Colgate Writers' Conference - Workshops Skip Navigation


Capping our poetry and short fiction workshops at ten participants and our novel and creative nonfiction workshops at five participants ensures ample time to explore everyone's work in depth.
June 11–17, 2017
Class time is devoted to discussion and critiques of the participants' work as well as guidance from the instructor. There is also time outside the classroom for participants to meet one-on-one with their instructors for private consultation and analysis of their work.

We recommend that participants in all workshops complete at least the first full draft of their manuscripts well prior to the conference, or by May 1. Everything that you submit is read by the instructor, who provides extensive one-on-one consultation over the course of the week. Below you will find the expectations of each workshop leader.
Conference attendees in discussion during a workshop in the Persson bridge

Creative Nonfiction Intensive with Jennifer Brice

A nurturing, rigorous workshop open to writers of memoirs, essays, and journalism. Partial or complete book manuscripts welcome. The idea is to meet every manuscript where it's at and help the writer take it to the next level. Ideally, everyone should come to the conference having read everyone's manuscript with care. Detailed written comments aren't necessary; constructive contributions are. Individual conferences will be scheduled in addition to the workshop. Depending on time, we may read outside work and generate new writing.

Submission Limit: The standard workshop fee covers up to 60,000 words (~200 pages). Participants can submit additional pages at a rate of $100 for every additional 30,000 words (~100 pages).
Jennifer Brice workshop for summer writer's.

Hybrid Creative Writing Intensive (Non-fiction/Fiction/Auto-fiction) with David Ryan

In this workshop we'll discuss each other's essays, autobiographical fiction, or any blend of the two, with dramatic interest in mind. I want to show how metaphor and memory work together to layer and deepen the truth of self-reflective writing, regardless of genre. Each workshop will include a roundtable discussion, where everyone will have read each other's work and prepared in-depth, thoughtful comments. Line edits aren't necessary, but a deep engagement with other participants' work is. The goal will be to find the center of interest living, but sometimes hiding, in the work—to then draw it out and intensify it. Through prompts and some theory I'd like to talk about how to create surprise, suspense, and empathy in your writing; how to use form and symmetry to shape conscious experience from the chaos of our lives into something artful and imaginative. Ultimately, you'll not only have improved your manuscript, but you'll know a bit more about how your life relates to, and compels, broader human experience.

Submission Limit: The standard workshop fee covers up to 60,000 words (~200 pages). Participants can submit additional pages at a rate of $100 for every additional 30,000 words (~100 pages).

Novel Intensive with Brock Clarke

This workshop will focus on writing and revising a novel, with an eye toward pacing, structure, logic, theme, voice, plot, characterization--everything, in other words. Workshop members are asked to submit whatever they've finished, whether it's a full draft or a representative excerpt or something in between, just as long as the submission is substantial enough to enable your readers to give you what you need. Speaking of that: workshop members will be asked to do a good bit of reading in preparation for the conference. I encourage everyone to line-edit brief passages in each other's work, but I will definitely expect everyone to be able to talk, in detail, about each other's fiction during workshop, and also to provide a detailed letter to the writer offering praise, encouragement, gentle (but specific) criticism, and ideas for revision. I will write each of you a long letter, and will line-edit a substantial, representative section of each of your manuscripts. Each participant will get his or her own workshop session, and I will meet with you outside of workshop as well. Finally, I will bring in examples of fiction and non-fiction that will help you with writing and revising your novels.

Submission Limit: The standard workshop fee covers up to 60,000 words (~200 pages). Participants can submit additional pages at a rate of $100 for every additional 30,000 words (~100 pages).

This Summer, You Write Your Novel with Naomi Jackson

Stephen King suggests that a novel should be written in a season. Walter Moseley’s This Year, You Write Your Novel offers advice on how to do as the title of this book suggests. In this workshop, students will make significant progress towards their goal of finishing a complete first draft of their novels by the end of the summer. Participants will cheer each other on as they break through obstacles to their projects’ completion. Each student will submit and receive substantive feedback on a new excerpt of their novel-in-progress. Appropriate for beginning as well as advanced writers, this weeklong workshop will be of particular interest to writers who want to strengthen character development and employ new ideas for plotting and structuring their manuscripts.

Submission Limit: The standard workshop fee covers up to 60,000 words (~200 pages). Participants can submit additional pages at a rate of $100 for every additional 30,000 words (~100 pages).

Poetry with Peter Balakian

We will be focused on your poems for an intensive week. The workshop is grounded in an atmosphere of trust and intellectual honesty. You will bring poems you've submitted or newly written poems to the workshop, and we will, as a group, read them with great care and rigor and discuss how to push them further and discuss how the poem can realize its materials in the fullest possible ways. Poets will be asked to read their work aloud in class. The workshop is predicated on the belief in the ancient and contemporary value of the lyric poem as a continual landmark in human consciousness and thought and form of language. You should read each other's submissions before we convene our first workshop. At our first meeting I will hand out a small sheaf of poems (mostly by 20th century poets) and we may refer to them during the week. My hope is that each poet will leave the workshop energized and writing with new intensity and at new levels.

Submission Limit: Participants may submit up to six poems totaling no more than twenty-five pages.

Short Fiction with Greg Ames

This is a supportive and intensive fiction workshop. We read and discuss submitted work and generate new writing in class. After your story is discussed in the workshop, I will meet with you in an hour-long private tutorial to discuss specific elements of your writing. In her essay “The Nature and Aim of Fiction,” Flannery O’Connor describes the habit of art as “a certain quality or virtue of the mind,” a form of curiosity about the world and a devotion to seeing and feeling. I’m not saying a summer workshop can provide that, but my hope is that you’ll consider this week an opportunity to take artistic chances that might prove fulfilling. I look forward to meeting you.

Submission Limit: Participants may submit stories totaling no more than twenty-five pages.

Writers' Retreat

In addition to the workshop experience, there are increasingly participants who attend for the week simply to engage in a Writers’ Retreat. During such a retreat, one refrains from joining a workshop, but rather participates in whatever portions of the conference one finds interesting: craft and shop talks by professional editors and agents; evening readings; readings of one’s own work to other participants; socializing and sharing.

Perhaps you have earned yourself a retreat of this nature?