Writing Our Own Histories: A Fall Class

This is the second time this year I am facilitating a course on this  do-it-yourself theme, which comes from  Allen Ginsberg, “You have to write your own history, nobody’s going to do it for you.“  

I invite you to become acquainted with authors and works that  I have found engaging, energizing, and intriguing. We will examine the structure and content  of  accessible books by three people who’ve been immersed in the Zen tradition:  Kazuaki Tanahashi and Mayumi Oda, artists who came  to the U.S. from Japan, and Robert Aitken, who lived long stretches of time in Japan.  We will experiment with  creative imitation, for example, writing off of Aitken’s “miniatures,” which could  lead to fresh inspiration for embarking on new work or for reclaiming work we’ve been putting off.   

We will meet on 10 Mondays, beginning on October 5th and concluding on December 7.  We will connect via Zoom at 7 p.m CST and continue till about 8:30.  

Each session will have time for close rereading, listening, sharing, and  writing.  Possible areas for exploration are personal and collective memoir and autobiography. Also, we all will seek to complete and circulate a modest project that’s been brewing inside us for a while or that emerges out of our being together.   Participants will be encouraged to connect with each other during the week, and share how the writing and reading processes inter-are. I will be happy to meet up, listen, and share when it is convenient for you.


Preferred writing utensils

These books: 

Miniatures of a Zen Master, by Robert Aitken

Painting Peace: Art in a Time of Global Crisis, by Kazuaki Tanahashi

Sarasvati’s Gift: The Autobiography of Mayumi Oda–Artist, Activist, and Modern Buddhist Revolutionary


Tuition is $125 and you can write a check to me or use Paypal.

Message or email me if you are interested:


I was writing this book for myself. I thought of it just as a process that I needed to go through to understand things that had gone on in my life.

—Mayumi Oda

A spiritual path is often described as the “way”—the dao (tao) in Chinese and do in Japanese. In East Asia, art is part of the dao, not merely creating something beautiful, but participating in an imaginative expression of feeling, understanding, and vision.

—Kazuaki Tanahashi

“Love” is an overused word that we find in countless everyday usages, from comic opera to postage stamps. Yet it remains important in pillow talk, in interaction with children, and among close friends in correspondence. It is your responsibility and mine to limit its usage and thus keep it alive.

—Robert Aitken


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *