Alternate content for script Text Only VersionSkip to Main Content

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.

Reimagining the Possibilities in Creative Nonfiction

In this workshop, we will use Bending Genre, as well as selected essays and memoir excerpts, as a guide to help us better understand the limitlessness of Creative Nonfiction. Bound only by truth and fact, we will explore the ways in which writers can use craft to push the boundaries of the genre. Whether you are writing memoir or essay, this workshop will deepen your knowledge of the genre and help you explore what is possible in your pursuit of a nuanced story.

Required text: Bending Genre: Essays on Creative Nonfiction edited by Margot Singer and Nicole Walker, ISBN: 9781441123299

Word count for advanced submissions: 5,000 words

Due date for advanced submissions: June 20, 2021

Susette BrooksBio: Susette Brooks is a writer and a descendant of Paterson, New Jersey’s rich literary history, which includes being home to the young Allen Ginsberg and the inspiration for the William Carlos Williams epic poem, Paterson. She carried this lineage to Goucher College where she earned an MFA in Nonfiction and started a memoir-in-essays that examines how defense mechanisms passed from generations in the Black community continue to harm her family. When Susette isn’t writing, and rewriting, she supports the work of other storytellers. Susette is the Director of Multicultural Marketing for Penguin Publishing Group. She also leads a team of soldier-journalists who use multimedia narratives to tell the New Jersey Army National Guard story. Susette serves as a board member for Philadelphia Stories. She lives in Philadelphia.

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

Short Story Workshop

In this class, you’ll have the opportunity to receive detailed feedback on at least one full-length story in a supportive and engaged environment. The workshop uses a structure that centers the writer so that you are able to get a stronger sense of how readers are experiencing your work and how you can move forward into a stronger draft that accomplishes more of what you want from your story. Our discussions of each other’s work will be augmented by in-class generative exercises connected to various elements of craft, and always embodying the spirit of creative play.

As someone who came up in workshops where I was often the only queer person or the only person of color, I am very sensitive to the ways in which creative writing programs and traditional approaches to craft have reinforced privilege at the expense of historically marginalized voices. This workshop is committed to an anti-racist and decolonized approach to craft.

Word count for advanced submissions: 5,000 words

Due date for advanced submissions: June 7, 2021

Rahul MehtaBio: Rahul Mehta is the author of the novel No Other World (Harper, 2017), which was one of Booklist’s Ten Best Debut Novels of the Year, and the short story collection Quarantine (HarperPerennial, 2011), which won the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Debut Fiction and the Asian American Literary Award for Fiction. Their work has appeared in the Kenyon Review, the Massachusetts Review, NOON, The Sun, the New York Times Magazine, the International Herald Tribune, Marie Claire India and elsewhere. Raised in West Virginia in an Indian immigrant household, they teach at the University of the Arts and live in Philadelphia with their partner and their dog. They are at work on a collection of poems and lyric essays.

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.