Books published by Alumni & Staff in October – December, 2022.
Congratulations to these Community of Writers alumni and teaching staff who have published books during the fourth quarter of 2022!We are delighted to share their success with you. You can explore these books by clicking the book cover images below.Support these writers and buy their books!
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.
Books published by Alumni & Staff in July – September, 2022.
Congratulations to these Community of Writers alumni and teaching staff who have published books during the third quarter of 2022!We are delighted to share their success with you. You can explore these books by clicking the book cover images below.Support these writers and buy their books!
Special congratulations to staff members Ada Limón who was named U.S. Poet Laureate in July, and Sharon Olds who won a Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize and published her new collection Balladz (Knopf), which is a finalist for the National Book Award for Poetry.
Congratulations to Karen Joy Fowler whose novel Booth made the Booker Prize Long-List, and to Margaret Wilkerson Sexton, whose new novel On the Rooftop was named a Reese’s Book Club Pick.
Poems, photocopiers, poetry elves, vegan muffins, handmade tablecloths, softball games, nature walks past roaring snowmelt waterfalls, quaking aspen trees, a live-streamed Benefit Poetry Reading, boxes and boxes of manuscripts, masks! masks! masks!, wild flower-festooned pinecones, the Paul Radin Memorial Dream Wagon, musicians, shade tents and buckets of sand, a dock at Lake Tahoe, recitations under the stars, a staged reading! What a joy it was to return to our beautiful valley in person.
This year in particular stood out among many wonderful sessions. In addition to it being our first year back in the Valley in three years, the joy of being together again in person in this beautiful place, the high caliber of the work, and the deep commitment to community, made this session particularly memorable.
We are grateful to our generous teaching staff members in Poetry, Fiction and Nonfiction who make the summer workshops an unforgettable and productive experience. Thanks to our program directors: Lisa Alvarez, Michael Carlisle, Sands Hall, Brenda Hillman, and Louis B. Jones. And thanks in particular to Sands for her leadership and for organizing the fabulous Follies! Thanks as well to Gary Giddens, husband of participant Beth Giddens, who skillfully ran the sound for the Follies.
Our Special Guests deserve a shout out for the gift of their presence in the Valley: Meg Waite Clayton, Frances Dinkelspiel, Karen Joy Fowler, Andrew Nicholls, Kris O’Shee, Julia Flynn Siler, Jordan Fisher Smith, Caridwen Irvine Spatz, Amy Tan and Dora Wang, who, as a physician, served as an unofficial advice-giver and comfort regarding all things COVID.
Patricia K. Meyer and Megan Fay Raveneau joined us again this summer to teach their special class “The Alchemy of Adaptation.” A big thank you to Diana Fuller, who founded and shepherded this program from a full screenwriting program to an adaptation program for fiction and nonfiction writers.
Andrew Tonkovich was essential every step of the way: from the management of all the manuscripts during registration, to moderating panels, he was central to it all.
We mourned the loss of one of our beloved friends this summer: Al Young. Many thanks to Lisa Alvarez for organizing the event, as well as Andrew Tonkovich and Louis B. Jones for their tributes, and thanks to longtime participant and friend of the community Joe Heinrich, whose tribute was read by fellow participant and boy-camper of the week, Jordan Brown.
Many thanks to Ashlyn Hardie, Katherine Plocharzyk and L Tonkovich, who worked our pop-up bookstore in the Dream Wagon during the Poetry and Writers Workshops weeks. Thanks to our friend Siig of Tahoe Art Haus and Cinema for helping us move the Dream Wagon. And thanks to Dashiell Jones and Kat Feiling for creating a bit of home in our humble snack bar. And thanks to Kaitlin Klaussen and Audrey Rawson for help with housing and registration day!
Our Elves (and all-around helpers) were Kat Feiling, Antonia Fuller, Lindsey Gordon, Ashlyn Hardie, Dashiell Jones, Michaela Korn, Katherine Plocharzyk, and L Tonkovich. With high energy and good spirits, they all made things happen seamlessly.
L helped us record events and will soon be putting them on our website as podcasts. Lindsey, Hunter and Eva organized the Poetry Picnic this year at Skylandia Beach, with help from all the elves.
A big thank you to all of our work-waivers, especially Gauri Awasthi, Luz Casquejo Johnston, Loisa Fenichell, Katarina Lapoll, Natasha Rao, Mark Spero, and Martha Yates for their help all week.
The Benefit Poetry Reading took place in Olympic Valley in June, on the Thursday evening during Poetry Week, and many thanks are in order, to Hunter Jones who made real my hope to create our first-ever live-streamed benefit. Sands Hall who emceed the event, as well as the seven participating poets: Camille Dungy, Robert Hass, Brenda Hillman, Major Jackson, Ada Limón, Sharon Olds and Matthew Zapruder. A heartfelt thanks especially to Jared and Julia Drake of Wildbound Media for all of their brilliant work producing the event and immersing our virtual audience in our mountain community. To view the video, click here. Thanks as well to our sponsors of this event: Tahoe Art Haus and Cinema, Word After Word Books, and PUBS WHO DONATED!! This event benefits our Poetry Scholarship Fund, which we look to expand each year in the face of rising costs. We have tremendous gratitude to everyone who came to the event in person or online to support this project. Donations welcome.
We were delighted to welcome back published alums to read from their new work: Caroline Frost, Gail Reitano, Katherine Seligman. Thank you for making the trek out here to share your work with us!
Due to last minute, COVID-related staff cancelations, we would like to thank all of the Writers Workshop teaching staff who stepped in and volunteered to cover gaps in the schedule of events and workshop schedule, in order to create a seamless experience for our participants. You know who you are! Special thanks to Karen Joy Fowler for stepping in to give a brilliant Opening Talk, Rachel Howard who drove up from Nevada City to lead a morning workshop, and to Amy Tan who stepped in at the last minute and gave a stunning reading from her book Where the Past Begins: A Writer’s Memoir.
We would like to acknowledge our friends who have been tremendously generous with their time and local support over the years: Mimi Miller, Eddy & Osvaldo Ancinas, and Amy Tan& Lou Demattei. Thanks also to alum and friend Bob Austin for his generous wine donation.
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 Carlin Naify. Thanks as well to board members Jim Naify, Nancy and Fred Teichert, and Julia Flynn Siler, for digging in and helping with various events.Deep gratitude to our literary committee led by board vice president Alex Espinoza, along with Lisa Alvarez, Dana Johnson, Louis B. Jones, Michelle Latiolais, Margaret Wilkerson Sexton, and Oscar Villalon, for helping us create a more inclusive and responsive community.
I want to thank my year-round colleagues Hunter Jones and Eva Melas who did so much to make these workshops shine. As well as her usual duties, Eva managed our pop-up bookshop as well as deftly organizing the lodging for all the participants and staff. Hunter took on a myriad of roles too numerous to name but which included planning for our first-ever pandemic onsite conference and all that entails including safe and pleasant outdoor spaces, sound system, creating the hybrid benefit event, and so much more. They deserve a restful vacation soon!
We are deeply grateful to our participants and staff. You showed respect and care for one another by following our COVID protocols. We are so glad to have had a safe and healthy summer. We want to thank you for your patience through all the site challenges; from ski-area construction noise to wildfire smoke to windblown roaming tents and, in June, rain and snowfall—all of you made these workshops memorable through your warmth and good will. We at the Community of Writers can only do so much to create the circumstances of a good workshop session, but ultimately it is our teaching staff and participants who make the week so wonderful.
And to our Donors: What a community this is! Your support is essential to this thing we do.
Books published by Alumni & Staff Poets and Writers in January – March, 2022.
Congratulations to these Community of Writers alum and teaching staff who have published books during the first quarter of 2022!We are delighted to share their success with you. You can explore these books by clicking the book cover images below.Support these writers and buy their books!
Spring has sprung. Workshop applications are in, taxes filed, boosters available, wildflowers abloom, and the new OGQ…live. This issue of our online Community of Writers journal presents some of the best recent prose and poetry by alums, offered in celebration of their most recent publications. Do check out their full bios and by all means do purchase their work.
Meanwhile, award-winning short story writer Mary Kuryla shares a chapter from her newest, a debut novel. Poet Lester Graves Lennon memorializes state-sanctioned racist murder but also the life of our own Community of Writers legend Lucille Clifton: “Oceans remember,” indeed! Novelist Rhoda Huffey gamely engages her wild dreamlife, laugh-out-loud creative insights into perhaps the writing of her 31 Paradiso. Patricia Dunn considers the inspiration, perspective, and timing required to grow as a writer, with a shout-out to activist-writer hero Grace Paley herself. Poet and anthology editor Emily Perez meditates on what’s required to assemble an anthology on motherhood, a standout collection which features, happily, many Community of Writers alums! Author and activist Ellen Bravo delivers one of many real-life episodes of struggle included in her decades-spanning survey of American peace, justice and labor rights organizing, Standing Up: Tales of Struggle.
We offer hearty congratulations to all as we struggle, together, to affirm, create, and realize the best of our collective imaginings and re-imaginings.
This will be a particularly special year for the Community of Writers. We had intended to celebrate our fiftieth anniversary with all of you in our valley two years ago. While the past two years have been incredibly difficult for our Community, we also feel that we have demonstrated a capacity to come together as poets and writers regardless of our circumstances.
This will be our fifty-third year as a Community, but our fiftieth year together in our valley.
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.
The Writers 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, as well as 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 manuscript, participants may have a second manuscript read by a staff member who meets with them in an individual conference.
This summer we are lucky to have a terrific teaching staff joining us in our valley, including poets, writers, teachers, agents and editors. We also anticipate this year to feature a cohort of extremely talented poets and writers – all of whom represent our community’s depth, diversity, talent and commitment to cultivating friendships that boost one another’s writing lives and careers.
This pandemic has caused every member of our broader community to endure tremendous difficulties. We want those of you who will join us here in the valley to consider it a refuge, and a safe place in general. Therefore certain measures will be taken to ensure the safety of all of our community members. Please refer to our health guidelines over the coming months for up-to-date information on our evolving safety strategy.
Year-Round Online Opportunities
As we gear up for our first summer back in the valley since the pandemic began, we will continue to put out messaging to keep you abreast of the exciting year that is to come. In the meantime, we encourage you to engage with our virtual offerings. Now, we are building the infrastructure for year-round programming that is affordable and accessible to anyone through our Virtual Valley and through the Writers’ Annex, which is currently offering weekly courses offered by Community of Writers staff – all online and interactive. This month, Pulitzer Prize Winning Poet, Robert Hass is teaching a six-week intensive course on the life and work of Polish Poet Czesław Miłosz. Later this spring, Community of Writers Staff Poet Kazim Ali will teach a short course called “The Poetry & Poetics of Lucille Clifton.” Over the course of four weeks (Thursday evening sessions, live on Zoom), Ali will guide us through the work of long time Community of Writers staff poet, Lucille Clifton. The Writer’s Annex will continue to offer programming year-round as we seek to cultivate a broader and more inclusive community that is not limited to those who can attend the summer workshops. Likewise, we are exploring ways in which our in-person events can be made available online in some capacity moving forward, whether streamed or available as a Video On Demand after the fact.
Books published by Alumni & Staff Poets and Writers in October – December, 2021.
Congratulations to these Community of Writers alum and teaching staff who have published books during the fourth quarter of 2021!We are delighted to share their success with you. You can explore these books by clicking the book cover images below.Support these writers and buy their books!
The Community of Writers is delighted to announce our new project: The Writers’ Annex.
Online, and year-round, The Writers’ Annex will be made up of short courses, seminars, workshops, and more. Our vision is to bring the creative insight and experience of our staff poets and prose writers to our community in all seasons, not just in the summertime, and not just here in the valley. We envision online offerings which might address such topics as eco-poetics, translation, and generative sessions. Some will be one or two days, some will be weekend intensives, and some will meet weekly for a month or two.
Some of our offerings will be for writers, and others will be for readers and those who study the written word. We learned from our two years of offerings from the Virtual Valley that opportunities like this can be crucial for participants who aren’t in an academic setting, and who can’t make a week-long trip to the Sierra whether because of mobility, financial, employment, or familial constraints. We see The Writers’ Annex as a bridge for them.
Our first offering from The Writers’ Annex will be in poetry: a short course called “ReadingMilosz, by Robert Hass.” Czeslaw Milosz, Nobel Laureate, generally regarded as one of the great poets of the twentieth century, produced a large and various body of work. Milosz’s friend and neighbor, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Robert Hass, worked with him for more than twenty-five years on the translation of his poems, many of which can be found in the anthology Czesław Miłosz, New and Collected Poems, a compilation that takes us across much of the intense life of the European twentieth century, in a poetry that uses ceaselessly inventive techniques and approaches to a range of subjects. The conversation promises to be rich and enlightening with Hass as our guide.
Stay tuned as we develop more from… The Writers’ Annex. We are extremely excited to be launching this platform and to be expanding our offerings!
The fall issue of our online, in-house, invitation-only, COVID-era quarterly Community of Writers journal arrives, as you will note, with a lot of adjectival explanation. Fortunately, the writing once again lives up to the hype, with poetry and prose which runs the gamut. Running the gamut has been a marathon lately, as reflected in personal, political, meditative if reliably artful offerings from this issue’s contributors: poet David Mills, novelist Monica West and nonfiction writers Martina Clark and Kate Nason. Dear friend Kris O’Shee shares an excerpt from her memoir about life and love with longtime staffer Alan Cheuse (1940-2015), with archival photos by Brett Hall Jones and Tracy Hall. Fiction Co-Director Louis B. Jones starts us off with a seasonal report from the actual Valley. I hope you are delighted, inspired, and affirmed by exemplary work from your Community of Writers pals, whether you’ve met them in real life at the conference or not.
Books published by Alumni Poets and Writers in July – September, 2021.
Congratulations to these Community of Writers Alums who have published books during the third quarter of 2021!We are delighted to share their success with you. You can explore these books by clicking the book cover images below.Support these writers and buy their books!
Books published by Alumni Poets and Writers in April – June, 2021.
Congratulations to these Community of Writers Alums who have published books during the second quarter of 2021!We are delighted to share their success with you. You can explore these books by clicking the book cover images below.Support these writers and buy their books!
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!
Read about the anthology in the Blue Door magazine:
“The poems tell a California story and the story of the American West and American poetry,” Alvarez says. “Contributors include some of the country’s most acclaimed poets, along with those just starting out, each with something to say about where and how we live together.”
“The poets in the (Poetry) program are being celebrated in a new anthology published by Heyday Books: Why to These Rocks: 50 Years of Poetry from the Community of Writers. The title comes from a poem by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Galway Kinnell, who directed the Poetry Program for 17 years: “Then why to these rocks/ Do I keep coming back why.”
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
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.
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:
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 Choi, Lucille Clifton, Toi Derricotte, Rita Dove, Cornelius Eady, Juan Felipe Herrera, Brenda Hillman, Cathy Park Hong, Forrest Gander, Major Jackson, Yusef Komunyakaa, Harryette Mullen, Sharon Olds, Greg Pardlo, Evie Shockley, Al Young, Kevin Young, Matthew 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
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.
Read about the anthology in the San Diego Union-Tribune:
“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.”
We’re delighted to announce two new poetry readings to celebrate the publication of our 50th anniversary poetry anthology, Why to These Rocks: 50 Years of Poetry from the Community of Writers. • April 11: At the Sierra Poetry Festival online. More details • April 16: At Skylight Books reading series online. More details.
The Community of Writers celebrates fifty years of its annual poetry workshop with an extraordinary collection by some of the country’s most prominent contemporary poets. “Why To These Rocks: 50 Years of Poetry from the Community of Writers” includes over 140 poems inspired by or written in High Sierra during the annual workshop week. Read more.
The Community of Writers will join the Sierra Poetry Festival online for a virtual poetry reading for Heyday’s release of Why to These Rocks: 50 Years of Poetry from the Community of Writers.
Introduced by: Lisa D. Alvarez, the anthology’s editor.
Both teaching staff poets and alumni poets of the storied annual summer Poetry Workshops of the Community of Writers will read from the first section of the anthology, “Poems about Place.” In addition to reading from their own work, each featured poet will also select another poem to read. Although the place where these poems were first written unifies these poems, they are as varied and distinctive in their lyricism, voice, and scope as the watershed of the Sierra itself.
Join Chris Davidson, Christina Hutchins, Patricia Spears Jones, Francisco Márquez, Sharon Olds, Maw Shein Win, and Matthew Zapruder for another celebration of the publication of this extraordinary anthology, as they read and discuss poems first written during the Community of Writers Poetry Workshop.
Virtual event on Crowdcast. Registrants will be sent a Crowdcast link upon registration.
The Community of Writers will join SkyLight Books online for a virtual poetry reading for Heyday’s release of Why to These Rocks: 50 Years of Poetry from the Community of Writers. The evening will celebrate fifty years of poetry written during the Poetry Workshop in the High Sierra.
Emcee: Lisa D. Alvarez, the project’s editor.
Join Francisco Aragón, Joan Baranow, Katie Ford, Jay A. Fernandez, Lester Graves Lennon, Michelle Brittan Rosado, Vickie Vértiz, Sholeh Wolpé, and Charles Harper Webb for another celebration of the publication of this extraordinary anthology, as they read and discuss poems first written during the Community of Writers Poetry Workshop.
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.
The Community of Writers turns 50 this year. A new book highlights how the Olympic Valley retreat steered California’s voice.
“In late 1969, California’s literary scene was in trouble.” Two couples founded the Community of Writers to save it. In this article from the San Francisco Chronicle’s Datebook, written by Scott Thomas Anderson, read about our 50-year history and our new poetry collection from Heyday Books celebrating this milestone called Why to These Rocks: 50 Years of Poetry from the Community of Writers.Read the article here.
The Community of Writers is delighted to announce two scholarships for PEN Emerging Voices Fellows who require financial aid to attend the Community of Writers Summer Workshops this summer.
Dates: Poetry: June 19 – 26, 2021 Fiction Workshop: July 11 – 17, 2021 Narrative Nonfiction and Memoir Workshop: August 1 – 6, 2021
Deadline to apply: March 28, 2021
Each scholarship will be for the full tuition cost of each workshop ($900 for Poetry, $880 for Fiction, and $850 for Narrative Nonfiction and Memoir). Interested Emerging Voices Fellows will need to apply to the workshop by March 28, and request this scholarship in the application form. Fellows offered scholarships will need to submit a $100 deposit (which will be refunded on the first day of the workshop.) This is a scholarship for poets and writers who have not previously attended the Poetry Workshop.
The Community of Writers is delighted to announce three scholarships for Cave Canem Fellows who require financial aid to attend the Community of Writers Poetry Workshop this summer.
Dates: June 19 – 26, 2021 Deadline to apply: March 28, 2021
Each scholarship will be for $900, which is the full tuition to the 2021 Poetry Program. Interested Cave Canem Fellows will need to apply to the workshop by March 28, and request this scholarship in the application form. Fellows offered scholarships will need to submit a $100 deposit (which will be refunded on the first day of the workshop.) This is a scholarship for poets who have not previously attended the Poetry Workshop.
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.
THE POETRY WORKSHOP:
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
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.
Click on the portraits to learn about these authors and their work. Or View as List
Stephen Graham Jones
Anna Deavere Smith
David L. Ulin
Fiction Workshops Teaching Staff
Click on the portraits to learn about these authors and their work. Or View as List
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.
Click on the portraits to learn about these authors and their work. Or View as List
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.
We are delighted to announce the publication of Written Here: The Community of Writers Poetry Review 2019. This annual anthology is made up of poems first written during the 2019 Poetry Workshop, and is available now! Proceeds benefit the Poetry Workshop’s Scholarship Fund.
Each June at the Community of Writers, poets gather in the Sierras to write and share their new work. Participants and teaching staff poets alike write a poem each day and then bring their new draft to workshop the next morning. Written Here: The Community of Writers Poetry Review 2019 is an impressive collection of all of the extraordinary poetry to come out of the 2019 Poetry Workshop. Once again, volunteer editors, alumni from the same annual workshop, sort through all of the participant submissions and select the poems that appear in the Review. The 2019 Poetry staff featured Forrest Gander, Brenda Hillman, David Tomas Martinez, Jane Miller, Sharon Olds, and Gregory Pardlo, with special guest Robert Hass. This edition of Written Here was edited by Veronica Corpuz, Jeanne Morel, Jon Riccio, Jennifer Sperry Steinorth, and Leah Xue. Many thanks to Cody Gates and Maureen Forys at Happenstance Type-O-Rama for the beautiful book design and production.
Poets included in the issue:
Threa Almontaser • Laura Atkinson • Kyce Bello • Ambriel Floyd Bostic • Robin Burrows • Brian Carey Chung • Nate Clute • Veronica Corpuz • Beth Ford • Kirk Glaser • Katy Gurin • Ken Haas • J.J. Hernandez • Ethan Heusser • Brenda Hillman • John Hines • Leslieann Hobayan • Lauren Howard • Danny Kraft • Deborah Krainin • Lester Graves Lennon • Helena Li • Sarah Maclay • Holaday Mason • Jane Miller • Matthew Moniz • Jeanne Morel • Julie Murphy • Sharon Olds • Emilie Osborn • Jessica Reed • Jon Riccio • Yiskah Rosenfeld • Gini Savage • Diane Schenker • Richard Sime • Arthur Solway • Benjamin Voigt • Lisa Wenzel • Roberta Werdinger • Amelia L. Williams • Mary Winegarden
Give the gift of poetry this holiday season!
The book is available through a print-on-demand site for $16.
We are delighted to tell you that the long-awaited Why to These Rocks: The 50th Anniversary Poetry Anthology will be published by Heyday Books in March, 2021. Stay tuned for more details in the months ahead.
In this issue, we present an essay from one of our Community’s legends, the much-esteemed late novelist and journalist Robert Stone. It’s an excerpt from a just-released collection of his nonfiction. Longtime member Molly Fisk shares two poems, one each from two anthologies she’s featured in, one of which she edited. Leland Cheuk makes us all smarter and less America-centric with a journal of his recent internationlist reading. And, finally, we feature two gorgeous fictions from recent participants on the way up. Lyndsey Ellis‘s short story is a musically-structured experiment in association and observation by a mortuary technician. Her novel arrives next year. Elison Alcovendaz offers a poignant story of quotidian loss and emotional discovery.
We’re also pleased to announce the inaugural episode of Conversations from the Virtual Valley, our new series featuring author interviews, readings and panels. Our first features Michelle Latiolais in conversation with Ryan Ridge.
Conversations from the Virtual Valley is hosted by Andrew Tonkovich and produced by Laura Howard.
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 GalwayKinnell 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.
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.
Our 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.
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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.