Telling Our Stories – Senior Edition

Photo courtesy of Brian Malloy
Photo courtesy of Brian Malloy

“Writing is nothing to be afraid of, but sometimes the pressures we put on ourselves prevents us from enjoying it, or even get getting started,” says local writer, Brian Malloy. We are talking about the weekly writing class he is offering through Quatrefoil from June 11th-June 30th, which is specifically aimed at older adults. Malloy has something to offer any incoming student:  whether they have never written anything longer than an email or have a long history of putting the pen to the page. 

Malloy is a highly qualified writing teacher: he has published two books, is an award-winning author himself, lectures through the University of Minnesota Creative Writing Program, and won the Loft Literary Center’s Excellence in Teaching Fellowship. He is gifted at guiding his students on their journeys to both find and finesse their stories.

“The first step in the process is to generate the raw material so you have something to work with,” Malloy explains, “Think of it as gathering clay, which we then shape. The clay is our ideas and rough drafts, which is what we will be working with, and through revision, sculpting into a story or poem.”

In this particular class, Malloy is focusing his energy on helping his students sculpt stories about the LGBTQ experience. “This class is by and for our community, and we will look at works by older writers from our community for inspiration,” he explains, “Allies are welcome of course, if they are older adults, but the content is by and for our community.”

Malloy’s upcoming class takes place at Quatrefoil, an LGBTQ library based in Minneapolis. The class will culminate in a reading and the publication of a chapbook full of student stories. “It’s important for those of us who remain to write down our experiences so our voices are included in the history that we lived,” says Malloy, “The bestsellers about gay men have not been written by gay men, for example, The Great Believers, A Little Life, and Call Me by Your Name.” 

It is vital for people with a lived LGBTQ experience to tell their stories. Although those outside the community might get some things right the reality is that often outsider narratives get a lot wrong. According to Malloy, “we are left with a redacted history, or an imagined history.” He gives the example of a statement Hillary Clinton made in 2016 in which she “praised the Reagans for speaking out on AIDS when no one else would, thus beginning the ‘national conversation’ about the disease. Seriously, I’m a fiction writer, and I can’t make this stuff up.” 

Malloy previously offered a similar class called Writing the AIDS Generation, which was “for people who had lived through the first decade of the pandemic, along with those interested in writing about the era.” Similar to the upcoming class, Writing the AIDS Generation “explored a range of genres, from poetry and fiction to creative nonfiction, and read the works of writers contemporary to the era, including Essex Hemphill, Paul Monette, and Melvin Dixon.”

Writing the AIDS Generation was a huge success. Around 50 people attended the reading of student work and, “the publication of [the class] Chapbook, entitled Writing the AIDS Generation…is available for purchase at Quatrefoil Library.”

Unsurprisingly, Malloy’s upcoming class has already sold out – and it sold out fast. “The class [was] fully enrolled 2 days after it was announced, and there is a waiting list,” Malloy says. 

Malloy’s classes are well worth the wait, but you won’t have to wait too long. Sure, test your luck and put your name on the June class’s waiting list, but there is another class planned for this fall, which opens enrollment this summer. Generously funded by the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, this class is likely to sell out as quickly as Malloy’s other classes, so keep your eye on his website. 

But in the meantime, check out Malloy’s most recent novel, After Francesco. It is a finalist for the 2022 Minnesota Book Award for novel and might just spark the inspiration you need for your next writing project.

Happy reading. 

Happy writing. 

For more information check out Malloy’s website at www.malloywriter.com

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