Poetry Program

June 19 – 25, 2023

The Poetry Program at the Community of Writers is founded on the belief that when poets gather in a community to write new poems, each poet may well break through old habits and write something stronger and truer than before. To help this happen we work together to create an atmosphere in which everyone might feel free to try anything. In the mornings we meet in workshops to read to each other the work of the previous twenty-four hours; each participant also has an opportunity to work with each staff poet. In the late afternoons we gather for a conversation about some aspect of craft. On several afternoons staff poets hold brief individual conferences. Director: Brenda Hillman.

Tuition for the Poetry Program is $1450 and includes six evening meals. Financial aid is available; requests for our limited financial aid can be made in the Application Form. Admissions are based on submitted manuscripts. Please Note: Tuition does not include housing costs. See Housing and Meals. See Fees & Deadlines, below.

Note: We make no admissions decisions before all the submissions have been read and evaluated. The Application Form link is at the bottom of the page. Please make sure to read all the information here before applying.

If you are an alum of the Poetry week. Please see our returning poet guidelines.

Please refer to our Health Guidelines before applying.

Deadline for receipt of application/submission is March 28, 2023.

Kazim Ali • Victoria Chang • Forrest Gander
Carmen Giménez • Brenda Hillman • Evie Shockley

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

& Special Guests Robert Hass & Sharon Olds

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

Daily Schedule

In the mornings we meet in workshops to read to each other the work of the previous twenty-four hours; each participant will have an opportunity to work with each staff poet. In the late afternoons we gather for a conversation about some aspect of craft. On several late afternoons staff poets hold brief individual conferences. An optional workshop by Sharon Olds will occur in the late afternoon.

View /Print Sample Schedule of Events

Other Opportunities

Special Afternoon Workshop with Sharon Olds

Sharon Olds will lead optional Afternoon Sessions for 10 participants. Sessions will meet every other day in the late afternoon for 75 minutes. Work read in Sharon’s workshop should be work written earlier in the week which has gone through feedback in the regular morning sessions. Participants will have an opportunity to have 2 poems treated during the week. This workshop will be filled on a first-request basis. Once admissions decisions are made, we will notify those who expressed interest regarding enrollment. (Olds will not be leading regular morning sessions). Fee: $200. Proceeds (after expenses) benefit the 2024 Poetry Scholarship Fund.

Nature Walks

naturalist will richardson

Naturalist Will Richardson will lead several informative early morning walks up Shirley Canyon scheduled for 8:00 AM, before workshops begin at 10:00. This is an opportunity to learn from a professional naturalist about the biology of this valley. These walks are suitable for almost all fitness levels and are free of charge.

Benefit Poetry Reading 

On Thursday evening during Poetry week, Kazim Ali, Victoria Chang, Forrest Gander, Carmen Giménez, Robert Hass, Brenda Hillman, Sharon Olds, and Evie Shockley will read from their published and unpublished work, including poems written in Olympic Valley just days before. Their books will be available for sale and signing after the reading. This event will be a hybrid event and will be live-streamed to our alums and the public. Proceeds benefit the 2024 Community of Writers Poetry Scholarship Fund.

Did you know you can view the recording of last year’s livestreamed benefit reading for free? Click here to register and view the evening of poetry featuring US Poet Laureate Ada Limón, along with 2022 Poetry Staff members Camille Dungy, Robert Hass, Brenda Hillman, Major Jackson, Sharon Olds, and Matthew Zapruder.

Olympic Valley, CA

Olympic Valley is in the California Sierra Nevada, close to the north shore of Lake Tahoe. Our gathering is held in the ski area there, now called Palisades Tahoe, which was the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics. Palisades Tahoe provides venues for our programs each summer. Many of our events take place in the Olympic House, the lodge at the foot of the ski area.

Summers are warm and sunny; participants and teaching staff will have opportunities to hike to the local waterfalls, take guided nature walks up the mountain, swim in Lake Tahoe, or bike along the Truckee River.

In summer, the weather is changeable; days are usually warm/hot and dry (72°- 87°) and nights are cool (40°- 50°). The elevation of the valley floor is 6200 feet.

Our Name

Some time ago, we changed the name by dropping the long-used place name for where we hold our summer writing workshops. We recognize this name has a painful and derogatory legacy which has been disrespectful to the Native American community. We are now known as the Community of Writers. The ski area is now called Palisades Tahoe. We will call the place Olympic Valley or just the Valley. For years writers have used the old name as short-hand to refer to our Writing Workshops in the summer. We hope you will join us and choose not to use the name in that context.

A Message to our Community About our Community.

Lake Tahoe

meeks bay lake tahoe

On Thursday we will go to Lake Tahoe for the afternoon and evening. We’ll host a friendly softball game, a fun, low-stakes, high-energy CoW tradition emphasizing mutual aid and not competitiveness. All are welcome. Cheering from the bleachers encouraged.  

The softball game will be followed by a BBQ picnic at the spectacular Meeks Bay on the Lake. Poets may swim, hike the nearby trails to view abundant wildflowers, or just relax. We return to Olympic Valley at nightfall.

Fees & Deadlines

Program DatesJune 19-25, 2023
Deadline to ApplyMarch 28, 2023
(before midnight PST)
Application Fee$35
Acceptance NotificationOn or before May 1, 2023
Deposit - NonrefundableA deposit of $800 will be due upon acceptance. (Awards of financial aid may reduce this amount.)
Deposit DeadlineMay 10, 2023
HousingNot included in tuition. See Housing & Meals. Housing Payment due May 26.
Housing & Tuition BalanceDue on or before June 12, 2023
Registration/First Day of ConferenceSaturday, June 19, 2023
Program WebsiteMake sure to read all information before applying
ReturneesReturning Poetry Lottery Information & Application
Financial Aid & ScholarshipsView Financial Aid Information
Application FormApply Now (Poetry)

*Tuition may change slightly without notice.

Application Guidelines

  • Deadline for receipt of application/submission: March 28, 2023 (11:59 PM, PST)
  • Submission should consist of four or five pages of recent poems, typed, 12 pt.
  • Put your name in the upper right-hand corner of each page.
  • Attach a digital file (PDF or Word doc) of your submission ms. to the online application form.
  • A $35 reading fee will be due with application & submission, payable by check or credit card, online. Checks should be made out to Community of Writers and mailed to:

    Community of Writers – Poetry
    PO Box 1416
    Nevada City, CA 95959
  • Notification of acceptance by May 1, 2023.
  • Please note: Once you have submitted your application online, you will immediately receive an email confirmation. If you don’t get that confirmation, we didn’t receive your application. If that is the case, contact us immediately.