As Nerissa worked on her first drafts, she began encouraging others to write in short, regular, timed bursts in a group setting. In 2003, Writing It Up in the Garden was born. Today, she teaches students from all over the country in person as well as via Zoom. Her students have gone on to be published by Big 5 houses. They have completed and produced full-length plays, novels, memoir, academic texts, self-help and countless poems and songs.
These writing retreats are a gift to myself and to my writing. They allow me to focus in on my craft in a beautiful and supportive space. The energy of songwriters and writers of all genres coming together and creating is electric. It is place to discover new projects, shatter writer’s block, shape and develop existing work, and convene with amazing people. Also the food is yummy.
Of all of the writing instructors I have had the pleasure of working with, including time spent in the west of Ireland at the Yeats Summer School program, Nerissa has a unique talent and expertise at detailed and authentic instructive feedback. I’ve sat in at Breadloaf, sat in at The New York State Writers Institute at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, sat in on the last sessions at the Frost Workshops in Bennington Vermont among others. Nerissa is a teacher not by trade but by calling. She is a natural teacher and teaches from the heart and I see a deep affinity between how well she listens to all of us as we make our way through our writing and the deep emotional resonance of her music. The teacher’s spirit, her inclination, her ethical compass, her ways of being alert, her ways of knowing are magnificently present in both. Both her music and her teaching are instructive. At first, that phrase sounded stodgy to my ears, but, on second thought, instructive in the sense of orientation. She orients us. It’s soul instruction.
—Kimberly Hamilton Bobrow, English Professor, Manchester Community College