What Students Say
I have worked with Stellasue off and on for 9 years. We started, as her students do, exploring what she calls “energy work.” I remember the week of writing in the energy of Dark. On Monday, I received a one-word-email-response to my submission — Nope. Tuesday — Nope. Wednesday — Nope. Finally, on Thursday I got an ebullient response. Even I could see the difference in the words I chose to create the images revealed to the reader. But I had to repeat the exercise for three days before I was able to internalize the lesson. Stellasue revels in her student’s growth both as writers and humans. She offers extraordinary support for each student’s unique process and takes enormous pride in our accomplishments. She ensures the success of her student’s growth by encouraging us to develop the discipline to daily “show up to the page,” learn the energies, the muses, and use them to create our own unique toolbox. Later in the learning process, she has us read established poet’s work, identifying energies line by line and write a poem in the same ‘energies’ in order to understand the choices made to effectively keep a reader engaged. She is demanding and patient, insightful and insistent.
Sarah Ferris, M.A. USM
The best teachers get their energy from the heart. From our first conversation I sensed I’d be dealing with a master at work. Stellasue’s understanding of Process and the verve with which she talked about it made me want in on it right away. She wants to connect, wants her students to get it. Everything she has taught me has clicked; we don’t move on until it does. Talk about a teacher who cares—Stellasue is also a loving guide, and she continues to show me the way with unwavering enthusiasm and genuine feeling. Each time we talk or write, I’m lifted up. Only because of her, I’m convinced I can turn a nascent talent into an occupation. I love this pursuit.
Zach Handcock, Tennis Coach / Aspiring Biergarten Proprietor
Working with Stellasue for the past year has been profoundly joyful as well as deeply healing. Not only have I learned to write with an energy that is my very own, I have also been given access to more vibrant and terrifyingly beautiful parts of myself hidden yet essential. The exercises are brilliantly designed to work with many different energies and archetypes which has broadened my palette as a writer, an artist and a woman. The writing, her feedback and our weekly meetings have stretched me and opened me beyond where I could take myself alone. Stellasue has been a river guide and often a soft landing for my journey into the soil of my own being.
Briggs Whiteford, Artist: Malibu, California
Being a student of Dr. Stellasue Lee brought a magical alchemy into my life that ignited my creativity and jumpstarted my dream of writing. Stellasue is that magical alchemy. She’s a unique and highly potent blend of loving, talent, grace, humor and all around goodness. I often hear other writers speak about being “blocked” or unable to write. Thanks to Stellasue’s journal entry/transformation line approach to writing, I’ve never experienced that block. The masterful way she taught me about the muses and playing with the energies on the page has made writing an ongoing source of inspiration and joy, like Stellasue herself. As she shared her magic with me, my own brand of magic emerged. I’m eternally grateful to her and the impeccability and mastery she brings to my craft.
Lori Cash Richards, Life Coach: Palos Verdies, California
I came to writing late in life, after a career as an electrical engineer and business executive. Working with Stellasue for three years has given me my authentic written voice, freeing me from the straitjacket of business and technical prose. My poetry collection, Beyond The Wall, has been published by Cardinal House Publishing and was listed as a “Best Poetry Book” for May, 2014, by Grace Cavalieri in the Washington Independent Review of Literature. My work has appeared in multiple literary journals, including the Atlanta Review. I am active in the Scottsdale, AZ poetry community, and I have a new collection of work coming out in 2015. Her approach to teaching one-on-one is challenging and truly effective. She has changed my way of thinking and given me a repertoire of voices and energies to connect words with true feelings, whatever the image moment. No wonder she has students all over the world.
Bob Buchanan, Photograph, Author: Scottsdale, AZ
Sally Lee, Editor of the anthology, Filtered Through Time, commented “Here is something I wrote about Stellasue’s course, wrote it before the end of my eight SRLeeAnthologyCoverweeks of study with her and just tucked it away in a folder. It does describe how I felt and still feel: Stellasue shook my brain until words tumbled out obliterating fear, showed me how to play like a kid on a jungle gym, then, like a bigger kid who climbs to the very top of the tall maple tree, a skateboarder, bold, exhilarated, and brave, I feel I can now launch myself out into air all the way into an ocean, into a huge throng of words and arrive at an unknown destinations or incoherent confusions useful in unexplainable ways. Words tumble out, dive, sweep forward, peek out and peak up into heights of thin atmosphere where breathing may be uncertain but has a view from a new perspective and it’s fantastic.
Sally Lee, Editor: Franklin, TN
“Stellasue is truly a great artist and teacher who knows her craft inside and out. She teaches you to write and think out side of the box, to stimulate your creativity within yourself and your writing. Whether you are a new writer or an accomplished one, she will nurture you and spend the time needed for you to excel. Her honesty, humor and straight forward personality keeps you on task. I love her teaching style. I will continue with her until she cuts the umbilical cord to let me go. I have had such fun!!
Mary Glesige, BS, LMT, CCHT: Joelton, TN
My wife clipped the article about Stellasue Lee from the paper and handed it to me. It sat on my desk for several weeks. 2 or 3 times I looked at it and wondered if this could be what I had been looking for. I had been studying and attempting writing for over 20 years. I read every book I could get my hands on, attended seminars, networked, the whole ball of wax. Sad to report, it was one false start after another, another hope dashed. So needless to say, I was skeptical and almost didn’t go.Stellasue changed my life, I mean literally. Nothing she taught us in Saying The Unsayable class was like anything I’d ever heard before. After only one class, I can tell you it just felt right. That missing piece that I had been searching for was Stellasue. She helped me bust through that imaginary wall between what I was writing and what I knew I could write. Although I’m not there yet, I feel like I advanced my writing in her class by 20 years.
Steve Christopher, song writer: Nashville TN
I am a person who takes classes. Magazine writing, Mission Statements, Public Speaking, Forgiveness and on and on. I would say ninety percent of the time, they disappoint. Stellasue’s class is for real! It is magical. She is fully engaged. She not only knows writing, she is part therapist part entertainer and part psychic (the great teacher I never got in school). I did not want to leave this class. One day, a fellow student said we only have two classes to go, and that made me sad.
Robert Ward, Writing Student: Spring Hill, TN
Stellasue taught me so many useful, practical ideas about creating poetry. In a sense, she totally changed my approach. Although she didn’t try to “change” me, she sure helped me address a reality that I was avoiding—yes, I was from the inspiration-first school of writing. With the help of her exercises, I learned to develop an honest-to-goodness writing habit.Perhaps the word discipline sounds too onerous, but developing this craft takes time, passion, work, patience, all of which adds up to a discipline of action. Stellasue showed me the way. I still follow her main suggestion: write every day whether the Muse shows up or not. I admit I have lapses, but I always return to the necessity of daily writing.I studied with Stellasue for more than six months and have hundreds of pages of work to show for it. When I review those pages, I still find half-revealed nuggets of poetry and ideas waiting to be developed. Best of all, she helped me turn off that critic in my head, the one who insists that I must find the perfect word before I move on. The critic still causes me problems occasionally, but now I can cope with her and send her away until I need her.Stellasue asked a lot from me, but she gave more in return—immediate feedback, concrete suggestions, encouragement, weekly phone conversations with ample time to talk about poetry and life. She is a thoughtful teacher whose critiques are direct but kind. I learned so much from her, and I consider her as much friend as mentor.
Diane Stone, Whidbey Island, Washington
I had my lesson with Stellasue today. I hung up the phone and realized, slowly, how much she has freed up my life. Most people have someone in their lives who brings them water. Not all, but most. The trick is to not waste a drop and recognize what is so freely given. Seldom do we realize this grace, and the water bearer passes on without thanks. In deep gratitude, humble spirit, I wish to thank one of my truest water bearers.
She Who Brings Water
for Stellasue Lee, Ph D – Poet and Teacher
Dehydrated beyond my understanding of lack,
increased apprehension tickled inside my mind,
urged me to find grapes, tread out the juice,
make wine. dig for water, or die.
Yet a vineyard was no where in my landscape,
not on any map I knew; the parchment sealed, and locked away.
no shovel to dig so deep a well as
this desert might require, until
her presence appeared as a mirage
waving in the heat, not solid as my
need, but like the finest silken veil,
a water jar easily balanced on her
graceful shoulder: drink, she urged,
drink slowly, easy and deep.
true Teachers know how to
bring water, wait while parched
souls revive, remember themselves,
find the vineyard, stomp, and make wine.
Drude Clark, Fallbrook, California
Stellasue–even her name is a bit of poetry. Stellasue is a superbteacher–like a grand mistress of poetry,she gives you the keys to hercreative world–then walks with you, talks with you, loves you, bodes no nonsense from you–until you find your own way. Stellasue is not for the faint of heart or the self-indulgent. She asks for commitment and discipline. She drives you to exercise and dig deep for your personal courage. And all the while she wraps you in her considerable wisdom–the transformative line, the astonishing varieties of voice, the open fields of music and play, the deep poetic places. She will take you as far as you wish to go–maybe farther. But always it is about ACCESS. The poem finally must have a heartbeat that others can feel and hear and know. Stellasue is the personification of that heartbeat.
Margaret Anne Turner, Canby, Oregon
One of the most valuable things Stellasue taught me, has been the transformation line. It is not just the cure for writers block, it’s the vaccination. Toss out all therambling texts you have about overcoming writers block, and the cutebooks withendless pages of strange photos and writing prompts, because the transformation line is so simple that it would hard to write an entire article about it, much less a book. But trust me, you’ll never utter the words “writer’s block” again.
Ramon Presson, M.S./ Journalist, Spring Hill, TN
I have always written, poems, short stories, and journals. When our library offered a series of 3 workshops on Journaling with Stellasue Lee, I heard something whisper do it………….go ahead………do it………….. so I did.
Now I know I had only written before, not WRITTEN. Stellasue has helped me out of my teeny tiny world and shown me the way. She is encouraging, open minded, sensitive and fair, but also strict and dedicated.
Thank you Stellasue!!!!!!!!!!
Sheila Evard, Retired Executive: Columbia, TN
Stellasue is truly the most wonderful and caring teacher I have ever had (and this includes the best minds Harvard could serve up!). There isn’t a time that I begin to write when I don’t think about the profound lessons and insights she has shared with me. Her thoughts on transformation lines and various energies (personally I love straight-talk!) has given me both a practical and spiritual toolkit. Though I studied poetry with Stellasue, I have been writing music as well for a couple of years now and what I learned with Stellasue has enriched that dimension of my creative life as well, my writing and my work. They say that when we learn another language we gain a new soul. I gained many souls working with Stellasue and will always be deeply appreciative and in her debt.
Stephen Klein, President of Loyal3, San Francisco, California
Before I connected with Stellasue, my writing was intelligent but BORING. It didn’t matter what I had to say, because how I said it was so painful to read.Stellasue helped me find my voice. She taught me how to shift from speaking to singing. She changed my life, and through me, the lives of my readers. If you are serious about learning how to write in a way that will allow you to touch people’s hearts – call her.
Brian Whetten, Los Angeles, CA
Author, Speaker, Executive Coach
Stellasue is equal parts best friend, biggest fan, and dragon-lady; she wants her students to succeed and pushes hard. If one is favored by the gods, one finds Stellasue. After that, the only way to fail as a writer, is to give up, lie down, and die.
Lorraine Merrin, Oregon
Stellasue took something I did for enjoyment and helped me see just how good I could be. She showed me how to delete unneeded lines or words, which I carried over into my fiction writing. She was always patient when I had problems understanding what the exercise was, and always gave me the encouragement I needed. Stellasue challenged me, inspired me. I met deadlines I didn’t think I could do. In the end, I surprised myself. Even today, I can send her something and get feedback. If I am a writer, a poet, today I owe the lion’s share of the credit to Stellasue.
Val Condor, Quality Assurance Specialist, Detroit, MI
Stellasue Lee changed my life. When I first met Stellasue, I was a fledgling writer who had never even typed up one of my poems, let alone considered that I might be taken seriously or—Good Heavens— published?! It seemed an impossible and ridiculous notion. Through Stellasue’s teaching and love (one in the same) I came to understand my own depth and value as a writer. I discovered and finely tuned my own voice and style, all the while learning the great potency and value of her solid, honest critique and feedback that is designed to create real growth. After working for three years with Stellasue, I entered an M.F.A. program, where I watched my fellow students deconstructed and falling apart on a daily basis. The education I received from Stellasue had given me an un-rockable foundation. I had learned to not only hear and value the suggestions of my mentors there, but to enjoy editing and critique as a means to opening up my work. Her words to me as I entered the program, “Remember, you know what you know.” were the backbone I leaned against whenever the rigors of the program began to make me doubt my abilities.
I am now a published poet and writing instructor at a local college and have lead poetry workshops in two states and for more than twenty community based and academic organizations. My workshops are well attended and my work is respected. I owe all of this to Stellasue’s steady wisdom and guidance.
Don’t take this course if you are not interested in real progress, if you are one of those who’d rather be in a writer’s circle where everyone coos and tells you that everything you do is perfect and “don’t change a word”. Take this course if you want to see your writing deepen and find resonance. Take this course if you want to understand your own instincts and develop them into concrete skills. Take this course if you want to take your writing from practice to art. Take this course if you are ready to work hard and see results that you will use for the rest of your writing life. This course and its extraordinary teacher are the great beam of light that still guide me whenever I slip a poetry submission into an envelope, whenever I stand in front of a room full of students and every time my pen meets the page.
Take this course and be forever changed.
Cheri Taylor, MFA, Michigan
Imagine you are a grave stone carved with old writing habits that you have always clung to as a poet:
–Everything you write has to be perfect.
–Inspiration matters more than perspiration.
–The blank sheet of paper is as scary as Mount Everest.
–You need to know what the perfect poem is going to be about before
you sit down to write.
–Poetry is not coffee house chatter –it must be in some elevated voice is to be great.
–To write great poetry your life must be exciting.
Well, time to dynamite the granite tombstone and let those old rules crumble away.
Time for Stellasue Lee to help un-learn bad writing habits and teach how to get started writing poems you love writing and hopefully, people will love to read.
For years I floundered as a student in writing workshops. Teachers and fellow students would tell me if something worked or did not in their opinion, but could offer no technical advice to improve my efforts. A good poem felt like a “happy accident.” I had no idea how to improve or vary my language, which poets to read who might help broaden my abilities, what exercises or tasks to built the muscle of metaphor.
And as much as I wanted to write, I was equally afraid of writing because I knew I could never put on paper anything as good as how I heard it in my head. And where do subjects for poems come from? What could I write about since I wasn’t a world traveler like Hemingway following the latest civil war; no relative was starving in a Siberian prison camp like Ahkmatova; I was not living a life full of illicit love affairs like Lord Byron? Who was I, in other words, to dare write poetry?
Stellasue Lee cleared away all the dust from the dynamited grave stone with my dumb rules. She told me right away I had as much right to write as Wordsworth and all the tools I needed were at my fingertips. All the subjects in the world right there, under my nose, under my breath, in my hand.
Stellasue Lee has put together a very methodical and unique approach to flexing one’s wings as a poet. She employs discipline and play together. She combines journaling/ transformation lines, variation in voice–writing as if learning how to play different musical instruments– and surreal imaging to build the muscle of metaphor. She teaches her students how to read in a completely new way, to scan the words as if reading musical notes, hearing words in their tone and length and beats. She recommends poets for her students to study and absorb in depth. She trusts the process as much as the product. She trusts the gut and the brain equally, and most of all, the reward that comes with showing up at the desk for at least forty minutes a day.
The greatest gift Stellasue Lee gave me as a teacher, besides the great times we had discussing the art and our favorite poets, was her way to take the fear of the empty page and turn it around and make the fear work for me. Perfection went out the window. I have probably written more bad poems than I ever did before I studied with Stellasue. But that is because I have written more poems than I ever did before.
I am no longer afraid of the blank page, that awful towering Mount Parnassas of perfection. I hitch a ride on the Stellasue escalator to the top. There’s a poem, or at least some great line or two, waiting for me at the summit – as long as I show up.
Georgia Jones Davis, Tarzana, California
Unlike typical workshops and college courses, Stellasue’s program of study offers not only praise, but line-by-line comment and critique in a one-on-one environment. Her real expertise, however, lies not just in her ability to suggest improvement or change in a non-threatening and supportive manner, but in her knack for conveying the reasons behind all of her remarks, her gift for explaining the implications of and the why behind each offered nudge or recommendation.
Stellasue’s students progress at their own pace and according to their own need and ambition. Assignments are geared specifically to an individual’s unique abilities and drive. With love and tenderness, she nurtures her students—digs right into the heart of writing, opens it like a pit of fruit, and exposes its truth—shows them how to grow, how to overcome themselves as critic, their own worst enemy, how to open their own wounds and let them bleed, without criticism or censor, so that they might learn to hear and cultivate their own voice. She is a godsend to all who seriously seek to learn about and improve their writing craft.
Nancy Williams, Detroit MI
In my ongoing struggle to move beyond the language of social science Stellasue provided a pathway to craft, expressiveness and the secrets of the heart. Truly an inspired teacher. Her remarkable insight and compassion are available to writers and poets across the age span, even those approaching eighty!
To the Maestra: Bravo!
Sim Warkov, Marin, California
If you are lucky and brave enough to work individually with Stellasue Lee, you will grow both as a writer and a person. I came to Stellasue as a published poet, psychotherapist in private practice and college writing instructor. She brought me new ideas, poets and exercises; pushed me; held me to deadlines; and helped me to trust my authentic voice. Stellasue was ( and is!) my teacher, mentor, friend, wise woman, and the harshest critic I have ever had. She cared enough about me and my work to plant seeds, supply nourishing soil, pull the weeds, prune as needed, fertilize and let me grow in my own way. I will always be grateful to Stellasue Lee.
Linda Leedy Schneider, Poet/Psychotherapist/Writing Mentor, Michigan
When a friend recommended Stellasue to me as a teacher, I told her I already attended a weekly workshop and didn’t need another teacher. What do you have to lose by trying her course? my friend countered. She really knows poetry. She gives assignments, you email lessons and she sends feedback. Monday Through Friday, and during a weekly phone conference, she discusses your progress and gives you new assignments. Do you have that kind of attention in your workshop? Hmm. I considered.
Exactly five years ago I sent her my first assignment. Now, I can’t imagine not studying with her. She helped me build new skills, taught me innovative ways
to vary my poems, make language glitter, sing or crackle. I expect to be studying with her in 2014. By that time I will have published the book I’m working on. Check back with me. I’ll send you a copy of the anthology my friend and I published a year ago. I’m warnings you, her lessons are addictive! But what a wondrous addiction!
Phyllis M Teplitz, firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m embarrassed to admit it but I thought I knew everything I needed to know about writing.That it was just a matter of disciplining myself to actually do what I knew. I discovered that the problem with having some success as an author is that you stop growing, thinking your great need is simply more productivity and more output. But more of the same would not make me a great writer. I would be a good writer with an increasing stack of better than average books. Then I learned more from working one-on-one with Stellasue in 15 weeks than I had learned in the previous 30 years of workshops, writers’ conferences, reading books & articles. I went from feeling I was creating art with the minimal 8-pack of crayons to feeling like I had an arsenal of 64 Crayolas with the sharpener in the back. And it’s not just that I had more tools. She taught why/how/when to use them. At age 48 I’m having the most fun I’ve ever had as a writer and am doing my best work. Now I want to live as long as Stanley Kunitz because I know my best writing is ahead of me.
I thought, “Man, I gotta write something immortal for my tribute, killer lines, the perfect cheer, the do-all be-all, ne plus ultra, the epitome, the living end, the ginchiest, suitable for framing, et al ad infinitum.” and then…
A gentle voice whispered, “Why don’t you first look over your past assignments, your writing and the resultant feedback from Stellasue?” So, I did.
As I reviewed it from the beginning, I looked at one and thought, “I wrote that??” and another, “Where on earth did I come up with those images??” yet another later assignment, “Where’d he come from??” and so on…remembering how all the while guided, inspired and encouraged by a teacher whose unbounded fount of experience, unswerving commitment to her students and unlimited heart grace me still on this journey without distance to the home I never left, where writing and life now live as one.
John S. (Jack) Brooks
When I met Stellasue Lee I knew nothing about poetry. However, I had a project that required me to improve my writing skills, so I signed up for lessons. With that small decision, I have changed my life. During our time together Stellasue taught me much more than how to write (although she certainly did that!). She taught me how to see my life more clearly, how to express what I feel and know, and how to share my thoughts in a way that others might find interesting. I could not be more grateful for this encouraging, compassionate and skilled teacher.
Co-Creator of Kids Path of Greensboro, past Director of Family Programs at The Healing Center of Seattle
and author of The Volcano Model Manual (How to Keep From Blowing Your Top When Everything Around You Is Driving You Crazy)