Spring is nigh, and with it comes deadlines for the prestigious and exciting Summer Writers Workshops. Nothing beats these idyllic summer camps for writers, with workshops, lectures, and distinguished guests. We’ve compiled a list of five of the country’s best workshops with deadlines coming up in the next few months. Even better, they all offer scholarships and financial aid. So go ahead: mark your calendars, and get to it.
General Info: The conference is held each summer on the campus of Sewanee: The University of the South. Thanks to the generosity of the Walter E. Dakin Memorial Fund, supported by the estate of Tennessee Williams, the conference subsidizes every writer’s cost of attendance. Days at Sewanee are made up of workshops, craft lectures, and readings. Among the members of this year’s lustrous faculty are Jill McCorkle, Alice McDermott, Charles Martin, Mary Jo Salter and Dan O’Brien. Many literary agents and publishing professionals come to Sewanee each year.
Location: The University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee
Workshops Offered: fiction, poetry, playwriting
Deadline: April 17
Cost: $1,800 ($1,100 tuition; $700 for room & board. Financial aid available.)
Dates: July 18 – 30
What Makes It Different: “Enjoying what one contemporary poet has called Sewanee’s ‘remoteness without cultural dislocation,’ the Sewanee Writers’ Conference gathers a distinguished faculty to provide instruction and criticism through workshops and craft lectures in poetry, fiction, and playwriting.” – Adam Latham, Admissions and Creative Writing Administrator Sewanee Writers Workshop
General Info: The focus here is truly on the workshop itself. Classes emphasize collaboration and new work, which writers will often generate in class. Faculty include Joanna Klink, Rebecca McClanahan, and Lee K. Abbott. There are evening readings by instructors, participants, and visiting writers.
Location: Kenyon College, Gambier, OH
Workshops Offered: fiction, literary nonfiction, poetry, nature writing, translations, and writers workshop for teachers.
Deadlines: rolling admissions for workshops (early applications encouraged); May 15 deadline for tuition payment.
Cost: $2,295 for Sessions I and III; $1,495 for Session II.
Dates: Session I: June 17-24 (fiction, literary nonfiction, poetry); Session II: July 8-13 (workshop for teachers); Session III: July 8-15 (fiction, literary nonfiction, poetry, nature writing, translation)
What Makes It Different: “You’ll find the Writers Workshop intensely creative, pushing you beyond what you thought you were capable of achieving — you eat, sleep, drink, and breathe writing.” – Tory Weber, Associate Director of Programs
General Info: Like Tin House Magazine and Tin House Books, this week-long workshop is on the cutting edge of today’s literary scene. It consists of intimate morning workshops, along with craft seminars, career panels, readings, and parties. It is held on the campus of Reed College in southeast Portland, OR. We might be biased, but we can’t imagine a better place for a writers conference. You’ll be just a bus ride away from Powell’s, the world’s largest independent bookstore. This year’s faculty includes Kelly Link, Mary Ruefle, Joshua Ferris and Aimee Bender!
Location: Reed College, Portland, OR
Workshops Offered: fiction, nonfiction, poetry
Deadline: May 1 application deadline; March 27 scholarship deadline
Cost: $1,200 for tuition; $600 for room & board; $300 for audit.
Dates: July 9-16
What Makes It Different: “I think one of the immediate things that stands out when you come to the Tin House Summer Writer’s Workshop is a lack of hierarchy. We don’t single out our scholarship winners, who has/hasn’t been published, MFA/non-MFA students. And this attitude extends to our faculty, who eat, drink, and live on campus with our participants. This sort of environment helps foster a belief that the work is the most important thing, no matter if you are a National Book Award winner or someone who is attempting to craft your first story…. Our motto is that we take writing seriously, but not ourselves, which is why you will also get killer karaoke, some pyrotechnics, and a ripping dance night in addition to some of the amazing lectures, readings, and workshop critiques during your week at Tin House.” – Lance Cleland, Director
General Info: About half the attendees are undergraduate or graduate students, and the conference itself is geared toward writers with some workshop experience. Scholarships are only available to students who are nominated by their professors, and graduate students can receive credit for participation in the four-week workshop. The conference consists of workshops comprised of about sixteen students each, readings, and panels. The roster is always full of literary heavy-hitters. This year’s faculty includes Cristina Garcia, Paul Harding, Amy Hempel, Rick Moody, Henri Cole, and Phillip Lopate.
Location: Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York
Workshops Offered: fiction, poetry, nonfiction
Deadline: rolling admissions; scholarship deadline March 10
Cost: four-week session: $3,140 tuition & $1,792 room and board; two-week session: $1,570 tuition & $896 room and board
Dates: four-week session: July 3-28; two-week sessions: July 3-14 or July 17-28
What Makes It Different:“The New York State Summer Writers Institute, now in its 28th year, provides intensive feedback and instruction to a wide range of students in two-week and four-week workshops intermediate, advanced and “Master Class.” The program features a prize-winning faculty that includes winners of the Pulitzer Prize, The National Book Award and The MacArthur “Genius” Award, and it also brings students together with visiting writers (like Louise Gluck, Paul Auster, Russell Banks, Robert Pinsky, Joyce Carol Oates and Marilynne Robinson) who interact with students at craft sessions and other program events.” – Robert Boyers, Director
General Info: Provincetown offers an array of specialized week-long workshops, on subjects from basic fiction writing to graphic memoir to food writing. The FAWC holds summer classes in the visual arts along with creative writing workshops, fostering creativity across genres. Right at the tip of Cape Cod, Provincetown is the ideal summer beach retreat. Among this year’s faculty are Salvatore Scibona, Alan Shapiro, and Elizabeth Bradfield. Scholarships are available. Unlike many other workshops, Provincetown does not require a writing sample as part of its application.
Location: Provincetown, MA
Workshops Offered: With so many classes to choose from, you’re sure to find something for you in their catalog.
Deadline: rolling; April 14 for scholarship
Cost: $600-$725; limited housing is available for $750.
Dates: one-week sessions beginning June 11 and ending August 25
What Makes It Different: Provincetown’s Summer Community News Blog describes the program: “Our renowned summer faculty works alongside students to help develop their crafts, offer guidance, and ultimately support the realization of each student’s potential. There is nothing quite like this community of artists and writers to encourage creativity in Cape Cod’s most beloved location; surrounded by the dunes and beaches, there is plenty of time in an idyllic space to concentrate on the week’s work, your artistic inspiration, and much more.”
by Sadye Teiser and Kimberly Guerin