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This year the “Writing Intensives” are SIX hour sessions, to be held on Friday, September 6th ONLY.  Intensives are limited to 6-10 Participants, so please register early.  The Intensive Registration deadline is 8/23/18.  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, 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 9/6/19

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 2019.

Writing is what so many of us want to do.   Finding the stories we want to tell, and then writing them is what our work together will be. 


Some of us are beginning.  Some of us are continuing.  Together we will all be looking for stories, good stories, working together to understand what good stories are, and where they come from.

We will examine how we tell them and then, we will tell them.  Using exercises and prompts, and reading and hearing examples from other writers, our time together will be an investigation in narrative, using what we know and what we don’t know to figure out what stories we will tell.





Presented by  BERTHA ROGERS

We will begin this workshop by taking a short (about 15 minutes) walk around Hobart during which we will find leaves, twigs, pebbles, tree bark, and other natural objects. Those objects will become our beginning topics. 

Rogers NEW

After the walk, we will read some favorite nature poems provided by both the workshop leader and participants, and we will discuss recent writings on the lives of "inanimate" objects. We will then write descriptions of what we found, then move on to metaphor and extended metaphor (leaps), combining events in our lives with our findings. We will read our drafts to each other and workshop them.


This workshop is ideal for those who admire poets like Mary Oliver, Elizabeth Bishop, Deborah Digges, Mary Rueffle, and Amy Lowell and who wish to get in touch with the natural world as it applies to their own nature.


Participants should bring 8 copies of a nature poem (up to 16 lines long) that they have written. The goal will be to complete a new poem or a solid draft of a poem (those who wish to continue working on their poems after the Festival will be invited to email them to the leader for comments). 


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 $70 fee entitles you to attend as many workshops as you wish with the exception of the Intensive Workshops. Those seeking to take part in an Intensive Workshop on Friday, September 6th 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 $25.

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 9/6/19

11:30 am - 1:30 pm

Workshop # 1


Developing an Emotional Landscape in Fiction                              Presented by  BREENA CLARKE

Authors often face empty spaces when researching the past for the voices of people outside of the racial, social, and economic mainstream of American history. Faced with incomplete historical records, fiction writers must speculate about the past, filling in the interior lives of people left out of narratives.

Clarke, B

The process of constructing these interiors requires reimagining geography, history, sociology, etymology and the uses of slang. What techniques can the fiction writer employ to create voices of the past? 


Participants will learn techniques to get started laying out an interior landscape for their fiction including research strategies for jump-starting the writing process.

Workshop # 2


Brevity & Discovery

                    Presented by  MARGOT FARRINGTON

For poets and writers at all levels of ability, this multidisciplinary workshop uses the art of flower arranging as entry into writing poems or prose fragments. We’ll make simple (3 to 5 element) floral arrangements to segue into explorations of the natural world and of human emotions, sparely expressed. 


Our aim is NOT to write haiku or other forms of Japanese poetry, but to delve into and assimilate their power—seasonal, emotional and psychological—by study of their compression, clarity, mystery and depth. 


The “little gardens” we’ll create will blossom twice: generated first as arrangement, second as poems or prose. Tea will be served.  No experience of flower arranging is necessary. (Masters are beginners, too!)


Come prepared to look, listen and discuss pleasurably, learn something of the way of flowers, and depart with a source list (brief, of course!) and your arrangement and writing.

Workshop # 3



Grounding Your Story in Place

Presented by  IFEONA FULANI

In this workshop we will explore one of the most fundamental challenges facing a writer of fiction, that of setting your story in a place in which your characters and their actions can unfold meaningfully.


Character is a product of dynamic interaction with place, whether that place is a modern city, a medieval castle or a space station on an alien planet. No matter where, how can setting support a character’s desires and actions? How will it frustrate them and generate conflict?


We will consider these and other questions relating to using setting and place in ways that work with or against your character to develop your story and reveal its ultimate meaning.

Workshop # 4

  WRITE NOW: Exercises and Play

                   Presented by  MARILYN McCABE

This workshop invites you to luxuriate in two hours of creative play.


We will focus our attention on objects and sensory inputs, and then, in short timed-writing bursts, we'll conjure up our deepest inner thoughts and imaginings.


We'll encourage our minds to leap, tumble, stumble, and sprawl. This workshop is appropriate for any genre, and is particularly appropriate if you want to try different genres. We'll also do some playful editing exercises on some of the work generated.

Saturday 9/7/19

9:30am - 11:30am 


Workshop # 5

  LEAPING Poetry

  Presented by  DIANE GILLIAM

We will be talking about energy and LEAPING in poems we admire and in poems of our own. 


Some of our questions will be:  Where does vision come from?  What are some sources of energy in poems?  What can we say about the nature of a leap?  How do vision, energy and leaping manifest on the page?  What textual strategies conjure them? 


I’ll provide a handout of LEAPING poems and prompts for new poems as well as for revision.  Participants are invited to bring a LEAPING poem of their own or someone else’s, and one of their own that’s in need of some LEAPING energy.

Workshop # 6


    Re-seeing & Re-writing

Presented by  GINNAH HOWARD

Do you have a short story or memoir piece that is ready for an in-depth critique? Would you like to improve your inner-editor?

This workshop will give you an opportunity to have your work critiqued by Ginnah Howard, via attachment using MSWord Review marginal comments, prior to the Festival. Your manuscript, with comments and suggestions, 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 story or memoir to the group to get feedback and 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: The complete manuscript should be no more than 20 pages and must be sent to Ginnah Howard by August 24th, with a guarantee from her to return the critiqued work to you by August 31. Class limit: 10

eMail to:

Workshop # 7


     Creating, Presenting and Sustaining a Women

      Writers’ Salon                                 

Presented by  JP HOWARD

JP Howard, founder of the NY-based Women Writers in Bloom Poetry Salon will discuss the genesis and development of her literary salon, now in its eighth year, including the effort and commitment that goes into sustaining the salon’s presence in the community, its growing national visibility and its importance to writers’ experience.

Howard, JP

This workshop will be a practical guide to establishing a literary community, including how-to’s on nurturing and expanding its development.


Topics discussed will include envisioning a community-based literary project/salon, strategically meeting needs, encountering challenges, the vital role of social media, the importance of fundraising, why diverse and intergenerational literary spaces are necessary, as well as practical advice on how to sustain a community-based literary group over time.


Participants are encouraged to discuss and outline their goals/desires for creating and nurturing their own literary communities.

Workshop # 8


Presented by  LINDA LOWEN

Much of life is painful. Many write to process grief, fear, and regret, yet in reawakening memories we risk opening old wounds.

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Micro memoir -- 200 words or less -- is one way to access darker, more difficult experiences. This spare, lean form offers the liberation of release while avoiding the dangers of immersion. Instead of writing about feelings, the focus is on brief events, details, actions, and reactions, resulting in prose that's a gut punch to the reader.


This workshop unpacks micro memoir for writers at every level and demonstrates why it's uniquely suited to short, deep narrative dives.

Saturday 9/7/19

1:45 pm - 3:45 pm 


Workshop # 9


     Crafting A Powerful First Person Voice


                     Presented by  MARYA HORNBACHER

This workshop will explore the risks and rewards of writing in the first person—the 'I' persona.


Whether we're writing in the voice of a fictional character or in the guise of our nonfictional "selves," the voice of the storyteller, that narrating I, must be compelling enough to carry the reader from the first word of our work to the last.


This workshop will explore how this voice of I becomes a character in her own right, one with depth and dimension, insights and blind spots, strengths and failures and flaws, one whose perception of reality is engaging enough to keep the reader turning the page.


Through both generative writing exercises and examples from literature, we will explore techniques for finding, strengthening, and clarifying our use of the first person voice. 

Workshop # 10


    Writing The Novel


Presented by  ELLEN MEEROPOL

There’s no GPS for writing a novel; it can take years and it's easy to lose your way.


This workshop will focus on the necessary components of writing a novel – equal parts of inspiration, perspiration, and desperation – and examine strategies to keep the story moving.


We’ll discuss ways to use the elements of craft to troubleshoot problem areas in our manuscripts, as well as methods to maximize our enjoyment of the adventure.


 Participants are invited to bring a question to the workshop about a current challenge in their own work-in-progress.

Workshop # 11

  RAG & RIFF: The Poetics of the Quilt


         Presented by  YOLANDA WISHER

The Gee’s Bend quilts are the work of several generations of Black women quilters in the rural town of Gee’s Bend, Alabama.

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Their work has been shared in museum exhibitions across the country to much acclaim. The quilts, which initially served as functional objects and heirlooms, have been heralded as modern and postmodern art, gospel, and jazz.

They were born out of slavery and sharecropping, the landscape of the South, and the personal stories of the women and men whose lives are sewn into them. Like poems, the Gee’s Bend quilts play with forms—some borrowed and reimagined, some invented and organic. 

What can the poet learn from the history, the matriarchal vernacular and the abstract architecture of Gee’s Bend quilts? For starters: the revelatory properties of color, the turn and bend of a line, its asymmetrical rhythms, and the individual voice that must come through the assemblage of fabric.

As Gee’s Bend quilter Mensie Lee Pettway said, “Ought not two quilts ever be the same.” In this workshop, we will riff off the history, craft, and colors of Gee’s Bend quilts as we consider our own inherited folk forms. We will use the quilters’ techniques to create our own layered and vibrant poems.


Sunday 9/8/19

9:30am - 11:30am 

Workshop # 12

  WRITING LYRICS: Image, Emotion, and Justice

Presented by  NANCY AGABIAN

Though we use the word lyric to describe a line of text in song, rap, or poetry, the word, according to the dictionary, refers to “expressing the writer's emotions, usually briefly”.


In this generative all-genre workshop, we will write about the emotions that arise from experiencing and witnessing racism, in and outside of ourselves, on the street, in our workplaces and schools, on TV and online.


Looking to the work of Langston Hughes, Audre Lorde and Claudia Rankine, we will do a few writing exercises to explore the use of image, metaphor, and point of view as ways to translate the emotions of our experiences into expressions of justice.


(This 2-hour workshop was featured at the Queens Public Library, sponsored by St. John's University and The Newtown Literary Journal).

Workshop # 13


    Being and Becoming Through Speculative Fiction 


When asked what she loved about science fiction, author Octavia Butler responded: “You get to write yourself in.”

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This workshop will examine the ways in which speculative fiction—which includes science fiction, fantasy, horror, magical realism, and other genres—constructs and deconstructs feminine identities, providing a lens for examining our past and our potential for the future, minus the burden of patriarchal modalities.

This genre provides unique ways of imagining, reimagining, and reinventing identity, as well as witnessing and critiquing historical events that have impacted women, as reflected in the text excerpts we will examine.


Participants will learn how to identify and employ the elements of speculative fiction and create narratives that begin with the question, “What if?”

Workshop # 14

  CELEBRATING WisdomKeepers


This workshop is designed for the mature writer to take a moment to center, think back and weigh her footprint on this earth. It is for women who want to pass it forward and share their hard-earned life-experience or offer advice to a younger generation.


We will use writing prompts to help us look back and project forward in an effort to acknowledge the road we have walked and celebrate the wisdom that comes of living a full life. And we will share. Yes, we will share.


MATERIALS: Participants are asked to bring a photo (preferably) or item they associate with an ancestor who holds a special place in their lives. We will use these items to spark writing that is deeply meaningful and complex. We will look at how we can use these prompts to enhance memoir or essay writing.


We will also discuss how we can use what we learn during the workshop to help us create three-dimensional older characters within our fiction work.

Workshop # 15



Bohemians, rockers, and nature lovers throughout history have blazed their own paths, inspiring generations of women to put the pedal to the metal—and the pen to paper. So why is women’s writing so often derided as “domestic,” and why do so many women’s travelogues read like chick lit?

We’ll discuss ways to elevate the genre in terms of both substance and style as we take a fast-paced ride along with Manal Al-Sharif (Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman’s Awakening), Lynne Cox (Swimming to Antarctica), Waris Dirie (Desert Flower), Patti Smith (M Train), and other women who defied conformity.

Geared towards those who want to advance plot while maintaining artistic style, in-class writing exercises will equip you with the roadmap you need through storytelling templates and literary devices. Choose your own adventure—and encourage other women to live more fully even within their own neighborhoods! 

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