Generative Writing Workshop at StoryStudio this summer!

I am excited to teach a creative writing class this summer at StoryStudio! The course description is available here and also below.  

Writing is a serious kind of play—it requires experimentation, spontaneity, and an openness to try again. This four-week, all-levels class taught by acclaimed short story writer Sarah Kokernot will cover playful, generative writing techniques that will help you feel a renewed interest in your own work. We’ll borrow and steal from poetry, visual art, and our favorite writers. Such activities include:

  • Poetry Bath: We’ll bring in a few of our favorite books of poetry and incorporate lines into new or ongoing work.

  • Syntax Imitation: We’ll choose a paragraph from a work we admire and do our best to closely imitate its syntax.

  • Sentence Hopscotch: We’ll read through old magazines, pick sentences that intrigue us, then build a paragraph or scene around those sentences.  

Students will leave with stories in development or new material for an ongoing project, in addition to feedback from the instructor.

Be prepared to work on and share new material in class, give positive feedback to your peers, and complete short assignments at home.

"Best Worst American" by Juan Martinez

Juan Martinez has a book of short stories out!


I would love this book even if I wasn't married to the author. The stories are darkly funny and beautifully imagined. But, don't take my word for it. Here's a glowing review from the less biased experts at Tor: "... you will emerge changed by his imagination, ready to see the world in a different light."

Buy a copy from Small Beer Press or through your local independent bookstore, such as Women and Children First in Chicago.


"Pleasure To Make Your Acquaintance" Distinguished in Best American Short Stories 2016

I was excited and proud to discover that "Pleasure To Make Your Acquaintance" is a distinguished story in Best American Short Stories 2016. It's been a crazy, hectic summer and to tell the truth it's been hard to carve out time to write between raising a toddler and making a living. Acknowledgements like this are a huge encouragement. Thank you Heidi Pitlor and Junot Diaz!

Thanks also to Crazyhorse for originally publishing this story in their Spring 2015 issue

Word Lab at 826CHI

A few weeks ago I led a visual-arts and writing themed summer camp for English Language Learners -- and it was one of my favorite teaching experiences ever. The quality of written material that young students generate from their own visual art is simply amazing, and I wish this kind of arts-driven literacy curriculum was more available in schools. Our students created extraterrestrial self-portraits, imaginary cities,  and floor-plans for dream hotels. Many thanks to all the dedicated volunteers and interns who worked one-on-one with this awesome crew of students!

You can read more about 826CHI programs here.

 Students writing compliments about each other's paintings.

Students writing compliments about each other's paintings.

"M&L" in Best American Short Stories 2015!

I'm so thrilled that Heidi Pitlor and T.C. Boyle chose "M&L" to appear in The Best American Short Stories 2015. It's a huge honor. I've been a fan of the series since Walter Mosley's 2003 edition. I was so deeply impressed by how alive and urgent each of those stories were. I read the book front to back in a single day, and by the time I was done I knew I wanted to write short fiction.

I'm deeply grateful to the editors of West Branch for believing in "M&L."

Wings of Isis New Age Gifts and More

Proud and honored that Front Porch nominated "Wings of Isis New Age Gifts and More" for a 2015 Pushcart Prize. Here's a review from New Pages: Sarah Kokernot’s fiction contribution has a killer first paragraph, starting with, “Tuesday afternoons between three and four o’clock are the slowest time at Wings of Isis New Age Gifts, so that’s when my sister Lula goes into the backroom to conjure the dead.” Each line is a treat; it continues: “My sister speaks in two voices. One is her own, calm as a 911 operator and sunny as a tour guide. The second is the voice of the dead, nasal and throaty, like she’s recovering from the world’s worst sinus infection.” When their Mimi dies, she sets a test to see if Lula really can speak with the dead. It’s unpredictable, original, and well-crafted, a must-read.

You can read "Wings of Isis New Age Gifts and More" in its entirety here.

Reviews of "Odd Variations on the Species"!

The nice thing about writing speculative short fiction is that people read -- and actually review -- speculative short fiction. From Locus Online Reviews: "Like much comedy, this one has a sort of manic intensity, with multiple themes competing for reader attention and complicating the plot... Funny and amusing stuff."

And there's another one at the SFRevu Review.

"Yoga Jones is my spirit animal." -- Patton Oswalt

I wrote an article about Buddhism, yoga, and Orange Is The New Black. "An Unlikely TV Heroine: The Dharma According to Yoga Jones" is now available through Spirituality & Health magazine. Many thanks to the talented Constance Shulman for giving this interview!