Emily Stoddard, Founder & Workshop Leader
Hello! I’m Emily Stoddard, a writer, workshop leader, and affiliate of Amherst Writers & Artists. In many ways, writing is my vessel in the world. It’s the space where I find and make meaning. And it has also taken me on a number of adventures that shape how I support folks through Voice & Vessel.
I've been connected to writing as a practice for over 20 years. Early on, my journey got a gift in the form of a teacher, Adela Beckman (Mrs. B), who held space for me to be seen as a writer. She gave me the first bright signal of permission that it was okay to take my writing seriously. Her gentle and generous way of witnessing her students is part of what I try to carry forward at Voice & Vessel.
One of the best parts of being a writer is that the learning never stops. Many other guides and teachers have followed Mrs. B. I completed workshops at The Writing Salon and The Grotto while living in San Francisco. I also studied with Diane Wakoski at Michigan State University, attended Poets on the Coast, and was selected by Marge Piercy to participate in her 2013 Poetry Intensive. In 2017, I completed the Singing Over the Bones training with Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés.
Prior to starting Voice & Vessel, I was a communications consultant, messaging coach, and writer for over 40 organizations locally and nationally. Nearly all of that work focused on telling stories to spark social change. After a long time in the nonprofit sector, my own writing and creative life were asking for attention. But I felt drained, restless, and unsure of where to begin. In a lot of ways, I had forgotten how to begin, in the messiest and most free sense of beginning.
Somewhere in the midst of that, I stumbled across Amherst Writers & Artists and Pat Schneider's Writing Alone and With Others. Pat's was the first voice of honest permission I had heard (or been able to receive, maybe) in a long time. She cleared away walls I put around certain kinds of writing. She challenged me to consider that I'd been overthinking what it means to be a writer.
I didn't have inklings about Voice & Vessel then, but I knew I needed to go deeper with this writing method. In 2015, I became a Certified Leader of the Amherst Writers & Artists Method. The training and my fellow leaders reflected so much of what I already felt: The method is encouraging, generative, and wholehearted. It helps people explore the craft of writing without harming their story. It honors their voice instead of dictating what a writer does or doesn't sound like. It’s a practice that unlocks the joy of getting words on the page.
That kind of joy is even better when shared, so following my certification, Voice & Vessel began to take shape. This is not so much a business as it is the space I’d like to hold in the world. It’s a space where people can say yes to their voice, yes to the empty page, and yes to the possibility of what writing holds for them.
Whether it’s in your journal, in a pocket of time between meetings, or at a Voice & Vessel workshop, I hope you find a space to write. Your voice is worthy. It carries stories that matter. It would be an honor to join you as you claim them.