Summer Seminar for Writers




Due to the pandemic, no residential programming will be offered in the summer of 2021 and plans for remote offerings are still being considered by the College. For details about this program for summer 2021, please fill out our inquiry form or check back here in late February/early March 2021.

Nearly 70 adult writers will convene on the beautiful Sarah Lawrence College campus for the annual Summer Seminar for Writers, June 14-19, 2020. Participants in this renowned summer writing program come from all over the U.S. and beyond to Sarah Lawrence's campus just outside of New York City to experience six amazing days of workshops, craft talks, generative sessions, and readings. Students choose to study along one of the following tracks: fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, or mixed genre.

2020 Summer Writing Program Overview


Guided by renowned writers, our week-long workshops are constructive, supportive environments in which students are encouraged to take risks. Workshops are capped at twelve participants to ensure each student has a voice as both a reader and a writer. In each workshop, students' writing will be thoughtfully considered, and participants will receive both compassionate and critical feedback.

Amy Gerstler

Candid portrait of Amy GerstlerAmy Gerstler has published thirteen books of poems. In 2019, she received a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grant. In 2018, she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. Scattered at Sea, a book of her poems published by Penguin in 2015 was longlisted for the National Book Award, shortlisted for the Kingsley Tufts Award, and was a finalist for the PEN USA Literary Award. Her book Dearest Creature (Penguin, 2009) was named a New York Times Notable Book, and was short listed for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Poetry. Her previous books include Ghost Girl, Medicine, Crown of Weeds, which won a California Book Award, Nerve Storm, and Bitter Angel, which won a National Book Critics Circle Award. In 2010 she was guest editor of the annual anthology Best American Poetry. Her work has appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies, including The New Yorker, Paris Review, American Poetry Review, Poetry, several volumes of Best American Poetry and The Norton Anthology of Postmodern American Poetry. Gerstler has also written fiction, nonfiction, and journalism and art criticism, and has collaborated with visual artists. She has taught writing and/or visual art at California Institute of the Arts, Cal Tech, Art Center College of Design, the University of Utah, Pitzer College, The Bennington College Writing Seminars, and elsewhere. She has taught in the MFA creative writing program at the University of California at Irvine for seven years and was Director of Poetry for two years there for UCI's Programs in Writing.

David Hollander

David HollanderDavid Hollander is the author of the novels L.I.E. (a finalist for the NYPL Young Lions Award) and the forthcoming Anthropica (Dead Rabbits Books, May 2020). His stories and essays have appeared in many reputable and disreputable publications, including McSweeney’s, Conjunctions, Fence, Agni, The Rumpus, Unsaid, Poets & Writers, and The New York Times Magazine. His work has been adapted for film and frequently anthologized, notably in Best American Fantasy. He lives in the Hudson Valley with his wife and two children, and teaches writing full time at Sarah Lawrence College.

Check back soon for David's workshop description.

Mixed Genre Workshop with Jeffrey McDaniel: “Hybrids of Poetry and Prose”

One of the exciting literary developments in recent years is the plethora of work that refuses easy categorization, by authors like Maggie Nelson, Claudia Rankine, Jenny Offill, and Eula Biss. Each class will begin with a close reading of a text that blurs the lines of genre. We will consider architecture, diction, association, metaphor, and other issues of craft. For workshop, students can submit poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, or anything in between. We will aim to locate a piece’s heat—its linguistic, figurative, and musical energy—and consider how that energy might be developed, or maximized, in subsequent drafts and to what effect. Occasionally, we will do in-class writing exercises that emphasize intuition and chance and steer students towards a place of hybridity

Jeffrey McDanielJeffrey McDaniel is the author of five books of poetry, most recently Chapel of Inadvertent Joy (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013). His other books include The Endarkenment, The Splinter Factory, The Forgiveness Parade, and Alibi School. He’s received an NEA fellowship for creative writing and been published in many journals and anthologies, including Ploughshares, Field, American Poetry Review, and Best American Poetry 1994 and 2010. He teaches at Sarah Lawrence College.

TK Madden

Portrait TK MaddenT Kira Madden is a lesbian APIA writer, photographer, and amateur magician living in New York City. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College and an BA in design and literature from Parsons School of Design and Eugene Lang College. She is the founding Editor-in-chief of No Tokens, a magazine of literature and art, and is a 2017 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow in nonfiction literature from the New York Foundation for the Arts. She has received fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, Hedgebrook, Tin House, DISQUIET, Summer Literary Seminars, and Yaddo, where she was selected for the 2017 Linda Collins Endowed Residency Award. She facilitates writing workshops for homeless and formerly incarcerated individuals and currently teaches at Sarah Lawrence College. Her debut memoir, LONG LIVE THE TRIBE OF FATHERLESS GIRLS, is available now. There is no period in her name.

Check back soon for TK's workshop description.

Fiction Workshop with Victoria Redel: Vision and Re-vision

This fiction workshop will help writers look at work they’ve been stuck finishing or digging back into and resolving. We will work to identify what works in a story, where there have been false detours, and threads of the narrative that have been abandoned and need further weaving. Through exercises, prompts, and consideration of published stories we will develop to tools open up, reimagine, invigorate scenes and characters, and create new possibilities for the revision process.

Victoria Redel, photo by Sigrid EstradaVictoria Redel is the author of five books of fiction and three books of poetry, most recently the novel Before Everything, which was translated in nine languages. She has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a finalist for the James Laughlin Award. Redel’s fiction, poetry, and essays have been widely anthologized and have appeared in numerous magazines and journals including, Harvard Review, One Story, The Quarterly, The New York Times, The L.A. Times, Salmagundi, O the Oprah magazine, Elle, Bomb, and NOON. Redel is on the faculty of Sarah Lawrence College. She has taught in the Graduate Writing Programs of Columbia University, Vermont College, and was the 2013 McGee Professor at Davidson College.

Monica Youn

Monica YounMonica Youn is the author of Blackacre (Graywolf Press 2016), which was longlisted for the 2016 National Book Award for Poetry, Ignatz (Four Way Books 2010), which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and Barter (Graywolf Press 2003). Youn received her AB from Princeton, where she completed the certificate program in creative writing. She was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University, where she took a master’s degree in English literature. After Oxford, she attended Yale Law School, and practiced law for over a decade, testifying before Congress on multiple occasions, appearing as an expert commentator on PBS and MSNBC, and publishing political commentary in Slate and The New York Times, among other publications. Her poems have been widely published in journals and anthologies, including The New Republic, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Poetry, and The Best American Poetry.

Conferences & Generative Sessions

At the Summer Seminar, we emphasize the spirit of work-in-progress, allowing students to experience and showcase the evolution of their writing process rather than just the polished product. In addition to working with a professional writing teacher in class, each student will have a 30-minute one-on-one conference with their instructor, a chance to deepen their dialogue about individual writing concerns.

On weekday afternoons, there will be generative sessions directed by faculty and visiting writers, which expose students to varying approaches to language and entryways into storytelling. These generative lessons are motivational opportunities to cross-pollinate genres and roll the creative dice.

Craft Talks & Readings

There will be two craft talks daily open to all Summer Writing Seminar participants. Some will be traditional lectures, some will be illustrative discussions, and still others will be in-depth interviews. All these compelling talks will enrich students' sense of literary tradition and offer them new ways of thinking about the art of writing. In addition to attending dynamic readings with two acclaimed authors each evening, students will have the chance to share their own work in an open-mic setting at our rapid fire readings, offered on two separate nights of the week. Some writers come to the seminar having never shared their work aloud, while others are more seasoned public readers, creating an energetic and inspiring environment guaranteed to unite our community.

2020 Visiting Writers

Reginald Dwayne Betts

Check back soon for Reginald's bio.

Matt Cook

Matt Cook is the author of five books of poetry, including his newest collection, Irksome Particulars (Publishing Genius Press). His poems have appeared in The Evergreen Review, The Hawaii Review, Faultline, and other journals. His work has been anthologized in Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poet’s Café, The United States of Poetry, and in Garrison Keillor’s Good Poems, American Places. He is the former poet laureate of Milwaukee, where he currently resides.

Melissa Febos

Headshot style photo of Melissa FebosMelissa Febos is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir, Whip Smart (St. Martin’s Press 2010), and the essay collection, Abandon Me (Bloomsbury 2017), which was a LAMBDA Literary Award finalist, a Publishing Triangle Award finalist, an Indie Next Pick, and was widely named a best book of 2017. Her third book, Girlhood, is forthcoming from Bloomsbury in 2021. Febos is the inaugural winner of the Jeanne Córdova Nonfiction Award from LAMBDA Literary and the recipient of the 2018 Sarah Verdone Writing Award from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. She has been awarded fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Vermont Studio Center, The Barbara Deming Memorial Foundation, The BAU Institute, Ucross Foundation, and Ragdale. The recipient of an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and an associate professor and graduate director at Monmouth University, her work has recently appeared in Tin House, Granta, The Believer, The Sewanee Review, and The New York Times.

Mitchell Jackson

Check back soon for Mitchell's bio.

Donika Kelly

Headshot style photo of Donika KellyDonika Kelly is the author of the chapbook Aviarium (fivehundred places) and the full-length collections The Renunciations, forthcoming from Graywolf in 2021, and Bestiary, winner of the 2015 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, a Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Poetry, and the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. A Cave Canem graduate fellow and member of Poets at the End of the World, she currently lives in Brooklyn and is an Assistant Professor at Baruch College, where she teaches creative writing and literature.

Sam Lipsyte

Sam LipsyteSam Lipsyte is the author of four novels and two short story collections, including The Fun Parts (Picador), The Ask, Home Land, The Subject Steve, and Venus Overdrive. His fiction has appeared in the New Yorker, Harper's, the Paris Review, the Quarterly and Best American Short Stories.