Photo: Micky Ryan

Photo: Micky Ryan


FICTION: The Art of the Short Story

We will study the works of Flannery O'Connor (1925-64) and David Means (1961-  ), brilliant practitioners from two different generations. Class includes guided discussions on technique; written exercises; assigned stories for study; informal in-class critique of student work; and mutual support and encouragement. Students submit two short stories and one revision. Workshop format; limited to 8 students. Class meets at instructor’s apartment near east end of the Broadway Bridge. Ten Monday nights, September 25-December 4, 2017. (No class October 23.)  Workshop format, limited to 8 students. $355 includes packet of stories.  

To register: send $55 deposit to Martha Gies, 2109 NE Rodney Avenue, Portland 97212.  Questions: marthagies {at}; phone: 503-287-4394.


This workshop is designed to capture that combination of alertness and curiosity that is  the traveler's special state of mind, and use it to heighten the classroom experience. We began Traveler's Mind in the state of Veracruz, where tropical coastal lowlands curve around the Gulf of Mexico and rise quickly to jungled forests of the Sierra Madre Oriental. Since that first workshop in 2000, we have taken writers to the colorful, raucous and historic port of Veracruz; to the lazy river town of Tlacotalpan, with its brightly painted houses and Arabic-style arcades; and to Papantla, the center of Totonac culture, where we held workshops during the Day of the Dead and the Fiesta de Guadalupe.

We have since ranged beyond the borders of Mexico: to Fort Cochin, Kerala, to the old Colonial capital of Sucre, Bolivia, and to the ramshackle hills of Valparaíso, on Chile's central coast. We traced the life of Federico García Lorca in Granada, traveled to Jodhpur in desert Rajasthan, and worked in the luminous white city of Cádiz, off Spain’s southwest coast. We have found that by traveling beyond the familiar surroundings of home, students can devote their undivided energy to cultivating the habits of close observation and a disciplined writing life.

Always limited to 10 students.

July 6-16, 2017 - Villa de Leyva & Bogotá, Colombia

February 7-17, 2018 - Kolkata, India

June 2019 - TBA

SEATTLE WORKSHOP: Characterization

Martha Gies will be in Seattle October 20-22, 2018, to give a weekend writing workshop on how to make characters on the page vivid and memorable. Using exercises, hand-outs for study, and discussion, the class will work toward bringing written portraits to life. The workshop is appropriate for both fiction and nonfiction, and is limited to 9 writers.  

Gies is the author Up All Night, a portrait of Portland, Oregon, told through the stories of 23 people who work night shift, and selected as an Oregonian Top 10 Books of the Pacific Northwest. Her creative work has appeared in The Bellingham Review, Gettysburg Review, Notre Dame Review, Orion, The Sun, Zyzzyva, and elsewhere (list available at She taught fiction and human rights in the graduate writing program at Lewis & Clark College for seven years and literary essay and fiction for Marylhurst University for 20. Since 2000, she has taught an annual writing workshop abroad; upcoming workshops are in Colombia and India.

Time: Friday evening 6-9pm, introductory session and potluck dinner at the home of Mark Lammers on Capitol Hill (details to follow)

Saturday, 9am-3pm; Sunday, 10am-1pm: Folio: The Seattle Athenaeum, 314 Marion Street, Seattle; Map and parking info:

Price:            $150 payable to Martha Gies to be sent to Mary Kay Feather, 2110 E Mercer, Seattle 98112

Information & Registration:   Mary Kay Feather 206-226-2450

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