Workshop Descriptions & Instructor Bios

Upcoming Workshops
June 19

The InterPlay of Narrative Medicine
Cassandra Sagan

InterPlay is an active, creative way to unlock the wisdom of the body. Using simple, incremental “forms” we’ll play with words, sounds, stillness, and easy movement to find new ways to unpack and express our stories. It’s possible to “have” your experience, even when you can’t articulate it.

About Cassandra: Cassandara Sagan is a poet and educator, ordained maggid (Jewish teacher/preacher/storyteller), artist and songwriter. She has been leading InterPlay in a variety of seetings since 2009. Cassandra is on the faculty of Reclaiming Judaism’s national Maggid-Educator training program where she teaches educators to use InterPlay in creating classroom cultures based in story, embodiment, and play. For more about InterPlay, go to


July 17

Is That REALLY What You Mean?: How Metaphors Shape the Way We Conceptualize and Communicate about Health and Health Care
Lois Leveen

We depend on metaphors to help us understand and convey complex ideas.  But the metaphors we use to describe health, illness, and health care can have unintended implications.  In this session, we will explore the import and impact of particular metaphors, from the perspective of patients, practitioners, and creative writers.

About Lois: Award-winning author Lois Leveen dwells in the spaces where literature and history meet. A confirmed book geek, Lois earned degrees in history and literature from Harvard, the University of Southern California, and UCLA, and taught on the faculty of UCLA and of Reed College. Lois’ work has appeared in the New York Times, the LA Review of Books, the Chicago Tribune, the Huffington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic and on NPR, as well as in numerous literary and scholarly journals and in film and performing arts festivals. Lois gives talks about history and literature at libraries, bookstores, universities, museums, teacher training programs, and conferences throughout the United States and the world. She lives in a bright green house in Portland, Oregon, with two cats, one Canadian, and 120,000 honey bees.

August 21

Writing through Life Transitions
Aryn Bartley


In this workshop, participants will encounter a framework for thinking about life transitions, freewrite about one of their own life transitions, and read and discuss poetry by Mary Oliver. Sharing is optional.

About Aryn: Aryn Bartley teaches writing and literature at Lane Community College in Eugene, OR.

September 18

Creation Myths as Metaphor for Mundane Magic
Katy Liljeholm

Creation myths are the human imagination’s response to the inexplicable. They weave together the mundane and the extraordinary into a new world. We’ll explore the structures and purposes of creation myths. Then write your own creation myth to explain your mysteries in this workshop.

unnamed-1About Katy: Katy Liljeholm is a theater director and writing teacher who transplanted to Portland from Ohio purely out of a sense of adventure. She’s worked as a director, stage manager and puppeteer at local theaters, including Tears of Joy, Teatro de Milagro, Profile Theater, Portland Actors’ Ensemble, New Century Players, Beaverton Civic Theater and others. She was Artistic Director of Well Arts from 2010- 2014, and taught playwriting workshops at the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Washington County, the Northwest Down Syndrome Association, Hollywood Senior Center, REACH CDC, Friendly House, Homewoods and other locations, presenting her work at conferences including the Society for Arts in Healthcare, Timpanogos Storytelling Festival and OHSU’s Health Aging Alliance. She currently provides oral history services for palliative care patients through Legacy Health Services, teaches family history and memoir writing classes at local community centers and is pursuing her Masters in Arts in Health at University of Florida. A stalwart believer in preserving and sharing stories, you can find her online at She is a pound mother of three and loves exploring the nooks and crannies of our community with her sons and hirsute, but never hipster, husband.

October 16

Creative Embodiment: A Tool for Art, Self- Care, and Resistance
Liz Asch Greenhill

Our bodies hold stories.  When those stories contain negative self-talk they hold us back or hold us still, when movement and change are what we seek. These stories can be transformed with creative embodiment techniques which we will learn together and be able to practice at home.

Liz Asch Greenhill_headshotAbout Liz: Liz Asch Greenhill is an acupuncturist, visual artist, and writer. In each of these modalities of expression, she helps others explore embodied creativity to grow new awareness around pain both physical and emotional. Liz holds a BA from Vassar College, and MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Eastern Oregon University, and a Masters in Oriental Medicine from Oregon College of Oriental Medicine. She has been a practicing acupuncturist in Oregon since 2009 and also works as a consultant teaching individuals and groups ways of applying acupuncture theory to the creative process. Liz has taught embodied creatively classes at the Portland Underground Graduate School and forthcoming at Lidia Yuknavitch’s Corporeal Writing school. At her private practice, Night Sky Acupuncture + Ideaphoria (close-in on East Burnside), Liz paints and writes, curates magically transformative acupuncture experiences, and counsels artists on the phone. Learn more at or

November 20



December 17


Past Workshops

unnamed-1Fiction as a Route to Truth (May 2018)
Cara Olexa

When local writer and workshop facilitator Cara Olexa tried to piece together the story of her mother’s illness and death, she found the facts conflicted. But retelling the story as fiction revealed deeper truths. Explore how fiction can find the truth in the stories we need to tell.

About Cara: Cara Olexa earned an MFA in fiction from New Mexico State University. She has facilitated workshops for the Northwest Narrative Medicine Collaborative and for Write Around Portland, a nonprofit partnering with community organizations to provide free creative writing workshops to people who might not otherwise have access to them. She lives in Portland, Oregon, and is currently working on a book of narrative poetry.