The annual Postgraduate Writers’ Conference at VCFA is a haven for serious, emerging practitioners seeking to connect, recharge, and lift their process and craft to new levels.
The heart of the conference’s unique model is intimate workshop groups limited to five or six writers, led by a member of our acclaimed faculty. This format allows for 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 readings by faculty and participants, craft talks, generative writing sessions, and social events that galvanize our lively, inclusive community.
Each year, we assemble a luminous roster of conference instructors, including some of VCFA’s own award-winning MFA in Writing faculty. Writers are selected not only for the brilliance of their own work but for their devotion to teaching and support of the PWC philosophy. We are pleased to announce the lineup for August 2020:
“Best week of my writing life.” —Ann Carson DeWitt
“What a wonderful experience. It really felt like a conference of peers.” —Nathan Long
“There is something magical going on up there. I think you have perfected the writers’ conference as we know it.” —Lisa Hartz
“I love that there is no border between students and teachers. A true creative community.”—John Hudson
“One of the most positive experiences I’ve ever had, and definitely the most valuable conference I have attended.” —Rebecca Caum
The Postgraduate Writer
The majority of PWC participants have MFAs, including returning VCFA graduates and alumnx of other programs. Others have PhDs, MAs, or graduate study in related disciplines. PWC also welcomes writers without graduate degrees who have relevant experience. While we 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.
Workshop meets every morning, for a total of five daily sessions. Manuscripts are due in early July and distributed about four weeks before our starting date to allow thoughtful preparation for group discussions. Depending on the group and instructor, workshop sessions may include other activities beyond critiques, such as in-class exercises and consideration of additional texts and broader craft topics. Some groups take on “homework” during the week, including targeted revision assignments or generating new material.
Most days after breakfast we start with a guided generative-writing session, followed by workshop group meetings. After lunch, faculty present craft talks or classes, then participant readings take place in the late afternoon. After dinner there are readings by faculty, capped off by a social gathering or special event. Nighttime highlights include an open-mic session with the Vermont-based improvisatory ensemble, Po-Jazz. The conference also takes a night off from readings for a party and campfire at the director’s nearby home.
Location & Accommodations
Most attendees stay on campus in simple dormitory accommodations, with a choice of single or shared rooms. Dining service in VCFA’s cafeteria is available on a full meal plan or flexible, pay-per-meal basis, or you can enjoy beverages and light fare in our own Café Anna. The conference schedule features a few specially catered dinners outdoors.
If you have an MFA or PhD in creative writing, you are automatically eligible to enroll in the conference. Registration opens January 15, 2020.
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 file attachment) to Conference Director Ellen Lesser at [email protected]. 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 fill quickly. Please be sure to check with the conference director about availability before registering. Once specific groups or genres are full, we continue to place interested writers on an active waiting list. Some spaces typically reopen due to cancellations, so it’s always worth checking in and taking a spot on the waiting list.
Tuition and Fees
- Poetry Manuscript tuition: $1,175
- Conference tuition for all other workshops: $995
- On-campus room (six nights): $370 (single room), $200 (shared room)
- On-campus dining: $230*
- Non-refundable deposit due at time of registration: $200
*Participants not on a full meal plan may purchase meals as they go.
We have funding available for partial scholarships, especially to support and encourage diversity and inclusion within our conference community. Email Conference Director Ellen Lesser at [email protected] to request a scholarship and state your level of need. Please also attach a description of your writing and related background and your aims for attending the conference, along with a brief (five-page) sample manuscript, if you’re not already submitting these as a candidate for conference admission.
Scholarships are awarded on a rolling basis, so early requests are encouraged.
PWC is part of the Writers’ Centers & Conferences branch of AWP (The Association of Writers and Writing Programs), which sponsors an annual competition for three $500 scholarships to support attendance at member conferences in creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry.