E.B. Bartels

Nonfiction mafia.

You can still sign up for Writing Family History at GrubStreet!

Kicking yourself for not signing up for my class Nonfiction: Writing Family History at GrubStreet? Good news! There is still time to enroll! The class meets for 10 weeks on Thursdays from 6pm-9pm, and the new start date is Thursday, June 29, 2017 and the last class will be Thursday, August 31, 2017.

Here is the course description:

As a nonfiction writer, you often pull material from your own life, and that means you may end up writing about the people closest to you: your family. But this brings up some tough questions: How is it possible to create a well-rounded portrait of someone you don’t want to upset? How can you ever get past the thought: what will my grandmother think when she reads this? In addition, when writing about family members who have passed or about intimate family history, how can you avoid falling into the trap of nostalgia and sentimentality? These are exactly the questions that we will tackle. In this ten-week course, you will write several short pieces, including a profile of someone near and dear to you, as well as a retelling of a family story that happened before your time. Through discussion of published works, craft lectures, and workshops, we will delve deeper into the elements of nonfiction that can elevate a personal piece of writing. You will leave the class with several short works based on your family history that you can continue to develop into polished personal essays or memoir pieces. Readings may include excerpts by Mary Karr, Maxine Hong Kingston, Alison Bechdel, Margo Jefferson, Tobias Wolff, Phillip Roth, David Sedaris, Janet Mock, and Vladimir Nabokov.

Did you know that we have scholarships available for all GrubStreet classes? To apply, click the “APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIP” button in the top right corner of this page. In order to be considered for a scholarship, you must complete your scholarship application and await our Scholarship Committee’s decision before registering for the class. Scholarships cannot be applied retroactively.

Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Mary Mann

For the full interview, see it on Fiction Advocate.
Published on June 14, 2017.

Mary Mann is the author of Yawn: Adventures in Boredom. Her essays and criticism have appeared in Smithsonian, The New York Times, The Believer, and The Los Angeles Review of Books, among other publications, and she holds an MFA from Columbia University’s writing program. Mann is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Fellowship and a 2015 CATWALK Art Residency, and she is the associate editor of the New York Times bestselling collection Women in Clothes. She is currently employed as a writing associate at The Cooper Union. Mann lives in New York with her fiancé, Grant, and dog, Maya.

Sign up for Writing Family History at GrubStreet!

Have you always wanted to write about your grandmother but aren’t sure how she will react? Do you want to put your sister on blast for all the stuff she did to you as a kid? Do you want to pay tribute to a deceased loved one but are afraid of becoming sentimental? How do you attempt writing about that aunt you’ve never met? Want to conquer your fears of unpacking all that family drama? Then come take my 10-week nonfiction class at GrubStreet this summer on writing about your family:

Nonfiction: Writing Family History
June 15 – August 17, 2017, 6pm-9pm on Thursdays

  • 10-week course.
  • Open to all writers.
  • Scholarships are always available for GrubStreet courses.

There is still time to sign up! You know you want to!

Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Sarah Dickenson Snyder

For the full interview, see it on Fiction Advocate.
Published on May 15, 2017.

Sarah Dickenson Snyder is poet based in Massachusetts and Vermont. She is the author of The Human Contract (Kelsay Books, 2017) and the chapbook Notes From A Nomad (Finishing Line Press, 2017). Snyder’s poetry and prose have appeared in Bloodroot Literary Magazine, Teachers & Writers Magazine, Comstock Review, Damfino Press, Chautauqua, West Trade Review, The Main Street Rag, and Passager, among other magazines and anthologies. In May of 2016, she was a 30/30 Poet for Tupelo Press, and she has been selected to be part of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. In addition to writing poetry, Snyder worked as an English teacher for thirty-seven years.

Review of Fen by Daisy Johnson

For the full essay, see it on The Rumpus.
Originally published on May 9, 2017.

I woke up at 3 a.m. to pee the other night. This was not unusual. I like to drink tea before bed, and I usually wake up at least once in the night to relieve myself. What was unusual was that before falling asleep, I read a story by Daisy Johnson. I dreamt of deep pools thick with eels, of lips dripping with human blood, of an albatross standing on the kitchen table. This time, when I got up to use the bathroom, I was not fully awake, so heavy pressed the dreams. My shadow seemed to move on its own; the walls of my apartment appeared to be breathing. And when I heard a rustling on the other side of the bedroom door, never did it occur to me that it was just my boyfriend, puttering around the apartment after a late bartending shift. I stared at the door certain that a pack of violent foxes was clawing at the other side. I gasped and screamed and, finally, woke myself from the dreams.

Haiku for a Dog I Don’t Know, Japan Edition

Fushimi Inari-taisha, Kyoto

Three, wrapped in bags, rest —
while their family hikes through ten
thousand torii.

At the very top of the Fushimi Inari shrine, on Mount Inari.


Sannomiya, Kobe

The tiniest pups
for sale! Too bad they cost three
hundred-thousand yen.

That’s like $3,000. Dogs are criminally expensive in Japan.


Takeshita Dori, Harajuku, Tokyo

In Harajuku
everyone is so trendy,
even dogs wear shades.

They’re not regular dogs, they’re cool dogs.

Upcoming classes at GrubStreet!

If you’re looking to take some fun writing classes on creative nonfiction, you’re in luck! I am teaching several classes at GrubStreet this spring and summer that I will now proceed to shamelessly plug.


Young Adult Writing Program (YAWP): Stranger Than Fiction — The Power of True Stories
Saturday, April 22, 2017,

  • Happening THIS Saturday!!!
  • Open to writers aged 13-18 years old.
  • ***100% COMPLETELY FREE!*** 
  • Includes free pizza for lunch!


Nonfiction: Writing Family History
June 15 – August 17, 2017, 6pm-9pm on Thursdays

  • 10-week course.
  • Open to all writers.
  • While not free, scholarships are always available for GrubStreet courses!


Teen Camp: There’s a Story In That — Making Stories from Real Life
August 7 – August 11, 2017, 10:30am-3:30pm daily

  • 5-day writing camp.
  • Open to writers aged 13-18 years old.
  • Again, while not free, GrubStreet scholarships are available!


Even if nonfiction isn’t your thing, you should definitely consider taking a course at GrubStreet! There are so many amazing teachers there (such as Heather Wells Peterson, Eson Kim, and Annie Hartnett, just to name a few) and a huge variety of classes for every age, schedule, and interest. GrubStreet classes range from one-off Saturday sessions to multi-week workshops to year-long courses that cover everything from slam poetry to sci-fi to the famous novel/memoir incubator.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions, and I hope to see you around GrubStreet soon!

Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Dodai Stewart

For the full interview, see it on Fiction Advocate.
Published on April 12, 2017.

Dodai Stewart is a writer, editor, and self-described pop culture junkie. Stewart is the Editor In Chief of Fusion.net, and the former Deputy Editor of Jezebel.com. Her writing has been featured in Entertainment Weekly, New York Magazine, Glamour, and the New York Times, amongst others. You can find a sample of her writing here, and you can follow her on Twitter @dodaistewart. Stewart lives in Manhattan with her misanthropic Chihuahua.

Non-Fiction by Non-Men: MariNaomi

I’m posting the March installment of Non-Fiction by Non-Men a little late – sorry! I was traveling in Japan when it was published. This seems fitting, though, as one of MariNaomi’s books, Turning Japanese, is all about her experience learning Japanese and traveling in JapanEnjoy the interview! I loved getting to talk to Mari.

For the full interview, see it on Fiction Advocate.
Published on March 15, 2017.

Photo Credit: Jolene Siana

MariNaomi is the author and illustrator of Kiss & Tell: A Romantic Resume, Ages 0 to 22 (Harper Perennial, 2011), Dragon’s Breath and Other True Stories (2dcloud/Uncivilized Books, 2014), Turning Japanese (2dcloud, 2016), and I Thought YOU Hated ME (Retrofit Comics, 2016). Her work has appeared in over sixty print publications and has been featured on numerous websites, such as LA Review of Books, Midnight Breakfast, and BuzzFeed. From 2011-2013 her comics appeared as the column Smoke In Your Eyes on The Rumpus.

MariNaomi’s comics and paintings have been featured by such institutions as the Smithsonian, the De Young Museum, the Cartoon Art Museum, the Asian Art Museum, and the Japanese American Museum. In 2011, Mari toured with the literary roadshow Sister Spit. She is the creator and curator of the Cartoonists of Color Database and the Queer Cartoonists Database. She has taught classes for the California College of the Arts Comics MFA program, and is currently a guest editor at PEN America.

Mortified Podcast!


As you may know, I’ve become a bit of a regular reader at the Mortified show at Oberon, thanks to the best-ever Mortified producer, Sara Faith Alterman. But now I’m super excited to share that you don’t have to be in the Cambridge area to hear me read my most embarrassing childhood journal entries!

Check out the most recent episode of the Mortified Podcast (89: An Ode to Childhood Pets), to hear about my past pet tortoise Aristotle and my current book project. I’m honored to be featured with such hilarious individuals––and it’s comforting to know I wasn’t the only kid who felt closer to animals than people, or who tried to incorporate pets into every possible school project. Thanks to Neil Katcher for interviewing me and including me in the podcast.

Listen here or download on iTunes.



Together hiking the Appalachian Trail from April to October, 2015!

E.B. Bartels

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