooklyn Magazine
"This show has renewed my faith in this whole storytelling endeavor and what it means in the world." -David Crabb, Host of The Moth
"Blaise Allysen Kearsley is a charming host with an irrepressible, humming little laugh that seems to be a compromise she’s made with some wicked guffaw within." -LitWrap
And another thing:
The free virtual write-in offers 2 1/2 hours of silent focus and accountability for creatives.
No prompts. No chatter. Just productive energy.
Pop in for part of the time or stay for the whole thing.
Next write-in TBA. Get notified:
OK, this is the end of my website. You did a great job.
Photo: Adam Paul Verity
Logo: Andy Ross Creative and Amanda Villalobos
© 2022 Bazima Productions