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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ben Lerner, Leaving the Atocha StationInstructor: Karen McKinnon
In Leaving the Atocha Station, Ben Lerner wields the scalpels of pathos and intelligence to dissect the anxiety of art in contemporary life. Detached, funny, and desperately dependent on optional realities, his narrator navigates the demands of the Fulbright Foundation, the horrific 2004 Madrid train bombing, and the urgency of writing in a time that both transforms and is transformed by writing. In the salon, we explore narrative unreliability and attachment along with other pleasurable contradictions of this novel. Ben Lerner is also the author of three books of poetry: The Lichtenberg Figures, Angle of Yaw, and Mean Free Path. He is the winner of the Believer Award and the Hayden Carruth Award, a National Book Award finalist, and the first American to win the prestigious German poetry prize, Preis der Stadt Münster für Internationale Poesie.
Note: Read Leaving the Atocha Station before the first meeting of the salon.
Domingo Martinez, The Boy Kings of TexasInstructor: Luis Jaramillo
In his memoir, The Boy Kings of Texas, National Book Award finalist Domingo Martinez writes with uncommon precision about growing up in the hard-scrabble border town of Brownsville, Texas. The family he depicts may be dysfunctional—alcoholism, violence, and neglect make frequent appearances in the narrative—but this is not a grim book. The most terrifying episodes can also be funny. The book is full of arresting moments, as when the narrator's grandmother cracks eggs into a glass of water to look for omens. In the salon, we explore Martinez' craft and his exploration of assimilation, machismo, racism, and poverty by focusing on specific chapters, such as "The Mimis," in which he describes his father's trucking business going under while his teenage sisters pretend to be "two blue-blooded, trust-funded tennis bunnies from Connecticut" who find themselves with a poor Mexican family in Texas "by some Dickensian series of misfortunes."
Note: Read The Boy Kings of Texas before the first meeting of the salon.
Jorie Graham, PlaceInstructor: Kathleen Ossip
Few writers have influenced the contemporary poetry landscape as profoundly as Jorie Graham. For almost 40 years, her remarkable mind and immense linguistic energy have illuminated what it means to be alive, to be human in the world. In her twelfth book, Place, Graham confronts the seeming inevitability of ecological and political ruin while insisting on the importance of being present to possibility in particular spaces and times. Places where possibilities become articulate—Omaha Beach (the site of the D-Day invasion); an unemployment line where a man waits for his number to be called—are subjected to the poet's fierce inquisition. Jorie Graham has received a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship and the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Her book,The Dream of a Unified Field, won the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. She was chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 1997 to 2003.
Note: Read Place before the first meeting of the salon.
John Jeremiah Sullivan, PulpheadInstructor: Madge McKeithen
Pulphead is an often brilliant collection of essays, all published previously in magazines, including GQ, Harper's, Oxford American, and Paris Review. It brings together some of the best writing of a singularly talented storyteller and essayist, whose carefully modulated voice and language choices have been compared to those of David Foster Wallace. Sullivan is a consummate observer and listener, who subtly infuses content into his prose, whether writing about Michael Jackson, Axl Rose, Andrew Lytle, Christian rock, MTV's The Real World, John Fahey, or caves. This is collection is some of the best long-form journalism published in the United States in recent years and showcases the style of an essayist whose work we hope to read for years to come. Sulivan's 2004 debut book, Blood Horses: Notes of a Sportswriter's Son, was published to critical acclaim. He is a Whiting Award winner and the Southern editor of the Paris Review.
Note: Read Pulphead before the first meeting of the salon.
Chad Harbach, The Art of FieldingInstructor: Andrew Zornoza
We read Chad Harbach's dazzling debut novel, The Art of Fielding. The book is about the intersecting lives of five people in a quaint Wisconsin college town called Westish. It is a campus love story, a baseball drama, a throwback to old-fashioned Americana...or is it? Harbach adroitly paces the narrative, each suspenseful chapter leading to the next. Humor and sly observations are balanced by the many literary references (Westish is a liberal arts college, after all). Harbach manages to give his characters cell phones and Google without these modern appurtenances detracting from his creation of a tiny Midwestern snow-globe world. In the salon, we pick apart the details of The Art of Fielding to help us understand how a writer writes—how details, characters, settings, and plot are translated from the imagination to the page.
Note: Read The Art of Fielding before the first meeting of the salon.
Brenda Shaughnessy, Our AndromedaInstructor: Laura Cronk
To read Our Andromeda, Brenda Shaughnessy's third book of poems, is to witness a brilliant intelligence throwing off sparks. Shaughnessy writes about the oddities of desire and about the imaginative space between experience and inner life. Her poems take on subjects as varied as the tarot, the process of making art, and the malleability of identity. She also writes about new motherhood and having a child injured at birth. The collection culminates in a monumental love poem to her son, "Our Andromeda." In the salon, we read these poems closely and discuss our critical and artistic responses. Brenda Shaughnessy is a recipient of a James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets and has been a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. She is poetry editor-at-large for Tin House.
Note: Read Our Andromeda before the first meeting of the salon.
Summer Writers Colony
66 West 12th St. (Map)
New York, NY email@example.com