Beach guiding JSC’s summer Portugal trip


Gunter Kleist

Jensen Beach

Have you ever dreamed of taking a long stroll along Lisbon’s magnificent waterfront bathed in the famous Iberian sunlight with the one and only Jensen Beach? For some students, this dream could come true on this summer’s Portugal trip.

From July 1-14, Assistant Professor of Writing and Literature Jensen Beach is leading a small group of JSC students on a two-week journey to the heart of Portugal for the DISQUIET International Literary Program. Writers from around the world are coming together at Portugal’s capital city, Lisbon, for intensive workshops, seminars and excursions focused on the art and craft of writing.

On their website,, it says, “The program is premised on several beliefs: That the conversations and exchange of ideas that result from meeting writers from around the world pushes one’s own work beyond the boundaries of the self. That all writers need a community to support and sustain them. That stepping out of the routine of one’s daily life and into a vibrant, rich, and new cultural space unsettles the imagination, loosens a writer’s reflexes.”

This trip may seem like a glorious vacation, but Beach ensures that students won’t be spending all their time relaxing with a glass of wine. “[Students] will have an opportunity to explore one of Europe’s great cities, but the purpose is absolutely educational,” says Beach. “We are there to write and to learn.”

Although this trip was open to all JSC students, it is recommended for those with an interest in writing and literary craft. A variety of different writing styles and Portuguese literature will be examined throughout the program, allowing students to choose optional workshops featuring topics that interest them, on top of the core workshops.

Core workshops cover topics including fiction writing, memoir and nonfiction, poetry and playwriting.

Optional workshops feature more specific topics such as the Fernando Pessoa Game, travel writing and editing. There are also multiple seminars and lectures about the aspects of writing craft and Portuguese literature.

One of the most interesting activities is the Fernando Pessoa Game, named after the Portuguese poet, writer and publisher of the same name.

Pessoa is seen as one of the greatest poets of 20th century. “The Fernando Pessoa Game is composed of a series of creative prompts that invite participants to engage their own practice (in writing, visual arts, performance, etc.) along with their sensitive and physical surroundings,” DISQUIET posted. “This is an opportunity to expand your artistic vocabulary, to try strategies outside your routine, to adventure yourself into a wonderful world of creative possibilities, all in the spirit of Fernando Pessoa and in his beloved city.”

Outside of these class-like sections, the program brings in local writers, editors and film directors for informational talks, readings and screenings. Editors from Dzanc Books, Ninth Letter, New York Review of Books and other international publishers will be leading discussions about their work.

Past programs have seen film screenings by directors, including Bruno de Almeida, and by screenwriters such as John Frey, who introduced his Lisbon-based film, “The Lovebirds.”

Stepping away from the informational courses, there are a ton of exciting excursions and tours during which students will get an opportunity to experience the beauty of the Portuguese waterfront. In past years, some of the sightseeing destinations included Casa das Histórias, a museum dedicated to the Portuguese painter Paula Rego, and tours throughout the city and suburbs.

Although this summer’s trip has already been filled, Beach is hopeful that the trip can run again in upcoming school years. He seems eager to return to Lisbon and share the experience with his students.

“Lisbon is a lovely city, one of my favorites,” Beach says. “I’m excited to introduce it to my students this summer, and to bring them into the dynamic and exciting community of DISQUIET.”