Announcing the 2023 Summer Workshops

The Community of Writers is pleased to announce our Summer Workshops in Poetry and Prose in Olympic Valley, CA



We are delighted to announce our fifty-fourth annual summer workshops season!

Applications are open for our 2023 summer writing workshops in Olympic Valley. The gatherings are for serious poets and writers, and include workshops, panel discussions, and craft talks as well as special interest classes.

The Community of Writers was founded over four decades ago by California writers Blair Fuller and Oakley Hall, who wished to foster a literary culture in the West that would be conversant with the publishing establishment of the East Coast.

The Poetry Workshop will be held June 19 – 25, 2023. The program admits 70 serious poets into the week-long program. Directed by Brenda Hillman, this program fosters poets as they produce new work each day. Participating poets meet daily in session to share poems written during the previous 24 hours. Poets attend daily craft talks by the teaching staff poets, and meet in brief one-on-one sessions with staff poets. In addition, Sharon Olds will lead afternoon sessions. The week culminates in a public benefit poetry reading featuring the staff poets reading their recent work—sometimes poems written during the week. This year, again, the event will be live-streamed for a local, national and international audience to raise important scholarship funds.

The Writers Workshop will take place July 10 – 17 and accepts up to 110 fiction, nonfiction, and memoir writers. Writers meet in small workshop groups to discuss their submitted manuscript with a member of the teaching staff. The 2023 teaching staff includes fiction and nonfiction writers as well as literary agents and editors working in publishing today. Lectures and panel discussions on the craft of writing, as well as publishing, are offered daily, in addition to staff readings.

All interested writers of prose and poetry are encouraged to apply, though admission is competitive and the writing level is high. No prior publications or academic credits are required; the only criterion for admission is that the applicant submit a sample of their original writing. Financial aid is available including scholarships for the underepresented.

Public Memoir & Narrative Nonfiction Events as Part of our Summer Workshops

August 1 – 6 , 2021 in the Virtual Valley

Join us for craft panels and readings which will take place as part of our workshop week.

Offerings includes craft discussions, panels on editing and publishing, and staff readings, and brief individual conferences.

Please see our schedule below.

These events are free; donations welcome.

All times Pacific.

Monday, August 2

1:00 PM: Panel: Structure and Other Essential Narrative Strategies in Memoir and Nonfiction, with Alex Espinoza, Debra Gwartney, Sands Hall, Julia Flynn Siler, moderated by Frances Dinkelspiel


5:00 PM: Short Takes: Staff read work in progress and talk about issues of craft: Frances Dinkelspiel, Alex Espinoza, Julia Flynn Siler, Martin J. Smith


Tuesday, August 3:

1:00 PM: Panel: Locating and Researching the Story You Need to Tell with Lauren Markham, Julia Flynn Siler, Martin J. Smith, Grace Talusan, moderated by Alex Espinoza


5:00 PM: Short Takes: Staff read work in progress and talk about issues of craft: Sands Hall, Lauren Markham, Grace Talusan


Thursday, August 5:

1:00 PM: Writing About Family and Other Difficult Topics, with Glen David Gold, Sands Hall, Gregory Pardlo, and Grace Talusan, moderated by Debra Gwartney


5:00 PM: Short Takes: Staff read work in progress and talk about issues of craft: Glen David Gold, Debra Gwartney, Gregory Pardlo


Friday, August 6:

1:00 PM: Panel: Short Forms, Hybrid Forms with Frances Dinkelspiel, Alex Espinoza, Debra Gwartney, Martin J. Smith, moderated by Sands Hall

Conversations from the Virtual Valley featuring David Ulin and Laura Cogan

We are pleased to present another Conversation from the Virtual Valley with ZYZZYVA‘s Laura Cogan and Air/Light‘s editor David Ulin.

The Community of Writers continues its series of literary conversations as part of our online literary journal, The OGQ: The Omnium Gatherum Quarterly.

With the release of its Los Angeles-themed issue, Bay Area-based ZYZZYVA provides our “Conversations from the Virtual Valley” video-cast series an opportunity to see how one Northern and one Southern California magazine consider and, at times, reconsider Los Angeles. ZYZZYVA editor Laura Cogan joins editor, author and anthologist David Ulin, whose new online magazine Air/Light is devoted to Southern California writing, to talk about, share, and critique the literary scene in Los Angeles. In this Conversation, these two experienced and engaged literary pals, and friends of the Community of Writers, talk about their projects, offer insights, celebrate writers, and encourage readers of, and possible contributors to, each of their magazines.  And, ultimately, invite you to become subscribers to both journals!  
View Conversation

Announcing the Inaugural Kimbilio [Fiction] Scholarship Recipients

The Community of Writers is delighted to announce our inaugural scholarships in partnership with Kimbilio [Fiction] Workshop! The remarkable writers who have been awarded these scholarships to attend the Community of Writers’ 2021 Fiction Workshop are:

Hayward Leach
Darlene Taylor

Darlene and Hayward are Kimbilio [Fiction] Fellows, and come to us through this partnership.

Kimbilio means “safe haven” in Swahili.  The Kimbilio conference is a fellow community of writers, who are committed to developing, empowering and sustaining fiction writers from the African diaspora and their stories. Their annual writers conference, for serious-minded, committed fiction writers, provides a solid grounding in the fundamentals of fiction.

Kimbilio [Fiction] Workshop is a project of Dedman College / Southern Methodist University’s English Department.

Thank you to Kimbilio’s Board Chair, David Haynes, and Community of Writers’ Board Member Dana Johnson, for making this partnership possible. We would also like to thank the donors who together created the funds to allow these talented writers to attend our summer workshops.

To learn about applying to join the next class of Fellows, Click Here
To learn how you can support Kimbilio, Click Here

Al Young, 1939 – 2021

For over 30 years, Al was a vital member of the Community of Writers, teaching across the programs and serving on the Board of Directors. Many Friday night Follies found Al onstage, often part of the three-man Granite Chief quartet or as a duo with his friend Jim Houston, serenading the audience with such classics as “Hey Good Lookin’” or “Mr. Bojangles.”

 Al, who served as California’s Poet Laureate for three years, wrote over 25 books of fiction, nonfiction and poetry.  A graduate of UC Berkeley, he also taught widely, as a Stegner fellow and Jones Lecturer at Stanford, as well as at universities and conferences across the country and the world. He was the recipient of numerous awards and honors, among them the Guggenheim, the Richard Wright Award for Excellence in Literature, a Fulbright, NEA Fellowships, PEN-USA awards, and Radio Pacifica’s KPFA Peace Prize.

While Al’s final publication credits include an appearance in The Best American Poetry 2016, edited by Edward Hirsch, as well as our recently published anthology Why to These Rocks: Fifty years of Poems from the Community of Writers, the most impressive credit is certainly the five poems which appear in the Library of America’s African American Poetry: 250 years of Struggle and Song, edited by Kevin Young.  One of those poems, “How Stars Start,” ends like this:

All roads lead back to starts, to where
I started out, to stars: the fiery
beginnings of our ends & means; our
meanness & our meanings. There never
was a night begun in darkness,
nor a single day begun in light.

View Slideshow of Al

Read Berkeleyside‘s Obituary of Al.

Read Andrew Tonkovich‘s 2013 piece on Al Young in the OCWeekly.

In 2018, Al had a debilitating stroke, and for the last two years, Al’s son Michael has managed his father’s affairs and significant health challenges. Amy Tan has observed, “As proof of how beloved Al was, friends donated over $100,000 to help with Al’s care. Michael, who had grown into an amazing son, writer and bookseller, helped us come to know Al as the father who inspired reciprocal devotion.” Folks who still wish to offer Michael support can do so here:

Donate to Al Young Fund

Al Young Memorial Scholarship Fund

We have established a scholarship in Al’s name to help black writers and poets attend our workshops.

Donate to the Al Young Memorial Scholarship

Please indicate “Al Young Memorial Scholarship” in the form. Or send a check to:

Community of Writers – Al Young Memorial Scholarship
PO Box 1416
Nevada City, CA 95959

We send our love and condolences to his son Michael, and to all who loved him.

It’s Pub Day! Our 50th Anniversary Anthology is Available Now!

More than two years ago we set out to create an anthology to celebrate the story of our fifty-year-old summer writing workshop. It has been more work than we could ever have imagined, and an utter joy, but we did it. With help, advice, encouragement, and support from dozens of people and organizations, we can now announce that finally, today is PUBLICATION DAY for Why to These Rocks: Fifty Years of Poems from the Community of Writers from Heyday Books.

As editor Lisa Alvarez writes in her introduction: Why to These Rocks tells part of the story of the Community of Writers through work produced in the valley by both staff and participant poets, using three self-explanatory lenses: Over the Mountains: Poems About Place; Scrupulous Mercy: Poems about the Process; and After Surfacing: Poems Produced by the Process in the Place. Reading them will begin to answer the question posed by Kinnell in his poem “The Old Moon” and paraphrased here: Why to these rocks do we return?”

It speaks to our special community nurtured in this stunning setting, one that has inspired poets worldwide — many of whom developed significant bodies of award-winning work in its creative and generative atmosphere.Contributors include both workshop staff and participants, among them Kazim Ali, Don Mee ChoiLucille CliftonToi DerricotteRita DoveCornelius EadyJuan Felipe HerreraBrenda HillmanCathy Park HongForrest GanderMajor JacksonYusef KomunyakaaHarryette MullenSharon OldsGreg PardloEvie ShockleyAl YoungKevin YoungMatthew Zapruder, a never-before-published poem by founder and former long-time director, Galway Kinnell, and many more. 

We think the book is really handsome with a hard cover, and a lovely woodcut image courtesy of the artist Tom Killion.

Join us as we celebrate our five decades of Poetry.

PS: Heyday Books is offering our buyers a 20% discount use promo code: WTOTFRIENDS

2021 LARB Publishing Workshop

After many years of hosting founder Tom Lutz and other members of the Los Angeles Review of Books staff during the summer workshops, we’ve now begun making institutional collaborations of mutual benefit together.

This summer, in addition to featuring members of LARB’s editorial staff and contributors at our own writer’s workshop in the Virtual Valley, we’re pleased to promote the 2021 LARB Publishing Workshop and further this support with a scholarship for a past fellow to attend the Community of Writer’s workshop this summer.

Applications for the 2021 program close April 15

Apply today and join us from June 27 – July 30 for an intensive dive into the world of publishing with incredible speakers and hands-on training in book and magazine production. LARB Publishing Workshop Fellows learn from 60+ leading industry professionals from all over the country including Nicole Counts (One World), Nicole Chung (Catapult), Evette Dionne (Bitch Media), Dennis Johnson (Melville House), Jennifer 8. Lee (Plympton), Ismail Muhammad (New York Times Magazine), Jyothi Natarajan (The Margins, Asian American Writers’ Workshop), Niko Pfund (Oxford UP), Rebecca Saletan (Riverhead), Joshua Trannen (Duke UP), and many, many more. Our curriculum and program of speakers reflect LARB’s commitment to innovation, inclusivity, and independent literary production.

More Details and to Apply

The 50th Anniversary Poetry Anthology featured in The San Diego Union-Tribune

Read about the anthology in the San Diego Union-Tribune:

“The works featured in this rich new anthology are all the product of the Community of Writers, an annual gathering of poets who hunker down in the wooded beauty of [Olympic Valley] for a week of intensive workshops, writing marathons and readings in the most beautiful setting possible.”

From The San Diego Union-Tribune. Sunday, April 11, 2021

“The anthology celebrates the 50th anniversary of the program with poems from its staff poets, a powerhouse group that includes Lucille Clifton, Rita Dove, Galway Kinnell, Sharon Olds and UC San Diego professor Kazim Ali. There are also poems from writers who have participated in the program, a stellar group that includes Cal State San Marcos professor Brandon Cesmat, SDSU professor Blas Falconer and Imperial Valley native Jennifer Givhan.”

Read More at the Union-Tribune
More Details about the Anthology
Order the Book


Quarterly Roundup of Alumni Books

Books published by Alumni Poets and Writers in January – March, 2021.

Congratulations to these Community of Writers Alums and staff members who have published books during the first quarter of 2021!

We are thrilled to share their success with you. You can explore these books by clicking the book cover images below.

Visit our Omnium Gatherum to explore all the recent alumni news.



Statement Against Anti-Asian Violence

We are horrified at the violence against Asian American and Pacific Islanders this country has recently witnessed, and our hearts are broken by the fear and pain this has created.
The Community of Writers is united with the AAPI communities in the fight against hate and racism. We need to all work together to stop it.

Please join us in condemning this violence and working against it in our own communities and beyond.

Learn More

Take action:

Announcing the KIMBILIO l Fiction Scholarships

The Community of Writers is delighted to announce scholarships for KIMBILIO Fiction Fellows who require financial aid to attend the Community of Writers Fiction Workshop this summer.

Dates: July 11 – 17, 2021
Deadline to apply: March 28, 2021

Each scholarship will cover: $880 Tuition to Fiction Program.
Interested Kimbilo Fiction Fellows will need to apply to the workshop by March 28, and request this scholarship in the application form.

More Details

Announcing our 2021 Summer Writing Workshops

The Community of Writers is pleased to announce the 51st Anniversary of our Summer Writing Workshops in Poetry and Fiction, Nonfiction and Memoir.
We are now accepting applications.


June 19 – 26, 2021

The Poetry Program at the Community of Writers is founded on the belief that when poets gather in a community to write new poems, each poet may well break through old habits and write something stronger and truer than before. Although we can’t gather in person, nonetheless we will work together to create an atmosphere in which everyone might feel free to try anything. Director: Brenda Hillman.

Click on the author portraits to learn about these poets and their work. Or View as List

Kazim Ali • Blas Falconer • Forrest Gander
Brenda Hillman • Sharon Olds • Evie Shockley

Visit the Poetry Workshop Page

July 11 – 17, 2021

These workshops assist serious writers by exploring the art and craft as well as the business of writing. The week offers daily morning workshops, craft lectures, panel discussions on editing and publishing, staff readings, and brief individual conferences.The morning workshops are led by staff writer-teachers, editors, or agents. In addition to their workshop manuscripts, participants may have a second manuscript read by a staff member who meets with them in individual conferences.

Special Guests

Click on the portraits to learn about these authors and their work.  Or View as List

Fiction Workshops Teaching Staff


Click on the portraits to learn about these authors and their work.  Or View as List

Visit the Fiction Workshop Page


August 1 – 6 , 2021

These workshops are designed to assist serious writers by exploring the art and craft as well as the business of writing. The week includes daily morning workshops, craft lectures, panel discussions on editing and publishing, staff readings, and brief individual conferences. The morning workshops, led by staff writer-teachers, comprise tracks devoted to both memoir and narrative nonfiction. In addition to having a manuscript addressed in workshop, participants may have the same manuscript read by a staff member, discussed in individual conference. This is not the conference for travel, self-help, how-to, or scholarly works.

Teaching Staff

Click on the portraits to learn about these authors and their work.  Or View as List

Visit the NonFiction/Memoir Workshop Page

Announcing Issue 4 of the OGQ: The Omnium Gatherum Quarterly

andrew tonkovich
Welcome to our final installment of our first year of the online quarterly of the Community of Writers. In this issue, we celebrate our history of community, and engage its vigorous, diverse and transformative new manifestations in essays, poetry and fiction chosen to encourage and inspire. Longtime staffer Elizabeth Rosner meditates, generously and insightfully, on the enduring individual and community imperative to describe, explain, transform, complain, criticize, celebrate and, most of all, collaborate.  Elizabeth was meant to deliver this gorgeous essay as a talk in an anniversary event postponed due to the pandemic. Novelist and activist Jervey Tervalon, founder of LitFest Pasadena, tells the story of its origins and explores the political economy of creating community as an answer to cultural hegemony, racism, and Hollywood’s disappointing lack of imagination. Jonathan Cohen’s meditation on grief and loss considers the possibilities of incompleteness, with a vividness and empathy that offers so much beauty and, yes, completion. Poet and scholar Therí A. Pickens shares three beautiful poems of self-instruction, analysis and memory: “Linger at the lost spaces of not and undoing.” Finally, Caroline Kim, whose collection The Prince of Mournful Thoughts and Other Stories won the 2020 Drue Heinz Literature Prize, gives us a short story of spooky or only everyday political and cultural alienation.

Please stay safe, and by all means share our journal.

Andrew Tonkovich
Editor, OGQ

Read the OGQ

2020 Alumni Reading Series (Prose)

Each summer, recently published alumni are invited to return to the Valley to read from their books and talk about their journey from unpublished writers to published authors. This year we’ve decided to hold the reading online in the Virtual Valley! 

The Community of Writers is delighted to celebrate the success of these writers and to present them to the participants, staff, and the public.

Please join us! The event is free and will be presented on Zoom.

2020 Alumni Readers

Click on the portraits to learn about these authors and their work.  View as a List

Our Emcee for the evening is Jimin Han.



Buys books from these authors on

Reserve Ticket Now

(You will be eventually be asked to register for this event at Zoom.)

Alumni who have been part of this reading series include Anita Amirrezvani, Eddy Ancinas, Michael AndreasonRamona Ausubel, David Bajo, Aimee Bender, Mauro Cardenas, Jade ChangDavid Corbett, Charmaine Craig, Frances Dinkelspiel, Heather Donahue, Laurie Ann DoyleCai Emmons, Alex Espinoza, Carole Firstman,  Joshua Ferris, Amy Franklin-Willis, Jamie Ford, Vicki Forman, Alison Singh Gee, Tanya Egan Gibson, Alan Grostephan, Glen David Gold, Jimin HanJudith Hendricks, Susan Henderson, Sara J. Henry, Vanessa HuaRhoda Huffey, Michael Jaime-Becerra, Alma Katsu, Stephanie KeganMary KurylaKrys Lee, Paulette Livers, Regina Louise, Michael David Lukas, Peyton Marshall, Marisa Matarazzo, Mark Maynard, Christina Meldrum, Nayomi Munaweera, Janis Cooke Newman, Jessica O’Dwyer, Aline Ohanesian, Marian Palaia, Victoria Patterson, Ismet Prcic, Frederick Reiken, Andrew Roe, Robin Romm, Brian Rogers,  Elizabeth Rosner, Adrienne Sharp, Alice Sebold, Julia Flynn Siler, Jordan Fisher Smith, Scott Sparling, Ellen Sussman, Kimball TaylorLisa Tucker,  Juan Alvarado Valdivia, Brenda Rickman Vantrease, Mary Volmer, Dora Calott Wang, M.D., Heather Young, Andrew Winer, Alia Yunis, and Désirée Zamorano among others.



Literary Arts Emergency Fund Grant for the Community of Writers

We are delighted to announce the Literary Arts Emergency Fund has provided the Community of Writers a grant for $15,000 to help us weather these difficult times.

We would like to express our deepest gratitude to the organizers of the Fund: the directors of Academy of American Poets, the Community of Literary Magazine & Presses, and the National Book Foundation.

Read more details and a complete list of the other organizations who benefitted from these grants.

Fiction First Aid – Private Consultations

This Friday, join us for private consultations: Fiction First Aid
August 28, 2020, between 10 am and 3 p.m (Pacific)

Private 15-Minute Appointments     $25

First-come first-served: appointments are limited.

Quick fifteen-minute consultations will be offered on Zoom with some of our finest writer-teachers, including Leland Cheuk, Janet Fitch, Glen David Gold,  Vanessa Hua, Michael Jaime-Becerra and Victoria Patterson. Come with a question. Or come with a page! Having a thorny problem with a story? Worried about the end of your novel? Do you have issues about the writing life? This is the place to get fresh insight. The focus of your session is up to you.

Sign up for a consultation today. You will be paired with one of these generous and talented writer-teachers. (You may request your top two choices of staff member, subject to availability. ) If there is a time of day (between 10 AM – 3 PM Pacific) that doesn’t work for you, please let us know.

Come with a question: Issues about dialogue, prose style, characterization? Come to the session prepared with a question or more than one! The time is yours.

Or come with a page: Need help with dialogue or prose style? Submit one page, double spaced (limit 250 words), and a staff member will respond to what’s on the page and beyond.

To read a bio, click on the image below, or view them all as a list.

Sign Ups open close 6:00 PM on Thursday, August 27. (Pacific)


Once you register, we will be in touch with your appointment details.

Please make sure you’ve downloaded and installed the most recent version of Zoom and have good audio and video available.

(Cancellations for full refunds, to be considered, must be requested before 6 pm on Thursday, July 27.)

*Thanks to Sharon Olds who originally coined this term for the Poetry Workshop’s “Poem First Aid.”


Fiction First Aid Private Consultations

This Friday, join us for private consultations: Fiction First Aid*
July 31, 2020, between 10 am and 5 p.m (Pacific)

View as a list

Private 15-Minute Appointments     $25

First-come first-served: appointments are limited.

Quick fifteen-minute consultations will be offered on Zoom with some of our finest writer-teachers, including Alex Espinoza, Janet Fitch, Sands Hall, Dylan Landis and Krys Lee. (We are sorry, but Glen David Gold is no longer participating.) Come with a question. Or come with a page! Having a thorny problem with a story? Worried about the end of your novel? Do you have issues about the writing life? This is the place to get fresh insight. The focus of your session is up to you.

Below are the Times When the Writers Are Scheduled
(Subject to availability)

10:00 AM – 12:00 Noon
Alex Espinoza
Janet Fitch (sold out)

1:00 – 3:00 PM
Sands Hall

3:00 – 5:00 PM
Dylan Landis
Krys Lee

Come with a question: Issues about dialogue, prose style, characterization? Come to the session prepared with a question or more than one! The time is yours.

Or come with a page: Need help with dialogue or prose style? Submit one page, double spaced (limit 250 words), and a staff member will respond to what’s on the page and beyond.

Sign Ups open  12:00 Noon Monday, July 27,
and close 5:00 on Thursday, July 30. (Pacific)


You may request your top three choices of staff member, subject to availability. Once you register, we will be in touch with your appointment details.

(Cancellations for full refunds, to be considered, must be requested before 5 pm on Thursday, July 30.)

*Thanks to Sharon Olds who originally coined this term for the Poetry Workshop’s “Poem First Aid.”


David Perlman (1918 – 2020)

David Perlman at the Community of Writers, 1974  .(Photo by Barbara E. Hall)

David Perlman, the last of the three founders of our conference, has died, at the age of 101, in San Francisco. Fifty years ago here, editor Blair Fuller and novelist Oakley Hall were regularly spending their summers in the Valley, and David Perlman had a house here, too. It was a small village at the time, and people met up. Oakley had made a great reputation as a novelist; Blair Fuller was an editor at The Paris Review, and the three of them decided to have some fun inventing a week-long summer writers conference. Anne Perlman – who preceded her husband in death by two decades – was a serious, accomplished poet, who had been very respectably published, and in the early days she worked on the Poetry program with Galway Kinnell and Phil Levine and Mark Strand.

Originally a New Yorker, graduate of Columbia, David fell in love with San Francisco early, and migrated early. His first job on the West Coast was as a copyboy at the Chronicle. That was 1940. After WW II military service, he spent some time in Paris and New York, writing for the New York Herald Tribune, but soon devised a way back to San Francisco, where he got hired at the San Francisco Chronicle as a reporter.

He retired from the paper only three years ago, at 98, having worked full-time all those years. He kept arduous regular hours even deep into his 90s, spoke until the end with sharp wit and a rich understanding of the world, and even walked with a spring in his step. On his last day at the Chronicle, he decided to allow himself the unprecedented luxury of leaving fifteen minutes ahead of time, and went to his editor’s office to say he was going to “slide early.” But he was of course noticed slipping out, and everybody in the newsroom got to their feet applauding.

David and Anne gave up their house in Olympic Valley at some point. After that they seldom came up to the workshop, but he always thought of this organization as one of his happiest achievements. The thing he loved most, which kept him at his desk in San Francisco, was explaining science to readers. Elucidating our tectonic jolts, AIDS, moonshots, climate change, he earned a reputation over the years as a “dean of science journalism,” having resolved in his twenties that science journalism was “the most glamorous thing in the world.”

The last story he filed for the Chronicle was a typically long piece (the Chronicle always gave him plenty of space, all he wanted), explaining the total eclipse of eclipse of the sun.

Daylight will turn to midnight. The summer air will turn chilly,
birds will chirp uneasily in the unexpected darkness and the
stars will emerge.









Read the San Francisco Chronicle’s appreciation for David Perlman.


Black Lives Matter: A Time for Action, not Words

This summer as the Community of Writers comes together as we have done for 50 years, we do so at a time of urgently needed social and political change. We honor the scores of Americans who have taken to the streets to protest the systemic racism and injustice.

It has always been our goal to create, out of our summer meetings, a community that nourishes and supports a diversity of writers and poets at all stages of their development. We are a seasonal gathering, each member belonging to other home communities, aligned with other institutions. There, many of us are deeply engaged in the streets, classrooms, community centers, the halls of government and, of course, as we are writers, on the page.

Part of our mission has been to erase obstacles for emerging writers, especially Black writers and poets, to attend a workshop such as ours.
In light of recent national debates surrounding equity and systemic racism, we are even more committed in our efforts to build new, and sustain current essential partnerships which will help us reach deeper into underserved communities to find poets and writers with voices that contribute to the diversification of the country’s narrative.

We will continue to do what we have done that has worked – raise funds to support writers of color, especially Black writers, and work to further diversify our board and staff. We will also look at those policies and practices, formal and informal, that have weakened these efforts. We will examine the Community’s culture that allows for participants to experience exclusion, disrespect, and microagressions at all levels of our organization, including, but not limited to, the workshop itself.

As part of our ongoing evaluation, we changed the name of our conference, previously scheduled to have been announced this Spring at our anniversary celebrations. Just as protesters and social justice advocates have called for the dismantling of Confederate symbols and statues because of their racist connotations, we recognize the painful and derogatory legacy of the word “squaw” as a slur, a word that is disrespectful to the Native American Community. We acknowledge that this word is offensive, that it goes against everything we stand for and believe, thus, we will no longer be branding ourselves as such and will now be known as the Community of Writers.

We are grateful to the participants and staff who care enough about the integrity of the Community to have communicated their concerns with us.  We hear you.

We have always felt that what we were doing addressed the multicultural life of this country in deep ways and we have reason to be proud of the stories, poems, essays, films that have been produced over fifty years by the staff and participants in this community, including work by some of our most gifted Black, Latinx,  Asian American writers, disabled and LGBTQ+. This last painful month has made it clear that, whatever we have been doing, it hasn’t been enough. Just as it hasn’t been enough not to be racist or to practice modest and benign forms of affirmative action. New behaviors require new visions. Our mission is to support new visions and we have work to do.

-The Community of Writers

Summer Writing Workshops in Olympic Valley Cancelled (But New Opportunities Available!)

Dear Friends,

We are sorry to report that we have been forced to cancel our summer workshops in Olympic Valley due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was to be our 50th Anniversary session, and so we’re particularly sad that we won’t be able to get together.

Image of a tree - Omnium Gatherum PageOur participants and teaching staff come in from all over the country, and a dozen foreign countries as well. They live together in houses and condos during their stay, eat dinner together, meet for lectures and panels, and in smaller workshops where they sit close together. It was a hard decision to make but we feel it would be impossible to run the workshops and still keep everybody safe.

Please visit our program pages for more information.


The Community of Writers will offer the Poetry Workshop entirely online this year. June 20 – 27, 2020. It will be the very same intensive week of writing, craft talks and individual conferences.
More details can be found on the Poetry Workshop page.


The Writers Workshops week is entirely too complex and large to shift over to the online format as is, so we will be postponing the 50th Anniversary session to July 5 – 12, 2021.  Mark your calendars!  Our plan is also to put together some online offerings for 2020. More details can be found on the Writers Workshops page.
*  *  *  *  *  *
We don’t yet know how this pandemic will play out in 2021, but we hold out hope that we will be in a position to hold the workshops again then. We will miss workshops this summer in our beloved valley, we’ll miss getting acquainted with all of you, and we will miss the thin mountain air, those bluest of skies, and gathering under the stars together in the evening. Here’s hoping we can all be together next summer and that this worldwide nightmare will be behind us.

2007 – The Closing of the Follies. Pictured here too many to name, but there’s James D. Houston on the upright bass, and Al Young, and Alan Cheuse. In the foreground is Louis B. Jones, Greg Spatz, Caridwen Spatz, Sands Hall, Sue Miller. Some day we will sit together again and talk about poetry and prose. Some day soon we will stand together again and sing.

Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation Awards Grant!

We are pleased and honored to announce that the good folks at the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation have awarded the Community of Writers a $5,000 grant to support the work of our organization.

This remarkable organization is a tremendous community leader in so many ways. They really do make our area a better place to live and work by supporting a wide range of nonprofits and community-minded projects.

Thank you to Chief Impact Officer Phyllis McConn, the CFRE Stacy Caldwell, and the Board of Directors for all they do for the Community of Writers and the Tahoe Truckee region!


An Evening With Janet Fitch

The Community of Writers
Stories on Stage Sacramento
are proud to present the return of  New York Times bestselling author of White Oleander, and The Revolution of Marina M. 

Janet Fitch

Friday, July 26th, 2019, at 7:00 PM

The Auditorium at CLARA

1425 24th St., Sacramento

Come celebrate the release of the second volume of Janet Fitch’s sweeping saga of a young woman’s coming of age during the Russian Revolution. Featuring Capital Public Radio’s Beth Ruyak in conversation with the author, highlighted by readings of vital passages in the book by Carissa Meagher.

Doors Open at 6:30 pm

  • Reception to follow with Russian sweets and vodka (and wine and beer). Souvenir shot glass included with ticket price.
  • Copies of Chimes of a Lost Cathedral will be available for sale
  • Janet Fitch will sign copies during the reception.
  • Beaucoup Chapeaux will perform Eastern European and Balkan traditional folk songs. (See video below.)

Proceeds will support the Community of Writers and Stories on Stage. 


  • Tickets $30/Students $15      
  • Advance Premium Tickets (first 2 rows only) $40
  • Group Tickets Available for $20. (10 Ticket Minimum.) To purchase group tickets call 530-470-8440 or contact us by email.

(Online/advance ticket sales will end at 1pm on the day of the event, July 26.)

Buy Tickets

Readings and “in conversation with” begin at 7:00, with a reception to follow at 8:30.

We will have Russian fare including caviar, Russian pastries, vodka, wine and waters!

Books will be available for purchase before and during the reception.

The band Beaucoup Chapeaux will take us to Eastern Europe and the Balkans will their music!

Directions and Parking:

The Auditorium at CLARA (E. Claire Raley Studios for the Performing Arts) is located at 1425 24th Street, Sacramento (on 24th Street between N and O Streets) in midtown Sacramento.  Street parking is plentiful, and free on weekends. You may also use the free lot behind the Auditorium. The entrance to the lot is on O Street, between 24th and 25th streets.

Please enter The Auditorium at CLARA from the door on 24th Street (closest to O Street), or from the parking lot. We will mark both entrances with balloons and fliers.

Accessible parking: Available from the lot behind the Auditorium. The Auditorium can be entered from the ground level.

Janet Fitch

Janet Fitch’s first novel, White Oleander, a #1 bestseller and Oprah’s Book Club selection, has been translated into 24 languages and was made into a feature film.Her second novel, Paint It Black, hit bestseller lists across the country and has also been made into a film. She was a Community of Writers participant in Fiction in 1998, the Poetry Workshop in 2017, and returns regularly to teach during the Writers Workshops at the Community of Writers.


Beth Ruyak

Beth Ruyak is the host of Capital Public Radio’s Insight.


Beaucoup Chapeaux

Beaucoup Chapeaux, a Nevada City, CA based quartet, plays music and blends of music from many countries and cultures–including their own. Maggie McKaig, accordion; Randy McKean, clarinet; Murray Campbell, violin; Luke Wilson, plectrum banjo.  More information. (Please note Murray Campbell is unable to participate that evening.) See video


Dramatic Readings by Carissa Meagher

Carissa Meagher has appeared in Antigone (Big Idea Theatre); Brilliant Traces (Ovation Stage); An Octoroon and Anna Karenina (Capital Stage) and Steel Magnolias (Sacramento Theatre Company.) She’s also appeared in The Little Prince and Henry IV  at The Theater at Monmouth in Maine. She earned her BFA in acting from University of North Carolina School of the Arts, and an MFA In Playwriting from Ireland’s Lir Academy.


Stories on Stage, Sacramento

Sacramento’s award-winning reading series, Stories on Stage, features short fiction by established and emerging writers from Sacramento and surrounding areas, introduced by their authors and read by actors.  More information.

Beers Books

Many thanks to Beers Books who will be on hand to sell books for the event. For over seventy years, Beers has served Sacramento and Northern California. They buy, sell, and trade books everyday, and pride themselves on fair prices and ample selection. Their stock is perpetually changing, so frequent visits may yield amazing finds. More information.


Thanks to the support of our friends at YubaLit in Nevada City.The reading series where Sierra foothills literature lovers gather to celebrate the written word.



The Community of Writers

Proceeds will support the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley, a not-for-profit organization which, for 48 years, has  been one of the premier writers conferences  in the country, assisting talented writers and poets with diverse cultural perspectives. More information.

For more information about this event,  call 530-470-8440 or contact us by email.

Buy Tickets


Dream Manifested: The Paul Radin Memorial Dream Wagon

Today we want to  celebrate the construction and near completion of the Paul Radin Memorial Dream wagon. Construction started in early 2018, but months of planning, researching and fundraising came first.

Please scroll down and see the dozens of photos we’ve posted. We will take you from initial planning to the finished project.

An homage to our neighbor, the late Paul Radin, this Tiny House on wheels offered a practical answer to the problem of limited space and time constraints for a bookstore in the Valley. The Dream Wagon is a multipurpose tiny house on wheels. It is hard to believe we actually accomplished this project in so little time, and the endeavor was a delightful project once we saw clearly how to make it happen.

The Dream Wagon had its debut during the workshops last summer, and even in its not-quite-finished state, it was a success in every way.  As a bookstore and as a stage for our readers and performers, it met and exceeded all our expectations. Imagine our authors giving readings from the stage. Then, when the reading is over, the audience can move inside to purchase that author’s book.

After the summer,  it arrived back in Nevada City where it was settled under the canopy of a pear tree. Each fall it will serve as our headquarters until next spring when it will be towed to the Valley again.

We’re deeply grateful to everyone who contributed to its creation, whether with donations, labor, advice or materials. Now that it is (mostly) complete, we’re proud to show it off. The process of inventing and bringing it to fruition was risky, stressful, and deeply satisfying.  It responds to a long-standing need for a moveable office, archives, and bookstore space. It helps us look to the future as a charming and unforgettable evocation of our place in the writing world. Scroll down to see pictures of the construction process and join us on our journey!

Deep thanks to the family of Paul Radin for major funding of the project and for providing the initial burst of inspiration and enthusiasm, and to the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation for the last funds that kept us under budget. (See the full list of project donors below.)

When he died in 2005, Paul Radin left to the Community of Writers a small box of books labeled “Paul Radin Library.” Now, in his honor, the Community has dedicated a mobile bookstore, office and library in his name.

Lots of planning went into the Dream Wagon. Brett visited several  tiny houses and researched styles extensively, making sure this little dream wagon worked for a variety of purposes all year round.

It was time to raise support for this project and we needed an image. Thanks to artist and writer Stephanie Taylor for this perfect imagining of the project. She even added staff writer Greg Spatz and his wife Caridwen. Those who have attended the Writers Workshops know what amazing musicians they are!

Most tiny houses sit on trailers with an 8 1/2 foot width, but given the many purposes of the Dream Wagon, we needed something wider, so we went with a trailer with a 10-foot width. This allows more space for bookcases, desks and mobility in the tiny house. Damon at TrailerMade Trailers gave us a terrific discount in late 2017 and then delivered it to us.

And here it is in place in Nevada City, the build site. This photograph was taken January of 2018. It would only be a few months before the tiny house made its debut at the 2018 session of the Community of Writers in Squaw Valley.

After leveling, spray foam insulation goes into the floor of the trailer. That stuff is expensive!

With the floor down, the framing starts to go up. Journeymen Dave and Larry lift the inaugural wall. This will be the wall of Brett’s office in the tiny house with two windows looking out at the meadow and the garden.

During framing, this is the board designated to be in the middle of the wall where Brett’s desk would sit.

Starting to look like a house!

A view of the rafters being installed.

Rafters on!

Another view of the rafters.

Roof on!

It is coming together. The unique curve of the roof was to evoke the traveling “caravan” or “vardo” without being too derivative. For a while the front door (right) was planned with a curved entryway, but the arch was later rejected to get the ‘staircase’ effect of the two windows and the door on the front of the tiny house.  The archway on the side is for the french doors which will open up onto the fold-down deck/stage. This will allow conference participants to enter the bookshop interior.

Stained glass windows. A Craigslist find. These were salvaged from a 1910 cottage in Berkeley.

Hand-built windows arrived from Portland! Single paned to avoid glass problems with moving the structure up over Donner Summit. Carl Kagy of Designs for People made these by hand, and then, because he had other stops to make in California, delivered the windows himself.

Spray foam insulation in, and the windows can be installed. Here is our contractor, Jim, installing a window.

Windows going in.

Hunter staining the cedar siding. The siding is from local incense cedar trees and was milled in Nevada City and beveled on the spot.

The good stuff. The siding was stained with Sikkens ‘dark oak.’

With the windows in and the siding stained, the exterior can start to come together.

More cedar was used to follow the curvature of the roof on the front and back overhangs of the roof. It’s cut to 3 1/4″ strips to match what will be the interior ceiling boards.

The deck/stage made by Preston Williams arrives. It weighs 500 pounds!

Deck on! It will fold up for transport and cover the french doors. The platform will be made out of plywood sheets.

Reclaimed door for the entryway.

Siding on the front of the tiny house.

On to the interior. Here’s Lindsey sanding down the salvaged boards that will compose the ceiling of Brett’s (under loft) office. She’s a scientist in real life.

And priming the interior walls. Because the tiny house has to move and flex in transport, drywall is too heavy and brittle to hold up. Auburn Hardwoods gave us a deal on these sheets of baltic birch plywood. It’s sturdy and lightweight. Here they are getting primed before they get installed.

The ceiling is made from the remaining incense cedar used for the siding, cut to 3 1/4″ width to match the curvature of the roofline. This was a beast to install for Hunter and Lindsey who weren’t sure it would ever end. Days of holding board after board above their heads and checking and rechecking for straightness.

They did it! Ceiling done! Over time the cedar will deepen in color.

And now that the floors are in, bookcases can be installed. More Craigslist bargains: The four bookcases were $100 for the four; the mahogany wainscoting was torn out of a 1950s Eichler home in Marin County. All the wood was $35.

Jim and Mike installing bookcases. Dealing with the trailer wheel wells took some creativity.

This fold-down desk will serve as the pedestal for the cash register in the summers, and can fold up into the wall for transport.

Looking good!

Time for the roof! Here’s the roofer, Andy Roberts, rolling the sheets on the spot.

By this time everyone was rushing to finish. Brett and most of the rest of us had already gone up to Squaw Valley to set up the office and workshop spaces for the workshops. Jim was under great pressure to get the project done in time for the Poetry week. Long hours were worked to make that happen! The stained-glass windows are in, the roof is installed, the interior trim and beams completed, the stage and door installed and painted. Eva stayed behind to monitor the packing up of the tiny house interior and to give it blessings on its voyage.

Everyone besides our trucker, Dan Crouch, was nervous about the tiny house’s trip. His truck was a bit larger than necessary, but we were grateful for his confidence and experience. It’s only a 50-minute drive from Nevada City to Squaw Valley, but it’s a 4,000-foot ascent on narrow, curvy state highway 20, with a steep cliff off to the right (the side of the tiny house with the 500 pound deck attached to it). Then there’s a long stretch of interstate 80 over Donner Summit, where the truck chains in winter create deep ruts that could vibrate the hardware right out of windows and doors. Imagine building a house and immediately putting it through a tornado and an earthquake.

Luckily the ride up wasn’t nearly as perilous as we had all imagined. Here it is an hour later in position, with the deck folded up over the french doors.

Everyone was exhausted and relieved. Tears of joy shed. It is so beautiful!

Lisa enjoying the view.

In position next to a ski lift in Squaw Valley. Many thanks to Brad Barth, Adam Feehan and Tom Kelly of Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows for making this possible.

Special thanks to Jim Seely, the contractor on the project, who worked tirelessly to get this project finished in time for the conference. He was the core of this project and without him it wouldn’t have been so beautiful. Here is Brett and  Jim celebrating the Dream Wagon at the base of the mountain.

Elves setting up the interior. This was Eva’s first time running the bookshop. The first thing that she had to do was clean the construction dust and dirt from the inside! Jack Norman, Lindsey Gordon, Hunter Jones, Eva Melas and Livia Keene. Livia sold books during the conference.

Eva Melas and the fabulous elves: Hannah Casey, Livia Keene, Jesse Bedayn, Jack Norman and Louis Tonkovich.

With a perfect view of the mountain.

And a wonderful bookstore. Eva and the Elves set this up in a matter of hours. The loft provides plenty of storage for extra bookstore inventory. We still haven’t designed or built the loft ladder. That should be done by June.

Painting donated by long-time former staff-member, Olga Carlisle. Besides being a prolific memoirist, she is a wonderful painter. Thanks to Board Member and Nonfiction Director (and her son) Michael Carlisle for hand-delivering it to the Dream Wagon. We love it.

Sands Hall on stage during the Writers Workshops.

To sit in the audience in Squaw Valley with the day transitioning to dusk, and to see our staff writers read from the stage as the landscape changed character with the setting sun, was deeply moving. This wagon is wonderfully emblematic of the ethos and spirit of this transient, yet half-century-enduring community, as well as the man whose legacy inspired it.


Amy Tan reading from the stage.

Wonderful Board Member Carlin Naify with the help of CapRadio’s Beth Ruyak hold an impromptu fundraiser to fund some of the final expenses of the project. Thanks to all of you who gave!

The follies.

David Radin (left), Robin Radin, (center), and Paul Radin himself. All of our love and gratitude to the Radin family for spearheading this incredible endeavor. The Dream Wagon wouldn’t exist without you. And thanks to all who donated or helped to make this dream a reality.

We designed the Dream Wagon in the spirit of Paul (right). Pictured here with his brothers,  Paul was a wild man, an intellectual, a poet and a traveler. He attended the very first Community of Writers using his guitar as a deposit. Riding Zumgali over from his place in Ramparts on the Truckee River each year to visit the workshops, he found a seasonal home in our community. Now he’ll always have one.

Robin Radin at the dedication of the Paul Radin Memorial Dream Wagon with Brett looking on. Members of the Radin family traveled from all over the country to attend.

(Back in Nevada City.) Thanks to the resourceful and hardworking crew who put many long days into its construction. From left to right: Larry Beck, Dave Stokes, Brett Hall Jones, Preston Williams, Jim Seely, Mike McLeran, Dave Wills, Terry Honea, Hunter Jones, Lindsey Gordon (and Greta). Not pictured: Roofer Andy Roberts and finish carpenter Gene Mesick.

Thanks also to the following people for consulting on the project: Jim Seely, Lydia Seely, Steve Rempe, Julie Cobden, Gloria Novak, Robert Austin. And to Louis B. Jones, who put up with a year’s worth of obsession, design consultation, and worries, and in the end contributed all the great ideas for its design.

Every day Brett and Eva work here, getting ready for this summer’s workshops. The submissions are rolling in!

Eva managing submissions from her desk at the bow of the tiny house.

The Community’s Dream Wagon, the rest of the year. A rent-free office. This is where we work. Felix likes it there in the shade of the pear tree. In June, we will move it back up to the Valley for another season of writing workshops.

Thank you to everyone who donated to make this dream possible!

Dream Wagon Founding Donors
David Radin and Robert Radin

With A Generous Grant From
The Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation

Eddy and Osvaldo Ancinas • René & April Ancinas • Michael Carlisle •  Michael and Janet Pietsch • Steve & Michele Rempe • Cecile Weaver

Reagan Arthur • Adam Cole • Nancy Evans • The Hall Family • Sands Hall • Joy Harris • William Haxton • Pam Rorke Levy • John Roberts II • Carlin & James Naify • Beth Ruyak & Mike McWhirter • Julia Flynn Siler & Charlie Siler • Nancy Teichert • Cora Yang & • Myron Marx • Pat Woeber • Vonetta Young

Marcia Bradley • Elizabeth Chapman • Susan Call • Charmaine Craig • Leslie Daniels • Thomas Ennis • Margot Garcia • Harriet Garfinkle • Jim Hill • Joy Johannessen • Calvert Morgan • Cynthia Newberry • David Paul • John Pula • Barbara Ristine • Logan Robertson • Greg and Caridwen Spatz • Elizabeth Tallent & Gloria Rogers • Mary Winsor • Kent Wright

And a big thank you to our wonderful Board of Directors for their constant guidance and support.

Thank you to all who believed in this project and who helped to make it happen. 

Burnett Miller: 1923-2018

Founding Board Member Burnett Miller in 2016. He died in late October.

The Community of Writers is mourning the loss of our founding Board Member, friend and supporter, Burnett Miller.

Burnett made the Community of Writers possible since its earliest days. It’s a lucky thing for us, in the first place, that he and Mimi have always had a house in the Valley, and it’s a lucky thing for us that they’ve been such champions of the arts, including literature. In the city of Sacramento, Burnett and Mimi have been longstanding pillars of the cultural scene, and to Squaw Valley they brought the same warm enthusiasm and stewardship that they provided the Sacramento region.

Here is how the Sacramento Bee begins its remembrance of Burnett:

Burnett Miller survived shrapnel wounds at the Battle of the Bulge, helped liberate a concentration camp — and recounted his war stories for an acclaimed PBS documentary. After returning home to Sacramento, he spent his business career running a millwork and cabinetry company founded by his ancestors shortly after the Gold Rush.

He helped save historic Old Sacramento buildings from the wrecking ball, and was founding member of an annual conference at Lake Tahoe that mentors aspiring poets and writers. He rode camels in Iran and, until recently, played tennis with one of America’s most celebrated painters. 

Oh, and he served as Sacramento’s mayor for about a year.

The city of Sacramento would be a plainer place today if not for Burnett’s work on behalf of its great museums, parks, historic buildings, arts organizations. And as a summer resident of this unincorporated resort village in the mountains, he may not have been the mayor, but he had his hand on the tiller of the Valley’s major cultural institution. As Chairman of our Board of Directors, Burnett for many years sat at the head of the table, knowing when to intervene and change the subject but also – and mostly – practicing the art of listening with an intense empathy. Wherever Burnett was, things flourished. We remember one August, when, on the post-conference day after all the participants had gone home, a few of us administrators were beginning the packing-up process, in our morning-after fatigue – and then the Chairman of the Board arrived, with a spring in his step. And with, also, the slight hitch in his walk that came along in his eighties, he started picking things up and churned everyone into action, making decisions about sorting office equipment for winter storage, carrying off boxes or computer printers. It was Private 1st Class Miller, the one who led a patrol in the Battle of the Bulge.

Burnett must have seized on the Community of Writers (and, by the way, made lifelong friends of us all) because he was at heart an intellectual. He may have been a practical politician and a businessman, and those are two callings that don’t like overly highbrow pursuits or fancy tastes – businessmen and politicians have good reasons to, rather, be known as down-to-earth. But in Burnett’s home, the freshest “New York Review of Books” was always out on the coffee table, and it had obviously always been ransacked, its tabloid folds disheveled. The walls of all the rooms and staircases in that house are covered chockablock, salon-style, with oil paintings by contemporary artists, and new hardcover fiction and nonfiction stands on end tables, bookmarked. He and Mimi showed up at every one of the summer conferences, attending lectures and readings stylishly dressed and seated in the very front row. Burnett knew how to be a bon vivant, often buying a bottle to go around, and sometimes ruling a dinner table with his beautifully told stories. He had plenty of stories to tell. His patrol in the Ardennes forest walked “on point,” meaning at the brunt. He was one of the American officers who personally, literally, opened gates at the Mauthausen concentration camp, while prisoners on the other side watched him do it. And all their lives, he and Mimi have been adventurous world travelers, not the kind of tourists who merely ride and eat, but explorers seeking out hard-to-get-to places, and places without amenities. His stories were always masterpieces. His destiny was to work largely in the business and government worlds, but he may have been an artist or writer manqué – as if, maybe, had there been no “Burnett & Sons” (fine millwork and planning, founded 1869), he might have been an editor or critic, one of us ink-stained wretches. We’re fortunate that one of Burnett’s greatest arts was making everybody else’s life brighter.

Read more about Burnett in the Sacramento Bee.

If you are interested in honoring Burnett’s long 50 year history with the Community of Writers with a donation, please go here.

Goodbye to Tom Rickman, 1940-2018

Tom Rickman, Squaw Valley Screenwriting Program, 1977. (Photo by Tracy E. Hall)

People may have heard that the legendary screenwriter was rumored to be around, but those who didn’t happen to be enrolled in the Screenwriting Program might not have run into Tom Rickman during the week – or recognize him, until the night of the Follies came around.

He loved the Follies. One particular song he’d written, “Why Does the Toast Fall Butter-Side-Down?” had to be reprised every year by popular demand; people got to know the refrain by heart and came to sing along with loud abandon making that existential complaint. He also had an a cappella version of “Minnie the Moocher,” just him and the mic up there, where his voice swung low and took on an amazing trombone blare. His avid performing abilities – implying a necessary empathy for actors and their art – of course must have helped make his success as a dramatic writer. He was always happy and relaxed onstage. People will remember under bright lights the ruddy cheeks and the plentiful snow-white hair, the recurrent, even perpetual shrug, hands-in-pockets, the impression he always made that he was, somehow, standing off to one side from the point he was making.

Tom Rickman and Gill Dennis (1981), who along with Diana Fuller, founded the Screenwriting Program at the Community of Writers. (Photo by Barbara E. Hall)

He grew up in Kentucky in a home without plumbing or television and made a journey from there to writing the movie “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” No doubt as a boy he heard Loretta Lynn on the radio, so coming to write her bio-pic would have been a fine life experience. He had first come to Squaw Valley some years before that success, to help get a screenwriting program going; Diana Fuller had invited him because she was adding a movie component to a playwriting program that existed here at the time. And she and Tom, along with Gill Dennis, invented a whole separate world across the campus, where participants’ scripts were analyzed, and then during the week, actors would learn the parts and scenes would be blocked out, directed, filmed, and even edited (in those days before digital), then screened for the whole group – so that inexperienced screenwriters might see the practical outcome of written work. It was a great program and we’re sorry it’s gone, dependent as it was on Tom and Gill. He was young then when it started, in his early thirties, and he continued to come up and help run it every year without fail, except for maybe one or two times when production schedules wouldn’t allow. He stopped coming a few years ago when cancer therapy started keeping him home. He hasn’t, ever since, been able to return.

An important element in Tom was his cordial humility. In an industry town where self-effacement is not recommended for beginners, Tom (the Kentucky boy, as he styled himself) arrived and throve, transiting naturally to the rare Hollywood echelons where to be laid back isn’t a ruinous handicap. Here at the Workshops, even the shyest, most unpublished short-story writer found an easy comrade in Tom, somebody who would confide unpretentiously, somebody who would listen with genuine fresh interest. Always witty and unassuming and quiet with his entrances and exits, he’s gone up yonder. We here have been missing him for a long time already.

1982 Screenwriting Program. Familiar faces include Tom Rickman, Gill Dennis, Nancy Kelly, Anna Deveare Smith, Kristin Peckinpah Dennis, Andrew Reinhardt, Susanne Simpson.


Song by Tom Rickman. Poster was a gift from Tom Rickman to the Community of Writers. (Use subject to permission.)


Poetry Alums Among Headliners at the Sierra Poetry Festival

The Community of Writers is pleased to recommend the 2nd Annual Sierra Poetry Festival, this Saturday, April 28 which will feature several Community of Writers alums.

Among the poets headlining the Festival are Marcelo Hernandez CastilloMolly Fisk, and Judy HalebskyMaxima Kahn‘s workshop “Igniting Your Poetic Fire,” will also be featured. The event will be emcee’d by our own Sands Hall.

Click on the author portraits to learn about these poets and their work.

  • Fisk, Molly
    Molly Fisk
  • Judy Halebsky
  • Marcelo Hernandez Castillo
  • Maxima Kahn

Marcelo Hernandez Castillo  •  Molly Fisk  •   Judy Halebsky •  Maxima Kahn

Nevada County Arts Council will present the 2018 Sierra Poetry Festival on April 28, all day, at Sierra College in Grass Valley. Activities will include a keynote address by Los Angeles Poet Laureate Robin Coste Lewis, author of Voyage of the Sable Venus, winner of the National Book Award for Poetry. Three other California poets laureate, and an array of local, national and international poets and performers will join Coste Lewis. Among the day’s line-up are Kim Shuck, Indigo Moor, Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, Judy Halebsky, V.S. Chochezi and Staajabu as Straight Out Scribes, Neeli Cherkovski, Bill Gainer, Molly Fisk, Charles Entrekin, Gail Entrekin, Sands Hall, Mel Pryor, Kirsten Casey and more.

Join us there for a wonderful day of workshops, readings and performances!

More Details

The Tiny House on Wheels Project

We are excited to report that construction on our long-planned bookshop/headquarters on wheels has begun. The Paul Radin Memorial Writers Lodge (named in honor of our friend), this project will be complete by this summer. Yesterday, the first wall was pushed up by the journeymen on the project. 

Concept drawing courtesy of artist and alum Stephanie Taylor featuring Caridwen & Greg Spatz performing during the Follies.

Spearheaded by a major donation by the family of Paul Radin, and with substantial support of other donors,  this project was conceived to create a useful way for us to solve several problems:

  • It will create a bookshop that can sell hundreds of staff books on site during the workshops, as demands for space in the Squaw Valley resort continue to grow more competitive.
  • When our access to the venue ends on the same day the conference does, it will allow us to simply tow it away and complete our extensive inventories and returns off-site.
  • The structure will also serve as our year-round headquarters (office) in Nevada City .

 With a fold-down stage for readings and presentations, French doors, built-in book cases, and an office, this promises to be a whimsical and useful abode for the Community of Writers. More details on Paul Radin and the origins of this project can be found here. The dedication of the tiny house will be Saturday evening, July 14, as part of the Writers Workshops Follies.

Send us your ideas…

The structure is now called The Paul Radin Memorial Lodge. However, we are interested in your ideas on its more informal everyday appellation, as “Lodge” brings to mind a larger structure and might be confused with other local buildings. The Paul Radin Memorial… __________… what? The name might evoke books, learning, writing, migration, travel… 

If you too would like to support this project and have your name on the donor wall, contact us for more details. 


Announcing Our 2018 Summer Writers Workshops

The Community of Writers is pleased to announce the 2018 Summer Writing Workshops in Poetry and Fiction, Nonfiction and Memoir. We are now accepting applications. 


June 23 – 30, 2018

  • Kazim Ali
  • Mónica de la Torre
  • Robert Hass
  • Sharon Olds
  • Evie Shockley
  • Dean Young

Kazim Ali  •  Mónica de la Torre  •  Robert Hass
Sharon Olds  •  Evie Shockley  •  Dean Young

The Poetry Workshop is founded on the belief that when poets gather in a community to write new poems, each poet may well break through old habits and write something stronger and truer than before. The idea is to try to expand the boundaries of what one can write. In the mornings we meet to read to each other the work of the previous twenty-four hours, and in the late afternoons we gather for a conversation about some aspect of craft.On several afternoons staff poets hold brief individual conferences. Director: Robert Hass.

Financial Aid Available.
Application Deadline: March 28, 2018. 

More program details, bios, logistics, and application form:

Visit the Poetry Workshop Page

in Fiction, Nonfiction & Memoir

July 8 – 15, 2018


Lisa Alvarez • Tom Barbash • Michael Carlisle  •  Charmaine Craig • Leslie Daniels • Karen Joy Fowler  •  Glen David Gold • Sands Hall • Dana Johnson  •  Louis B. Jones • Edan Lepucki • Edie Meidav • Peter Orner  •  Kirstin Valdez Quade • Jason Roberts • Elizabeth Rosner  •  Margaret Wilkerson Sexton • Julia Flynn Siler  •  Elizabeth Tallent  • Andrew Winer


Literary Agents – Book & Literary Magazine Editors and more


Max Byrd • Mo Gawdat  •  Michelle Latiolais • Gabriel Tallent • Amy Tan


Michael Andreasen • Laurie Ann Doyle • Jimin Han    •  Mary Kuryla  •  Brian Rogers

 These workshops assist serious writers by exploring the art and craft as well as the business of writing. The week offers daily morning workshops, craft lectures, panel discussions on editing and publishing, staff readings, and brief individual conferences.The morning workshops are led by staff writer-teachers, editors, or agents. There are separate morning workshops for Fiction and Narrative Nonfiction/Memoir. In addition to their workshop manuscripts, participants may have a second manuscript read by a staff member who meets with them in individual conferences.

Financial Aid available.
Application Deadline: March 28, 2018

More program details, bios, logistics, and application form:


Visit the Writers Workshops Page

New Alumni Books Update

Books published by Alumni Authors published in October – December, 2017

Congratulations to these Community of Writers Alums who have published books during the last quarter of 2017!

We are delighted to share their success with you. You can explore these books by clicking the book cover images below.


  • Judy Bebelaar
  • Jeanne Foster
  • John Harvey
  • Erin Adair Hodges
  • Devi S. Laskar
  • Jami Macarty
  • Christopher Sindt
  • Laura Swearingen-Steadwell
  • Ian Randall Wilson



  • moonglow
    Michael Chabon
  • Terence Clarke
  • Jennifer Egan
  • Janet Fitch
  • David Hagerty
  • Jill Kolongowski
  • Mary Kuryla
  • Martin J. Smith
  • JJ Strong
  • Amy Tan

Do you have a forthcoming publication? Send us your news, and and we will post it in our Omnium Gatherum: Alumni News.  And if your news is a book publication, we’ll include it in our next quarterly 2018 New Alumni Book Update here!

Community of Writers Poetry Program Founder Galway Kinnell’s “Collected Poems” Now Available

We are excited to announce the publication of Galway Kinnell’s Collected Poems, just out this week from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt!

The definitive collection of poems from Pulitzer Prize-winner, MacArthur Fellow, National Book Award-winner, and Community of Writers Poetry Program founder, Galway Kinnell.


“It’s the poet’s job to figure out what’s happening within oneself, to figure out the connection

between the self and the world, and to get it down in words that have a certain shape, that have

a chance of lasting.” —Galway Kinnell


The Poetry Program, as we’ve practiced it since 1985, was Galway Kinnell’s design, along with Sharon Old’s. When he became director, he created a poetry program different from any other that operated on very simple principles.: to write a new poem every single day, avoid critical comments and find what is working in each other’s poems. Galway died in 2014 and left a legacy of poetry and community that can find no parallel.

Now comes the long-awaited compendium of  his work: “a body of poetry that pushed deep into the heart of human experience” (New York Times). This vast collection is the very first to represent Kinnell’s entire body of work, including seven previously uncollected poems. Collected Poems collects 65 years of, as he would call poetry, ” inspired thought.” This large and lovely volume is sure to be an essential part of any poetry collection, especially of those who worked with him at the Community of Writers.

From the Publisher:

In a remarkable generation of poets, Galway Kinnell was an acknowledged, true master. From the book-length poem memorializing the grit, beauty, and swarming assertion of immigrant life along a lower Manhattan avenue, to searing poems of human conflict and war, to incandescent reflections on love, family, and the natural world—including “Blackberry Eating,” “St. Francis and the Sow,” and “After Making Love We Hear Footsteps”—to the unflinchingly introspective poems of his later life, Kinnell’s work lastingly shaped the consciousness of his age.

In his introduction to the book, Edward Hirsch writes: “Reading over Kinnell’s work as a whole, one finds that he was essentially looking for ultimate meaning, which he could not find in a provisional universe. What he could create was a poetry that embraced our earthly hold, the bonds of connection, the nature of being. His ambition was overarching. He dreamed of a true poem of embodiment, one that would incorporate as much of the available world as possible. That dream is realized as these Collected Poems, the single work he was writing all his life, his Leaves of Grass. It could be described as Tenderness Toward Existence.”

“There’s no one whose work has so often and with such consistency brought into the world a sense of wonder and exaltation, no one who so often discovered rich new harmonies of poetic language, no one who devised so many metaphors that resonate through so many levels of materiality and spirit, uniting the physical with the moral and passion with thought. In short, there’s no one whose work has elaborated so ample and comprehensive a vision of the lives we’ve lived.” — C. K. Williams, The New Yorker

Galway Kinnell published ten books of poetry, a novella, and several books of translations, including of the poetry of François Villon and Rainer Maria Rilke. In 1982 his Selected Poems won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. A former MacArthur fellow and State Poet of Vermont, he was the Erich Maria Remarque Professor of Creative Writing and the cofounder and longtime mentor of the graduate creative writing program at New York University. For many years he enriched the life of American culture, not only through the printed word but also through his teaching, his devotion to the tribe of poets, and his indelibly powerful public readings.

We hope you will go to your local or online bookseller and purchase a copy ($35.) Or, for the next 10 donors of $250 or more, we will send you a copy as a thank you gift.

Donate Today


Thoughts of Summer and A Time To Give

Everything is in storage now for the winter, the folding tables and pop-up tents, the coffee carafes and wicker baskets, the painted canvas stage backdrop, the tablecloths, and the orange plastic jack-o-lantern we put out at evening events to collect donations. Next June, after the long months of winter, we will throw open the storage unit’s roll-up door to reveal it all, and set it all up again. We’ll be here in June as usual – and we hope some of you may be here again, too. We return each year for one simple reason: to help usher literature into the world.

And so I am writing you today to ask for your support as we close out 2017. It is hard to express how complex and challenging is this thing we do. And how expensive. In an atmosphere of increasing costs, our goal, always, is to keep the workshops affordable, and this experience possible, for talented writers. Now we need your help to close the gap between our tuition income and the actual costs of the summer of workshops.

Of course, so much has been shaken loose of late – in winds, fires, floods – and there are so many who need your help, but we hope nevertheless that we will be part of your giving plan for 2017. With your help, previously isolated poets and writers may find friendship and support in their writing lives, and discover a wider audience for their work, so their words may have a lasting influence in this world.

Donations, large and small are needed and appreciated. All donations are tax-deductible. We can’t do what we do without you. Please give today.  You may donate securely online, or mail a check to the address below.

With gratitude and warm wishes,



Brett Hall Jones, Executive Director
Community of Writers
PO Box 1416, Nevada City, CA 95959


Words, Music and Vodka flowed at our Evening with Janet Fitch!

On Saturday, November 11, Sacramento was treated to a festive evening with Janet Fitch to celebrate the publication of her new novel The Revolution of Marina M.

The event was a fundraiser for the Community of Writers and featured a conversation between Janet and local radio host Beth Ruyak, dramatic staged readings from the novel by local actor Allyson Finn, and lively acoustic music by the band Beaucoup Chapeaux! This staging was inspired and supported by Stories on Stage Sacramento, who has actors perform readings from authors’ works. The interview was interspersed with the dramatic readings which brought Fitch’s words to life.  Vodka (donated by Dripping Springs Distillery) flowed into the commemorative shot glasses generously donated by Little, Brown & Co, Janet’s publisher. The food, prepared and donated by friends and Board Members included Russian brown bread, caviar and more.

We were honored to have Beth Ruyak participant in this the event.  Tremendous gratitude goes to Sue Staats and Stories on Stage Sacramento, who has been instrumental in bringing this together. Thanks to Andrew Naify and Beers Books for making books available for sale. Many thanks to our wonderful volunteers Cathy Chapell, Ana Cotham, Livia Keene, Emily Malsam, Michael Melas, Tatiana Morfas, Lydia and Jim Seely, as well as our board members Ruth Blank and Chris Spanos, James and Carlin Naify, and Nancy and Fred Teichert. Thanks also to Peggi Wood, the casting director for the event. A big thank you goes out to Beaucoup Chapeaux for donating their appearance and serenading us with Eastern European, Balkan and Russian folk music. And, of course, thank you to Janet Fitch for making this all possible!

The Event was Sponsored by Stories on Stage Sacramento and Beers Books.

View Photos Here

Many thanks to Barry Schwartz Photography and Eva Melas and for taking these wonderful photos.


Written Here: The Community of Writers Poetry Review 2016

Available for the Holidays!

Written Here: The Community of Writers Poetry Review 2016

We are delighted to report that the annual poetry anthology of poems first written during the 2016 Poetry Workshop is available now! Order it now and it will arrive in time for the holidays. This lovely edition would make a wonderful Christmas present.

Book Description: Invite some of the magic of wind on the mountain and warm days in the valley into your mailbox. From the turbulent summer of 2016, 43 poets bring you 67 poems. This edition of Written Here presents a selection of the pieces that emerged from our week of poetry workshops. Edited and designed by participant volunteers from the workshop, it’s a beautiful anthology that reflects a range of subjects, a variety of styles, and concerns that continue today. Edited by Amy Elisabeth DavisRichard SimeChristine GosnayAbriana JettéTrisha Peck, and Roberto Santiago and designed by Cody Gates and Maureen Forys, the book’s profits go to the Community of Writers Scholarship Fund. Every copy you get for yourself or someone else is also a gift to a future participant in the workshop.

More Details


Images from the June 2017 Benefit Poetry Reading

After a long delay, we finally uploaded images from the 2017 Benefit Poetry Reading. The Benefit was held in Nevada City at the historic Miners Foundry on June 23 to an overflowing and enthusiastic crowd. The June evening in the Sierra Foothills was blistering hot — nevertheless, the audience endured the heat to hear great poetry and meet the beloved guest poets.

The 2017 Benefit Reading featured poets Francisco Aragón, Forrest Gander, Robert Hass, Brenda Hillman, Sharon Olds, and Gregory Pardlo, emcee Molly Fisk, and were welcomed by Sands Hall.
The Benefit Reading is held every year on the night before the Poetry Workshop in Squaw Valley to raise important funds for the Community of Writers Scholarship Fund for Poets.

Many thanks to the coordinator Elizabeth Kelley Gillogly, as well as YubaLit’s Rachel Howard, and all the volunteers who made the event such as success.

Special thanks to Chuck and Jo Baker for the photographs!

View Photos


Recently Published Alums Return to Read From Their Books

Natalie Baszile, Vanessa Hua, Carole Firstman, Jade Chang, Mauro Javier Cardenas, and Kimball Taylor

In July 2017, we continued our tradition of inviting recently published alums back to the Community of Writers to read from their new books. On Wednesday, July 12, we presented The Published Alumni Reading Series, preceded by a reception in the honor of these writers.  This year’s alums were Mauro Javier Cardenas, Jade Chang, Carole Firstman, Vanessa Hua, Kimball Taylor all introduced by Natalie BaszileThe Community of Writers was delighted to celebrate the success of these writers and to present them to the participants, staff, and the public.

  • Mauro Javier Cardenas
  • 2017_chang
    Jade Chang
  • Carole Firstman
  • Vanessa Hua
  • Kimball Taylor

Bestselling Author Janet Fitch Comes to Sacramento to Benefit the Community of Writers

The Community of Writers in collaboration with
Stories on Stage Sacramento,
is proud to present New York Times bestselling author of White Oleander Janet Fitch


Saturday, November 11, 2017 at 7:00 pm

The Auditorium at CLARA
1425 24th St., Sacramento

The Russian Revolution will be center stage for this evening of literature, conversation, and music. Made doubly relevant by today’s headlines, and the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, this interview and exploration of Janet Fitch’s new novel, The Revolution of Marina M.  will be interspersed with dynamic readings from the book by a professional actor.

Set in the turbulent period before and after the overthrow of the Tsar, this historical novel presents a sweeping account of a young poet carried by the tide of revolution into a life greater than anything she ever imagined.

  • Reception with Russian sweets and vodka (wine and beer). Souvenir shot glass included with ticket price.
  • Copies of The Revolution of Maria M. will be available for sale
  • Janet Fitch will sign copies during the reception.
  • Beaucoup Chapeaux will perform Eastern European and Baltic traditional folk songs. (See video below.)

Proceeds will support the Community of Writers.



Thank You For A Remarkable Summer!

Thank You To All Who Helped Make the 2017 Summer of Workshops Happen

Elves Julia Hass, Livia Keene, Jesse Bedayn, Hunter Jones, Lindsey Gordon, Eva Melas, and Audrey Rawson

So many friends and colleagues helped make it happen.

In May we said goodbye to the wonderful Amy Rutten, our director of Alumni Relations. She was offered a terrific full-time job in the local library. We will miss her.  Eva Melas has since joined us in that same position and we are delighted to have her. She came to us after seven years as a Poetry Elf, with a BA from UC Davis in English and an internship with Soho Press under her belt.

As they have done for 47 years, the Summer Workshops came together with the energetic participation of many friends and colleagues. We are grateful to and astounded by our brilliant, warm and generous teaching staff members in Poetry, Fiction and Nonfiction who make the summer workshops an unforgettable and productive experience. And in particular I want to thank our program directors: Lisa Alvarez, Michael Carlisle, Robert Hass, Diana FullerLouis B. Jones, and guest Poetry director, Brenda Hillman.

Andrew Tonkovich sings at the Follies while Felix surveys the scene.

Heaps of gratitude again to Andrew Tonkovich who was essentially essential: from the management of all the manuscripts during registration, to moderating panels, to his very fine Closing Talk, he was central to it all. Many thanks to Kaitlin Klaussen, who ran our popup bookstore, and to Marlo Eckert who helped Kaitlin coordinate the housing. Thanks also to Tracy Hall for documenting the goings-on with her camera (she took the photos included here). And thanks to Tracy and Jim Chumbley for creating a bit of home in our humble snack bar. Our Elves (and all-around helpers) were Jesse Bedayn, Lindsey Gordon, Julia Hass, Dashiell Jones, Hunter JonesEva Melas, Jack NormanLivia Keene, Audrey Rawson, and Louis Tonkovich.  Dashiell and Hunter helped us record events and later on will put them on our website. With high energy and good spirits, they all made things happen seamlessly. We are also grateful to Rob and Meg Gordon who helped out in a dozen different ways including baking muffins each morning. Eva Melas organized the Poetry Picnic this year at Meeks Bay along with the help of Heather Altfeld and Troy Jollimore. Indispensable also at the Poetry Picnic were Aaron Dylan Graham and Henry Rappaport who barbecued with confidence unlike most writers. And thanks to Sands Hall for the inimitable Follies and for hosting Poetry’s final dinner. Thanks to co-founder, Barbara Hall, for opening her home to the writers and poets. Liz Thiem and Storey Rafter graced our Poetry party with delicious food and good humor. Huge thank to Ben & Elissa Prescott who helped out where needed while juggling the attentions and needs of twins: the bookstore, moving out, and the sound during the Follies.

Robert Radin, Sharon Olds, Brenda Hillman, Robert Hass, Forrest Gander, Francisco Aragón, and Gregory Pardlo with a photo of Paul Radin

The Paul Radin Memorial Writers Lodge (The Tiny House Project): On Thursday, during the Poetry week, the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley memorialized one of its longtime friends, the late Paul Radin, whose family then honored his memory with a significant and defining gift to the work of our non-profit. The remembrance ceremony in honor of Paul Radin preceded the Community’s annual poetry reading, with remarks by editor and writer Andrew Tonkovich, and novelist Louis B. Jones, who knew Radin and helped care for him as he struggled with illness, as well as founding Board Member Burnett MillerRobert Radin represented the family. Radin’s family, including brothers Robert Radin and David Radin, donated seed money to the Community dedicated to the purchase of a portable “tiny house” on wheels to be used as a portable office and bookstore onsite during the conference weeks in Squaw Valley. With gratitude to the Radins for this major gift, the Community of Writers will still need to raise an additional $25,000 or more to bring make it a reality.

We would like to acknowledge our friends who have been tremendously generous with their time and local support over the years: Eddy & Osvaldo Ancinas, Mimi & Burnett Miller and Amy Tan & Lou Demattei.

Gregory Pardlo delivery Poetry Craft Talk

Thanks also to Christopher Monger who joined us in the valley to teach his special class on the Art of Adaptation. And to Diana who helped put that together. Thanks to Christopher Upham and Christopher Beaver as well, for technical help.

The Benefit Poetry Reading took place in Nevada City in June and many thanks are in order, especially to Molly Fisk who emceed the event, as well as the six participating poets: Francisco Aragón, Forrest Gander, Brenda Hillman, RobertHass, Sharon Olds, Gregory Pardlo. Special thanks to the Event Coordinator Elizabeth Kelley Gillogly who, with the able help of Rachel Howard, YubaLit and Sands Hall, made this one of the best-attended  Benefit events we’ve done. Thanks so much to our sponsors: Deborah Dashow Ruth, The Entrekin Foundation, YubaLit, and Nevada County Arts Council. Thanks to Copper Canyon Press, Counterpoint Press, University of Arizona Press, and Wesleyan University Press for donating books, and to Lisa Rappoport at Littoral Press for the broadsides.Thanks to our enthusiastic volunteers: Heather Altfeld, Chuck and Jo Baker who took wonderful photos, Fiona and Shawn Gillogly, Troy Jollimore, Eva Melas, Michael & Emily Malsam, Lydia & Jim Seely, David Tallitsch, and Tom Taylor.

Many thanks to the Board of Directors: a person in my position couldn’t ask for a more responsive, generous and wise Board, especially president Jim Naify.  I am grateful to our Events Committee (Carlin Naify, Nancy Teichert & Ruth Blank) who made great things happen during the programs. Special thanks this year to my comrades Michael Carlisle, Chris Sindt, and Michelle Latiolais who are always there with sage advice, support and friendship.

Barbara Hall & Amy Tan

Our Friends: Thank you to all our individual and institutional donors. What a community this is! Your support is essential to this thing we do.

It always strikes me as a minor miracle when the workshops all come together. But of course it is the enmeshing of hundreds of kindred spirits, learning about and from each other and their work, that makes it so. Without all of you it just wouldn’t be possible.

With love and gratitude,





Brett Hall Jones
Executive Director

Brett Hall Jones along with Fiction co-director, Lisa D. Alvarez at the back of Plaza Bar with Felix the dog.











Community of Writers’ Screenwriting Program Director Diana Fuller Launches New Documentary Project

Diana Fuller is producing the film, Where Once Was Water, directed by Christopher Beaver.

Where Once Was Water is a lively solutions-oriented documentary that tells the story of how the driest city in America, in the middle of the Mojave desert, leads the way in sustainable water conservation.  

Las Vegas, Nevada, better known for its bright lights and extravagance is certainly the most unlikely city to lead the nation in this effort. The development of the innovative techniques that enabled this constantly expanding city to emerge today, as a leader in water conservation, is primarily due to the efforts of Patricia Mulroy, known to some as the Water Tsar of Las Vegas.

Join in this exploration of a vital frontier of water sustainability, by supporting this film.  The efforts of Las Vegas, in its search for sustainability, have produced important solutions, technological, political, and financial that have on-going global importance.

Here is a link to the trailer.


Great Notice in the Sacramento Bee

An article written for the Sacramento Bee by alum and friend Stephanie Taylor. Link to the full article below.

Over the decades, these writers have become a community at Squaw Valley


The peaks overlooking the Squaw Valley writers’ workshop. Pen on paper by Stephanie Taylor

Sacramento Bee, August 9, 2017

There’s something infectious about 150 or so creative people, all chattering at once. This is a weeklong annual conference of writers, established and aspiring, who come from all over to this valley near the north shore of Lake Tahoe, some every summer, year after year. If ideas and genius are tangible molecules floating in the air, I can only hope they’ll land on me.

The operative word is “community,” chosen on purpose by the founders in 1969, when the novelists Oakley Hall and Blair Fuller gathered to build an institution that’s thrived ever since. Some of the writers have passed — sort of. I say “sort of” because their spirits linger. Some are declining gently into old age. Their children carry on, and their children’s children. It’s an honor to be here, to be included in what has evolved as a family.

It’s also difficult not to be intimidated by those who have been here before, studying and discussing the craft of poetry, fiction, nonfiction and screenwriting: Peter Matthiessen, Richard Ford, Michael Chabon, Robert Hass and Anne Rice, to name a few. In 1985, Amy Tan arrived with stories that became The Joy Luck Club. This year, Janet Fitch’s novel Paint It Black is her second movie. Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird is every writer’s classic.  Read the full article at the Sacramento Bee.


July Events During The Writers Workshops

You are Invited to Our 2017 Public Events

Are you a Tahoe Area local or visitor? Are you an alum who wants to come and visit? Every year, the Community of Writers puts on a number of readings and events as part of our Summer Writing Workshops that are open to the public, and most are free of charge.

 Get Updates!

July Events During The Writers Workshops

Print July Events Schedule

Panels & Craft Talks

Don’t miss the chance to hear our staff share insights into the craft and business of writing. Topics are new each year, with the exception of our popular publishing panels, which feature agents, editors, and publishers providing insights and answering questions on this shifting landscape. Most panels and craft talks take place during the afternoon. Admission is free to the public and no reservations are required.

Most Craft Talks and Panels will take place in Bar One in the Olympic House between 1 and 4 pm.

Craft talks this year will be given by: Mark Childress and Josh Weil.

Late Afternoon Short Takes Readings

On many afternoons during the Writers Workshops, we invite staff members to read brief works of  fiction and nonfiction, published and unpublished.  Admission is free to the public and no reservations are required.

Most afternoon readings will take place in Plaza Bar in the Olympic House between at 5:30 pm.

Special Events

Reservations and/or ticket purchase recommended: Suggested donation $20/$8 student.

The Community of Writers also invites you to attend our remarkable evening events. This year we offer Special Events on two separate evenings, Monday 10 and Thursday July 13 with readings by authors with new publications. $20 adult/$8 Student. No one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Books will be available for purchase.

Most evening events will take place in Plaza Bar in the Olympic House between at 7:30 pm. However, if that venue is too warm, we may move it outside, under the stars, so please dress in layer.

On Monday, July 10 we present:

  • Natalie Baszile
  • John Daniel
  • Lynn Freed
  • Martin J. Smith

Natalie Baszile, John Daniel, Lynn Freed, and Martin J. Smith.   


Please note: This event may be outside, so please dress in layers.

 ♦ ♦ ♦

On Tuesday, July 11 we present:

An evening panel discussion about the risks and rewards of writing a book-length memoir.

  • Belle Boggs
  • Rachel Howard
  • Tom Lutz
  • Frances Stroh

With Belle Boggs, Rachel Howard, Tom Lutz, Frances Stroh

Moderated by Sands Hall

Admission is free to the public and no reservations are required.

Please note: This event may be outside, so please dress in layers.

Special Afternoon Event: Meet our Published Alumni!

On Wednesday, July 12 at 1:00 pm we present:

The Published Alumni Reading Series.  The Community of Writers is delighted to celebrate the success of these writers and to present them to the participants, staff, and the public.

  • Mauro Javier Cardenas
  • 2017_chang
    Jade Chang
  • Carole Firstman
  • Vanessa Hua
  • Kimball Taylor

Please join us to hear brief readings from Mauro Javier Cardenas, Jade ChangCarole Firstman, Vanessa Hua, Kimball Taylor.

Introduced by

Natalie Baszile.

 ♦ ♦ ♦

On Thursday, July 13 we present:

  • Paul Harding
  • Dylan Landis
  • Krys Lee
  • Josh Weil

Pulitzer Prize-winner Paul Harding, Dylan Landis, Krys Lee, and Josh Weil


Please note: This event may be outside, so please dress in layers.

  ♦ ♦ ♦

Paul Radin remembered with a major gift to the Community of Writers

Robin Radin, Sharon Olds, Brenda Hillman, Robert Hass, Forrest Gander, Francisco Aragón and Gregory Pardlo with image of Paul Radin.

On Thursday, June 19, 2017, the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley memorialized one of its longtime friends, the late Paul Radin, whose family then honored his memory with a significant and defining gift to the work of our non-profit.

Mr. Radin’s family, including brothers Robert Radin of Florida, and David Radin of New York, donated funds to the Community dedicated to the purchase of a portable “tiny house” on wheels to be used as a portable office and bookstore onsite during the conference weeks in Squaw Valley.

We are so pleased at the poetry expressed in this gift.  A house on wheels is wonderfully emblematic of the ethos and spirit of our enduring of this transient, yet half-century enduring community.  This gift is just perfect, and responds to a long-standing need for an office, archives, bookstore space.  In addition, the tiny house will have a charming, whimsical aspect to remind us of Paul, who brought curiosity, poetry and goodwill to our summers.

Although the Tiny House has yet to be built, it will be dedicated The Paul Radin Memorial Writers’ Lodge.

The remembrance ceremony in honor of Paul Radin preceded the Community’s annual poetry reading, with remarks by director Jones, editor and writer Andrew Tonkovich, and novelist Louis B. Jones, who knew Radin and helped care for him as he struggled with illness, as well as former Board President Burnett Miller.  Robin Radin represented the family.

Paul Radin was born in Boston, was a singularly recognizable character in the neighborhood whose commitment to the study of philosophy, Judaica, Native American culture and ecological wisdom defined the way he lived, as close to Nature as possible, on property owned by his family on the Truckee River.  He was an early guest at the Community of Writers’ summer poetry and fiction workshops. He would attend the annual gathering and would attend the readings and events, befriending writers and occasionally sharing his own writing.  His scholarly interests included research on Native American culture, in which he immersed himself, often attending pow-wows.

Legendary was Radin’s arrival one summer on horseback, wearing his trademark flat-brimmed hat and western boots.  We all remember his dramatic entrance with white horse and enjoyed his recollections of the seminal years of the Conference

Paul  was a part of this community. We are so grateful to his family for permanently including his place in it through this timeless gift.  Paul had a home with us.  Now he has given us a small home.

Six Extraordinary Poets Together On One Night in Nevada City!

Nationally Known Poets Read in Nevada City to benefit the Community of Writers

This year we are pleased to welcome three Pulitzer-Prize winners to the stage in addition to an International Griffin Prize-Winner, and so much more!

FRIDAY JUNE 23, 2017, 7:00pm

Buy Tickets Online Now

  • Francisco Aragón
  • Forrest Gander
  • Robert Hass
  • Brenda Hillman
  • Sharon Olds
  • Gregory Pardlo

Francisco Aragón • Forrest Gander • Robert Hass

Brenda Hillman • Sharon Olds • Gregory Pardlo

PLUS: Community of Writers alum and the new Poet Laureate of Nevada County, Molly Fisk, will serve as our evening’s Emcee.

  • Fisk, Molly
    Molly Fisk

View Poet Bios 

NOTE: We have a limited number of premium seats available in the first two rows–get yours today! 

This gathering of the tribe—all staff poets from this year’s Community of Writers’ Summer Poetry Workshop in Squaw Valley—will raise money for the Poetry Program’s financial aid and scholarships. Join us for a reading, signing, and reception with the poet teachers. Books by the poets will be available for purchase before and after the reading.

Tickets are $25 advance/$30 at the door for general admission and $12 advance/$15 at the door for students (with current student ID).

Premium seating, first 2 rows, $45.

Group price, 10 or more tickets purchased at the same time: $20/ticket.

If you would like to purchase tickets over the phone, call 530-470-8440.

Thank you to our sponsors:

Deborah Dashow Ruth  •  The Entrekin Foundation •  Nevada County Arts  •  YubaLit

Buy Tickets Online Now!


Spotlight On Tom Lutz

The Community of Writers welcomes Tom Lutz to teach this summer at our Writers Workshops July 9 – 15. He is the author of And the Monkey Learned Nothing: Dispatches from a Life in Transit; Drinking Mare’s Milk on the Roof of the World: Wandering the Globe from Azerbaijan to Zanzibar; the American Book Award-winning Doing Nothing: A History of Loafers, Loungers, Slackers and Bums; and other books, as well as many pieces in literary, general interest, and academic venues. He has taught at the University of Iowa, University of Copenhagen, Stanford, and CalArts, and is now at University of California, Riverside. He is the founding editor-in-chief and publisher of Los Angeles Review of Books. Read about Tom’s newest book, And the Monkey Learned Nothing, in

Explore the Writers Workshops program, and learn more about the other authors, editors, and agents on our teaching staff. Deadline to Apply: March 28.

In the next few weeks, we will feature authors on our teaching staff.


Pulitzer Prize-winning Poet Gregory Pardlo comes to the Community of Writers This June!

The Community of Writers is delighted and honored to announce that Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gregory Pardlo will join our teaching staff June 24 – July 1.

Gregory Pardlo‘s collection Digest (Four Way Books) won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Digest was also shortlisted for the 2015 NAACP Image Award and was a finalist for the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. His other honors include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts; his first collection Totem was selected by Brenda Hillman for the APR/Honickman Prize in 2007. He is also the author of Air Traffic, a memoir in essays forthcoming from Knopf. Pardlo joins the faculty of the M.F.A. program in creative writing at Rutgers University-Camden in the fall of 2016. He lives with his family in Brooklyn.

View video profile of Pardlo on PBS’s NewsHour with Jeffrey Brown.

Explore the Community of Writers Poetry Workshop, and learn more about the other poets on our teaching staff. Deadline to Apply: March 28.

In the next few weeks, we will feature authors who, in 2017, are new to our teaching staff.

Photo credit: Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Spotlight on Krys Lee

The Community of Writers is delighted to announce that Krys Lee will join the teaching staff this summer all the way from South Korea. She is the author of Drifting House and How I Became a North Korean, both published by Penguin Random House. She is a recipient of the Rome Prize and the Story Prize Spotlight Award, the Honor Title in Adult Fiction Literature from the Asian/Pacific American Libraries Association, and a finalist for the BBC International Story Prize, the Center for Fiction First Novel Award, and the Andrew Carnegie Mellon Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction Medal. Her fiction, journalism, and literary translations have appeared in Granta, The Kenyon Review, Narrative, San Francisco Chronicle, Corriere della Sera, and The Guardian, among others. She is an assistant professor of creative writing and literature at Yonsei University, Underwood International College, in South Korea. Read the 2016 interview with her in the

Explore the Writers Workshops program, and learn more about the other authors, editors, and agents on our teaching staff. Deadline to Apply: March 28.

In the next few weeks, we will feature authors who, in 2017, are new to our teaching staff.


It’s Time To Apply for This Summer’s Workshops

The deadline approaches to apply to our workshops in Poetry, Fiction, Memoir, and Narrative Nonfiction. We’re very excited about the teaching staff we’ve assembled for this summer’s writing workshops! Take a look at the writers and poets who are joining us this summer. The deadline to Apply is March 28, 2017.

Apply Now!

The Poetry Workshop

June 24 – July 1, 2017

  • Francisco Aragón
  • Forrest Gander
  • Robert Hass
  • Brenda Hillman
  • Sharon Olds
  • Gregory Pardlo

The Poetry Program at the Community of Writers is founded on the belief that when poets gather in a community to write new poems, each poet may well break through old habits and write something stronger and truer than before. To help this happen we work together to create an atmosphere in which everyone might feel free to try anything. In the mornings we meet in workshops to read to each other the work of the previous twenty-four hours; each participant also has an opportunity to work with each staff poet. Financial Aid available. More Details.

The Writers Workshops

July 9 – July 15, 2017

Staff Writers

  • Lisa Alvarez
  • Natalie Baszile
  • Belle Boggs
  • Mark Childress
  • John Daniel
  • Alex Espinoza
  • Janet Fitch
  • Lynn Freed
  • Sands Hall
  • Paul Harding
  • Rachel Howard
  • Michael Jaime-Becerra