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Weeklong Sessions

Sunday, June 27 to Friday July 2, 2025

Zombie Poems: The Art of Bringing Poems Back From the Dead

This workshop will focus on taking new or abandoned poems and using various strategies to breathe new life into dormancy. We will use form to resuscitate and generative prompts to flesh out incomplete and new ideas. Bring what you have and the energy to explore new terrain in this end-product driven week of surgical renewal. Nature poems, poems of resistance, odes to the new normal, all are welcome!

Advanced submissions: three poems

Due date for advanced submissions: June 20, 2021

Artress WhiteBio: Artress Bethany White is a poet, essayist, and literary critic. She is the recipient of the Trio Award for her poetry collection, My Afmerica (Trio House Press, 2019). Her essay collection, Survivor’s Guilt: Essays on Race and American Identity (New Rivers Press, 2020), is currently listed as a Community of Literary Magazines and Presses ( CLMP ) social justice read. Her prose and poetry have appeared in such journals as Harvard Review, Solstice, PoetryBirmingham Poetry ReviewTupelo QuarterlySalamander, and Green Mountains Review. White has received fellowships and residencies from the Hambidge Center for Creative Arts, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, The Writer’s Hotel, and the Tupelo Press/MASS MoCA studios. She is associate professor of English at East Stroudsburg University.

The Balancing Act: Narration, Character and Dialogue in Your Novel

Telling a story well requires a sure touch with narration, characterization, and dialogue. But how do you find the right balance?

This is a nuts-and-bolts craft workshop that welcomes fiction writers of all levels. We’ll look at brief samples from contemporary writers (Zadie Smith, George Saunders, Patricia Lockwood et al.) and will do several writing exercises that will allow participants to generate new text or to experiment with their own work-in-progress. Each writer will also be invited to workshop a piece of fiction with the group.

We’ll consider characterization techniques and questions like dialogue tags, idiolect, profanity (yes, swearing is an artful activity!) and slang. We’ll also explore when to give your characters a rest and let your narrator do the talking. The common saying, “Show don’t tell” isn’t always true, but this fact begs the questions: How do I show? When do I tell?

Writers will leave this workshop with a keener appreciation of the tools at their disposal and how they might serve their story.

Word count for advanced submissions: 5,000 words

Special note: Advanced submissions are appreciated when possible, as this helps me with my preparations. But advance submissions are not an obligation. I can also accept submissions during the week I teach. For writers who kindly opt to submit in advance, I request that they do not ssubstantially revise their piece before our workshop, as this undermines the point of advance submission

Due date for advanced submissions: June 7, 2021

Charles HoldeferBio: Charles Holdefer is the author of five novels, including Bring Me the Head of Mr. Boots (2019) and The Contractor (2012), which was an American Booksellers Association “Book Sense Pick” and was translated into several languages. His short fiction has won a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in the New England Review, North American Review, Chicago Quarterly Review, Slice and elsewhere. His other books include George Saunders’ Pastoralia: Bookmarked (nonfiction) and Magic Even You Can Do (fiction hybrid). He also writes essays and reviews for various magazines and teaches at the University of Poitiers, France. Visit Charles at

Julianna Baggott, Writer-in-Residence

Julianna BaggettJulianna will meet with individual authors by appointment on a first come/first served basis for 30 minutes. Anyone registered for the weeklong retreat can schedule a session with her. Appointments can be arranged by contacting MFA program director Carla Spataro at

Word count for advanced submissions: 5,000 words of prose or five poems not longer than 30 lines each.

Due date for advanced submissions: June 7, 2021

Bio: Critically acclaimed, bestselling author Julianna Baggott has published more than twenty books under her own name as well as pen names, including Bridget Asher and N.E. Bode; publishing houses that have published her work include Random House, Simon and Schuster, HarperCollins, and Hachette. Her recent novels, Pure and Harriet Wolf’s Seventh Book of Wonders were both New York Times Notable Books of the Year. There are over one hundred foreign editions of Julianna’s novels published or forthcoming overseas. Her work is currently optioned by Disney+ and Warner Brothers, as well as independent producers. Previous projects have been optioned by Fox2000, Nickelodeon/Paramount, Anonymous Content, Misher Films, Sunswept Entertainment, BCDF, and more. Baggott’s work has appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The New York Times Modern Love column, The Washington Post, Best American Poetry, and has been read on NPR’s Here and Now, Talk of the Nation, and All Things Considered. Her essays, stories, and poems are highly anthologized.