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 members 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 2021:
“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, whether from VCFA or other distinguished writing programs across the country. Others have PhDs, MAs, or graduate study in related disciplines. PWC also welcomes writers without graduate degrees who have garnered equivalent experience along different pathways. 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.
The small-group workshops meet every morning, Tuesday through Saturday. Manuscripts are due in early July and distributed about four weeks ahead of our starting date to allow thoughtful preparation for group discussions. Depending on the genre 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 begin with a gentle, all-levels yoga class and then a guided generative writing session, followed by workshop group meetings. After lunch, faculty present craft talks or panels. Late afternoons feature our participant readings, always a conference highlight. The post-dinner spotlight shines on readings by faculty, with evenings capped off by a social gathering or special event. When we are able to meet on campus, we take one night off from readings for a party and campfire at the nearby home of the conference director.
Due to the pandemic, our August 2020 edition was held remotely, informed by VCFA’s understanding that at this historically challenging time, perhaps more than ever, artists craved the sustaining immersion in craft and community. Building on the designs and approaches developed over the spring and summer by our low-residency MFA programs, we were able to host a marvelously successful, vibrant gathering using Zoom, scheduled to accommodate participants across US time zones.
Looking toward 2021, we will once again respond to public health realities and recommendations. If we can safely and comfortably gather on campus, we will be delighted to do so. Otherwise, we anticipate the prospect of a second virtual conference with tremendous confidence. VCFA will announce our decision at an appropriate date during the spring and post updates on this page as we have them. We hope those looking to secure early places will do so with a willingness to participate in either scenario.
For in-person conferences, 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 subject to availability).
VCFA’s excellent new in-house food service is available on a full-meal-plan or pay-per-meal basis. Participants can also enjoy beverages and light fare in our own Café Anna or explore downtown Montpelier, with its popular mix of “localvore” dining and drinking spots. The conference schedule features a few specially catered dinners, enjoyed outdoors on the VCFA Green as weather permits, including our legendary artisan Woodbelly Pizza night.
If you have an MFA or PhD in creative writing, you are automatically eligible to enroll in the conference. Registration is now open through the online form.
Thanks to our trademark small workshop size, conference groups do fill quickly. Please be sure to check in with the conference director about availability before proceeding to register. 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 touching base and taking a spot on the waiting list.
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 prior to registration.
Tuition and Fees
- Non-refundable deposit due at time of registration: $200
If the conference is held on campus:
- On-campus conference tuition for standard workshops: $995
- Poetry Manuscript tuition: $1,175
- Dormitory housing: single room, $370; shared room, $200
- Full meal plan: $240
If the conference is held remotely, VCFA will reduce tuition as follows:
- Standard workshops: $845
- Poetry Manuscript workshops: $1,075
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 belongs to the Writers’ Centers & Conferences branch of AWP (The Association of Writers and Writing Programs), which sponsors the annual Kurt Brown Prize competition for three $500 scholarships to support attendance at member conferences in creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. The contest welcomes submissions through its March 30 deadline. For details visit the AWP website.