Teaching writing excites me.
I love how a simple prompt opens up entire worlds, how two people writing on the same prompt, responding in ways that feel utterly intuitive to them, produce work that is individual and unique, despite the shared source of inspiration.
I live for the synergy and electricity that occurs inside a circle of creative people connected by the shared purpose of telling their stories and encouraging each other to produce their best work.
I’ve been teaching writing in Hawaii for ten years in a classroom setting where the routine of daily prompts and sharing of work inspired writers to create voluminously, then pluck and craft the jewels unearthed during a free-writing session into fully realized pieces of poetry and prose, a number of which were published in national publications.
For the last decade I’ve also been developing prompts on an array of writing skills and entry points, along with workshops in everything from slam poetry to book arts and mixed media interactions between visual art and text.
Now, I offer my experience and insights in the form of weekly in-person writing groups, one-day writing and mixed media workshops, extended writing retreats, and online courses.
I received my B.A. in liberal arts from Sarah Lawrence College, where I was fortunate to study with Grace Paley (fiction), Gary Burnley (2-D art), Mikhail Zakin (3-D art) and Shirley Kaplan & John Braswell (theatre) and explore the underpinnings of the creative process through the psychology of aesthetic development and language development.
Since then, I’ve continued to feed my expertise and creativity as a teacher and writer by attending retreats, workshops, conferences and online classes. Some of my teachers have been Ariel Gore, Marj Hahne, Matthew Lippman, June Gould, Eunice Scarfe, Anya Achtenberg, Rachel de Baere and Myra Shapiro. I’ve been further inspired by the written teachings of Natalie Goldberg, Anne Lamott, Stephen Dunn, Joyce Carol Oates, Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux.
In addition to my paid writing work (see my Writing for Hire page for more on this), I write short stories, am at work on a novel and have written and published some poetry.
In 2011 I was awarded the Stanford University Recognition for Exceptional Teaching.
In 2014 Parker School inaugurated the Culff Leadership Award, a legacy award for an outstanding graduating student leader, in my honor.
Other Stuff About Me
I was raised in New Jersey, educated in New York and lived for seven years in Chicago. Some of my favorite jobs have been working in bookstores and in an art gallery, where I taught kids’ art classes.
I’m the mother of two boys who now tower over me (granted, that isn’t so hard to do) and who are themselves creative people, as is my husband, Kiyoshi Najita, who makes music in his band Big Empty Field (see their BandCamp site). We have been fortunate to live in beautiful Hawaii since 1995.
I’ve been practicing yoga since 2002, and that practice is a big part of my life and helps me feel connected to the rest of the planet. I love to sing loudly in the car, and I am known to spontaneously start dancing in stores or on the street when I hear a funky bass line and a good beat.
I love to read and sleep on the beach and hike in the woods, where I feel connected to the natural world. I love all sorts of ethnic food made with healthy, fresh ingredients. I have a weakness for homemade chewy chocolate chip cookies and New York pizza.
Think we might be a fit?