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. (See Daily Schedule, below.)

This year, in the face of the global and unprecedented health crisis of COVID-19, the Community of Writers has decided to meet again in the “Virtual Valley” for an intensive week-long online gathering of our community — all online. We made this happen in 2020 and it was a real success.

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 this past year.

If you would like to apply, our deadline is April 1.  Notification will be May 1.

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 again 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. The workshop sessions will meet at 9 am for poets on the West Coast and at noon for poets on the East Coast. 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.

A Message to our Community About our Community

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. 

Deadline for receipt of application/submission to the Virtual Valley workshop is April 1, 2021.

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

Daily Schedule

Because our participants and staff live in different parts of the country (or internationally), we will create a schedule which can work for all U.S. 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.

Poetry Reading

On Thursday evening, Kazim Ali, Blas Falconer, Forrest Gander, Brenda Hillman, Sharon Olds, and Evie Shockley, along with longtime former director Robert Hass, will read from their published and unpublished work, including poems written just days before. This event will be open to the public, and will benefit for our 2022 Scholarship Fund.

Fees & Deadlines

Program DatesJune 19 - 26, 2021
Deadline to ApplyApril 1, 2021
(before midnight PST)
Application Fee$35
Acceptance NotificationOn or before May 1, 2021
Deposit - NonrefundableA deposit of $450 will be due upon acceptance. (Awards of financial aid may reduce this amount.)
Deposit DeadlineMay 10, 2021
Registration/First Day of ConferenceSaturday, June 19, 2021
Financial Aid & ScholarshipsView Financial Aid Information

Application Guidelines

  • Deadline for receipt of Virtual Valley application/submission:April 1, 2021 (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.
  • Alums who want to attend: Please see Returning Poetry Lottery info.
  • 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 11, 2021.
  • 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.

Returning Poetry Participant Lottery:
Due to the COVID-19 Panedemic, we are suspending our usual lottery rules about attending the workshop.  This year we will have a simple, stand-alone lottery to decide which Poetry Alums may attend in 2021. Twenty percent of the attendees this year will be past-participants. A limited amount of financial aid is available. That said, if you attended in 2020, you will need to sit out this year.

  • If you attended the Poetry Workshop in the Virtual Valley in 2020, we are sorry, you aren’t eligible for this summer’s workshop.
  • If you are an alum from previous year, and you wish to attend this year’s workshop in the Virtual Valley, simply enter the lottery. (You do this in the application form.)
  • Returning poets need not prepare or submit a writing sample if entering the Returning Poet Lottery.
  • A tuition deposit of $450 will be due when entering the lottery. If you aren’t selected, this will be refunded in full.
  • Names will be drawn out of a hat. If you aren’t selected, we are very sorry. Please try again next year.
  • To enter the lottery, complete the Application Form, select “Enter Returning Poet Lottery” and pay the $450 tuition deposit.