Susan Barr-Toman

Susan Barr-Toman is a novelist and essayist. She teaches her Mindful Writing privately and as an affiliated faculty member at the Penn Program for Mindfulness in Philadelphia. She has taught creative writing through her workshops, as well as undergraduate and graduate classes at Temple University and Rosemont College. Susan holds an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars.

Her debut novel When Love Was Clean Underwear was selected by Ann Hood as the winner of the Many Voices Project’s Fiction Prize 2007. With her sister artist Sarah Barr, she published the children’s picture book Mary Mulgrew, What Did You Do? A Pushcart nominee, her work has appeared in The Washington Post, Los Angeles Review of Books, Brevity Blog, and River Teeth’s Beautiful Things among others.

Visit her at

Student Feedback for Susan

Susan was a very thoughtful mentor. She offered feedback that was thought-provoking, and allowed me to continue to refine my work in meaningful ways. I took away real tools for making writing a daily habit, and feel stronger for it having reached the end of the course. Kimble Luu

Fabulous! Hands down the best online writing course I’ve had the opportunity in which to participate. Susan is an excellent facilitator, leading the course and mindful meditations. Her brilliant and gentle style allows for a safe and creative environment. The course design had excellent presentations, writing prompts and interactive feedback during the face to face weekly zoom. Clearly she is a reflection of mindfulness and the importance it brings to the writer. Loved this course! Cynthia Slack

I love Susan’s classes! I have gained a sound foundation in the combination of meditation and writing. Workshops afford a unique broadening of perspective as I glimpse bits of life through the stories my classmates choose to write and to share. Susan effortlessly creates an inclusive and inspiring online classroom that feels like a weekly bit of normalcy and connection in this disaggregated time. Amy L.

Susan’s writing classes (I’ve enrolled in several) have been transformational. I hadn’t been able to write regularly or successfully for years, and Susan’s deep knowledge of literature–and her experience with both the craft of writing and the practical details of the publishing world–have been incredibly helpful and inspiring.  Thanks to her course, and the supportive community it has created, I now have a regular writing practice, and have even submitted some pieces for publication, with more planned for the future. Catherine W.

Susan was a fantastic facilitator. Her guided meditations were wonderful: spacious, open with brief and poignant guidance introduced throughout. Her ability to adapt to the group was impeccable. Her humor and quick wit added a lightness to the group and softened the glow of vulnerable sharing of personal writings. Her attention to the group as a whole was on point throughout. Mara W.