Top
  • Program Details

    For each writer, the Summer Writers Colony consists of a writing workshop, three literary salons, and a variety of optional supplemental activities. The schedule of organized activities is Monday through Thursday.

    • 12:30-2:00 p.m. Supplemental Session (craft seminars, panels, and readings)
    • 2:30-5:00 p.m. Workshop
    • 6:00-7:50 p.m. Literary Salon

    2016 Writing Workshops

    The writing workshop is the core of the Writers Colony program. Workshop classes are limited to 12 students. An experienced writer-teacher focuses on student manuscripts, guiding you in the creative acts of self-editing and revision through class exercises and private conferences.

    You register for the Summer Writers Colony by selecting a workshop. After you've registered, choose one literary salon (see below) per week and email your salon choices to summerwriters@newschool.edu.

    Writing Workshop Choices

    • Multi-Genre (NWRW3590 Section A)
      Jenny Zhang
    • Nonfiction (NWRW3590 Section B)
      Jessie Sholl
    • Fiction (NWRW3590 Section C)
      Sharon Mesmer

    Literary Salons


  • Week One

    Nonfiction

    Tracy K. Smith, Ordinary Light

    Instructor: Laura Cronk
    Class Meetings: June 6-8, 6:00 p.m.

    From the publisher: From the dazzlingly original Pulitzer Prize-winning poet hailed for her “extraordinary range and ambition” (The New York Times Book Review): a quietly potent memoir that explores coming-of-age and the meaning of home against a complex backdrop of race, faith, and the unbreakable bond between a mother and daughter.

    Shot through with exquisite lyricism, wry humor, and an acute awareness of the beauty of everyday life, Ordinary Light is a gorgeous kaleidoscope of self and family, one that skillfully combines a child’s and teenager’s perceptions with adult retrospection. Here is a universal story of being and becoming, a classic portrait of the ways we find and lose ourselves amid the places we call home.

    Please read Ordinary Light before the first day of the salon.

    Poetry

    Patrick Rosal, Brooklyn Antediluvian

    Instructor: Aracelis Girmay
    Class Meetings: June 6, 7, and 9, 6:00 p.m.

    From the publisher: Patrick Rosal’s brilliant fourth collection of poems is ignited by the frictions of our American moment. In the face of relentless violence and deepening racial division, Rosal responds with his own brand of bare-knuckled beauty.

    Rosal finds trouble he isn’t asking for in his unforgettable new poems, whether in New York City, Austin, Texas, or the colonized Philippines of his ancestors. But trouble is everywhere, and Rosal, acclaimed author of My American Kundiman, responds in kind, pulling no punches in his most visceral, physical collection to date. “My hand’s quick trip from my hip to your chin, across / your face, is not the first free lesson I’ve given,” Rosal writes, and it’s true—this new book is full of lessons, hard-earned, from a poet who nonetheless finds beauty in the face of violence.

    Please read Brooklyn Antediluvian before the first day of the salon.

  • Week Two

  • Poetry

    Robyn Schiff, A Woman of Property

    Instructor: Sharon Mesmer
    Class Meetings: June 13-15, 6:00 p.m.

    From the publisher: Located in a menacing, gothic landscape, the poems that comprise A Woman of Property draw formal and imaginative boundaries against boundless mortal threat, but as all borders are vulnerable, this ominous collection ultimately stages an urgent and deeply imperiled boundary dispute where haunting, illusion, the presence of the past, and disembodied voices only further unsettle questions of material and spiritual possession. This is a theatrical book of dilapidated houses and overgrown gardens, of passageways and thresholds, edges, prosceniums, unearthings, and root systems. The unstable property lines here rove from heaven to hell, troubling proportion and upsetting propriety in the name of unfathomable propagation. Are all the gates in this book folly? Are the walls too easily scaled to hold anything back or impose self-confinement? What won't a poem do to get to the other side?

    Please read A Woman of Property before the first day of the salon.

    Fiction

    Paul Beatty, The Sellout

    Instructor: Mira Jacob
    Class Meetings: June 13, 14, and 16, 6:00 p.m.

    From the publisher: A biting satire about a young man's isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, Paul Beatty's The Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game. It challenges the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship, and the holy grail of racial equality—the black Chinese restaurant.

    Born in the "agrarian ghetto" of Dickens—on the southern outskirts of Los Angeles—the narrator of The Sellout resigns himself to the fate of lower-middle-class Californians: "I'd die in the same bedroom I'd grown up in, looking up at the cracks in the stucco ceiling that've been there since '68 quake." Raised by a single father, a controversial sociologist, he spent his childhood as the subject in racially charged psychological studies. He is led to believe that his father's pioneering work will result in a memoir that will solve his family's financial woes. But when his father is killed in a police shoot-out, he realizes there never was a memoir. All that's left is the bill for a drive-thru funeral.

    Fueled by this deceit and the general disrepair of his hometown, the narrator sets out to right another wrong: Dickens has literally been removed from the map to save California from further embarrassment. Enlisting the help of the town's most famous resident—the last surviving Little Rascal, Hominy Jenkins—he initiates the most outrageous action conceivable: reinstating slavery and segregating the local high school, which lands him in the Supreme Court.

    Please read The Sellout before the first day of the salon.

  • Week Three

  • Fiction

    Jenny Offill, Dept. of Speculation

    Instructor: Madge McKeithen
    Class Meetings: June 20-22, 6:00 p.m.

    From the publisher: Dept. of Speculation is a portrait of a marriage. It is also a beguiling rumination on the mysteries of intimacy, trust, faith, knowledge, and the condition of universal shipwreck that unites us all.

    Jenny Offill’s heroine, referred to in these pages as simply “the wife,” once exchanged love letters with her husband postmarked Dept. of Speculation, their code name for all the uncertainty that inheres in life and in the strangely fluid confines of a long relationship. As they confront an array of common catastrophes—a colicky baby, a faltering marriage, stalled ambitions—the wife analyzes her predicament, invoking everything from Keats and Kafka to the thought experiments of the Stoics to the lessons of doomed Russian cosmonauts. She muses on the consuming, capacious experience of maternal love and the near-total destruction of the self that ensues from it as she confronts the friction between domestic life and the seductions and demands of art.

    Please read Dept. of Speculation before the first day of the salon.

    Nonfiction

    Gary Shteyngart, Little Failure

    Instructor: Andrew Zornoza
    Class Meetings: June 20, 21, and 23, 6:00 p.m.

    Little Failure is the all too true story of an immigrant family betting its future on America, as told by a lifelong misfit who finally finds a place for himself in the world through books and words. In 1979, a little boy dragging an enormous fur hat and an overcoat made from the skin of some Soviet woodland creature steps off the plane at New York’s JFK International Airport and into his new American life. His troubles are just beginning. For the former Igor Shteyngart, coming to the United States from the Soviet Union is like stumbling off a monochromatic cliff and landing in a pool of Technicolor. Careening between his Soviet home life and his American aspirations, he finds himself living in two contradictory worlds, wishing for a real home in one. He becomes so strange to his parents that his mother stops bickering with his father long enough to coin the phrase failurchka—“little failure”—which she applies to her once-promising son. With affection. Mostly. From the terrors of Hebrew school to a crash course in first love to a return visit to the homeland that is no longer home, Gary Shteyngart has crafted a ruthlessly brave and funny memoir of searching for every kind of love—family, romantic, and of the self.

    Please read Little Failure before the first day of the salon.