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Weekend Sessions


Friday, June 19th - Sunday June 21st, 2020

See prices for non-credit and credit-seeking students here.

Weekend Courses:

  • Trish Rodriguez, Flash Fiction
  • M. Nzadi Keita, Poetry
  • Erin Entrada Kelly, Writing for Children and Young Adults
  • Margo Rabb, Creative Nonfiction
  • Eric Smith, Agent-in-Residence

Flash Fiction

Tell a story in 1000 words or less? You can do it! Let’s see how others done so by reviewing published flash fiction pieces, exploring the storytelling process, and workshopping submitted stories in a creative and supportive environment.

Word Count Limit for Submissions: 1,000 words
Submissions due: June 10, 2020

Trish RodriguezTrish Rodriguez is a writer based out of the Philadelphia area. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Rosemont College and her undergraduate degree for Systems Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. Presently, she is the fiction editor for Philadelphia Stories and an associate prose editor for Typehouse Literary Magazine. She teaches fiction writing in the Rosemont Writers’ Studio. Her own writing tends toward short stories, though don’t be surprised if a poem or essay sneaks out.

Writing for Children and Young Adults

Learn the fundamentals of writing middle grade and young adult novels, with special emphasis on voice, character development, and structure. 

Word Count Limit for Submissions: 1,000 words
Submissions due: June 10, 2020

Erin Entrada Kelly.Erin Entrada Kelly received the 2018 Newbery Medal for Hello Universe, 2016 APALA Award for The Land of Forgotten Girls, and the 2015 Golden Kite Honor Award for Blackbird Fly, among other honors. She is a NYT-bestselling author whose work has been translated into more than 30 languages.

Live and go out: Poems Born Where We Live

This workshop borrows its title from “The Second Sermon on the Warpland” from the classic In the Mecca by Gwendolyn Brooks. Workshop participants will bring poems and seek out new material for poems that investigate their past and present abodes. Following a series of exercises focused on sensory work, imaginative language and image, and having related discussions, the workshop will aim for an outcome of discoveries about how our values and our living environments intersect.

Maximum: Three poems, one per page. Minimum: Two poems, two pages.
Submissions due: June 10, 2020

M. Nzadi Zimele M. Nzadi Keita’s most recent collection, Brief Evidence of Heaven, sheds light on Anna Murray Douglass, Frederick Douglass’s first wife.  Publications including Poet Lore journal and The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South have featured her work.

In 2017, she won a Pew Fellowship in the Arts for Poetry. The Leeway Foundation, Fine Arts Work Center, and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts have also supported her projects.  An associate professor at Ursinus College, Keita teaches creative writing, American literature, and Africana Studies.

From Private Journal to Printed Essay

This class will help you start a journal writing practice, which, now more than ever, can help you process what’s happening in the world, and help you make sense of your thoughts and experiences. We’ll discuss how to use your journal for writing essays, and we’ll discuss the work of diarists and essayists including Anne Frank, James Baldwin, and David Sedaris.

We’ll address the big questions all writers struggle with: What am I trying to say in my writing? How do I overcome fear and rejection, and the blocks I face? How do I make a life as a writer? How do I make sense of this painful world? We’ll also discuss how to decide what to share publicly in essay form, and what to keep private, and how a journal can change your personal life and your life as a writer. 

1,500 words per submission
Submissions due: June 10, 2020

Margo RabbMargo Rabb’s essays, journalism, book reviews, and short stories have been published in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Slate, Salon, Marie Claire, The Rumpus, Zoetrope: All-Story, Seventeen, Best New American Voices, One Story, and elsewhere, and have been broadcast on NPR.

She’s the author of the novels Kissing in America, Cures for Heartbreak, and the forthcoming Lucy Clark Will Not Apologize, all published by HarperCollins. Kissing in America was named a best book of the year by the New York Public Library, the Chicago Public Library, and the American Library Association, and was named to the Amelia Bloomer Project’s List of Recommended Feminist Literature. Visit her online at

Query Letter Workshops: Get that Query Letter in Shape!

Using successful query letters from authors he's worked with, we'll break down what makes a good query letter to agents, and how to get yours looking good. Feel free to just ask questions or bring a query to dig into!

  • Critiquing Sample Pages: Worried about that opening? Bring the first ten pages with you to workshop with Eric. He'll dish notes and feedback and will chat with you about them afterwards.
  • Pitching: Are you ready to query that novel? Want to pitch it to Eric? He's happy to hear about your book. He'll take ten-minute appointments for you to pitch in-person. Please don't bring any materials for him to take home though. And if you're nervous about pitching in person, read this post!

Eric will meet with individual authors by appointment on a first come/first served basis. Anyone registered for the weekend retreat can schedule a session with Eric, but it would be most helpful for authors who in the querying phase of their project or close to it. Appointments can be arranged by contacting MFA Program Director Carla Spataro at

Eric Smith.Eric Smith is an author and literary agent living in Philadelphia. An agent with P.S. Literary, he's worked on award-winning and New York Times bestselling books, and focuses on Young Adult fiction, genre-blending literary fiction, and non-fiction across categories (memoir, cookbooks, history, etc!).

A bestselling author, his latest novel, Don't Read the Comments, was published with Inkyard Press in January 2020, and his upcoming books include the anthology Battle of the Bands (Candlewick, 2021). You can learn more about who he represents and his books on his website,