Recent Testimonials

"I felt like I received an intense MFA in one week."

Amanda Coggin   

“At CoW, I felt well taken care of, inspired, and motivated to continue the very difficult work of writing. I learned so much from the illuminating craft talks, engaging panels, nightly readings, and intensive workshops. It was truly a magical week.”

Kathy Nguyen   

“The most valuable takeaway from my CoW experience was my workshop group. Hands down the most exceptional group of people I’ve had the pleasure of being grouped with. In fact, we enjoyed each other so much that we still meet to workshop each other’s work!”

Doreen Oliver   

“Throughout the week, I studied with award-winning poets who provided support, insight and encouragement. My days were packed with composing poems, revising old work, and conversing with brilliant writers.”

Jen Sirganian   

For all my schooling, it's clear the impossibility of articulating the exact measure of my gratitude for such a life-altering experience as the Community of Writers. Forget exact: even approximation would require language that still seems inadequate. I'm going to carry CW in my heart the whole of my life.

Marci Vogel, recipient of the 2017 Hillary Gravendyk Memorial Scholarship   

“I can’t tell you what a wonderful time I had. It was such an open, generous, heartfelt week and I’m very grateful to have been part of it.”

Julia Flynn Siler   

A life-changing week on the mountain... Now that I'm back in
the real world, I find myself wishing I had another week just to sit with my
notes and thoughts and reflect upon all that happened. I know that I will continue to unpack it, in small ways, over time and use it when needed to guide me through my writing life for years to come.

Esther Gulli   

As a new mother, the reality of leaving my toddler for the first time was anxious-making, but thanks to the Ancinas Scholarship, which not only afforded me the opportunity, but also provided much needed validation, I learned so much from my fellow writers, the faculty, and staff, who are each profoundly dedicated to writing. To put to words everything I gained during those six days, living, breathing, dialoging a writer’s life, would require an excavation of heart, soul, and mind. My time in the Sierras re-calibrated my artist's compass, renewed my commitment to the craft, and widened my writing and reading consciousness. It was difficult to part from my home and family, but CoW proved I can be a loved and loving member of multiple families.

Rashaan Meneses   

The opportunity to gather with seventy other poets to write—and celebrate writing in community—was powerfully transformative. To witness other would-be-conscious souls negotiate and find voice amidst the flood of impressions coming in from our tumultuous and violent landscape (politically and socially), was deeply inspirational, and even healing. […] my week within the Community of Writers was one of the poetically richest of my life. My belief in the vitality and necessity of poetry in our world is stronger than ever.

Trisha Peck   

"It was a week that can only be described as magical! I was inspired every second of every day during my time with the Community of Writers. The general vibe of this workshop is both warm and motivating, full of love and confidence, building both our art and our business. When describing my week to my family in San Diego the following Tuesday, I said simply ‘It was the best week of my life."

Clea Bierman   

A wonderfully-intensive and rich week of writing workshops, discussions, panels, readings, and social events, all of which continues to resonate as I now return to the writing desk. The Community of Writers offers an inspiring and nurturing atmosphere for writers of diverse genres and voices; its imprint within the writing world is both unique and indelible.

Howard Rappaport   

"I had the opportunity to learn from inspiring writers and to meet industry experts. I was able to receive feedback from a group of exceptional writers, probably the most talented group with whom I’ve had the privilege to work. Throughout the week, standards were high, and each writer I met showed an uncommon dedication to his or her craft. I have never felt more at home."

Lindsey Lee Johnson   

As promised, ‘community’ was the keyword of the week. I cannot remember another professional event in which I felt as welcomed and encouraged by everyone I met. The experience at the Community of Writers was immeasurably beneficial not only to my writing but also to my growth as a reader, listener, and community member. That is, it left me a better human.

John Wood   

"It was an enormously inspiring and encouraging week, from which I continue to draw energy and insight. Though the word 'community' gets bandied about a lot, at the Community of Writers it felt like more than a word. I could feel the real bonds of friendship, collegiality, and affection that both hold this community together and attract kindred spirits."

Thomas H. Pruiksma   

“The short course was a full, summary course. Enlightening, enrichening, elevating, simply superb material, the genius of C.D. Wright, taught by Hillman and Gander, was completely superb. I am not a poet. I am an art historian interested in literature, especially poetry, having studied ekphrasis with the great Paul Barolsky. So, for me, the deep reading of Wright's works, chosen as they were, illuminated my imagination in pictorial terms, also deeply metaphorical and uncanny. This was a hugely satisfying and uplifting experience. I used to live in Nevada City and served on the NC Arts Council for a time. However, I was at the VIMEO presentation from New Mexico, where we now reside, and the entire machinations of the course were perfect. Thank you!!”

Writers' Annex Participant   

"The Community of Writers is wonderfully open and free of all that hierarchy business. In the Valley we are all writers."

Adam Scott   

Every day during the Poetry week, I risked something, and every day my poems opened into something I didn't know was possible. The most important thing is that they were not only creative risks, but deep, emotional ones as well.

Allison Albino, recipient of the 2017 Lucille Clifton Memorial Scholarship   

True to its name, the Community of Writers offers a sense of camaraderie with other writers that I have never experienced anywhere else. Our workshop leaders were thoughtful and constructive, offering sensitive, insightful comments while maintain a warm and nurturing tone throughout. The challenge of writing a new poem every day could have been isolating; at the Community of Writers, however, it felt exhilarating. Inspired by the level of talent and the solidarity I felt with my classmates, I was empowered to take creative risks and let my work grow in new directions.

Hannah Hirsh   

"Quite simply, it was one of the most inspiring and educational times of my writing life. The staff set such a loving, positive tone for the week, and the entire writing faculty followed suit. And to me, this was the central message: Writing is important, vital work."

Ryan Griffith   

"I was truly humbled by the company of such talented, giving writers in which I was included. The Community of Writers is a truly special place of beauty in every sense of the word."

Peggy Hesketh   

As a serious writer I’ve been to good workshops and great workshops. The Community of Writers is exceptional. There, in addition to having intense learning experiences in workshops with my own work, I met agents, editors, well known authors, all there for the express purpose of helping us, the writers. These opportunities were golden. They ratcheted me up to the next level, a place I had not been able to attain on my own.

Gloria Jorgensen, Ruth Nyswander Del Duca Scholarship   

“It was such a joy to work with so many incredible faculty members and to hear all the brilliant craft talks and readings. It was exactly what I needed to nurture my creative spirit, motivate me to return to the page, and renew my dedication to my work.”

Kristen-Paige Madonia   

It was my first time attending [CoW Poetry] and my experience was nothing short of transformative. I produced six poems that I am extremely proud of and I left Olympic Valley feeling invigorated and full of inspiration.”

Max Stone   

"I think of my time at the Community of Writers with such fondness --- the ways in which my poems cracked open there, new breath, new light.”

Nehassaiu DeGannes   

“This class was wonderful. I learned so much about C.D. Wright, and was challenged to read a kind of poetry (documentary poetics, book-length poems) that I probably wouldn't have picked up on my own. It was great to hear Brenda and Forrest talk about why Wright's work is considered so good, and from the perspective of a general audience that focus is right on.”

Writers' Annex Participant   

"By far, the best writing workshop I've ever been to — from the beautiful surroundings and my great housemates to the craft lectures that inspired me and the workshops that taught me so much about poetry and poetics. The housing, the facilities, the straightforward manner of how you cared for us — and all the other details were a perfect foundation for me to focus on my own writing and creativity. The workshop renewed my writing life."

Valerie Wallace   

"I really appreciate the hard work, dedication, and love that the Community of Writers put into the workshop. It’s no overstatement to say that it changed my life. I could see the thought and care that went into each event, and I’m grateful to have been a part of this experience."

Leta Seletsky   

True to its name, the Community of Writers offers a sense of camaraderie with other writers that I have never experienced anywhere else. Our workshop leaders were thoughtful and constructive, offering sensitive, insightful comments while maintain a warm and nurturing tone throughout. The challenge of writing a new poem every day could have been isolating; at the Community of Writers, however, it felt exhilarating. Inspired by the level of talent and the solidarity I felt with my classmates, I was empowered to take creative risks and let my work grow in new directions.

Hannah Hirsh   

“I appreciate these courses so much. I probably would not have found or delved into C.D. Wright without this course, but now I have four of her books and I am enjoying her work in depth. Brenda Hillman and Forrest Gander were such interesting and gracious hosts. I learned much about close reading from both of them.”

Writers' Annex Participant   

"I couldn’t have been luckier in finding the Community of Writers Poetry Program. The opportunity to work with some of the best poets writing in the English language, their guidance, support, and the uniquely nurturing environment of this workshop have been a sustaining force in my work for over two decades."

Meryl Natchez   

The panels were stellar and workshop taught me so much. But I think what surprised me was the genuine, positive and happy people in the office and behind the podium. The atmosphere was informal and comfortable, and all this made the Community of Writers feel like a separate space from the world outside of the Valley.

Amy George   

Having no formal training in poetry - no B.A., M.F.A., or the like - the CoW Poetry workshop was revelatory! The opportunity to be around that many poets, to see their process, their way of creating, the work flow, to see their drafts, and to be able to get feedback from them on my own drafts. It is an opportunity that I have no words for the impact I believe it will have.”

Frank Karioris   

“I’m grateful to CoW because of all the ways the organization cares for writers–the small details, logistics, setting up our one-on-ones, and the way they build community. I will recommend CoW to every writer I meet because of this. Thank you for all that you do!”

Writers Workshop Participant   

As a biracial daughter of a Mexican immigrant, my writing explores themes of loneliness, alienation, and longing for an imagined future. Thanks to the support of the Ancinas Family Scholarship I have made new friends, formed a new reading and critique group, and regained confidence in my craft. I know I will continue to learn and grow from the connections I've made at the Community of Writers.

Angela Wilhite, recipient of the Ancinas Scholarship   

Having been to the Community of Writers twice now, I can say that my morning workshops proved to be challenging, stimulating, instructive and fun, while the afternoon sessions offered a treasury of craft insights. Best of all, the openness of the writers, editors, agents and staff was a joy to experience.

Robert Schladale   

"As a recipient of the Lucille Clifton Memorial Scholarship, I was able to make the long journey from New York to California to encounter an incredible faculty whose poems had already nurtured my poetic life. The workshops were humanizing in a way that’s difficult to explain. I was inspired by the community and the landscape. I wrote poems that otherwise may have never been unearthed. It was truly a blessing."

Ama Codjoe   

“The most important alchemy to the Community of Writers is that Brett Hall Jones - and everyone else who works there - are positive. They believe that anyone who participates in any role belongs there and that what we're doing there is important.”

Lucy Gray   

“The conference opened many doors for me, connecting me with both emerging and established writers. I had the opportunity to connect with my literary agent and an interested editor, and best of all I forged lasting friendships.”

Karleigh Brogan   

Upon being accepted into the Community of Writers you actually do become part of a community. Of necessity writing is solitary work, but once embraced by the Community of Writers one need not feel that daunting sense of being alone. CW continues to reach out and send posts about members of the community and there are so many new contacts from the experience that you come away with a vast pool of new resources for seemingly all aspects of your own work. The Community is a special gift to yourself as a serious writer.

Gloria Jorgensen, Ruth Nyswander Del Duca Scholarship   

Poets are often isolated from each other. To interact with so many of them, to be able to talk about problems of language that ordinarily people just roll their eyes at was like coming home after a long absence. The experience created a communion that stays with me still, providing a vital antidote to that isolation.

Gene Berson, recipient of the Alexander Cushing Scholarship for Locals   

The poetry scholarship fund has been instrumental to my growth as a poet and human. I first attended in 1995, and then again this past year, 2019. The work being done here, the fluidity of kindnesses, the careful attention, and gentle edits...all of it—have been significant contributions to my life lessons.

Brian Chung   

Some months after participating in the Community of Writers, I can say I am still filled with a new generative energy. Some days, I think back and feel that hot dry air of Olympic Valley lingering in my nose and lungs, a place in my center opens up a little. The day, the work, feels a little more possible. It is a testament to the love and support, creative encouragement and inspiration I felt there.

Susanna J. Smith   

“I loved this short course! It's my first one and I found it inspiring and thought-provoking. It was perfect for me in terms of delivery, duration, focus, and materials.”

Writers' Annex Participant   

My heart is full from the generosity that I experienced from so many talented authors, who spent so much time considering my writing and sharing so candidly. From my individual conference, to my workshop leaders, to the nonfiction workshop participants, to my housemate, I consistently felt that thought and tremendous care had been placed into all the partnerships I encountered. It was also the first time I experienced a conference where the workshop leaders changed daily, and although at first I was uncertain about such a format, I was so pleased at how much every facilitator brought to the table each day that was uniquely their own, and how precisely each addressed a different need of the group. The level of engagement of every staff person I worked with was inspiring and encouraged everyone to similarly give in their readings and participation. I came away with so many notes and reading lists that I know will carry my work forward for many months to come, but also with a solid group of writers (a community!) I know I can call on and whose opinion I trust--and this is priceless.

Fátima Policarpo   

Attending the Community of Writers workshop proved to be a foundational and significant cornerstone in my development as a writer. I can trace back to the exact date in that valley high in the Sierra, when I came to recognize myself as a writer, surrounded by poets who would later become some of my closest friends. It was there where I realized the importance of building community and where I cemented my identity as a writer. The community of writers is indeed a community and over the years, it has felt like family. I’ve grown tremendously and I owe a lot of the credit for my first three books to that community in the valley. Maybe it’s the mountain air that makes that place so special, that rejuvenates me with a renewed vigor to keep writing. I know I will keep coming back for many years to come.

Marcelo Hernandez Castillo   

The Community of Writers affirmed all three parts of what I consider my own writing life: the writing life itself, the research, and the reading. My proudest moment to date took place there, where my new friend approached me, teary-eyed, and said she now understood her own daughter’s mind more closely, after having read my work. The Community of Writers has given me the confidence and stamina to write nonfiction—and to own it, as a genre.

Nichole LeFebvre   

If you would like to send us a testimonial, we would welcome that!