MFA Students Attend Community of Writers Workshop
In July 2023, five current EWU MFA students in fiction – Isadora Anderson, Aimee Brooks, Dylan Cooper, Alex Farrier, and Shraya Singh – were invited to attend the Community of Writers(CoW) workshop in Olympic Valley, California along with MFA program director, Gregory Spatz, who is a regular faculty member at the writers’ conference.
The Community of Writers was established in 1969 by novelists local to the Olympic Valley and has since hosted workshops in screenwriting, fiction, nonfiction, playwriting and poetry. Many great writers have emerged from, attended, and taught at the writers’ workshop including past EWU MFA visiting writers Amy Tan, Molly Giles, and Dana Johnson.
Apart from daily workshop sessions, participants have the opportunity to attend various craft talks, panels, and readings throughout the week and interact with other writers (faculty included) in an environment that has the intimacy of a close-knit, welcoming, and friendly community. Some of the illustrious faculty for this year included the likes of Claire Vaye Watkins, Oscar Villalon, Vanessa Hua, Edan Lepucki, Héctor Tobar, Lynn Freed, and Peter Orner amidst others.
“After speaking with, Greg Spatz, director of EWU’s MFA, last summer, I knew I wanted to attend the Community of Writers. All my expectations were surpassed as I spent mornings in workshops with thoughtful, articulate individuals at varying stages of their writing careers and afternoons at panels and craft talks from established authors, literary agents, and editors. In the evenings we listened to readings from recently published or unreleased work by teachers and alumni of the workshop.
With New York still viewed as the primary literary hub of the United States, this workshop was influential to my perspective as a writer living in the West, having conversations with writers who view Los Angeles as an up-and-coming center for literature or who work in the isolation of rural areas. This workshop reinforced the need for community in the arts and I am incredibly grateful to an MFA that gave me the tools and support to make attending this program a possibility.” – Aimee Brooks
Every year, students from EWU’s MFA program attend CoW in July with the help of scholarships from EWU as well as scholarships offered by CoW which are based on manuscript submissions. Through the Community of Writers, participants have the unique opportunity of participating in workshops led by instructors of writing and practicing authors as well as literary editors and agents. They also engage in one-on-one sessions with other faculty members to receive feedback on their work outside of the regular workshops.
This variety in feedback from other workshop participants and active writers, editors, and agents is helpful to students in developing understanding of how their work would be received across different populations, demographics, and in the rest of the world outside the classroom setting of the MFA program.
“Community of writers was a wonderful opportunity to learn and share work with people of all kinds of literary backgrounds. My discussion with Tara Parsons (editor and publisher from HarperCollins) was one of the most helpful workshops of my own work I’ve had, especially in getting to hear perspectives outside the graduate MFA setting. I loved hearing readings and craft talks, many from writers I hadn’t known before but will eagerly read their work now. And made some cool friends along the way!” – Dylan Cooper
All the participants found the intimate environment of the workshop completely enthralling, especially because of the opportunity and ease with which workshop participants could talk to authors, ask them questions, and discuss their work after panels or over dinner!
Other highlights included the opportunity to form new connections in the literary world, discover new favorite books and authors (both published and unpublished!) and hear a great deal of amazing writers perform their “non-writerly” talents on the last day of the week-long workshop while nestled in the heart of the beautiful Olympic Valley.