The World We Want
Creative Writing Classes, Workshops, and Coaching
with Aurora Masum-Javed
I believe in the power of storytelling to heal, educate, and transform. It is a tool that can unlock our wildest desires, illuminate our fears, lead us toward and into deeper feeling. Poetry and teaching have changed my life, helped me find purpose, taught me to love more fully, honestly, vulnerably. Through writing and education I seek to create spaces where we might know ourselves, question what we've been taught, challenge what aims to contain us, reach toward the other. However we meet, I want most to help you respect and hone the magic of your voice. I want to support your dreams.
AURORA MASUM-JAVED is a poet, educator, and writing coach. A former public school teacher, she holds an MA in Education from George Mason University and an MFA from Cornell University, where she also taught courses in creative non-fiction, short story, poetry, and composition. Her work can be found in various journals including Nimrod, Black Warrior Review, Aster(ix), Winter Tangerine, Frontier, Jaggery, and Callaloo. She has received fellowships from places such as the MacDowell Colony, the Millay Colony, Caldera Arts, Vermont Studio Center, Kundiman, Callaloo, BOAAT, the Community of Writers, and Pink Door. A recent Philip Roth Resident and Hub City Writer in Residence, she is currently working on her first collection of poems.
Aurora is one of the most perceptive and keenest poetic mentors I know. In a year-long independent study, she taught me not to be reductive—to reach for & wrestle with the complexities of the human experience. On the one hand, week after week, she dispensed gifts—e.g. objective corollaries, the depth of characterization, etc.—to stow away in my craft toolkit.
But, on the other, more important hand, Aurora always said, “What’s the story behind this line? ... That’s what you really want to write about; that’s what you want this poem to actually be about. Send me a poem by next week about this instead.” Aurora always unearthed the emotional significance of my work, its psychological skull, before I even could.
Nurturing a growth-oriented environment, Aurora consistently challenged me. In a tender manner, she always told me what I needed instead of what I wanted to hear; for instance, she once said, “So, sensory imagery is your crutch. You can always come back to it. How about you write a poem without it to hone your other skills?” She always found a way to balance feedback with flourishing, gentle nudges with gratitude—with warmth & softness. Aurora is simply the best: there is no other poet—& mentor—like her!
Poet, Writer, and Former Student
In my time at Cornell University, Aurora was by far the most engaged and empathic teacher I had.
Having taken both independent studies and writing workshops with her, I can say that she is as adept at fostering trust and communication among groups of students as she is at holding space for and encouraging them one-on-one.
As a writing teacher, she brings together a uniquely deep appreciation of art as a struggle within the whole context of a life (a quality of acceptance and understanding honestly bordering on grace), with an inborn gift to guide her students towards the points in their work where they most need to push deeper—for their own sake, as much as for the art. As a human being, she is simply stunning.
Poet, Writer, and Former Student
I was blessed to find Aurora when I did. After attending her generative writing workshops, I was immediately inspired and struck by her talent as both a writer and teacher. I had attended many other writing workshops in the past, but in no other setting did my writing grow as much as after I began working with her. When I reached out to her, I was feeling stuck in my writing and personally I didn’t know what direction I was going in as a writer.
In our individual sessions, which she customized for me, she embraced my writing as if she were welcoming an old friend back into her life. She exuded a warmth that gave me space to become more confident in my work, and allowed the writing to become what it needed to be. She asked the tough questions I had been hiding from and even avoiding, but also made space in the revision process for me to explore, play, and heal from old wounds. It was such a beautiful journey to watch my writing transform and blossom in ways that I had never imagined, and to discover that she understood me in ways I didn’t even understand myself. Aurora is not only a gifted poet and teacher, but such a beautiful person to work with!
Poet, Teacher, and Student
Winter Tangerine: "Fine Lines"
Frontier Poetry: "Singularity"
Aster(ix): "A Woman Cries On The A"
Edna Vincent: "House of Back Then"
Callaloo: "The Guru Looks a Whole Lot Like Jesus"
Jaggery Lit: "Letter from Nabila Rehman to Trayvon Martin"
Hub City Blog, Sheltering in Spartanburg: "The World We Want"
Black Warrior Review: "American Offering"
Nimrod Journal: "lacunae," "it's the thaw that burns," "Biopsy," "Self Portrait of My Mother as a Mermaid," and "After three cups of kava, every good thing I didn't ask for:"
Harvard Advocate: "The Bridge // The Gate"