My Light Goes Up in Darkness: Diaries, Journals, and Self-Writing

Ages 18 and up
1–22 May 2023
6–8pm EST, Mondays

  • Instructor

    Parker Menzimer

  • Pricing


  • Dates

    1–22 May

In an entry from October 25, 1920, Virginia Woolf described the feeling of writing in her diary: “Like a lantern stood in the middle of a field my light goes up in darkness.” Woolf's diary was a respite from public life, but it was also a self-conscious literary production. She began journaling the same year that The Voyage Out was published, and she liked to muse about how the public would one day receive her diary, which became a sprawling document of her writing life.

In this class we will investigate the diary form and conceptualize a space between “public” and “private” writing. We will look at notable and formally inventive diaries and journals by artists and writers including Woolf, Bashō, Sei Shōnagon, Jack Whitten, Ted Berrigan, Joanne Kyger, and Hervé Guibert. We will read books that have a diaristic feel or backdrop including Bernadette Mayer’s Memory, Hannah Weiner’s The Fast, and Annie Ernaux's A Simple Passion. We will discuss techniques for self-recording. We will record the events, locales, dramas, and banalities of our lives in detail, and transform those private records into poetry and prose for possible public(s). Class sessions will consist of prompted free-writes, reading discussions, and optional sharing. This class is open to writers of all levels. No journaling experience is necessary.

This class will be held in-person at the Abrons Arts Center.

About Parker Menzimer

Parker Menzimer's poetry and critical writing have appeared in BOMB, Epiphany, Tiding House, Works & Days, and elsewhere. His chapbook The Links was published by 1080press in 2022. He earned his MFA at Brooklyn College where he was a Capote Fellow and Goldstein Scholar, and where he teaches composition and creative writing. He is the Programs and Community Manager at the Poetry Society of America, an editor of Topos Press, and the founding editor of the literary listings site He was a School of Making Thinking CON/Text resident in 2017.

General Information

This class is curated in partnership with The School of Making Thinking.