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This year the “Writing Intensives” are SIX hour sessions, both of which will be held on Friday, September 7th ONLY.  Intensives are limited to 6-10 Participants, so please register early.  The Intensive Registration deadline is 8/24/18.  Workshops that draw fewer than 6 Participants will be cancelled, unless the Writer agrees to conduct it. 


The Intensive is for Participants in the process of developing manuscripts. You will share work and receive feedback on your writing. The Festival will provide space dedicated solely to each Intensive in order to maximize this special opportunity. 

Intensive Participants will pay a Registration fee of $120 for the unique opportunity to spend a day in an advanced setting with a professional writer, one of our Festival Alumna. The $120 Registration fee includes a lunch on the day of the Intensive and covers ALL OTHER Festival activities, but minus any lunches Saturday and Sunday. All we ask of you is a firm commitment to attend once you register.

While Intensive participants may register for other Festival Workshops, they may register for only one Intensive. If your Intensive is cancelled and there are available spaces in other Intensives, we will email you. If you find that you cannot attend an Intensive Workshop that you have signed up for and it has not been cancelled, a refund may be given if we find a replacement for you from the waiting list.

Please consult the specific Intensive description for any required materials or references.


TIME SLOTS 3, 4, 6, 8 and 10 are Reading & Special Event Slots which are Free of charge

and therefore NOT listed here.

(See the "PUBLIC PROGRAMS" tab

on the menu above)

Friday 9/7/18

11:00 am - 5:00 pm




     A Writing Intensive

Presented by  Esther Cohen 

Presented by experienced writer, editor, teacher, Esther Cohen, The Good Stories Intensive Workshop is back by popular demand for Festival 2018.

​“In this writing intensive, we will tell stories, hear them, and explore ways good stories can be told. We will hear stories in various forms, from print to podcast, and we will, by the end of our intensive, each have a story that is ours.”


---- Esther Cohen


Esther is a writer, teacher, and cultural activist.  She’s published six books, and posts a poem a day at


Writing Workshops are a solid tradition of the Festival of Women Writers.  Writers returning to the Festival and those who have been invited for the first time will offer the Festival a diverse group of Workshops.


Each Workshop will be presented for two hours and will address a variety of topics, genres, skills, and techniques.

In order to participate in any Workshop, a registration fee is required. A $60 fee entitles you to attend as many workshops as you wish with the exception of the Intensive Workshops which has its own registration fee requirement of $120. Those seeking to take part in an Intensive Workshop on Friday, September 8th and attend any Workshop on Saturday or Sunday should simply register for the Intensive Workshop of your choice then make your 2-Hour Workshop sections in the appropriate Time Slots on the Registration Page.

If you want to attend just ONE Workshop, we have instituted a "Single Workshop Fee" which is $20.

Pre-paid lunch fees for Saturday and Sunday are additional for both Intensive Workshop and 2-Hour Workshop attendees. See the Registration Page for full details.


TIME SLOTS 3, 4, 6, 8 and 10 are Reading & Special Event Slots which are Free of charge

and therefore NOT listed here.

(See the "PUBLIC PROGRAMS" tab

on the menu above)


Friday 9/7/18

11:30 am - 1:30 pm

Workshop # 1


     The Search For A Stranger Voice

                          Presented by  Margot Farrington

Wearing a mask allows the shaking loose of self.  Using the deck of cards as catalyst, this workshop frees participants to speak out in the voices of playing cards—to exult or lament or scheme as imagination dictates.

“Playing” and writing in two distinctly crafted rounds, participants will don dramatic personae through dealt cards to generate drafts for new poems or short prose pieces. No knowledge of card games is necessary.

Workshop # 2


    Re-seeing & Re-writing

Presented by  Ginnah Howard

If you have a short story or memoir piece that is ready for an in-depth critique and if you would like to improve your own inner-editor, this workshop will give you an opportunity send your work to be critiqued by me prior to the Festival.

Your manuscript, with my comments and suggestions (in MSWord balloons), will be emailed back to you in time to have a go at revising before the Festival begins.

During the actual workshop, each participant will have an opportunity to read a few pages of her/his writing to the group to get feedback and to talk about the revision process.

The emphasis will be on craft: how to increase narrative tension, using scenes and significant details, how to tuck in back story, language and rhythm, point of view and tense choice, the need for clarity and tightening.

REQUIREMENTS: Your manuscript for review should not be more than 20 pages and it must be attached to me by August 24th, with a guarantee from me to return the critiqued work to you by August 31. Class limit: 10

eMail to:

Workshop # 3



      Using the Poet’s Eye and Sci-Fi to

      Re-Invent the Future We Deserve

Presented by  Bertha Rogers 

Presenter Change.jpg

It is said that the poet is supposed to help readers experience the mundane as brand new and thrilling, often times terrifying. But what happens when the poet takes on the mantle of “creator of worlds?”


What do we experience on the page when the poets takes her vision and combines it with sci-fi theory and metaphor to create a new world, to re-imagine the world we live in now?

Through close reading of poets Tracy K. Smith, Safiya Sinclair, Aracelis Girmay, Pablo Neruda, and the ancient Anglo-Saxon poets, as well as novelists Ursula LeGuin Tolkien, and J. K. Rowling, participants will attempt to create their own worlds on the page, imagining a new place, whether beautiful or terrifying.

Saturday 9/8/18

9:30am - 11:30am 


Workshop # 4


     Writing Fiction and Nonfiction

                   Presented by  Blanche McCrary Boyd

During this workshop, participants will write and read brief autobiographical prose pieces, then revise these pieces into fictional form. We will examine differences in fiction and nonfiction (and the gray areas between these forms) while we read and discuss our own work.

Participants may bring prior prose work if they wish, and I will be happy to provide feedback on up to 8 pages in appointments outside the workshop.


All participants will gain a clearer understanding of the differences and similarities when writing fiction or nonfiction.

Workshop # 5


     A Nature Writing Workshop

Presented by  Leslie T. Sharpe

Whether one is writing to change the world, or for the simple pleasure of recording one’s observations in a notebook, the relationship between the observer and nature is, at its core, always personal and intensely felt.

The goal of “Seeing Nature in Words: A Nature Writing Workshop” is to encourage writers to explore their own special relationship with the natural world—whether that relationship is to the Catskills or a backyard garden, expressed as a description of a single flower or as an essay probing an environmental issue—in their own true voice.

Writers will be asked to write up to a maximum of 1,000 words, to share with the class. Writers will be encouraged to submit their writing in advance, via email, to Leslie so that each writer’s work may achieve maximum attention. Journaling, blogging, recording impressions in a naturalist’s notebook, are fine, and we will work to sharpen the writer’s eye and descriptive details.

If a writer aspires to write a finished personal essay, perhaps for submission, with a fully developed subject and theme, we will support that too.

Workshop # 6



                    Presented by  Annie Finch

This workshop taps into the power of rhythmic language—the beat of charms and chants—to help you access and transform voices in yourself you may never have heard before.

Through movement, chant, and writing, we will explore a series of language patterns connecting with mind, body, heart, and will.  


By the end of the workshop you will have acquired a clear, simple set of writing skills for journaling, poetry, or prose — apt tools for powerful self-expression and self-exploration.  No experience with poetry is necessary.

Workshop # 7


     Plot, Equip Yourself & Take Necessary Action

     To Survive As A Writer

Presented by  Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond

Writing is a battle whether you’re heading off a battalion of voices in your mind, fighting for time to create, wrangling with characters, facing a minefield of rejection, or battling to get finished work published. It’s easy to get lost in the fog of war.

This workshop will function as a war room. No matter where you are in your writing, you will leave it with a focused, written plan of attack to reach your target. In a series of verbal and written exercises, workshop attendees will:


Identify their target e.g. finishing a book, getting published, getting hired, getting reviewed or getting work to intended audiences.


Identify the hindrances between attendees and their target e.g. lack of writer’s block, rejection or even bad reviews.


Identify the hindrances they can control.


Identify and share instances of success.


Consider examples of how others have overcome specific hindrances.


Use lessons learned to identify truths that apply to their current target.


Review examples of strategic action plans and identify truths that apply.


Draft a tactical action plan they can immediately begin putting into motion (template will be provided)

Saturday 9/8/18

1:45 pm - 3:45 pm 


Workshop # 8


Presented by  Cynthia Dewi Oka

What makes a poem "migrant"? Under Trump's xenophobic administration, a hard line has been drawn between those with citizenship and those who are not, or have been denied access to citizenship.

In massive numbers, immigrants are being criminalized, detained, and deprived of their civil and human rights - a process made possible by acts of language and rhetoric. Yet what we consider American literature is full of traces of displacement - the grievings and possibilities that emerge from being made disposable, hunted, Other.


In this workshop, we will explore how we read migrant qualities in American poetry through their craft elements, and what we might learn about the act of writing poems when we put on a migrant lens.

Workshop # 9



                     Presented by  Keisha-Gaye Anderson

What do we remember? What do we tell ourselves about those memories? How does the memory of the past shape our emotional reality, drive our present actions, connect us to a wider culture or a movement, and act as a force propelling us forward?

This workshop will explore how memory—actual, imagined and re-imagined—is used in poetics to witness, communicate and construct collective realities, while also serving as a call to activism and social change.

Participants will examine the works of women poets, paying close attention to the use of language and form to understand how collective and subjective memory serve both as witness and an invocation for healing and social change.

Using relevant prompts, participants will also create poems that probe and uncover the memories they have forgotten, so that they might transform that information into poems that serve as potent catalysts for their own development and/or substantive commentary on broader social issues.

Workshop # 10



Presented by  Lisa Wujnovich

How do we know? How do we drop down and listen to our gut? As a farmer, physical work grounds me.

As a poet, I crave the soaring place poetry takes me, but know I still need grounding.  As a poet, I live between a waking dream state and a sensual grounded place.

In the digital age of constant cerebral input, it gets harder and harder to be grounded in our bodies. How do we access a grounded dream while excavating new language, how do we “know the truth,” as Marina Tsvetaeva declares?


Our bodies, we were taught, have five senses. Some neurologists count nine or as many as twenty-one. Most of us rely heavily on one or two senses; yet a poem can transport all our senses and connect us through language to ourselves and to each other.


We will use our senses as prompts and gateways to ground and expand our poems with memory and metaphor to that knowing place.

Workshop # 11



         Presented by  Arisa White

Shakespeare’s “All the world’s a stage” was the first example of a metaphor that I learned. Amazed by the transformative power of “is” and the verb “be,” the metaphor has magical properties.

The poet Annie Finch says that “magic is the art of changing consciousness at will”; and the metaphor shifts how we perceive, and become aware of, our surroundings. It has the ability to refresh language and make it living; it makes visible the interconnectedness of all things; and when rendered well (serving to illuminate and clarify, versus obfuscate and abstract), the metaphor functions as a portal out of sanctioned boundaries of realities into ways of being that are nuanced and nonlinear.


In this workshop, we will explore, through readings and writing exercises, the various ways to wield the metaphor’s magic.


Sunday 9/9/18

9:30am - 11:30am 

Workshop # 12


Presented by  Stephanie Nikolopoulos

Joseph Campbell describes the hero’s journey as someone who ventures away from the common day to decisively win a victory that he can share with his fellow man.

How can stories of heroines’ journeys further the cause of the Women’s March, #metoo, and Time’s Up? How might stories of female heroes be different from their male counterparts? How do issues of race, immigration, class, sexuality, and age impact the journey?


In this writing workshop, we will look at examples of heroines across genres to explore how we can use this storytelling template to inspire and empower readers. In-class writing exercises will teach the craft of creating memorable heroines. We’ll also discuss ways you can be an everyday heroine.

Workshop # 13


Presented by  JP Howard

In this generative workshop, James Baldwin and Audre Lorde’s words serve as agents of change to agitate, empower and inspire participants to make the personal political.

Essays, poems, and video footage of Baldwin and Lorde will be used as prompts, to create powerful mini-personal essays and/or narrative, memoir-themed political poems.


This workshop will provide an opportunity for multiple writing prompts, allow those enrolled to share bold new pieces in workshop and receive feedback from the instructor, as well as dialogue with enrolled participants.

Workshop # 14


     Interviewing Techniques for

     Literary Non-fiction

Presented by  Anne Nelson 

Everyone has a story to tell, but not everyone knows how to tell it.  This workshop will explore sensitive and productive approaches to interviewing individuals, drawing from practices ranging from journalism to psychology. 

It will include discussion of permissions, tools (recordings or notes?), and editing, and will include a "hands-on" exercise in interviewing.   


The workshop will offer special insight into interviewing persons who have experienced trauma, and the process of turning oral history into literary non-fiction. 

Workshop # 15


     Reading and Writing Historical Fiction

Presented by  LaShonda Katrice Barnett

This workshop will consider the practical challenge at the core of writing historical fiction: the seamless integration of fictive imagination and historical fact.

Truth relies on historical research, however the evidence of historical reality must be finely woven into the verities of any good novel – point of view, plot, character, setting, and structure.


The workshop will begin with discussion and deconstruction of specific scenes and participants will be introduced to the tools of historical research for novel writing with particular attention to setting the scene, establishing the period and finding a historically accurate voice.