The Graham School News

Writers Studio News

Gina DiPonio
Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Our very own Gina DiPonio was selected as one of New City's Lit 50 for making the Writer's Studio thrive! Since she came aboard as program manager in February of 2016, she’s spearheaded new programs, classes, and community events, and the larger Chicago literary community has taken notice. The cornerstone of the program's recent success has been the many free events that have helped to grow and support the Writer's Studio community. These events include a Writer's Studio Showcase Reading at last year's Printers Row Lit Fest; fun and raucous Open House/Open Mics; Writer's Studio Readings featuring students and faculty at bookstores and cafés; the annual Business of Writing Seminar that connects writers with publishing professionals; and day-long, inspiration-filled Write-Ins. Several new classes have also been launched, such as Beyond Slam: Poetry on its Feet; Creative Play: The Pleasure of Writing; the Master Series of classes where students learn writing techniques of master writers and master works; and many, many more. Also, the Writer's Studio has initiated exciting collaborations with local literary nonprofits including 826CHI, Open Books, and the American Writers Museum.

Congratulations to Gina and the Writer's Studio for being featured in New City's local who's who of the Chicago literary community. Be sure to stay tuned to see future programming, classes, and writing from our one-of-a-kind Writer's Studio.

Join the Writer's Studio at one of our upcoming events:
Open House/Open Mic at City Lit Books, Wednesday, June 7, 6–8:30 p.m.
Business of Writing Seminar, Saturday, July 15, 1–4:30 p.m.

Explore our creative and professional writing classes here.

For more information on the Writer's Studio, contact Gina DiPonio at or 773.882.1160.

Writer's Studio presentation
Friday, December 16, 2016

Photo of Ariana Nadia Nash by Philip Baker

On Monday, December 5, at the University of Chicago’s Gleacher Center, the Graham School’s Writer’s Studio held an Open House/Open Mic at which program instructors Eileen Favorite and Ariana Nadia Nash discussed their work and their approach to the writing process with a full room of Writer’s Studio students. Eager not only to learn about the secrets of the writing process, but excited also to share some tricks already acquired, those present marked the evening with engaged and lively discussion, while many took advantage of the (optional) opportunity to stand before the room and read a couple pages of their own work.

The Writer’s Studio, a creative home to writers of all genres and ambitions, offers open-enrollment, noncredit classes designed to inspire and challenge writers who are dabbling in creative or professional writing or eager to hone their craft. Ranging across all levels of experience, with one-day, four-week, and eight-week lengths, classes are frequently conducted as workshops, focusing on the creation of new work along with the discussion of student and published writing. All classes are held in downtown Chicago.

In her introduction to the evening, Gina DiPonio, Program Manager of the Writer’s Studio, focused on the unique strength of the Writer’s Studio, emphasizing the quality of the instructors and sense of community fostered by the program. She added that “a real advantage writers find through the Writer’s Studio is the opportunity its classes and events provide for living the type of writing life you envision for yourself, while taking advantage of its engaged and supportive community.” Testifying to the community’s vibrancy, Ms. DiPonio announced a Writer’s Studio Write-In scheduled for Saturday, January 7, where everyone is welcome to spend a handful of hours writing and discussing their work with other writers present.

The first presentation of the Open House came from Eileen Favorite, author of the novel The Heroines and a Writer’s Studio instructor whose upcoming winter, spring, and summer classes include Advanced Prose Workshop and Writing a Novel Synopsis. In a presentation entitled “Maintaining Creative Stamina,” she described, assessed, and sought to do away with some of the major barriers beginning and advanced writers grapple with as they try to accomplish the writing they want. Recalling one of her favorite responses to the toll of perfection many writers exact upon themselves, a toll whose effects on frustration and procrastination she insisted could not be emphasized too much, Ms. Favorite quoted poet William Stafford, who, in response to being asked how he managed to write, said: “I lower my standards.”

Following Ms. Favorite was Ariana Nadia Nash, winner of the 2011 Philip Levine Prize in Poetry for her collection Instructions for Preparing Your Skin and a Writer’s Studio instructor teaching Poetry: Inspiration to Publication this coming winter. Reading a selection of new and old poems, Ms. Nash took the time to discuss the context in which particular poems were written or the event or influence that occasioned it. Adding to the earlier discussion concerned with the writing process, Ms. Nash remarked that for her, as a poet, “sitting down to write is often only one part of the writing process.” With regard to a poem she then read, she referred to a critical preparatory stage in which writing couldn’t yet be done, saying that “acquiring knowledge through outside sources is often necessary in order to make sense of the inside.”

The remainder of the evening took the form of an open mic, with many of the students present having taken the time to prepare a couple pages of their own to share. Short stories, pieces of longer stories, continuations of stories begun at previous Writer’s Studio get-togethers, poems, and even a scene of dialogue from a play were read. Once completed, the writers present had an opportunity to chat amongst themselves and share stories from the frontlines of their writing experience. From striving to get published to what Writer’s Studio class they were looking to enroll in next, it was a scene of community in which writing mattered and everyone wanted to do more of it.