Creative Writing Workshops for Immigrants and Refugees

In this free class, offered twice annually, immigrants and refugees in the greater Nashville community learn how to transform life experiences into memoir, and how to write fiction from the imagination. Creative writing can be a great form of stress relief and self-care, and sharing stories with others allows the safe exchange of unique perspectives and experiences. In this class, participants learn about the elements of writing, have time to write in class, and have the option to share writing with the class and instructor for feedback.


Our founding coordinator, Anna Silverstein, is stepping down (we’ll miss you, Anna!), so we’re looking for the right person to continue developing this successful program. To learn more about what we’re looking for and apply, please click here.

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Have you always wanted to write? Do you have stories to tell, from your life or your imagination, but aren’t sure where to begin? Would you like to have a creative outlet in your life but struggle to set aside the time? 

If so, join us for a free 8-week creative writing class for refugees and immigrants. We will learn how to transform life experiences into memoir, and how to write fiction from the imagination. Creative writing can be a great form of stress relief and self-care. As well, sharing stories with others is an opportunity for us to share our unique perspectives and experiences. In this class, we will learn about the elements of writing, have time to write in class, and have the option to share writing with the class and instructor for feedback.

For the first time, we will be publishing an anthology of student writing after this workshop. All students may submit their writing for the printed anthology and we will spend time during the workshop revising and polishing these final pieces.

This is a diverse and welcoming class, with students who have come from all over the world. Students of all experience levels with creative writing (including none!) are welcome.

The class is free thanks to the Tennessee Arts Commission, Metro Arts, and the Porch Writers’ Collective. No ID or documentation required.

Class Details:

8 Classes


6:30 – 8:30 pm

January 14 – March 4th, 2019

Location: The Curb Center

1801 Edgehill Ave

Nashville, TN 37212 

Space is limited. Reserve your spot today! To sign up or with any questions, email the instructor, Anna Silverstein, at


 What is creative writing?

 Writing that is open to what the writer wants to say and how they want to say it. Some forms of creative writing are fiction (stories with invented characters), memoir (true stories from your own life), poetry (writing in verse), drama (plays). Students get to experiment with different types of creative writing in this workshop and choose what form they want their writing to take.

 What happens during a typical class?

 We will read a published short story or poem together and discuss what techniques the writer used to shape their story. We will talk about some aspect of craft: plot, character, setting, point of view, description and how we can apply it in our writing. We will write during class in response to a writing prompt. Students may share their writing if they want and get feedback from the class and instructor. We’ll also be working on final pieces for the workshop anthology.

 What is an anthology? What will the anthology be like from this workshop?

 An anthology is a collection of work from different authors. At the end of this workshop, we are going to publish a book of writing from the members of the workshop. All current and past students are welcome to submit writing to this anthology. During the workshop, we will focus on revising and polishing a final piece so that it’s ready for publication in our class anthology. Everyone will get copies of the printed anthology. 

 Do I need previous writing experience?

 No prior experience is needed. We’ll go over the basics of creative writing together in class. This workshop is welcoming of students of all writing experience (including none!). We can all learn from each other; and at every step of the writing process, practice is how we improve.

 How much English do I need to know?

 In-class reading materials and discussions are in English, so you’ll want to be able to follow along with those conversations. Every workshop, there are students who are learning English and use this class to improve not just their creative writing skills but their English fluency. The class environment is welcoming, supportive, and understanding of the challenges of communicating in not your first language.

 What do students write about?

 Whatever you like! One of the great things about this class is that you get to choose what you want to write about. Some students choose to write about the experience of moving from one country to another, the experiences of culture shock and adjustment, of looking back on home. Other students write love stories or family histories or science fiction or meditations on their lives or anything else you can think of.

 What are the other students like?

 The students in this workshop come from many different countries of origin. Students are diverse in age, race, ethnicity, religion, education, profession, gender, sexual orientation, languages spoken, time spent in the U.S., documentation, family. Everyone’s voice is valued and appreciated in this space.

 What if I have to miss a class?

 We encourage students to attend all 8 classes in the workshop to get the most out of the experience. However, we understand that life happens. If you need to miss a class, don’t let that keep you from taking the workshop.

 Who is the instructor?

 Anna Silverstein is a local fiction and memoir writer and teacher. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Vanderbilt University. She has taught creative writing workshops for the Porch Writers’ Collective, Southern Word, Vanderbilt University, and Nashville Public Libraries. She is originally from Boston, Massachusetts. She is a dedicated teacher and this is the 7th Creative Writing Workshop for Immigrants and Refugees that she’s taught.

 How much does the workshop cost?

 The workshop is free, thanks to grant funding from the Tennessee Arts Commission, Metro Arts, and the Porch Writers’ Collective.

 Is the Curb Center accessible?

 Yes. The Curb Center has ramp access and accessible bathrooms. Please contact with any accessibility questions.

More questions? Email


Past students say:


“Extremely warm and welcoming atmosphere. It really encouraged me to open up and talk.”

“Classes are great. You have the chance to investigate writing and reading in all of its essence and nuance while sharing it with a wonderful group of people.”

“The workshop has been an incredible learning experience ranging from the appreciation of the tools of writing to the diverse experiences brought together by the international audience.”


Porch Outreach Statement:

• The Porch believes in the power of the written word as a means to empathy, connectivity, creativity, knowledge, and advancement.

• We believe those who experience writing as a joyful and creative act will ultimately improve in their ability to articulate and communicate their ideas. With joy comes a desire to practice; with practice comes growth.

• We believe competence in writing is an essential skill for success within both academic and professional lives. Incorporating creative writing as a supplement to traditional academic curriculums revitalizes writing instruction and student progress.

• We believe creative writing inspires character development through deepened self reflection, self expression, and creativity.

• We believe the world needs writers. There are so many voices, so many stories, so many perspectives, and literature in all its varied forms is one of the oldest, most powerful channels of building empathy into experiences outside of our own. In a world in which reading is at risk and the literary arts are in battle with twenty-first century distractions, fostering the art of writing is vital. 

What we do:

The Porch will tailor creative writing workshops and events to best meet the needs and time allowances of the specific group. Typically, workshops include a combination of writing warm-ups, story/poem starters, interactive group writing, creative writing games and activities, and an opportunity to share work. We offer one-time workshops, series of workshops, or long-term creative writing opportunities.


Our Outreach Programs and Partners:

Expressive Writing Workshops for New Americans: The Porch has received a grant from the National Humanities Alliance to teach two six-week workshops in the fall of 2016 for immigrants and refugees. Project partners include Tennessee Foreign Language Institute, NPL Adult Education, Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, and Nashville Center for International Empowerment.

Oasis Center: The Porch has an ongoing relationship with the College Connect program at the Oasis Center and has facilitated workshops on writing the college admissions essay as well as on college-level writing.

Nashville Scholars: The Porch has facilitated college-admissions essay writing workshops at each of the campuses as part of the 2015 Mayor's Scholars Academy and 2016 Nashville Scholars program.

Martha O'Bryan Center: The Porch participated as guest instructors with the pilot program Cayce Unbound by offering after-school writing workshops to middle-school girls.

Nashville Adult Literacy Council: The Porch has facilitated a writing workshop to NALC tutors and students. The stories collected contributed to their annual In Our Words publication of student work issued in November

Nashville Public Library: The Porch partnered with the Nashville Public Library in the fall to offer a free four-week college essay writing course, which will be open to Nashville’s high school seniors as well as to non-traditional college applicants.

Time to Rise:  The Porch has partnered with the Nashville educational nonprofit Time to Rise, offering a program designed to introduce the urban youth served by Time to Rise to the fundamentals and pleasures of creative writing.

We are actively seeking additional partnerships. Please contact Katie McDougall at to inquire further about our program.