• Program Details

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

    • 12:00-1:30 p.m. Supplemental Session (craft seminars, panels, and readings)
    • 2:30-5:00 p.m. Workshop
    • 6:00-7:50 p.m. Literary Salon

    2018 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. Credit students must also register for the Literary Salons, NWRW2551. After you've registered, choose one literary salon (see below) per week and email your salon choices to summerwriters@newschool.edu.

    Workshop Choices

    • Fiction (Credit—NWRW3596 Section A; Noncredit—NWRW0596 Section A)
      Sharon Mesmer
    • Nonfiction (Credit—NWRW3596 Section B; Noncredit—NWRW0596 Section B)
      Madge McKeithen
    • Multi-genre (Credit—NWRW3596 Section C; Noncredit—NWRW0596 Section C)
      John Reed
  • Literary Salons Week One


    Lisa Ko, The Leavers

    Instructor: Mira Jacob
    Class Meetings: June 4-6, 6:00 - 7:50 p.m.

    This powerful debut novel, set in New York and China, is a vivid examination of borders and belonging. It’s a moving story of how a boy comes into his own when everything he loves is taken away, and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of the past. The novel was selected as the winner of the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Fiction, awarded by Barbara Kingsolver for a novel that addresses issues of social justice.

    Please read The Leavers before the start of this literary salon.


    Teju Cole, Blind Spot

    Instructor: Madge McKeithen
    Class Meetings: June 4, 5, and 7, 6:00 - 7:50 p.m.

    When it comes to Teju Cole, the unexpected is not unfamiliar: He’s an acclaimed novelist, an influential essayist, and an internationally exhibited photographer. In Blind Spot, readers follow Cole’s inimitable artistic vision into the visual realm as he continues to refine the voice, eye, and intellectual obsessions that earned him such acclaim for Open City. Journey through more than 150 of Cole’s full-color original photos, each accompanied by his lyrical and evocative prose, forming a multimedia diary of years of near-constant travel: from a park in Berlin to a mountain range in Switzerland, a church exterior in Lagos to a parking lot in Brooklyn; landscapes and interiors, beautiful or quotidian, that inspire Cole’s memories, fantasies, and introspections. 

    Please read Blind Spot before the start of this salon.

  • Literary Salons Week Two


    Hannah Tinti, The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley

    Instructor: Sharon Mesmer
    Class Meetings: June 11-13, 6:00 - 7:50 p.m.

    The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley is a coming-of-age novel and a literary thrill ride about the price we pay to protect the people we love most. Samuel Hawley isn’t like the other fathers in Olympus, Massachusetts. A loner who spent years living on the run, he raised his beloved daughter, Loo, on the road, moving from motel to motel, always watching his back. Now that Loo’s a teenager, Hawley wants only to give her a normal life. In his late wife’s hometown, he finds work as a fisherman, while Loo struggles to fit in at the local high school. Growing more and more curious about the mother she never knew, Loo begins to investigate. Soon, everywhere she turns, she encounters the mysteries of her parents’ lives before she was born. This hidden past is made all the more real by the twelve scars her father carries on his body. As Loo uncovers a history that’s darker than she could have known, the demons of her father’s past spill over into the present—and together both Hawley and Loo must face a reckoning yet to come.

    Please read The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley before the start of this salon.


    Stephanie Burt, Advice from the Lights

    Instructor: John Reed
    Class Meetings: June 11, 12, and 14, 6:00 - 7:50 p.m.

    Advice from the Lights is a brilliant and candid exploration of gender and identity and a series of looks at a formative past. It’s part nostalgia, part confusion, and part an ongoing wondering: How do any of us achieve adulthood? And why would we want to, if we had the choice? This collection is woven from and interrupted by extraordinary sequences, including Stephanie's poems about Stephen’s female self; poems on particular years of the poet’s early life, each with its own memories, desires, insecurities, and pop songs; and versions of poems by the Greek poet Callimachus, whose present-day incarnation worries (who doesn’t?) about mortality, the favor of the gods, and the career of Taylor Swift. The collection also includes poems on politics, location, and parenthood. Taken all together, this is Burt’s most personal and most accomplished collection, an essential work that asks who we are, how we become ourselves, and why we make art.

    Please read Advice from the Lights before the start of this salon.

  • Literary Salons Week Three


    Layli Long Soldier, WHEREAS

    Instructor: Hawa Allen
    Class Meetings: June 18-20, 6:00 - 7:50 p.m.; June 21, 12:00 - 2:00 p.m.

    WHEREAS confronts the coercive language of the United States government in its responses, treaties, and apologies to Native American peoples and tribes, and reflects that language in its officiousness and duplicity back on its perpetrators. Through a virtuosic array of short lyrics, prose poems, longer narrative sequences, resolutions, and disclaimers, Layli Long Soldier has created a brilliantly innovative text to examine histories, landscapes, her own writing, and her predicament inside national affiliations. “I am,” she writes, “a citizen of the United States and an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, meaning I am a citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation—and in this dual citizenship I must work, I must eat, I must art, I must mother, I must friend, I must listen, I must observe, constantly I must live.” This poignant, plaintive book introduces a major new voice in contemporary literature.

    Please read WHEREAS before the start of this salon.


    Sarah Gerard, Sunshine State

    Instructor: Andrew Zornoza
    Class Meetings: June 18, 19, and 21, 6:00 - 7:50 p.m.

    Sunshine State is a dynamic essay collection that explores Florida as a microcosm of the most pressing economic and environmental perils haunting our society. In the collection’s title essay, Gerard volunteers at the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary, a world-renowned bird refuge. There she meets its founder, who once modeled with a pelican on his arm for a Dewar’s Scotch campaign but has since declined into a pit of fraud and madness. He becomes our embezzling protagonist, whose tales about the birds he “rescues” never quite add up. Gerard’s personal stories are no less eerie or poignant: an essay that begins as a look at Gerard’s first relationship becomes a heart-wrenching exploration of acquaintance rape and consent. An account of intimate female friendship pivots midway through, morphing into a meditation on jealousy and class.

    Please read Sunshine State before the start of this salon.