Dinty W. Moore
Sue William Silverman
Andre Dubus III
Connie May Fowler
A. Van Jordan
For more information on the Conference faculty, click here.
RAVE REVIEWS FROM 2012 PARTICIPANTS:*
“Writers with no walls between us.”
“Most definitely my best writing conference experience ever.”
"There is something magical going on up there."
"I not only plan to come back but to spread the word to other writers."
*For full quotes, see below.
Please read on for more details and contact Ellen Lesser, Conference Director at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions and inquiries.
Thanks to strong, early interest, all of our small-group workshops have filled for this August. We are still taking names for our waitlist in all genres, as spots can reopen due to late cancellations. To place your name on the waitlist, please contact the Conference Director; do not proceed to the online registration form unless you have been notified of an opening.
Looking forward, we hope you’ll keep the Conference on your radar for 2014, and plan to get in touch earlier in our season for sign-ups. We will announce the faculty for next summer around November 1, when we also begin taking advance reservations for workshop spots; official registration will open in mid-January, 2014
Click here to register for a confirmed opening only, or to access an existing registration account.
What is the Postgraduate Writers’ Conference?
Eighteen years ago, Vermont College set out to create a new kind of summer immersion for experienced writers, with MFAs or equivalent preparation. Today, the annual Postgraduate Writers’ Conference thrives as a haven for serious, emerging practitioners seeking to connect and recharge, and lift their process and craft to new levels.
At the heart of the PWC’s unique model is our small workshop size, with groups led by our acclaimed faculty limited to five or six writers. The intimate format allows for an extraordinarily in-depth, far-reaching discussion of participants’ work. Beyond the daily group sessions, each member has an individual consultation with the workshop instructor. The schedule also features a rich menu of readings by faculty and participants, craft talks, generative writing sessions and forums on issues facing the Postgraduate Writer.
Supportive, inclusive community is another hallmark of VCFA’s Postgrad Writers’ week. We’ve all heard the horror stories about competitive and rigidly stratified conference and program environments. That’s never been the Vermont College of Fine Arts ethos. Here on the historic VCFA campus, you’ll find faculty and participants—across genres and workshop groups—celebrating and inspiring one another as fellow writers. We all share meals, outings and special evening activities as part of the vibrant, collegial atmosphere.
If this sounds like your kind of Conference, please read on to learn more.
What do our recent participants say?
I asked an old friend who I reconnected with at the conference why this is the only one he attends. "Because everyone here is a grown up," he said. I agree. The seriousness of the writers, the excellence of the faculty, the absence of hierarchy between faculty and participants, the absence of cliques, the friendly atmosphere, the brilliance of the lectures, the high quality of the participant readings, all made it very special. There's a strong sense of community and shared passion for writing, yet a realistic view of how difficult the writing life is, and a shared sense of struggle.
Who is a Postgraduate Writer?
The majority of our participants have MFAs. (This includes returning graduates of Vermont College of Fine Arts as well as alumni of other distinguished programs all over the country.) Others have PhDs, or MAs, or have done graduate study in other disciplines. We also welcome writers who haven’t gone the conventional grad-school route but have garnered their experience along other avenues. Our concern is not with the formal credential, but with ensuring an appropriate fit with our “postgrad” community. While we’re ready to applaud an applicant’s publishing credits, they’re not a prerequisite. For us it’s about the work, and a writer’s desire to take it to the next level.
Who are the Conference faculty?
Each year, PWC prides itself on assembling a luminous faculty, featuring but also reaching beyond our own award-winning MFA in Writing Program instructors. Faculty members are selected not only for the brilliance of their writing, but for their devotion to teaching excellence and support of our Conference philosophy.
How do the workshops operate?
Each PWC workshop is led by a single faculty member and limited to six—or, for Poetry Manuscript groups, five—participants. Workshop meets every morning, for a total of five daily sessions. Manuscripts are due in to the Conference office on July 1 and distributed a few weeks in advance of our starting date to facilitate thoughtful preparation for the group discussions. Submissions go up to 25 standard manuscript pages of prose and six pages of poetry; members of the Poetry Manuscript workshops submit drafts of book-length collections.
Depending on the group and instructor, workshop sessions may include other activities beyond the critiques, such as in-class exercises and consideration of additional texts and pertinent, broader craft topics. Some groups take on “homework” during the Conference week, including revision work on their manuscripts, or generation of new material.
How does a typical day at the Conference go? Will I have private writing time?
Most days after breakfast, we hold a guided writing exercise session, for participants who like to tap into that fresh a.m. flow. The rest of the morning is devoted to workshop group meetings. After lunch, we have one or two craft talks or classes presented by Conference faculty. In the late afternoon we host our extremely well-attended and high-energy series of Participant Readings, organized according to workshop groups. After dinner, we have readings by faculty, followed by a reception or special social gathering. Post-reading evening highlights include a private party at The Black Door, a favorite Montpelier night spot, and an open-mike session with the terrific Vermont-based improvisational “Po-Jazz” ensemble. We also take a night off from readings for a soiree and campfire at the nearby home of the Conference director.
We often get the question, “Will I have time to write?” For some participants, that’s a priority. Others prefer to soak up as much stimulation and interaction as possible during the Conference week. We don’t have large, unstructured blocks in our schedule. We opt instead to present a full calendar, and leave each writer to pick and choose which events to attend. If the appeal of the offerings makes skipping things difficult, we figure we’re doing our job as a Conference. That said, participants do succeed in carving out valuable private writing time, and also take advantage of the generative class sessions offered by faculty to open up new material and ways of approaching it.
What’s Montpelier like, and will that play a part in my Conference experience?
For writers making the pilgrimage to Vermont College of Fine Arts, Montpelier and the surrounding area are themselves a real draw. VCFA has its home in the nation’s smallest, and arguably most charming, state capitol. Montpelier is hardly a city, much more a small town, but one which packs in a lot of hip and sophisticated amenities amidst the architecture celebrated in countless travel articles as un-compromised, classic New England.
A short walk from VCFA’s peaceful, hilltop quadrangle brings you “downtown,” where the local-first business community includes three independent bookstores, an art cinema, a couple of coffeehouses, an impressive array of eating and drinking establishments, a cooperative craft gallery, a health club, a natural foods coop, a farmer’s market, yoga studios, and boutique shopping for various tastes and interests.
One of the charms of Montpelier is that you need only head out about a mile in any direction to find yourself in the Vermont countryside—a scenic and recreational paradise. Within the city limits, perched above the Capitol, sits Hubbard Park, with its extensive network of wooded walking trails. The Conference schedule includes a group hike in the Park as an introduction, as well as an outing to a pristine nearby reservoir for swimming or kayaking.
How much time you spend off-campus, discovering Montpelier and the Green Mountains, is up to you. When you arrive, your welcome packet will contain both a map and our “Insider’s Guide to Montpelier,” to tell you what’s here and help you find what you’re looking for.
How do I get there?
Montpelier is an easy drive from Northeastern U.S. locations, at Exit 8 on I-89. Our home airport of Burlington, VT, with service by most major airlines, is a 35-minute drive from Montpelier. The Conference coordinates airport shuttle service to and from campus. Montpelier is also served by Amtrak and Greyhound bus lines.
What about accommodations?
Most attendees opt for on-campus housing, for the convenience and camaraderie. These are simple, dormitory accommodations, with a choice of single or shared rooms, and shared baths except in special-needs situations (and according to availability). We also offer full meal service provided by the award-winning, resident staff and students of the New England Culinary Institute.
For those who don’t care to stay in the dorm, Montpelier offers a range of hotels, inns, motels and guest houses (listing available).
How much does it cost and when is my payment due?
Conference tuition for all workshops except Poetry Manuscript is $875. Poetry Manuscript tuition is $995.
On-campus room and board fees for six nights (arrival 8/12, departure 8/18) are as follows: $330 and $180 for single and shared rooms respectively, and $185 for the meal plan. Participants not on the meal plan can purchase individual meals as they go.
At the time of registration, a non-refundable deposit of $200 is required of all participants. Balances are due June 15. For any spaces available after that date, full fee will be due upon registration. (See registration form for cancellation policy.)
When and how can I register?
If you have an MFA or PhD in creative writing, you are automatically eligible to enroll in the Conference. Links from this webpage to our online registration form will be available starting in mid-January, 2013. If you’d care to reserve a spot in a specific workshop group in advance of that, please contact the Conference director.
If you do not have a graduate degree in creative writing but would like to attend the Conference based on your equivalent experience, please send a detailed letter of interest describing your writing and related background along with a five-page sample of your work (by Word file attachment) to Ellen Lesser, Conference Director at email@example.com. Ellen will review your materials in consultation with the faculty in your genre, and get back to you shortly. Please note that as a non-degree-holding candidate, you must complete this admissions process before you register.
Thanks to our small workshop size, Conference groups do fill quickly once registration is open. We suggest you contact us early to avoid disappointment; January through March is our peak signup season. As registration progresses, we will post enrollment updates at the top of this page. You can always check with the Conference Director about availability by workshop before proceeding to register.
Once specific groups or genres are full, we continue to place interested writers on an active waiting list, as spaces sometimes reopen due to emergency or other late cancellations. It’s definitely worth checking in and taking a spot on the waiting list even if you’re late in inquiring.
Is there scholarship funding available?
Yes, we have funding for partial scholarships, which we work to spread among many deserving applicants.
If you require tuition support to make your participation possible, please email Ellen Lesser, Conference Director at firstname.lastname@example.org, to request a scholarship, describe your related background and state your level of need.
PWC is part of the Writers’ Centers & Conferences branch of AWP (The Association of Writers and Writing Programs), which sponsors an annual competition for two $500 scholarships to support attendance at member conferences. The deadline for 2013 contest entries is March 30. For guidelines, go to www.awpwriter.org/contests/ and click on "WC&C Scholarship Competition."
Who do I contact with additional questions?
For all questions relating to the Conference program, including applications, scholarship requests and inquiries about workshop openings, please contact Ellen Lesser, Conference Director, by email at email@example.com or by voice message at 802-828-8835.