Craft Masterclasses: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry & Translation

Blue image with title CRAFT MASTERCLASSES with THE COMMON with group headshots 

Give your writing a boost this spring. Join The Common for a series of craft classes with these literary luminaries.

    • Bruna Dantas Lobato: No Two Snowflakes Are Alike: How to Translate Style [register]

    • Karen Shepard on Fiction: The Children’s Hour [register]

    • Willie Perdomo on Poetry: The City and the Poet, the Street and the Poem [register]

    • Suketu Mehta on Nonfiction: Writing the City [register]

Each class includes a craft talk and Q&A with the guest author, generative exercises and discussion, and a take-home list of readings and writing prompts. Recordings will be available after the fact for participants who cannot attend the live event.
Each class is $125, or $85 for current subscribers or current and past Weekly Writes participants. 



Suketu Mehta on Nonfiction: Writing the City
April 9, 2-4 pm EDT

headshot of Suketu Mehta: an Indian man with dark hair wearing a suit

Celebrated author Suketu Mehta is a master of writing complex urban environments, incorporating diverse viewpoints, slices of life, and direct speech. In this class, he will lead a close reading of a pre-assigned text, lead the class through a writing exercise designed to generate new material, and facilitate a discussion session with the group, incorporating writers’ projects and questions.

Registrants will be asked to read a selection in advance of the workshop.

Suketu Mehta is the New York-based author of Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found, which won the Kiriyama Prize and the Hutch Crossword Award, and was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize, the Lettre Ulysses Prize, the BBC4 Samuel Johnson Prize, and the Guardian First Book Award. He has won the Whiting Writers’ Award, the O. Henry Prize, and a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship for his fiction. Mehta’s work has been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, Granta, Harper’s Magazine, Time, and Newsweek, and has been featured on NPR’s ‘Fresh Air’ and ‘All Things Considered.’

Mehta is an Associate Professor of Journalism at New York University. His book about global migration, This Land is Our Land, was published by Farrar Straus & Giroux in 2019. He is also working on a nonfiction book about immigrants in contemporary New York, for which he was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship. Mehta has written original screenplays for films, including New York, I Love You. Mehta was born in Calcutta and raised in Bombay and New York. He is a graduate of New York University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Register here.

Past Masterclasses

Willie Perdomo: The City and the Poet, the Street and the Poem
April 2, 2-4 pm EDT

Willie Perdomo headshot: a Black man with black glasses and a short beard in a leather jacket in front of a brick wall

In his renowned collections, newly anointed New York State Poet Laureate Willie Perdomo narrates and reflects on dynamic urban spaces, characters, and histories. In this masterclass, Willie will discuss some of his favorite city poems (provided to registrants in advance), lead attendees through generative writing exercises, and take up specific questions from the group.

Registrants will be asked to read select poems in advance of the workshop.

New York State Poet Laureate Willie Perdomo is the author of Smoking Lovely: The Remix (Haymarket Books, 2021), The Crazy Bunch (Penguin Random House, 2019), The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon (Penguin Random House, 2014), and Where a Nickel Costs of Dime (Norton, 1996). Winner of the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Cy Twombly Award for Poetry, the New York City Book Award in Poetry, and the PEN Open Book Award, Perdomo was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Poetry Society of America Norma Farber First Book Award. He is co-editor of the anthology, Latínext, and his work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Poetry, Washington Post, The Best American Poetry 2019, and African Voices. He is currently a Lucas Arts Literary Fellow, a core faculty member at VONA/Voices of our Nation Writing Workshop, and teaches at Phillips Exeter Academy.

Register here.

Bruna Dantas Lobato:
No Two Snowflakes Are Alike: How to Translate Style 
February 12, 2-4 pm EDT

Headshot of Bruna Dantas Lobato: a light-skinned Brazilian woman with dark hair

Translation provides us with a unique opportunity to dive into another writer’s sensibilities and capture their style. This craft talk with widely published writer and translator Bruna Dantas Lobato will focus on how to manipulate words and sentence patterns in English to convey the emotional, historical, and cultural connotations of an original text, and hone our instincts as translators, using Gregory Rabassa’s seminal essay “No Two Snowflakes Are Alike” as a starting point. Translators will be provided an opportunity to submit in advance questions about a particular text’s challenges to discuss during the session’s Q&A.

Registered students will receive a copy of “No Two Snowflakes Are Alike” by Gregory Rabassa and “Choosing an English for Hindi” by Jason Grunebaum, which they should plan to read in advance.

Bruna Dantas Lobato is a writer and literary translator based in New York City, and Digital Marketing and Communications Coordinator at Words Without Borders. Her literary translations include Caio Fernando Abreu’s story collection Moldy Strawberries (Archipelago Books, April 2022), Giovana Madalosso’s novel Tokyo Suite (Europa Editions, 2022), and Stênio Gardel’s novel The Words that Remain (New Vessel Press, 2023).

Register here.

Karen Shepard on Fiction: The Children’s Hour
March 12, 2-4 pm EDT
 headshot of Karen Shepard, a light-skinned woman with black glasses and dark brown hair 

Acclaimed novelist and short story writer Karen Shepard tells stories of high-wire tension from distinctive points of view. Join Karen for a fiction masterclass on harnessing the allure and power of childhood through the use of child narrators. Karen will provide a close reading of an excerpt of Lisa Shea’s novella Hula, lead the class through a generative writing exercise designed to illuminate a child’s singular perspective, and facilitate a discussion session with the group, touching on writers’ projects and questions.

Registered students will receive an excerpt of Hula by Lisa Shea, which they should plan to read in advance.

Karen Shepard is a Chinese-American born and raised in New York City.  She is the author of four novels, An Empire of Women, The Bad Boy’s Wife, Don’t I Know You?, and The Celestials, which was short-listed for the Massachusetts Book Award and the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. Her short fiction has been published in The Atlantic Monthly, Tin House, One Story, and Ploughshares, among others, and a collection of stories, Kiss Me Someone, was shortlisted for The Story Prize. Her nonfiction has appeared in O Magazine, Buzzfeed, More, Self, USA Today, and The Boston Globe, among others. She teaches writing and literature at Williams College in Williamstown, MA, where she lives with her husband, novelist Jim Shepard, and their three children.

Register here. 

Craft Masterclasses: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry & Translation

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