Spotlight on Rachel Howard

This summer we are delighted to welcome Rachel Howard to the Writers Workshops teaching staff, July 9 – 15, 2017. She is the author of The Lost Night, a memoir about her father’s unsolved murder. Her essays and short stories have appeared in ZYZZYVAGulf Coast, the Arroyo Literary Review, the Hudson Review, and OZY, among other publications. Her essay for Oprah Magazine, “The Love Fast,” was recently included in the collection O’s Little Guide to Starting Over. She teaches memoir and personal essay writing at Stanford Continuing Studies and the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto, and was an associate editor at Shebooks. She has also served as Interim Director of Undergraduate Creative Writing at Warren Wilson College, and as Distinguished Visiting Writer for the Saint Mary’s College MFA program. She joins us from the other side of Donner Summit where she produces a popular reading series called YubaLit. Listen to Ira Glass interview Rachel for the prologue of the radio program This American Life.

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.

Photo credit: Pat Mazzera

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Paul Harding comes to the Community of Writers July 9 – 15

Photo credit: Ekko von Schwichow

The Community of Writers is delighted and honored to announce that Pulitzer Prize-winning author Paul Harding will join our teaching staff July 9 -15. He is the author of two novels about multiple generations of a New England family: the Pulitzer Prize-winning Tinkers, and Enon. A graduate of the University of Massachusetts, he was a drummer for the band Cold Water Flat before earning his MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He has taught at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Harvard University, and Grinnell College. Check out this video of Paul in conversation at the Neiman Foundation at Harvard University.

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.


“Meet the Authors” Event Showcased Alumni Authors

Wednesday evening, Sacramento was offered a literary treat as Alumni authors of the Community of Writers were featured with readings, a reception, and book-signings.

Emcee Julia Flynn Siler shaped the evening with warmth and skill as she highlighted each author’s literary accomplishments. Featured authors were Jade Chang, who flew from Los Angeles, Michael Lavigne, who drove up from Glen Ellen, and Frances Stroh, who traveled from the Bay Area. They were joined by regional authors, Nevada City’s Jordan Fisher Smith, and Davis local Naomi Williams. The evening offered a mix of Fiction, Memoir, and Narrative Nonfiction, with subject matters ranging from an 18th century naturalist’s obsessions with parasites while encountering his first woman in two years (Williams’s novel Landfalls); a husband’s wandering mind drifting to particle physics in the shower (Lavigne/Harding’s The Heart of Henry Quantum); a civil trial involving a deadly grizzly attack in Yellowstone Park (Fisher Smith’s Engineering Eden); growing up in a wealthy beer-brewing family to discover your brother is a drug dealer (Stroh’s Beer Money); and a young Chinese-American’s onstage comedy act which becomes an exercise in understanding himself and all that he has lost.

We send our thanks to the participating authors!

Many thanks to our event sponsors: Ruth Blank & Chris Spanos, Carlin & Jim Naify, Fred & Nancy Teichert, Beers Books, Nevada County Arts Council, The Sacramento Library Foundation, Stories on Stage-Sacramento, Verge Center for the Arts. Thanks also to the Sacramento Poetry Center.




















Spotlight on Francisco Aragón

We are delighted to announce that Francisco Aragón will be teaching at the Poetry Workshop this summer!

Francisco is the author of Puerta del Sol (Bilingual Press) and Glow of Our Sweat (Scapegoat Press) as well as editor of, The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry (University of Arizona Press), these latter two titles winners of International Latino Book Awards, respectively. His poems and translations from the Spanish have appeared in various print and web publications, as well as numerous anthologies. In 2003 he joined the faculty of the Institute for Latino Studies (ILS) at the University of Notre Dame, where he established Letras Latinas—the ILS’ literary initiative. In 2010 he was awarded the Outstanding Latino/a Cultural Arts, Literary Arts and Publications Award by the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education. In 2015 he received a VIDO Award by VIDA: Women in the Literary Arts. A native of San Francisco and resident of Arlington, Virginia, he divides his year between the Notre Dame campus in Indiana and the ILS office in Washington, D.C.

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

Photo credit: Mike Cook

Spotlight on Belle Boggs

We are excited to announce that Belle Boggs will join us this summer.

Belle Boggs will travel all the way from Raleigh, North Carolina, to be a member of our Writers Workshops teaching staff, July 9 – 15, 2017.  Mattaponi Queen, her collection of linked stories, is set along Virginia’s Mattaponi River, and won the Bakeless Prize, the Library of Virginia Literary Award, and was a finalist for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. We have just learned that her new book, The Art of Waiting: On Fertility, Medicine, and Motherhood, in addition to being named a Publishers Weekly and O the Oprah Magazine best book of the year, has been nominated for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. Learn more about her in this November interview with her in The Rumpus.

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.


Writer/Director Christopher Monger to Lead Special Adaption Class

Adaptation: A special afternoon class, taught by Christopher Monger


We are delighted and honored to announce that Writer/Director Christopher Monger will teach a special class on film and television adaptation during the Writers Workshops this July.

Christopher Monger is a writer/director in film and television who has directed eight feature films and written over thirty screenplays. He was born in Wales but has lived in Los Angeles since the mid 80’s. He is best known for his film The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill But Came Down a Mountain and his screenplay for the Emmy Award-winning HBO film, Temple Grandin, which was also nominated for an Academy Award. For writing and directing, his many awards include, the Christopher Award for the film Seeing Red and the Hollywood Film Festival Award for the Girl From Rio. Currently, he is writing a miniseries for HBO and a feature film for Amazon Films.

This Adaption Class will be made up of five 90-minute afternoon sessions, and will be a practical approach to adapting a novel into a screenplay or miniseries. There will be an overview of the fundamentals of screenwriting as well as an analysis of the specific skills for a successful adaptation. We will explore the crucial differences between the mediums, their respective strengths and weaknesses, and examine a handful of adaptations, comparing and contrasting the films with the original material. Addition enrollment fee: $250.

This class is only open to those enrolled in the Writers Workshops July 9 – 15, 2017. 

Spotlight on Natalie Baszile

We are delighted that Natalie Baszile will be joining our teaching staff this July.

Natalie Baszile  is the author of the novel Queen Sugar, named one of the San Francisco Chronicle’s Best Books of 2014, long-listed for the Crooks Corner Southern Book Prize, and nominated for an NAACP Image Award. Queen Sugar has been adapted for TV by writer/director, Ava DuVernay of “Selma” fame, and co-produced by Oprah Winfrey for OWN, Winfrey’s cable network. Read this September Huffington Post Interview with Natalie.

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.

The Annual Campaign a Success!

Thank You!

KnightNow that 2016 has come to a close, we want to express our gratitude to all of those who have participated in this community or supported us financially. We hope that this Community will sustain and invigorate your writing life in 2017, as your participation sustains us.

We are so grateful for the financial support we have received in the past few months from so many of you. Thank you for making our Annual Fund Campaign such a success. You can find a list of supporters here.

All of us at the Community of Writers wish you a happy and productive 2017!


Meet the Authors: A Benefit Reading in Sacramento

Join us in Sacramento on Wednesday, February 15, for an extraordinary evening of readings by Community of Writers’ alumni, emceed by journalist and author Julia Flynn Siler. The authors will be reading from their most recents works, followed by a reception and book signing.

Jade Chang • Michael Lavigne • Jordan Fisher Smith
Frances Stroh • Naomi Williams

More information about the authors below.

7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017

Sierra 2 Center for the Arts & Community
2791 24th St., Sacramento
Doors open at 6:30

$20 Advance/$25 at the Door



Jade Chang is the author of The Wangs vs. The World, an outrageously funny tale about a wealthy Chinese-American family that “loses it all, then takes a healing, uproarious road trip across the United States” (Entertainment Weekly). Their spectacular fall from riches to rags brings the Wangs together in a way money never could. Sharply observed and full of charm, this debut novel is an entirely fresh look at what it means to belong in America.


  • New York Times Editor’s Choice
  • An NPR 2016 Great Reads
  • One of Amazon’s Best Books of 2016
  • A Fall 2016 Barnes & Noble Discover Pick
  • An October Indie Next Pick
  • A The Millions Most Anticipated Book
  • A BuzzFeed Best Books Of 2016
  • An Best Books of 2016
  • Recommended on The Today Show for Great Last-Minute Gift Ideas
  • Long-listed for the PEN/Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction

Michael Lavigne (writing as Pepper Harding) is the author of The Heart of Henry Quantum.

Henry Quantum has several thoughts going through his head at any given time, so it’s no surprise when he forgets something very important—specifically, a Christmas gift for his wife, which he realizes on the morning of December 23. Henry sets off that day in search of the perfect present for her: a bottle of Chanel No. 5 perfume.

“[Harding/Lavigne] has skillfully created a set of interesting, well-developed characters whose lives readers can relate to and care about… with quick, witty dialogue and an expertly crafted stream-of-consciousness style, […] a highly entertaining read that will remind readers of the power of one day to change a life.” —Booklist, Starred Review

“Michael Lavigne wites like an angel. And like a devil. Indeed he writes so well that it isn’t always possible to tell which is which. His ability to give wild imaginings a concrete immediacy, a human warmth and plausibility, is the rarest of writerly gifts.” — Jonathan Rosen

  • Winner of the coveted Sami Rohr Choice Award.
    Winner of the American Library Association Sophie Brodie Honor Book

Jordan Fisher Smith is the author of the recent nonfiction book Engineering Eden: The True Story of a Violent Death, a Trial, and the Fight Over Controlling Nature.

In the summer of 1972 Harry Eugene Walker hitchhiked away from his Alabama home to see America. Nineteen days later he was killed and partially eaten by an endangered grizzly bear at Yellowstone National Park. When nature has been disrupted by human beings, how do we go about repairing it? How much should we try to control or manipulate it in order to heal it? And what happens when we get it wrong?

Engineering Eden“An intensely reported, rousingly readable and ambitiously envisioned book.” —The Wall Street Journal

“Smith’s book will draw you in with his passion, thoughtfulness and first-rate story telling.” —Seattle Times

“Smith pulls it off thanks to his command of the material, his firm grip on the narrative, and his insatiable inquisitiveness. When it comes to natural history, he knows his stuff” –Sierra Magazine

“Stunning”—Entertainment Weekly

  • Engineering Eden was long-listed for this year’s PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award

In Frances Stroh‘s memoir, Beer Money: A Memior of Privilege and Loss, she reveals the complexities of her childhood and coming of age as a member of Detroit’s Stroh’s Beer family, once in possession of the largest private beer fortune in America. The book is at once a recollection of a city, an industry, and a dynasty in decline, and the story of a young artist who struggles to find her way out of the ruins.
“With an artist’s eye for visual detail… her frank and engrossing memoir captures the long decline of the city of Detroit and her sadly dysfunctional family.” —

“Stroh writes candidly and insightfully about…the unsettling truth that unconditional love, much like money, sometimes comes in limited supply. The author’s family might have successfully burned through a massive fortune, but they squandered a lot more than that. A sorrowful, eye-opening examination of familial dysfunction.”
Kirkus Reviews

  • Received the Michigan Notable Book Award
  • Selected as a Books-A-Million President’s Pick


Naomi Williams is the author of Landfalls, a fictionalized reimagining of the ill-fated Lapérouse expedition (1785-1788), a voyage of exploration that attempted to circumnavigate the globe for science and the glory of France.

“A dazzling debut novel about a lost expedition… A bona fide masterpiece.”  —Seattle Times

“Ms. Williams brilliantly moves across continents and gives each landfall a distinct and evocative voice… Landfalls is intelligent and utterly human. Ms. Williams has written a seductive page-turner that … draws the reader in and doesn’t let go. —Wall Street Journal

“A beautiful tale of adventure, anchored in tragedy.” —Vanity Fair

“The drama in Landfalls is unrelenting … sort of a maritime version of ‘The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.’” —New York Times

  • Long-listed for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize.
  • Long-listed the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Award.

Emcee  Julia Flynn Siler is an author and journalist. She wrote The House of Mondavi and Lost Kingdom: Hawaii’s Last Queen, the Sugar Kings, and America’s First Imperial Adventure and is a former staff writer and foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek. A graduate of Brown and of Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism, her work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other publications. She is an alumni of the Community of Writers, and a member of the Board of Directors.

More Information and to Purchase Tickets

Announcing our 2017 Summer Writing Workshops!

The Community of Writers is pleased to announce the 2017 Summer Writing Workshops in Poetry and Fiction, Nonfiction and Memoir. We are now accepting applications. 


June 24 – July 1, 2017

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

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

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. Guest Director: Brenda Hillman.

Financial Aid Available.
Application Deadline: March 28, 2017. 

More program details, bios, logistics, and application form: Visit the Poetry Workshop Page

in Fiction, Nonfiction & Memoir

July 9 – July 15, 2017


Natalie Baszile • Belle Boggs • Michael Carlisle • Mark Childress • John Daniel • Alex Espinoza • Janet Fitch • Lynn Freed • Sands Hall • Paul Harding • Rachel Howard • Michael Jaime-Becerra • Louis B. Jones • Dylan Landis • Krys Lee • Tom Lutz • Christopher Monger • Martin J. Smith • Gregory Spatz • Andrew Tonkovich • Josh Weil • Al Young

Literary Agents – Book & Literary Magazine Editors and more

Dagoberto Gilb • Michelle Latiolais
Michael Lavigne • Frances Stroh • Amy Tan

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

 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, 2017

More program details, bios, logistics, and application form: Visit the Writers Workshops Page

More information about the Community of Writers and our programs can be found at

Reminders of Summer and A Time to Give

November, 2017

Dear Friends,
In this new uncertain world of ours, it becomes clear what is important in our lives. We look upon the world with new eyes, and understand how much is at stake. And so it is I write to you.

Because of you, we gather in this place each summer to put close attention to the written word. Because of you, writers and poets can have this life-changing experience. Because of you, previously isolated poets and writers find friendship and support in their writing lives, and their words may have a lasting influence in this world. 

One very simple and powerful way for alumni and friends to support the Community of Writers is to give annually to the Annual Fund. This essential fund underwrites all aspects of our operating budget including financial aid. We are very happy about all that we accomplished in 2016. Planning for 2017 is in the works, and it promises to be another wonderful summer of writing, respect, camaraderie and craft. Please visit our photo gallery and revisit your time in the Valley.

We want to thank all of you who have given in the past, and hope we can count on you again in 2016. Because of you, we are able to provide a rich environment where poets and writers can find their community, and their voice.

We can’t do what we do without you. Please give today.

With gratitude,


Brett Hall Jones, Executive Director

Donate online or send a check to:
Community of Writers
PO Box 1416
Nevada City, CA 95959

Published Alumni Return to the Valley with their Newly Published Books

In 2016, we continued our tradition of inviting recently published alums alum-readersback to the Community of Writers to read from their new books. On Thursday, July 28 we presented The Published Alumni Reading Series preceded by a reception in the honor of these writers.  This year’s alums were Stephanie Kegan, Nayomi Munaweera, Marian Palaia, Juan Alvarado ValdiviaHeather Young, all introduced by Matt SumellThe Community of Writers was delighted to celebrate the success of these writers and to present them to the participants, staff, and the public.

We are grateful to Noel Corngold and Emily Adelsohn Corngold for their support of this program.


Thanks Abound For A Wonderful Summer!

Now that the summer is over, we need to acknowledge all of those writers and poets who helped make the summer workshops what they are. As they have for the past 46 years, the Summer Workshops came together with the help and guidance of many friends. Summer 2016 was no exception.

The 2016 Benefit Poetry Reading:

The Benefit took place in Berkeley in June, and was in the honor of our late good friend CD Wright benefit_cd-copywho died in January. Many thanks are in order, especially to the participating poets:  Kazim AliBrenda Hillman, Robert Hass, Patricia Spears JonesSharon Olds, andkevin-copy Emcee Kevin Simmonds. Huge thanks also go to Allison deLauer, the Event Coordinator. We couldn’t have done it without our sponsors: The Entrekin Foundation,, the Berkeley Art Center and especially Deborah Dashow Ruth. Thanks to BOA Editions, University of Arizona Press, W.W. Norton, Wesleyan University Press, and White Pine Press for donating books, and to Lisa Rappoport at Littoral Press. Thanks to Larry Rafferty for creating and donating the C.D. Wright broadsides. Enormous thanks to Sheila Davies, Christina Hutchins, Meryl Natchez, Julia Flynn Siler, Deborah Ruth, and Larry Ruth for their help with publicity. Thanks to our enthusiastic volunteers: Shannon Bright, Jeremy Cantor, Marsha Cantor, Megan Coss, Ilana Cripsi, Fran Culp, Kevin Fitchett, Emily Knight, Tereza Joy KramerTanya Macedo, Joan A. Monheit, Julie Prentice, Caroline Smadja, Sarah Taft, Elizabeth Weaver, and Tinsley Zhu.

Funds from this Benefit go toward Scholarships and financial aid for talented poets to attend in 2017.

The Summer Workshops

As they have for the past 46 years, the Workshops came together with the help and guidance of many friends, and this year the Phappyoetry Workshop and Writers Workshops were just terrific. First and foremost, I want to acknowledge our teaching staff. Their generosity, wisdom, and warmth help create this atmosphere of camaraderie and mutual respect. I also want to thank our Directors Lisa AlvarezMichael CarlisleDiana FullerRobert Hass, and Louis B. Jones, who steer this boat.livia

Many thanks to Kaitlin Klaussen, who coordinated housing and ran a lovely popup bookstore; to Amy Rutten, who joined us in the office last year and has been an extraordinary member of the team making everything work better; to Tracy Hall for documenting the goings-on with her camera; and to Tracy, Jim ChumbleyHunter Jones and Lindsey Gordon for creating our all important, though humble, snack bar.

Our Elves (and all-around helpers) were Naomi BarnettJesse Bedayn, Emma Fisher SmithLindsey GordonDashiell JonesHunter JonesLivia Keene, Audrey Rose RawsonEva MelasDelia Pepper, Romain Telles and Louis Tonkovich.  We couldn’t do it without them! Thanks to the yeoman’s efforts of Angus Weisenburger, who managed the sound system elvesand recorded our events and will put them on our website as podcasts. 

We had some heroes in our midst during the Poetry Workshop when an experienced hiker nevertheless got lost on the mountain after dark. As Husayn Carnegie, Eliot Schain and Larry Ruth set off in the gloaming, we were reassured that our missing poet would be found.

kazimbob-copyImmense thanks to Ben Preston who –with great cheer– helped us move out of and then back into the storage locker at the beginning and the end of our workshops season. He made it all so much easier!

Alum and Writers Workshop staff member Mary Volmer arrived early and, along with Andrew Tonkovich, helped with manuscripts at
registration. Speaking of Andrew, we are indebted to him for all his help: from the management of all the manuscripts during registration to moderating panels and editing work! And thanks to Sands Hall for the inimitable Follies and for hosting Poetry’s final dinner. Liz Thiem and Storey Rafter graced our Poetry party with delicious food and good humor. I am also very grateful to Michelle Latiolais for her wisdom and support. Thanks also to Rachel Howard for helping out with the July picnic. We would like to acknowledge our friends who have been tremendously generous with their time and support over the years: Eddy & Osvaldo AncinasMimi & Burnett Miller and Amy Tan & Lou Demattei. And of course I’d like to express my gratitude to our Board of Directors.

We want to express our thanks for the two Special Workshops we offered this summer during the Writers Workshops: “The Art of Revision,” led by Mark Childress; and “Adaptation: From Story to Screen,” taught by Craig Bolotin.

kris-copyMany thanks to the family of Alan Cheuse who traveled across the country to be here for our “A Writers Tribute to Alan Cheuse,” arranged by Lisa Alvarez. We were so honored and moved to have Alan’s wife, Kris O’Shea along with Alan’s daughters Emma and Sonya join us for the tribute. During the event, friends of Alan’s performed music and read short excerpts from Alan’s lifetime of writing. Thanks to 2017 participant Melissa Dodd for sending the cellphone recording (below) of “The Water is Wide,” performed by Sands Hall, Louis B. Jones, Jason Roberts, Amy Rutten, Caridwen Spatz, Greg Spatz, and Naomi Barnett

And of course, I’d like to express my sincere appreciation to all of you who have given to the Community of Writers.

 —Brett Hall Jones, Executive Director

Listen to “The Water is Wide” (click to play)

Sharon Olds Awarded the Wallace Stevens Award for Lifetime Achievement!

Our own Sharon Olds is the recipient of The Academy of American Poets highest honor, the Wallace Stevens Award. Sharon, whose collection, Stag’s Leap (Knopf) won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and the TS Eliot prize, is a regular teaching staff Poet at the Community of Writers and is the author of many books of poetry.

The Wallace Stevens award has also been awarded to Galway Kinnell and Robert Hass.staffpoets2016

About Sharon Olds, Mark Doty,Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets wrote: “With unfailing courage and a profound moral intelligence, with an unshakable faith in the necessity of inquiry into experience, Sharon Olds has crafted a life’s work of remarkable power. The driving rhythms and artful structures of her poems are in service of a rigorous examination of her own life, and the lives of those around her.
By writing with such candor and clarity, Olds has granted younger poets – especially women – permission to speak. Her poems, in their evocation of trauma or desire, in their grief and joy and comedy, have opened new possibilities for poetry in our time. She is an American master, and a national treasure.”

We all send our congratulations and love to her!


Join Us in Squaw Valley for These Literary Events

2016 grid for events

The Community of Writers 46th Annual Writers Workshops in fiction, nonfiction, and memoir, will take place in Squaw Valley the week of July 25- August 1st. You are invited to join us for public craft talks, panels, and readings by the teaching staff, agents and editors, and published alumni. You can find a printable schedule and make a reservation for the two evening Special Events (see below) here.


1:00    Craft Talk: “The Germs (of stories, that is): From Where Do Stories Emerge?” by Tom Barbash
2:00    Panel: “Telling Truth through Fiction: Transmuting ‘Real’ Events into Imaginative Fiction” with Rhoda Huffey, Joanne Meschery, Victoria Patterson and Amy Tan – moderated by Jane Ciabattari
3:00    Panel: “The Historical Novel”  with Sands Hall, Edie Meidav, Gregory Spatz, and Mary Volmer – moderated by Jason Roberts
4:00    “The Writing Community, Prizes and the Life of the Writer: Jane Ciabattari in conversation with Oscar Villalon
5:30    Short Takes Staff Readings: Mark Childress, Natalie Serber, Andrew Tonkovich, and Mary Volmer
7:30    Panel: “The Big Nonfiction Book:Conquering Research to Find the Story” with Jason Roberts, Héctor Tobar, Jordan Fisher Smith and Dava Sobel – moderated by Julia Flynn Siler


1:00    Craft Talk: “The Construction of a Nonfiction Narrative” by Dava Sobel
2:00    Panel: “Humor, Voice, Character and Subtext” with Mark Childress, Dana Johnson, Anne Lamott, Matt Sumell – moderated by Andrew Tonkovich
3:00    Panel: “The Heart of Memoir” with Anne Lamott, Natalie Serber, Jane Vandenburgh – moderated by Sands Hall
5:30    Short Takes Staff Readings with Edie Meidav, Jason Roberts, Julia Flynn Siler, Gregory Spatz
7:30*    Staff read & talk about their work: Dana Johnson, Anne Lamott, Matt Sumell, Héctor Tobar.

* This event has an admittance fee, and reservations are appreciated. Reserve your seat for this event.


1:00    Panel: “Book Editors” with Reagan Arthur, Erika Goldman, Joy Johannessen, Calvert Morgan, Jack Shoemaker – moderated by Michael Carlisle
2:00    Panel: “Literary Agents” with Noah Ballard, Joy Harris, and BJ Robbins – moderated by Joy Johannessen
3:00    “Journals We Edit, Journals We Read,” with Oscar Villalon and Andrew Tonkovich
5:30    Published Alumni Reading: Stephanie Kegan, Nayomi Munaweera, Marian Palaia, Juan Alvarado Valdivia, Heather Young – Introduced by Matt Sumell
7:30    A Writers’ Tribute to Alan Cheuse: Various readings, music and tributes by staff. All are welcome!


No events scheduled


1:00    “You Must Read This: The Narrative Technique Which Stopped You In Your Tracks,” various staff will read excerpts and discuss
2:00    Panel: “Adaptation” with Craig Bolotin, Héctor Tobar, Mark Childress, Nancy Kelly, Amy Tan – moderated by: Louis B. Jones
3:00    Panel: “Silence, Cunning, Exile: The Risks and Rewards of Untraditional Narratives” with Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, Louis B. Jones, Michelle Latiolais, and Al Young – moderated by Andrew Tonkovich
5:30    Short Takes Staff Readings with Lisa Alvarez, Rhoda Huffey, Victoria Patterson and Al Young
7:30*    Staff read and talk about their work: Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, Michelle Latiolais, Kirstin Valdez Quade, Elizabeth Tallent.

* This event has an admittance fee, and reservations are appreciated. Reserve your seat for this event.


1:00    Craft Talk: “The Knowing Character and Other Craft Notes” by Ron Carlson
2:00    Panel: “The Craft of Writing the Short Story” with Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, Ron Carlson, Kirstin Valdez Quade and Elizabeth Tallent – moderated by Thomas Barbash
3:00    Panel: “Writing Beyond The Conference” with Victoria Patterson, Rhoda Huffey, Julia Flynn Siler – moderated by Lisa Alvarez


9:30    The Closing Talk by Amy Tan

All Events are in the Olympic House in Squaw Valley. Most afternoon events will take place in Bar One. 5:30 readings and evening events will take place in Plaza Bar. For more information, see the Public Events listing on our website.

Announcing the 2015 Annual Poetry Anthology

2015 review coverWritten Here: The Community of Writers Poetry Anthology 2015, a collection of poems first written in Squaw Valley at the 2015 Poetry Workshop, is now available.

Written Here continues the tradition of publishing poems that first emerged during that summer’s Poetry Workshop. Student and staff poets write a new poem each day to be read aloud and discussed in the morning session. The gathering of these talented poets in a climate of mutual support and encouragement makes possible this daily act of courage and trust.

The poems appearing in these pages were selected by a group of editors—themselves workshop participants—from the work submitted by their fellow poets.

Proceeds from the sales of this anthology benefit the Poetry Workshop Scholarship Fund.

This edition of Written Here was edited by Emily Wolahan, Jules Wood, Michelle Meyers, KB Ballentine, Carolyne Whelan, and Jon Riccio. Typsetting by Caitlin Neely.

Contributors:  Doha Aboul-Fotouh, Heather Altfeld, Amy Antongiovanni, KB Ballentine, Mallory Bass, Ross Belot, Toby Bielawski, Judy Brackett, Tim Carrier, Elizabeth Chapman, Jolie Clark, Christine Holland Cummings, Deborah Friedman, Forrest Gander, Kirk Glaser, Laurie Glover, D. M.Gordon, Brenda Hillman, Bethanie Humphreys, Troy Jollimore, Bonnie S. Kaplan, Muriel Karr, Tehmina Khan, Kayla Krut, Lester Graves Lennon, Maya Marshall, Liz Meley, Jeanne Morel, M.D. Myers, Jess Nathan, Angela Peñaredondo, Mark Price, Jon Riccio, Magali Roy-Fequiere, Lindsey Royce, Debra Dashow Ruth, Rachel Sahaidachny, Gini Savage, Evan Schnair, S. Shaw, Evie Shockley, Monica Sok, Laura Swearingen-Steadwall, Ann Tweedy, Vicky Vertiz, Carolyne Whelan, Bakar Wilson, Mary Winegarden, Emily Wolahan, Aliesa Zoecklein, and Stan Zumbiel.

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Other issues of the Review, as well as copies of Writers Workshop in a Book, are available on our Books & Anthologies page.

There is Still Time to Give – Big Day of Giving Extended to May 4th!

The BIG Days of Giving deadline has been extended!

On May 3rd, the Big Day of Giving organizers had technical difficulties with their webNew-BIG-Day-Logosite which was beyond their control. This was a national problem affecting thousands of nonprofits. And it persists.

Although this was a tremendous headache for our donors, we had lots of phone calls and emails and managed to have a wonderful day taking donations over the phone from our friends and supporters.  We want you to know, all donations received over the phone, via paypal, through the BigDog website as well as our own will be counted if received between May 3 until May 4 at 3:00 pm. 

We thank all those that donated, and tried to donate. If you tried to donate and couldn’t get through, we hope you will try again! Donations will be counted that arrive on Mary 3rd and 4th for all incentives and matches.

We are now asking our friends to donate directly to us using our secure website. It isn’t too late! Please join the big give now.

Donate Now!

Your support will make a BIG difference to us. Thank you!

Join Us in Berkeley for the 2016 Poetry Benefit Reading!

On Friday, June 17th, the Community of Writers welcomes six fabulous poets to the stage at the First Congregational Church of Berkeley for an incredible evening of poetry.

2016 Poets Strip_Web_revised_Brenda

Please join us at 7:00 as Kazim Ali, Robert Hass, Brenda HillmanCathy Park Hong, Patricia Spears Jones, and Sharon Olds read their from their work, as well as the work of the C. D. Wright, a longtime staff member and beloved poet who died this winter.

This gathering of the tribe—including staff poets from this year’s Community of Writers’ Summer Poetry Workshop in Squaw Valley—will raise scholarship funds for the Poetry Workshop. Books by the poets will be available for purchase and signing.

7:00 p.m. (doors open at 6:00)
First Congregational Church of Berkeley
2345 Channing Way, Berkeley, CA 94704

Tickets are $25 advance/$30 at the door for general admission and $15 advance/$20 at the door for students (with current student ID). Group discounts are available.

More Information

Buy Tickets


Just 7 Days until The Big Day!

SQUARE FOR FBNext Tuesday, May 3rd, is a Big Day!

Because we are based in Northern California, the Community of Writers has the extraordinary opportunity to participate in the 3rd BIG Day of Giving, which benefits our region’s nonprofits. If you already plan on making a gift to the Scholarship Fund, donating on Tuesday, May 3rd will leverage your donation even further.

Last year, because of the many generous friends and alumni who donated during the Big Day of Giving, we raised over $13,000. Those funds helped us bring in new teaching staff, sustain our remarkable alumni community with many events and opportunities, and offer financial aid to talented writers who would not have been able to attend the workshops without it. We’d love to be able to better that number this year.

How you can help on May 3rd:

1) Make a donation (starting as small as $25) on May 3rd to The Community of Writers at Squaw Valley at If you can, donate between 11:00 a.m. and noon, Pacific Standard Time. The non-profit with the most unique donations of $25 or more during that time period wins an additional $1,000!

2) Spread the word. Tell your friends, post on Facebook, and tweet about it. This is an opportunity to be part of something really big. Help us get there!

Thank you in advance for your generosity to our community; together, we can make a BIG impact!

Facebook: BIG Day of Giving, SRCF, PlacerCF, YoloCF

Twitter: @Bigdayofgiving @sacregcf, @placercf

Hashtag: #BIGDoG2016

The Community of Writers at AWP – Reunion News

AWP_GroupThe Community of Writers made an appearance at the 2016 AWP Conference in Los Angeles March 30 – April 2.

On Wednesday evening, we hosted a casual reunion at a private home in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. Writers and poets got to know each other on a blustery spring evening. One highlight was that 5 members of Fiction Workshop 6 from 2007 were in attendance.

Prizes were awarded to the alums who had traveled the furthest (Patricia Spears Jones, who will join the Poetry teaching staff this summer); the alum who had attended the most times over the years (Joan Baranow); and the newest alum (shared between the several alums of the 2015 Workshops that attended). New board member, alum, and teaching staff member Alex Espinoza gave a generous speech to the assembled.

Many thanks to Board Members Ruth Blank, Carlin Naify and Jim Naify for making this evening possible.

During the three day conference, regular teaching staff members, as well as alums in Fiction, Nonfiction and Poetry, appeared on dozens of panels. We were delighted that there was a tribute in the honor of long-time staff member and Board member Al Young. And of course, Poetry alum Claudia Rankine (’93) gave the brilliant Keynote speech.

  • Lisa Alvarez and Alex Espinoza
  • 2007 Workshop Group 6
  • Group Photo
  • Al Young
  • Patricia Spears Jones

Photos by Amy Rutten




Support Our Scholarship Fund

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 1.18.38 PMThere is a long tradition at the Community of Writers of scholarship recipients turning around and helping another writer attend the workshops. This continuum is one of the most meaningful ways in which we support each other. Whether you received a scholarship in the past or just had a remarkable experience at a summer workshop, we are asking you to help the next crop of writers access the same transformative week of writing, camaraderie, and community. These scholarships ensure that talented writers from all backgrounds and means are able to attend, and that new and diverse writers continue to benefit from this opportunity.

Donations in any amount are welcome. You can give to our General Scholarship Fund, or to an established named scholarship that honors alumni, staff, and family members; or reaches out to a specific population.

Named scholarships already established by generous donors include:

  • The Henry Carlisle Memorial Scholarship
  • The Alan Cheuse Memorial Scholarship
  • The Lucille Clifton Memorial Scholarship for Poets
  • The Gill Dennis Memorial Scholarship
  • The Blair Fuller Memorial Scholarship
  • The Hillary Gravendyk Memorial Scholarship The Oakley Hall Memorial Scholarship
  • The James D. Houston Memorial Scholarship
  • The Maat Scholarship for Writers of Color
  • The Galway Kinnell Memorial Scholarship for Poets

Please visit our Financial Aid & Scholarships page for more information about these, and other, scholarships.

In the next few weeks, we will be making admissions decisions. Those decisions include grants of financial aid for our most talented and needy writers. All gifts received before May 5th will go directly to our 2016 Scholarship Fund. If you would like to help, but cannot donate before the May 5th, please email us and pledge the amount you would like to give.

If you are interested in creating an honorary scholarship, email

You can donate online here:

Donate Now

You may also mail a check to:

Community of Writers – Scholarship Fund
PO Box 1416
Nevada City, CA 95959

Thank you for changing the life of writer!


Juan Felipe Herrera to join the Poetry Workshop in June!

We couldn’t be more excited to report the new that Juan Felipe Herrera, the current Poet Laureate of the United States, will be teaching at the Poetry Workshop in Squaw Valley this summer. He will join staff poets Kazim Ali, Robert Hass, Cathy Park Hong, Patricia Spears Jones, and Sharon Olds. The application deadline has been extended to April 8th.

herrera 2016Juan Felipe Herrera is the 21st Poet Laureate of the United States (2015-2016) and is the first Latino to hold the position. From 2012-2014, Herrera served as California State Poet Laureate. Herrera’s many collections of poetry include Notes on the Assemblage; Senegal Taxi; Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems, a recipient of the PEN/Beyond Margins Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award; and 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross The Border: Undocuments 1971-2007. He is also the author of Crashboomlove: A Novel in Verse, which received the Americas Award. His books of prose for children include: SkateFate, Calling The Doves, which won the Ezra Jack Keats Award; Upside Down Boy, which was adapted into a musical for young audiences in New York City; and Cinnamon Girl: Letters Found Inside a Cereal Box. Herrera is also a performance artist and activist on behalf of migrant and indigenous communities and at-risk youth.

For more information about the poetry program, please visit the Poetry Workshop page.

New Poet on Board for Summer Workshop!

We are delighted to announce that Patricia Spears Jones will be joining us on staff this summer for the Poetry Workshop!

Jones, Patricia SpearsPatricia Spears Jones is a Brooklyn-based poet and author of A Lucent Fire: New and Selected Poems from White Pine Press, which is a 2016 Finalist for the William Carlos Williams Prize from the Poetry Society of America and seven other poetry collections and chapbooks. Her works are anthologized widely including Of Poetry & Protest: From Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin, broken land: Poems of Brooklyn, Best American Poetry and Black Nature: Four Hundred Years of African American Nature Poetry. She curates WORDS SUNDAY, a literary salon in Brooklyn and is a former Program Coordinator for The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church and served as a Mentor for the Project’s first year of Emerge Surface Be. Her plays have been commissioned and produced by Mabou Mines. She has collaborated with musicians and artists such as Jason Hwang, Carolee Schneemann, Lenora Champagne and Danny Tisdale. She edited THINK: Poems for Aretha Franklin’s Inauguration Day Hat and is contributing editor to BOMB Magazine. She is a senior fellow at Black Earth Institute, where she edited a recent issue of About Place Journal. She is recipient of a Barbara Deming Fund award as well as awards from the Goethe Institute, the Foundation for Contemporary Art and the New York Community Trust and grants from the NEA and NYFA. She has taught at The Poetry Project, Poets House, and at University of Rhode Island, Manhanttanville College, Naropa University summer programs. She is a lecturer at CUNY.

For more information of the Poetry Workshop, including a full staff roster, see the Poetry Workshop page. Application deadline has been extended to April 8th.

Photo Credit: Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Writers Workshop – New Additions to Our Program!

We are thrilled to announced that we will be joined at the Writers Workshop this summer by both Anne Lamott and Dava Sobel!

Lamott_Anne_Portrait_BWAnne Lamott, who will be joining us as a special guest, is the author of seven novels, including Hard Laughter, Rosie, Joe Jones, Blue Shoe, All New People, Crooked Little Heart, and Imperfect Birds. She has also written eight bestselling books of nonfiction, including Operating Instructions; Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son’s First Son; and a writing guide; Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. Her collections of autobiographical essays on faith are Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith; Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith; Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith; Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers and most recently Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair. Her last book of essays, Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace, was published by Riverhead Books.


MiaBergsDavaSobelDava Sobel, joining us as a nonfiction teaching staff member, a former New York Times science reporter, is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Longitude, which was the subject of a PBS science program “NOVA,” and Granada Films created a dramatic version starring Jeremy Irons and Michael Gambon for A&E. Her nonfiction book, Galileo’s Daughter, was a #1 New York Times bestseller and won a 1999 Los Angeles Times Book Prize, a Christopher Award, was a finalist for the 2000 Pulitzer Prize in biography and was the subject of a two-hour Emmy Award-winning “NOVA” documentary. She is also the author of the books The Planets and A More Perfect Heaven. Dava is a long-time science contributor to Harvard Magazine, Audubon, Discover, Life, Omni, and The New Yorker. Bloomsbury has just released a stand-alone edition of her Copernicus play, And the Sun Stood Still, which was produced in 2014 by the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company in Colorado.The editor of the collection Best American Science Writing 2004, published by Ecco Press, Ms. Sobel has served as a judge for the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes, the Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction, the PEN / E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award, and the Lewis Thomas Prize awarded by Rockefeller University to scientists who distinguish themselves as authors. Her new book, The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars, will be published by Viking in December.

For a complete roster of 2016 Teaching Staff, Special Guests, as well as Agents and Editors, visit the Writers Workshop page. Applications are due April 12th.

Sacramento Benefit A Grand Success!

2016-Writer-Benefit-gridNatalie Baszile, Meg Waite ClaytonFrances Dinkelspiel, Marian Palaia, and Josh Weil joined us for the Community of Writers Benefit Reading in Sacramento last week.

Natalie, Josh, Meg, Frances and Marian

These authors — alums and staff — read from new work, and and introduced the Sacramento area to the Writers Workshops and the Community of Writers.

The event was in good hands with our emcee, Capital Public Radio’s Beth Ruyak. Her perspective on each of writer’s work effectively framed each reading for the audience.

After the readings, with roughly 170 people in attendance, Executive Director Brett Hall Jones auctioned off a complete set of signed books (the winning bid was $325,) followed by a wine and cookie reception along with book sales and signings.

Attendees browse the pop-up bookstore
Attendees browse the pop-up bookstore

Many thanks to the authors and Beth Ruyak for participating in this event. We are also grateful to our volunteers and Board members, who helped out tremendously.

Special thanks to our sponsors: Beers Books, Stories on Stage – Sacramento, and Verge Center for the Arts.

Our own Brenda Hillman Named Academy of American Poets Chancellor


We are delighted to report that in January the Academy of American Poets has named Brenda Hillman, a regular Community of Writers staff poet, as its newest Chancellor. Other distinguished poets who have held this honorary position include W. H. Auden, John Ashbery, Elizabeth Bishop, Lucille Clifton, Robert Hass, Galway Kinnell, Yusef Komunyakaa, Adrienne Rich, Mark Strand and C.D. Wright.

Hillman with 2005 Poetry Staff: Lucille Clifton, Sharon Olds, Robert Hass, Galway Kinnell and Kevin Young.
Hillman with 2005 C.W. Poetry Staff: Lucille Clifton, Sharon Olds, Robert Hass, Galway Kinnell and Kevin Young.

According to the Academy, “as a member of the Board of Chancellors, Hillman will consult with the organization on matters of artistic programming, serve as a judge for the organization’s largest prizes for poets, and act as ambassador of poetry in the world at large. Hillman was selected by the fifteen members of the Academy’s Board of Chancellors, which includes U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera. She will serve for a period of six years, filling the seat vacated by Naomi Shihab Nye, whose term as Chancellor has concluded.”

For more than three generations, the Academy has connected millions of people to poetry through programs such as National Poetry Month, the largest literary celebration in the world;, the Academy’s website; American Poets, a biannual literary journal; an ongoing series of poetry readings; and the annual award of its American Poets Prize.

Brenda Hillman at the Poetry Workshop in 2015
Brenda at the Poetry Workshop in 2015

Brenda, who is the Olivia C. Filippi Professor of Poetry at St. Mary’s, is the author of nine collections from Wesleyan University Press, the most recent of which is Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire, which received the International Griffin Poetry Prize and Practical Water which was the recipient of the Los Angeles Times Book Award. Other collections from Wesleyan include Pieces of Air in the Epic, CascadiaLoose Sugar, and Bright Existence which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Brenda has been an essential staff poet at the Community of Writers since 1988, and has served as guest director on several occasions.

For more information, visit

C.D. Wright: 1949-2016

WRIGHT_CDC.D. Wright was born in January 1949 in a small town in Arkansas and, as most of you probably know, she died in her home in Barrington, Rhode Island this January between the night of the 12th of the month and the morning of the 13th. She and her husband Forrest had just returned on a long flight from Santiago, Chile, where they had spent New Years and visited with the Chilean poets Raul Zurita and Nicanor Parra. C.D. went to bed that night and never woke up. She was in good spirits and, we all thought, good health. A new book of her essays, thoughtfully entitled The Poet, the Lion, Talking Pictures, El Farolito, A Wedding in St. Roche, The Big Box Store, The Warp in Time, Spring, Midnights, Fire and All, was just out, and a new book of poems, Shall Cross, and a prose book, Copper Beech, are forthcoming.

So she was working in the full force of her very considerable gifts, but she had from the beginning of her life as a poet worked at full force. Anyone who doubts it can pick up her fourth book and second full-length collection, Further Adventures With You, published thirty years ago, and read the first few pages. There she is: fierce, spiky, unexpected and incandescent. She had been a member of the Community of Writers for almost twenty years. Many of you will have worked with her and will remember her stunning craft lectures, some of which were gathered in Cooling Time: An American Poetry Vigil, and her readings from the astonishing set of books she produced in those years: Just Whistle, Tremble, Deepstep Come Shining, Steal Away, One Big Self, Rising Falling Hovering, and One With Others. She was an original, a description I notice that has showed up in the many tributes written about her in the past week, which I take to be an acknowledgement of the fact that she made herself up on her own terms out of the possibilities that existed for poetry in the English language in the last decades of the twentieth century as completely as anybody who has been writing in those years. Her death was a shock and an awful loss. She is—in the present tense–a gift to everyone who knew her and who has read and will read her.

Two powerful tributes have appeared since her death that you may want to take a look at, a blog by Ben Lerner in The New Yorker and an essay by Stephen Burt in The Los Angeles Times. The Community of Writers will be celebrating her work and her time among us this June in the annual Benefit Reading of the poetry program.

—Robert Hass
Director, Poetry Workshop

2015 – The Year in Review and Thank You

We had an eventful year in 2015. There are so many friends and colleagues who helped make it happen.

The Summer Workshops:

The Workshops came together with the participation of many friends. We are grateful to our talented, magnanimous and generous staff that makes the conference what it is. It simply wouldn’t be what it is without Lisa Alvarez, Michael Carlisle, workers_namesDiana Fuller, Robert Hass, Brenda Hillman and Louis B. Jones, who steer this boat.
Many thanks to Kaitlin Klaussen, who coordinated housing and, with the help of Amy TracyHallRutten, the bookstore; to Amy, who joined us in the office this year and Poetry 2015was an extraordinary member of the team making everything work better.
Thanks also to Tracy Hall for documenting the goings-on with her camera. And thanks to Tracy,
Jim Chumb
, and Lucy Sandoe (with her muffins) for creating a bit of home in our humble snack bar.
Our Poetry Elves (and all-around helpers) were Dashiell Jones, Natasha Boyd, Eva Melas, Delia Pepper, Hunter Jones and Lindsey Gordon. (Lindsey is pictured here dumping rainwater out of the workshop tent.) Hunter helped us record events and later put them on our website. With high energy and good spirits, they made things happen. David Womack helped with manuscripts at registraLIndseyraintion and was indispensible, as he solved problems no one else could. We are indebted to AnAlex copydrew Tonkovich for all his help: from the management of all the manuscripts during registration to moderating panels and for (trying to) rid me of my gerunds and passive voice! Our brilliant participant Work Waiver poets were essential for the Poetry Picnic at Meeks Bay:
Heather Altfeld and Troy Jollimore. And thanks to Sands Hall for the inimitable Follies and her for hosting Poetry’s final dinner. Liz Thiem and Storey Rafter graced our staff picnic and Poetry party with delicious food and good humor. I am also very grateful to Michelle Latiolais for her wisdom and support, and to Anne Lamott and Alex elvesEspinoza for believing in this thing we do.We would like to acknowledge our local friends who have been tremendously generous with their time and support over the years: Eddy & Osvaldo Ancinas, Mimi & Burnett Miller and Amy Tan & Lou Demattei.

The Benefit Poetry Reading:

The Benefit took place in Sacramento last June and many thanks are in order, especially to Forrest Gander, Brenda Hillman, Robert Hass, J. Michael Martinez, Sharon Olds, Evie Shockley, Emcee Bob Stanley and Jen Siraganian, the Event Coordinator. We are grateful to our event sponsors: Deborah Dashow Ruth, The Sacramento Poetry Center, Beers Books, Verge Center for the Arts, and Stories on Stage Sacramento. This event was also supported by Poets & Writers, Inc. through a Jengrant it received from The James Irvine Foundation. Thanks to Counterpoint Press, New Directions Publishing, University of Arizona Press, Bellevue Literary Press, and Carolina Wren Press for donating books and to Lisa Rappoport of Littoral Press. Enormous thanks to Beth Kelley Gillogly, Molly Fisk, and Alice Anderson for their help getting the word out. We could have done it without our enthusiastic volunteers: Shannon Bright, Jeremy Cantor, Marsha Fabian, Francesca Foglia, Frank Dixon Graham, Bethanie Humphreys, Tim Kahl, Irene Lipshin, Caitlin Pegar, Alex Russell, Bob Stanley, Wendy Patrice Williams, and Elizabeth Weaver. Additionally, Burnett and Mimi Miller and Jim and Carlin Naify continue to act as our Sacramento hosts and guides. Funds from this Benefit go toward Scholarships and financial aid for talented poets to attend in 2016.


Thanks also to Laura Cerruti, who edited and designed our last paper Omnium Gatherum & Newsletter published early in 2015. We have now moved online. This blog will function as the newsletter and our new Omnium Gatherum & Alumni blog will keep alum and staff news reports fresh and current.

Bay Area Book Festival:


In 2015, we went to the Bay Area Book Festival. We are grateful to our alums and friends for stopping by and helping talk about the conference with passersby: Ruth Blank, Michael Carlisle,  Frances Dinkelspiel, Andy Roe, Elizabeth RosnerEdan Lepucki, Nayomi MunaweeraAline Ohanesian, Monica Wesolowska and Cora Yang.


New Website:

Many thanks to the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation for providing support for our website update. Their grant was the catalyst we needed to get this done. We have to also thank Winter Street Design for their lovely and innovative website design, training, and support with the steep learning curve involved with mastering all the functions of the site.

LitQuake’s Barbara Coast Award:

As you know, San Francisco’s Litquake honored the Community of Writers with The 2015 Barbary Coast Award. We were humbled and grateful for the honor and the participation of Nayomi Munaweera, Heather Altfeld, Anita Amirrezvani, Robert Hass, Brenda Hillman, Troy Jollimore, David Perlman, Elizabeth Rosner, Amy Tan and Christopher Upham. The Emcee was Matthew Zapruder. The band that evening was Los Train Wreck. Many thanks to the folks at LitQuake: Jan Ganahl, Jack Boulware and Jen Siraganian. I am particularly grateful to Julia Flynn Siler for her guidance and support.

Special Thanks:

AmynewI would like to a moment to praise our new Director of Alumni Relations and Development, Amy Rutten. It is hard to express how important she has become our operations. How did I manage before?

Our Board of Directors is one of the best an Executive Director could hope for, and I am very grateful our Board members who have been such active participants in steering this organization.

Our Friends:

Gill--FolliesThank you to all our individual and institutional donors. What a community this is! Your support is essential to this thing we do.

And finally:

… A fond farewell to our dear friends Alan Cheuse and Gill Dennis who left us suddenly in 2015. We will always be grateful for all your gave to writing and to this gathering of writers.

Alan copy
—Brett Hall Jones
Executive Director




News about the Screenwriting Program & Our New Adaptation Class


For thirty-eight years, our unique Screenwriting program founded by Tom Rickman and Gill Dennis, and directed by Diana Fuller, has been a separate program within the Community emphasizing all aspects of the craft including narrative point of view, character analysis, and scene structure. The Screenwriting Program as originally conceived has been suspended in order for the program’s director, Diana Fuller, to reconsider the program’s changing needs. We will, however, continue a version of the program folded into the Writers Workshops as a special class, with a  focus on adaptation – that is, adapting fiction to the screen.

Adaptation: From Story to Screen, an intensive afternoon class, will be offered during the summer week of the Writers Workshops. This class is open to those enrolled in the Writers Workshops in fiction, nonfiction or memoir. Fiction writers – and the writers of nonfiction, too – sometimes encounter the opportunity to adapt their own work for film or television; this class is aimed at writers who want to discover this new craft as the methods and techniques of dramatic writing are very different from those of prose. The class comprises six lectures focused on a practical approach to adapting prose into a screenplay. An overview of the fundamentals of screenwriting as well as an analysis of the specific skills for a successful adaptation, this class will examine a handful of adaptations, comparing and contrasting the films with the original material.

Bolotin_CameraWe are pleased to bring screenwriter and film director Craig Bolotin to Squaw Valley to lead this class. He has taught at the American Film Institute and the Sundance Screenwriters Lab and has written and rewritten numerous screenplays for such directors as Ridley Scott, Francis Ford Coppola and Michael Apted. His feature film credits include That NightLight It Up and Black Rain. He has adapted the work of several novelists including Alice McDermott, John Updike and Hilary Mantel.

This class is open to those enrolled in the 2016 Writers Workshops in fiction, nonfiction or memoir. Applicants who would like to participate should indicate this in the application form. This class is limited to 15 participants; there is a $200 fee for this class.

Announcing Our Annual Poetry Review!

2013 coverWritten Here: The Community of Writers Poetry Anthology is now available in time for holidays. This anthology is a collection of poems first written in Squaw Valley at the 2013 Poetry Workshop. This anthology makes a great gift, and all proceeds from sales of Written Here: The Community of Writers Poetry Review 2013 benefit the Community of Writers Poetry Scholarship Fund.

The Poetry Workshop of the Community of Writers is held each summer in Squaw Valley. At the workshop, student and staff poets write a new poem each day to be read aloud in the morning session. This gathering of poets, all striving to express ideas, emotions, and conceptions, engenders a climate of mutual support, trust, and encouragement. which makes possible this daily act of courage and trust.

Written Here continues the tradition of publishing poems that first emerged during the summer’s Workshop. The poems appearing in these pages were selected by a team of editors, themselves workshop participants, from the work submitted by their fellow poets.

Proceeds from the sales of this anthology benefit the Poetry Workshop Scholarship Fund.

Edited by William Clark, Jennifer C. Humbert, and Lori Singer Meyer.

Contributors:  Cynthia Arrieu-King, Conor Bracken, John Briscoe, Marte Broehm, Will Clark, Flower Conroy, Heather Dobbins, Timothy Dyke, Emma Estrella, Ann Fisher-Wirth, Forrest Gander, Todd Germain, Kathy Gilbert, Christine Gosnay, Ken Haas, Amy Haddad, Robert Hass, Pamela Sue Hitchcock, Jennifer Humbert, Cameron Jackson, Hillary Katz, Curt Last, Lester Graves Lennon, Annie Mascorro, Lori Singer Meyer, Monica Minott, Lisa L. Moore, Sawnie Morris, Meryl Natchez, Diana Khoi Nguyen, Amy Pence, Anna Ross, Larry Ruth, Peter Schireson, Meara Sharma, Evie Shockley, Jacqueline Hughes Simon,  Kathi Stafford, Carl Steen, Sheila Davies Sumner, Paul Watsky, David Watts, and Martha Yates.

Please note that it takes a few days to print and ship your order, so order soon!

Buy Now

Other issues of the Review, as well as copies of Writers Workshop in a Book, are available on our Books & Anthologies page.


 An Evening of Readings with Alumni & Faculty Authors

Join us in February for a Literary Reading,
Reception & Book Signing in Sacramento!

Please join us for an extraordinary evening of readings by Community of Writers’ alumni and staff, emceed by Beth Ruyak. These authors each have new and noteworthy books which will be available for purchase. There will be a reception and book signing immediately following the event.  Spread the word and enjoy an evening of great new literature!

  • Natalie Baszile
  • Meg Waite Clayton
  • Frances Dinkelspiel
  • Marian Palaia
  • Josh Weil

Natalie Baszile · Meg Waite Clayton
Frances Dinkelspiel · Marian Palaia · Josh Weil

Emceed by Capital Public Radio’s
Beth Ruyak

7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016

Sierra 2 Center for the Arts & Community
2791 24th St., Sacramento
Doors open at 6:30

$20 Advance/$25 at the Door

View More Information & Author Bios

Tickets Available at Brown Paper Tickets

All proceeds benefit the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley summer Writers Workshops.

Our New Website Is Up!

2015GridOur new website is up! The change has been coming since summer, but we are finally able to say it is up! And we love it and hope you do too.

We have many new features on our website you might explore:

eyeAlumni & Staff News Blog: Visit our Omnium Gatherum & Alumni News blog, where alums and teaching staff can post current news. This newsfeed moves quickly. Viewers can choose to view by program if they wish. Visit it often! We want to congratulate our alums who have published this year! We are so happy for you. We hope you will support your fellow alums by buying their books or journals. If you are an alum or teaching staff member and have news you’d like to share about yourself,  please do!

eyeNotable Alumni – A listing of the accomplishment Notable Alums. Please let us know if you would like to  nominate yourself or another alum.

eyePodcasts: Listen to Podcasts from our afternoon and evening events from the summer writing workshops.

eyeBlog: Visit this Blog for monthly or bi-monthly updates on all things Community of Writers.  Posts might include program announcements, reunions, events, important dates and deadlines, all-community bulletins, etc.

eyeBooks & Journals: Visit our  Books & Journals page. This year we have two brand-new poetry anthologies of poems written during the Poetry Workshop in Squaw Valley (2013 and 2014.)

eyeNew URL: Along with the new website, please note that we have a new URL. We can now be found at

eyeUpdate Your Email Preferences: Along with the new site, we have also changed our email service. Please complete this form to update your email preferences and receive only the updates you request. You may tell us what region you are from, for updates about events in your area (such as the Los Angeles reunion during AWP in March;) you may tell us you are interested in the Public Literary Events held in Squaw Valley during the workshops; you may tell us you just want information on how to apply.

Tell Us What You Think! We are eager to hear from you about the new website.eye

Thank you!

Many thanks to the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation for providing support for this website update. Their grant was the catalyst we needed to get this done.

We have to also thank Winter Street Design for their lovely and innovative website design. They were able to echo the original look created by Elevation 49 and update it with more dynamic functions. We heartily recommend them for any individual or organization who needs a new website. I have never worked with folks who are so good at listening and who knew what we needed even before we did. We have learned a tremendous amount in the process and have a beautiful, functional new site as well!


Join Us for A Reunion Party in Los Angeles During AWP!

Join Us For A Reunion Party

for the Alumni & Teaching Staff of the
Community of Writers

during the A.W.P. Conference in Los Angeles

5:30 – 8:30 pm
Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Please RSVP by noon on Thursday, March 24 to receive location and directions

The party will be in a home in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles.


Early Winter Thoughts of Summer


This year, more than ever, we realize that what we do together each summer can never be repeated, that things will always change. It is those who attend — as teaching staff or as participants— who make each season uncommon.

We need your help this time of year, to help us balance our budget and be ready for the coming year.

We are an independent nonprofit. We have no college or other institution underwriting our operations or providing a venue. Despite our very low overhead, we remain vital and reliable, with a do-it-ourselves ethos that has served us well.

The Annual Fund underwrites essential parts of our operating budget, such as teaching staff honoraria, housing and travel; administrative staff, alumni services, advertising, website development and our tuition waiver program. This important fund helps us bridge the gap between what tuition covers and the actual expense of sending a participant to our summer workshops.

We continue to rely on you to make all this possible. Donations to our Annual Fund may come in all sizes. Large and small, all go to help ensure that others in need have the experience you had, the experience that we hope inspires you to give back, and perhaps has inspired you to return again.

Your contribution can help us continue the living, breathing legacy of this seasonal summer miracle that we work on yearlong.

Please donate to our Annual Fund today.


Alan Cheuse on the Community of Writers

This video of Alan Cheuse was taken by LitQuake’s Jack Boulware in his preparations for the Barbary Coast Award.  So wonderful to have this video, though we would rather we had Alan himself.

A Sonnet for LitQuake’s Barbary Coast Award

A Sonnet for LitQuake’s Barbary Coast Award
to the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley

by Al Young

Jim Houston, Oakley Hall and Alan Cheuse,
Gill Dennis – just the latest loves we’ve lost
up in this true community, win or lose.
Carolyn Doty, too, gave up the ghost.
She loved to sing “Lush Life” real late at night,
wee hours really; crazed, a Follies fan.
Her guitar-playing husband Gardner might
call Jim, who’d then call me, to test a tune
in winter, one we might consider for August.
Just writers, crazed, creative and ready
to spring back into action as much as just
plot or rhyme a way (slowed-down or breathy)
through anything! My well-tuned heart sings out
to all our stories – lyric or devout.

October 14, 2015

The Follies - 1991 With Louis B. Jones, Tom Rickman, Al Young & Jim Houston
The Follies – 1991
With Louis B. Jones, Tom Rickman, Al Young & Jim Houston
Al Young & Jim Houston at the Follies in 2007
Al Young & Jim Houston at the Follies in 2007

Images from the Barbary Coast Award & Tribute

Go Tell It on the Mountain:Litquake’s Barbary Coast Award tribute to the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley

Here are some images from the Litquake’s 2015 Barbary Coast Award tribute which took place in San Francisco on October 14th. It was a wonderful evening which honored the Community of Writers, its people and its history. The show featured Nayomi Munaweera (pictured,) Heather Altfeld, Anita Amirrezvani, Robert Hass, Brenda Hillman, Troy Jollimore, David Perlman, Elizabeth Rosner, Amy Tan & Christopher Upham. The Emcee was Matthew Zapruder.

The band that evening was Los Train Wreck who were joined on stage by Ben Fong Torres, and later by Louis B. Jones, Nion McEvoy, Sands Hall, and Jason Roberts.

Many thanks to Jan Ganahl, Jack Boulware and Jen Siraganian at  LitQuake! And to those who appeared on stage that night on our behalf.

Event photos by Cynthia E. Wood (Courtesy of LitQuake)
Additional photos courtesy of Enmei Tan

LitQuake Honors the Community of Writers with the Barbary Coast Award


We are delighted to announce that the Community of Writers will be recognized by San Francisco’s Litquake with its annual Barbary Coast Award! Join us on October 14, as Litquake hosts a tribute event for the Community of Writers during its nine-day literary festival.

According to Litquake, the award is presented each year to “a dynamic Bay Area author or literary organization for a lifetime of literary achievement.” We are very honored, and we hope you will join us for the celebration!

The tribute, Go Tell it On the Mountain,” takes place October 14 at 8:00 p.m., and will be held at Z Space, at 450 Florida St. in San Francisco (see map). Tickets are $15, and you can purchase them in advance here or take your chances at the door. The event will include Community of Writers alums, teaching staff, live music by Los Train Wreck, and other shenanigans.

  • Amirrezvani 2016
    Anita Amirrezvani
  • ausubel 2016
    Ramona Ausubel
  • Sands Hall
    Sands Hall
  • Robert Hass
  • Brenda Hillman
  • Troy Jollimore
    Troy Jollimore
  • Nayomi Munaweera
  • David Perlman
    David Perlman
  • Elizabeth Rosner
  • Amy Tan
  • Christopher Upham
    Christopher Upham
  • Al Young
    Al Young
  • Matthew Zapruder
    Matthew Zapruder
  • Los Train Wreck
    Los Train Wreck

Alums: Join your friends from the workshops and come together! If you are in the area, we’d love to see you!

Announcing the Benefit Poetry Reading in Sacramento June 16th


Forrest Gander • Robert Hass • Brenda Hillman • J. Michael Martinez • Sharon Olds • Evie Shockley

7:00 p.m. Friday, June 19th, Sacramento

Join us for a reading honoring Galway Kinnell with Forrest Gander, Robert Hass, Brenda Hillman, J. Michael Martinez, Sharon Olds, and Evie Shockley at the Setzer Auditorium of the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, with emcee Bob Stanley.

All proceeds will benefit the Poetry Workshop Scholarship Fund, enabling talented writers to attend the week-long poetry writing workshop held each year in Squaw Valley, California. It is the goal of this program to support both established and emerging writers of talent who would benefit from working with their peers at the Poetry Week at Squaw Valley.

Books donated by the poets and their publishers will be available for purchase (cash or check only) before and after the reading. The poets will be available to sign books after the reading.


General Admission tickets are $20/advance, $25/door
Students tickets are $12/advance, $15/door (with current student ID)

PLEASE NOTE: This event is sponsored by the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. The Crocker Art Museum will NOT be selling tickets to the event. Tickets are ONLY available online at BrownPaperTickets.

For more information, call: 877-298-3799 or email Please do not contact the Crocker Art Museum directly.

Venue Information

The Crocker Art Museum is located at 216 “O” Street in Sacramento.

Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and seating is unassigned. The venue is wheelchair accessible. For more information on the venue, its location, and directions, visit: For more informaiton, please go visit the Poetry Benefit Reading website, or contact the Community of Writers at 877-298-3799 or email Please do not phone or email the Crocker Art Museum directly.


This Event is Underwritten by Deborah Dashow Ruth — Deborah is a poet, playwright, alum and long-time supporter of the Community of Writers. She is sponsoring the event to help poets who, without the financial aid this even provides, would be unable to attend the summer program.


The Community of Writers would like to thank our sponsors for their support!

Sacramento Poetry Center—Since 1979, the Sacramento Poetry Center has been a major force for literary artists in Northern California. Though primarily serving as the literary center for the greater Sacramento metropolitan area, SPC’s publications are recognized nationally for their quality and literary content and its annual writers’ conference has featured some of the most important poets of our time.

Beers Books — For over seventy years, Beers Book has served Sacramento and Northern California.

Stories on Stage — Sacramento’s award-winning reading series features short fiction by established and emerging writers from Sacramento and surrounding areas, introduced by their authors and read by actors. The series runs on the Final Friday of every month at the Sacramento Poetry Center.

Verge Center for the Arts — Verge Center for the Arts seeks to expose the Sacramento art region to internationally recognized contemporary art, while providing vital resources to local career and emerging artists.
Thanks also to The Sterling Hotel for providing discounted accommodations for our readers.

Special thanks to the following publishers for donating books for the benefit:

  • Counterpoint Press
  • New Directions Publishing
  • University of Arizona Press
  • Bellevue Literary Press