T Kira Madden

MFA, Sarah Lawrence College. Madden’s work has appeared in PEN America, Guernica, and The Kenyon Review. She is the founding editor-in-chief of No Tokens, a magazine of literature and art, and facilitates writing workshops for homeless and formerly incarcerated individuals. A 2017 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow in nonfiction literature from the New York Foundation for the Arts, she has received fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, Hedgebrook, Tin House, DISQUIET, Summer Literary Seminars, and Yaddo, where she was selected for the 2017 Linda Collins Endowed Residency Award. She is the author of a memoir, Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls. SLC, 2018–

Graduate Courses

MFA Writing 2019-2020

Mixed-Genre Craft: The Callback


Every great work of writing provides a satisfying setup and payoff, and this class will take a closer look at how that might be accomplished. In our time together, we will engage in close readings, in all genres, of opening sentences and paragraphs and, more importantly, the final images and notes of a piece. I’m interested in how a full “swoop” of narrative power is achieved in the whispers between those notes. I’m after the thrill of the “perfect ending,” the sentence that lands the plane. Should beginnings and endings be in conversation? Should they be recursive? Surprising? Let’s talk about it. This will also be a generative class and an exercise in endurance. I want you to leave having written more beginnings and endings than you know what to do with. What’s in between can be worked out later.


Nonfiction Workshop


This generative workshop will be more about process and experimentation than publication. I want us to piece together the messy. I want risk. Often the most riveting stories do not make the most riveting works of writing, and I am interested in the ways in which we arrange narrative and shape it—from the mundane to the unwieldy—until it creates spark, friction, and meaning. Be prepared to revise and reimagine. I will encourage you to try on a new tense, a new point of view, a new structure, just to see how it feels. We might spend an entire conference on one sentence or paragraph in order to unpack what a piece is trying to say. We’ll examine sonics and metaphorical properties within each piece as a way to magnify its engine. We’ll also read works of all genres and challenge the limitations of genre as a construct.


Previous Courses

Nonfiction Craft: Storying the Self


How do we take the sprawl of life—with its many characters, events, timelines, memories—and distill the human experience to a cohesive and gripping story? How do we find the narrative electricity in the mundane? This class will focus on the elements of story with a particular emphasis on structure. We’ll study classic forms, episodic timelines, and experimental narratives with an objective to chisel a dramatic arc from our lives. We’ll also discuss the terms on which one forges a relationship of trust between writer and audience—the compromises that we might weigh and the permissions that may or may not be granted by this foundation. We will use the architectures behind the assigned readings as a blueprint and gateway for our own writing exercises. Texts will include work by: Kristen Arnett, Charles Baxter, Alison Bechdel, Brian Blanchfield, Durga Chew-Bose, Julie Buntin, Alexander Chee, Rachel Cusk, Sonali Deraniyagala, Joan Didion, Annie Dillard, Kristin Dombek, Eliese Colette Goldbach, Samantha Irby, Leslie Jamison, Kiese Laymon, Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich, Sarah Manguso, Mary Ruefle, Lidia Yuknavitch, and Jenny Zhang.