Poetry Workshop in the Virtual Valley

June 20 – 27, 2020

This year, in the face of the global and unprecedented health crisis of Covid19, the Community of Writers has decided to forgo the physical Poetry week in Squaw Valley. Instead, we have decided to go forward as a “Virtual Valley”—an intensive week-long online gathering of our community.

In very much the same spirit as our usual Poetry week, we will write drafts of poems each day, and will come together daily to share fresh new poems. In structured and unstructured sessions, we will continue to make poetry the center of our lives for those seven days. Though we know nothing can replace the beautiful setting in the mountains beside Lake Tahoe or the sight of aspens, we believe the virtual conference will provide a footbridge over the isolation we have felt in the last few weeks.

If you would like to apply, our deadline is extended to April 15.  Notification will be May 10.

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. Each day we will meet online: 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); and for a conversation about some aspect of craft. On several afternoons staff poets will hold brief individual conferences with participants.

For participants, carving out a full week’s space and time at home for this experience will be essential. Time to write, time to gather for craft talks, individual conferences, staff readings, and small group social hours — all online.

We will endeavor to create a workshop week with the same intensity, intimacy, and profound productivity as our usual week in the Valley. Please note that time will be an issue in the virtual valley. We haven’t quite worked out the details, but the workshop sessions will likely meet at 9 am for poets on the West Coast and at noon for poets on the East Coast. This should be quite manageable–we are in a time of international online courses–but before you decide whether to proceed, you would have to plan for it and make a schedule that frees up hours in which to be writing and attending our online sessions.

Financial aid is available; requests for our limited financial aid can be made in the Application Form. Admissions are based on submitted manuscripts. 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 a returning poet, please read the note about entering the Returning Poet Lottery, at the bottom of the page. 

Deadline for receipt of application/submission to the Virtual Valley workshop is April 15, 2020.

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

Camille Dungy • Robert Hass • Brenda Hillman
Major Jackson • Ada Limón • Matthew Zapruder

Daily Schedule

Due to our participant and staff living in different parts of the country, we will create a schedule which can work for all US time-zones. Each day, we meet in small sessions 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 during the week. We gather for a conversation about some aspect of craft each day. On several late afternoons staff poets hold brief individual conferences.

Other Opportunities

Nature Walks

naturalist will richardson

Naturalist Will Richardson will lead informative nature walks up Shirley Canyon on a video feed. This is an opportunity to learn from a professional naturalist about the biology of the valley.

Poetry Reading 

On Thursday evening, Camille Dungy, Robert Hass, Brenda Hillman, Major Jackson, Ada Limón, and Matthew Zapruder will read from their published and unpublished work, including poems written just days before. This event will be open to the public, and we will be a benefit for our 2021 Scholarship Fund.

Fees & Deadlines

Program DatesJune 20 - 27, 2020
Deadline to ApplyAPRIL 15, 2020
(before midnight PST)
Application Fee$35
Acceptance NotificationOn or before May 10, 2020
Deposit - NonrefundableA deposit of $500 will be due upon acceptance. (Awards of financial aid may reduce this amount.)
Deposit DeadlineMay 20, 2020
Tuition BalanceDue on or before June 10, 2020
Registration/First Day of ConferenceSaturday, June 20, 2020
Program Website
Make sure to read all information before applying
Poetry Website
ReturneesReturning Poetry Lottery Information & Application
Financial Aid & ScholarshipsView Financial Aid Information
Application FormApply Now (Poetry)

Application Guidelines

  • Deadline for receipt of Virtual Valley application/submission: April 15, 2020 (11:59 PM, PST)
  • Submission should consist of four or five pages of recent poems, typed, 12 pt. Submit PDF or Word.doc through our online application form.
  • 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.
  • Once you have completed the online form, you will receive an email confirmation.
  • 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 10, 2020.
  • 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.

Past Poetry Participants:
If you wish to attend this year see Returning Poetry Lottery Information  and enter through the usual application form.
Please note, returning poets need not prepare or submit a writing sample if entering the Returning Poet Lottery.