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 KEY-ERS-LEE.
That's it for this first section of my website. It's been pretty demanding already.
Blaise Allysen Kearsley is a New York-based Black-biracial writer and teacher and the creator, producer, and host of How I Learned, a long-running storytelling / comedy / reading series.
Her writing has appeared in Catapult, Longreads, Memoir Land, VICE, The Boston Globe, Midnight Breakfast, Electric Literature's The Nervous Breakdown, Oldster, Elle.com, and four anthologies—Nonwhite and Woman, PEREGRINE, Cringe, and Mortified: Real Words. Real People. Real Pathetic.. 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 has been mentoring writers since 2016 and has developed in-person, synchronous, and text-based multi-week workshops, webinars, and intensives for creative communities across the country.
She is a contributing editor at Vestal Review, the oldest flash fiction journal on the planet. As a storyteller she has performed at The Moth, Risk, Literary Death Match, Mortified, The Gotham Storytelling Festival, and at various venues that serve booze and sometimes snacks. 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
🜃 The Story of My Father's Hands |Memoir Land, 2023; originally published in Catapult
🜃 Words To Call a Sweater | PEREGRINE, Yellow Arrow Journal, Vol. VII, No. 2, 2022
🜃 A Jet All The Way |Oldster Magazine, 2022
🜃 The First Time It Happened | Nonwhite and Woman, Woodhall Press, 2022
🜃 Finding Oneself in 'Surviving the White Gaze' | The Boston Globe, 2021
🜃 Why Mr. Bauer Didn't Like Me | Longreads, 2019
[ classes + consulting
My mission as a writing coach and instructor is to foster the growth of beginning, aspiring, emerging, advanced, and established creative nonfiction writers from all walks of life by challenging them to not only keep sharpening their existing tools but to consider new approaches to the work, the practice, and the life — to write from a place of investigative curiosity, courage, and artistic intuition in order to solve literary problems, crack narratives wide open and rediscover the stories inside you begging to be told. Every workshop is a tailored, inclusive, and inspiring space that reminds you to work hard and stay soft.
While getting published isn't the end goal for every writer or every project, I'd be remiss not to mention that some wonderful work by current and former students has appeared in Modern Love, HuffPost, Blavity, The New York Times, The New Yorker, Narratively, Bright Flash Literary Review, McSweeney's, Elle.com, Rolling Stone, Lenny Letter, The Lunch Ticket, Dame Magazine, Manifest Station, Refinery29, Texas Monthly, and 11th Street Journal. A gorgeous handful of chapbooks and book-length memoirs have also been unleashed into the world or are forthcoming from Viking, Simon & Schuster, Bottlecap Press, and other publishers.
Get notified about current and upcoming offerings.
Dates, texts, and speakers are subject to change and classes sometimes get switched out, or new ones get added.
(NYC or Remote)
Get individual attention, personalized creative direction and guidance for books, essays, and pieces to pitch for publication.We'll identify your goals and you'll receive thorough critical feedback to manifest your intention. In the universally perpetual quest for accountability and momentum, signing up for 3 sessions at a time is recommended, but tailoring the mentorship for each individual is first and foremost.
$500 / $450 for returning writers.
Sliding scale for marginalized + underrepresented voices. Payment plans + low-cost options for financial hardship are available.
Free Initial Consultation
Two sessions, two hours each: Wednesdays, November 29th + December 6th, 7:00 - 9:00 pm ET; Open to all.
This is a 2-day adaptation of a multi-week workshop. Memory is fluid, faulty, and fallible. How is our writing both hindered and 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?
How does memory function in the brain? Where does it live in the body? How do we navigate the ways the limitations of memory hinder our writing? What insights into the writing craft might memory gaps provide?
We'll explore these questions through discussion and writing exercises.
We'll look at new approaches and sharpen existing tools for excavating long- and short-term memories, unearthing core narratives, and important secondary events. What are the brain-encoded stories we need to tell?
Sponsored by Writing Workshops:
Details / Enroll
Writing New York: Personal Narratives That Could Only Happen Here (Virtual)
4 weeks: Tuesdays, starting February 13th, 7:00 - 9:00 pm ET; Limited to 10 people.
Whether you love New York or hate it, whether you live here now or lived here in another life, what are your most resonant and vital New York stories—the ones that could only happen here?
In this workshop we'll explore the NYC setting as anchor and character, building a world for a reader to live in on the pages of well-crafted work, immersive creative nonfiction.
A sense of place can be as vibrant and resonant to an audience as a round, dynamic character. So you'll generate and develop your "only in New York" stories while experimenting with length, form, and POV. The class will focus on short readings, purpose driven prompts, sharing, and instant feedback.
And, lucky us—we'll have a discussion with special guest Sari Botton, writer and editor of Goodbye To All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York.
Sponsored by Writing Workshops:
The Art of Personal Essay Writing
6 weeks: Tuesdays, starting March 6th, 7:00 - 9:30 pm ET; Limited to 10 people.
You know the stories you want to tell. But how will you tell them? What makes well-crafted essays and why are yours worth reading? How do you follow through skillfully on ideas?
In this workshop we'll explore the art and craft of the personal essay and its lyrical shapes. We'll experiment with researched, collage, braided, micro, crab, and other essay forms to expand and deepen your writing practice and find the structure that best serves what you want to say.
We'll consider essays from an inclusive selection of writers such as Saachi Koul, Henry Louis Gates, Maggie Nelson, Alexander Chee, Jesús Colón, David Sedaris, Emily Bernard, Annie Dillard, and Abigail Thomas.
Creative Nonfiction Workshop
(IN PERSON: Brooklyn, NY)
8 weeks: Thursdays, April 18th - July 18th*, 7:00 - 10:00 pm. Limited to 7 writers by invite, referral, or application. *No classes on May 2nd + July 4th. We'll meet virtually on June 6th only.
This is an IRL workshop for advanced and emerging writers who have worked with me previously. New writers may be eligible by invite or application.
We'll read published pieces, have wide-ranging discussions based on the needs of the group. We'll write together—sitting around a table IN PERSON!
You'll generate a ton of work in class through prompts, sharing, and instant feedback. Plus, everyone will have at least three opportunities to submit work for more extensive feedback. A visit from a special guest is TBA.
Returning Writers: RSVP
New Writers: APPLY
One-Day Webinar: Cultivating
a Writing Practice (Virtual)
Thursday, January 4th, 6:30 - 9:00 pm ET. Open to all.
How do you maintain a writing practice when there are only so many hours in a day and so much distraction? How can we cultivate, nurture, and fully engage in a writing practice that offers accountability and focus — one that generates new work and gets us to finish that thing that's been languishing in our drafts folder?
What are some strategies for overcoming obstacles in your practice, wrangling the work, and perservering in difficult times? What writing and life tools do you need in your arsenal to help you get going and keep going?
This webinar will include a 30-minute silent write-in.
Sponsored by Writing Workshops:Details / Enroll
Introduction to Memoir
(Text + Live Video)
10 weeks. Text-based on Wet Ink + live on Zoom. Starting Thursday, February 1st.
Check-ins and writing sessions will be live on Feb 1st (Week 1), Feb 29th (Week 5), and March 4th (Week 10), 6:30 - 8:30 pm ET. Limited to 7 people.
This is a memoir 101 course covering a multitude of craft elements for those who are new to memoir writing and anyone who could use a brush-up.
You'll have weekly access to lessons along with published excerpts, recommended readings and writing prompts to generate new work or dig deeper into work-in-progress. Each lesson will focus on a different tool, including drawing multi-dimensional characters that a reader can "see," navigating time and place, the art of description, and mining your memory.
Each participant will have an accountability partner. Everyone will have at least two opportunities to submit work for feedback. Texts TBA.
Sponsored by Writing Workshops:
Write Your Memoir
in 12 Weeks
12 weeks. Text-based on Wet Ink + live on Zoom. Beginning February 14th; Limited to 7 people.
The deal is this. You want to finish a complete draft of your book. Any draft of your book.
Think of your tome not as an ALL-CAPS GOAL but more as a system built ground-up from craft insights, self-knowledge, and your writerly intuition. Gather up all the intentions for writing your memoir.
Consider what you can see yourself actualizing in your own real life, in this real wild world. Let the other intentions fall away. Direct your fear or pride or recklessness or discombobulation (and all of the other things) to the next right step.
Make space and time for getting lost, for unexpected detours, and heavy emotional traffic. Power straight through pages and pages without turning back. Find the road by driving.Participants will submit up to 2,000 words for weekly review. There will be 3 Zoom 2.5 hour Zoom sessions. Lessons, readings, and prompts posted each week.
Sponsored by Writers.com:
Details / Enroll
Sudden Truths: Writing Flash Memoir + Super-Short Personal Essay (Virtual)
6 weeks: Wednesdays,
May 15th - June 26th*, 6:30 - 9:00 pm ET. Limited to 10 writers.
*No class on June 5th.
What is the purpose of a micro-story? How do you craft something interesting with a beginning, middle, and end, all in 150-1000 words?
We'll explore the craft of flash memoir and personal essay and the ways in which the super-short form canenhance our writing practice, improve our skills, and contextualize our truths. We'll experiment with word counts, generate ideas through in-class writing, and discuss language, structure, pacing, narrative thread, the revision process, and more.
A diverse selection of readings will include work by Bhante Sumano, Roxane Gay, Jenny Boully, Sam Kiss, Deesha Philyaw, and Sonja Livingston. Participants will share their work and receive constructive feedback.
[ things people say
"Blaise's class made me a stronger writer.
It was the hardest workshop I've ever done, but also one of the most important."
— Jennifer Stewart
"I've taken several workshops over the years, all over the country, and this was by far the best. Blaise is a goddamn treasure."
— Memoir workshop participant
"Blaise believed in me and my writing and showed me how I, too, can believe in myself and my writing. The level of care she provides for her students is unparalleled."
— Tiffany Yo
"I love that the readings center BIPOC, women, and LGBTQ voices. That has been an important and edifying element."
— Kimberly Balsam
"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."
"Submitting something for publication was one of my goals and that gave me the push I needed to hit the 'send' button. In addition, everything this group taught me about specificity, vulnerability and vivid storytelling made a huge difference. I'm so thankful for our eight weeks together."
— Genevieve (Gwen) Kingston
"This is a fantastic format. The small class size ensures everyone gets ample time and submission opportunities. It is so useful to see what questions come up with multiple readers. It's like a tiny focus group for pinpointing the areas of my writing that need further development."
— Creative nonfiction workshop participant
"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."
"Deadlines do wonders for circumventing procrastination. Nothing sharpens the mind like presenting personal work to a great, vetted group of writers."
— Ravi Kroesen
"What Blaise does is so specific and special.
You can't find it in other workshops."
— Jennifer Stewart
"This class has been water in the desert for me."
— Mary Robertson
"Taking your class on literary nonfiction and receiving your feedback provided value beyond what I could have imagined. See? You can teach an old writer new tricks."
— Dan Fogel
"If you're looking for a more tailored workshop experience, this is the place."
— Flash nonfiction workshop participant
" 1.) Your exuberance and contagious laughter made everyone feel more open. 2.) My God, revising is your superpower. The before and after is astonishing and I might frame a page or two. I will take anything of yours I can get a spot for."
— Robert Bond, Jr.
"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."
— Adaeze Elechi
"Right after the first class I started paying closer attention to how writers had created characters and how their desires moved stories forward in shows I was watching and novels I was reading. It made me more mindful of the intentionality behind works I like, which will crystalize even more when I write. The writing samples were all new to me and amazing. I’ve reordered my reading list accordingly. I didn’t think I would like the in-class writing exercises but I did. I really liked the time constraints and how they forced me to write from the gut."
— Two-day intensive participant
"I genuinely looked forward to each week. The advice you gave sent me back out into the world with confidence and purpose."
— Creative writing workshop participant
"I want to thank you for not only helping me improve my writing but for the confidence
and practical knowledge I got from your classes to polish and submit my work. Your feedback and mentorship have meant so much to me."
"You treat every question with such a genuine desire to give the best possible answer. For someone like me, that means the world."
"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."
— Alex Fendrich
"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."
— Anna Grundström
"What a pleasure it has been to work with you. You're truly the best, and thank you so much for finding time to work with me."
— Jennifer Taylor-Skinner
And another thing:
Come through for a free two-and-a-half-hour writing block (and sometimes longer). No prompts. No sharing. Just creative energy, accountability, and good vibes. It's like study hall, but better. Pop in for part of the time or stay for the whole thing. Sign up below to get the Zoom link for the next silent write-in.
[ about how i learned
Photos: Jon Boulier and Jesse Chan-Norris
HOW I LEARNED is a live reading / storytelling / comedy series that was born on the Lower East Side in 2009. Guests have included Ayo Edebiri, Janelle James, Aparna Nancherla, Alexander Chee, Anna Sale, Nick Flynn, Joel Kim Booster, Nore Davis, Dodai Stewart, Broad City, Jo Firestone, Jami Attenberg, Alex English, Marie Faustin, Mike Doughty, Chloe Caldwell, Ophira Eisenberg, Isaac Fitzgerald, Mira Jacob, Rakesh Satyal, Lizz Winstead, Taylor Negron, Sasheer Zamata, Isaac Oliver, Mike Albo, Phoebe Robinson, Choire Sicha, Dan Kennedy, Rob Sheffield, Rosie Schaap, David Crabb, 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
[ get in touch
Use the form below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is the end of my website. You did a great job.
Photo: Adam Paul Verity
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