Hala Alyan

Author of the novel Salt Houses—winner of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the Arab American Book Award and a finalist for the Chautauqua Prize—as well as the recently published novel, The Arsonists' City (both from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) and four award-winning collections of poetry, most recently The Twenty-Ninth Year. Her work has been published by The New Yorker, the Academy of American Poets, LitHub, The New York Times Book Review, and Guernica. Her first nonfiction book, Now You See Me, will be published by Simon & Schuster in 2023. She also works in Brooklyn as a clinical psychologist. SLC, 2022–

Previous Courses

MFA Writing

Art Imitates Life—Mixed-Genre Prose Workshop


Write straight into the emotional center of things. Write toward vulnerability, Anne Lamott says of storytelling. Annie Dillard takes it even further by saying, “Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now.” Years earlier, Maya Angelou noted, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” This workshop will explore the intersection of these three concepts: how to tell the stories we must, as abundantly and generously as we can, and with as much truth as they deserve. Our time together will explore the concept of facilitating emotional healing through creative expression and will incorporate meditation practices and tenets of narrative therapy. In this course, students will develop and workshop their pieces, as well as critically read a range of contemporary fiction and nonfiction, tackling powerful experiences that include love, death, mental illness, and grief. While most of the class time will be devoted to workshopping pieces, we’ll also talk frankly about the more practical aspects of writing—setting up a routine, navigating the publishing process, dealing with distractions. At the end of the semester, we will either attend a literary event together or organize one ourselves, depending on whether students want to share their work.