Photo Credit Oiselle Ryan Warner

Alison Luterman & Laurie Wagner

True Confessions: How We Create Intimacy, Trust and Connection In Our Work

I am thrilled to introduce you to Sun Magazine Essayist and Poet, Alison Luterman, as we share how to take the more intimate details of our lives to create deeper intimacy and connection in our work.

Most of my friendships have been built on the edifice of confession. I might start with a small, safe, easy confession: I have no sense of direction, I didn’t sleep that well last night. I didn’t watch the debate last night because I can’t stop myself from screaming at the TV and it scares the cat. 

If you respond in a compassionate or humorous or kind way to my admissions, and perhaps reveal some small human vulnerability of your own, I might up the ante and tell you something more difficult. If, and only if, you have gained my trust. And you might do the same. Ultimately, we might become the kind of friends who can be real with each other, and confess the hard stuff, the failures of love, the regrets, the really bad mistakes. But we’ll both have to earn that trust with each other. 

A writer, especially a writer who writes from their own life, whether poetry or prose—is in the weird position of confessing things to complete strangers, which is a very unnatural thing to do. Here, I’ve put my heart on the page and shared it with you, dear Reader, even though I don’t know you from Adam (or Eve.) I’m opening up to the possibility of you taking my confession and projecting on me or making judgments about me, and I’m doing it without the reciprocal relationship where we share our vulnerabilities incrementally—yeesh!! No wonder so many of us construct great “cover stories” that hint at the real stories underneath but don’t really go there. – Alison Luterman

There is a story that’s beyond and deeper than the one we usually tell, the anecdote we’ve polished in order to get an expected response. Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and tell something new, something unrehearsed, without a pre-determined tied-with-a-bow ending can be exciting, liberating, terrifying—and can lead us to better, deeper, stranger, more truthful writing.

During our 90-minute class we will have a chance to take one of our well-worn stories – one that we’ve told a lot – and see how we can take it deeper, stripping away cleverness so that we can surprise ourselves at the end and make an even deeper connection with the reader.

In our session we will:

  • Learn the difference between confession and revelation.
  • Appreciate the power of sharing vulnerability.
  • Understand how putting skin in the game connects you to the reader.
  • Learn how to take stories that we’ve tied up with a bow, and find a surprise ending that is more intimate and less curated.
  • Learn how to take care of yourself so you don’t end up with a vulnerability hangover after your work is shared.

Please join us …

Alison Luterman

Alison Luterman

Alison’s 4 books of poems include The Largest Possible Life; See How We Almost Fly; Desire Zoo, and In the Time of Great Fires. She has published poems in The New York Times Magazine, The Sun Magazine, Prairie Schooner, Nimrod, Rattle, The Atlanta Review, and many other journals and anthologies. Two of her poems are included in Billy Collins’ Poetry 180 project at the Library of Congress. Five of her personal essays have been collected in the ebook Feral City, published at and available on Audible. She has also written half a dozen plays, including several musicals. She has taught and/or been poet-in-residence at California Poets in the Schools, New College in San Francisco, Holy Names College in Oakland, The Writing Salon in Berkeley, at Esalen and Omega Institutes, at the Great Mother and New Father Conference, and at various writing retreats, workshops, and conferences all over the country.

Visit Alison online:

Live Online :: Alison Luterman & Laurie Wagner

This is the video replay of the live November 2023 class.

I’m excited to be partnering with Chapter 510, a nonprofit group in Oakland serving black, brown, and queer kids, ages 7- 18. Chapter 510 is a writing, bookmaking & publishing center that wants every young person in Oakland to write with confidence and joy. Chapter 510 believes that writing is an act of liberation, and that young people transform themselves and their communities when they write and get published, succeeding in work, school, and life. A portion of the proceeds from this event will go to supporting their free creative writing programs for black, brown, and queer youth.