The Masters Review Blog

Jan 30

The Best Writers Workshops in the Country

WritersSpring is nigh, and with it comes deadlines for the prestigious and exciting Summer Writers Workshops. But which to choose? We’ve narrowed down the field to six of the country’s best. Whether you’re a new writer, seasoned veteran, agent, or editor, these six workshops provide the perfect environment for cultivating and improving your craft.

Bread Loaf

General Info: Bread Loaf is America’s oldest, and some would argue best, writers conference. It offers small, intensive workshops on the scenic Bread Loaf campus of Middlebury College in VT. Days at the conference are packed with lectures, classes on craft, readings, and talks by editors, agents, and other professionals in the publishing industry. The conference brings together established and emerging writers. A range of financial aid is available for writers in varying stages of their careers. They even offer work-study scholarships for emerging writers, which include being a waiter in the Bread Loaf dining room. Who would pass up the opportunity to serve dinner to the likes of this year’s attendees Natasha Trethewey, David Shields, and Percival Everett?

Location: Middlebury College, Middlebury, Vermont

Workshops Offered: fiction, nonfiction, poetry

Deadline: March 1

Cost: $2,935 for general contributors; $2,810 for auditors; fees include room & board Some financial aid available.

Dates: August 13 – 23


What Makes It Different: In his letter on the program’s website, Michael Collier, the director says: “[Bread Loaf] provides a stimulating community of diverse voices in which we test our own assumptions regarding literature and seek advice about our progress as writers.”


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. Like those at Bread Loaf, 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, Claudia Emerson, Charles Martin, Mary Jo Salter, Daisy Foote 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 15

Cost: $1,800-$1,100 tuition; $700 for room & board. Financial aid available.

Dates: July 22 – August 3, 2014


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

The Kenyon Review 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 Linda Gregerson, 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, literary hybrid / book arts, writing online, novel workshop, writers workshop for teachers

Deadlines: rolling admissions for fiction, literary nonfiction, poetry, literary hybrid/book arts, and teachers workshops (early applications encouraged); March 15 deadline for writing online workshop and novel workshop

Cost: Tuition varies by workshop, but they are all around $1,995; this includes housing, breakfasts, and dinners.

Dates: Session I: June 14-21 (fiction, literary nonfiction, poetry, literary hybrid / book arts, writing online); Session II: June 28-July 3 (novel workshop & workshop for teachers)


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

Tin House Summer Writers Workshop

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 bias, 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, Jo Ann Beard, Nick Flynn, Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, Mary Ruefle, Rachel Kushner, and Joy Williams!

Location: Reed College, Portland, OR

Workshops Offered: fiction, nonfiction, poetry

Deadline: rolling (early applications encouraged)

Cost: $1100 for tuition; $600.00 for room & board; auditor’s pass: $250.00; individual seminars: $15; individual readings: $5. Some scholarships available, application deadline March 24.

Dates: July 13-20


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

New York State Summer Writers Institute

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, Frank Bidart, 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: $2,840 tuition & $1,624 room and board; two-week session: $1,420 tuition & $812 room and board
Dates: four-week session: June 30-July 25; two-week sessions: June 30-July 11 or July 14-25


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

Summer Workshop at The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown

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, Cynthia Huntington, Susan Choi, and Terrance Hayes. 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

Cost: Tuition varies by course but is around $600; limited housing is available for $700.

Dates: one-week sessions beginning June 15 and ending August 29


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

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