Congratulations, Class of July, 2017!

The MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College

Class of July 2017:

Mark Elber (poetry)

Esme Franklin (poetry)

Sarah Gauch (fiction)

Amy Lin (fiction)

Leigh Lucas (poetry)

Trish Marshall (poetry)

Micah Matthews (fiction)

Amanda Newell (poetry)

Tiana Nobile (poetry)

Laura Otis (fiction)

Andrew Peterson (fiction)

Maya Phillips (poetry)

Blake Reemstma (poetry)

Susan Jo Russell (poetry)

David Saltzman (fiction)

Nomi Stone (poetry)

Peter Schireson (poetry)



read more

Alums: Get Ready for the 2017 Levis Competition

Two 2017 Levis Prizes of $4,000 for a First Book of Poetry
and First Book of Fiction

Two Larry Levis Post-Graduate Stipends, one in fiction and one in poetry, are given to support graduates of the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers who are completing first books. Each 2017 award will be made to a writer in the amount of $4,000. Judges will be announced with the winning manuscripts.

Recent winners of the Larry Levis Alumni Stipend include Edward Porter and Adam Jernigan in Fiction, and Ross White, Ben Jackson, and Jenny Johnson in Poetry.


The Levis Stipends are open only to alumni who have not yet published a full-length collection in the selected genre in a standard edition. A standard edition is defined as 150 or more pages in a print run of 1500 or more copies for fiction, and as 48 or more pages in a print run of 500 or more copies for poetry. Entrants to the competition must hold the MFA degree from Warren Wilson College. All alumni are eligible.


  1. All submissions must be made via Submittable. An entry fee of $30 is required to process the application.
  2. Include in your application a statement regarding how the award will be used, projected completion date of the book manuscript, and a list of publication credits.
  3. Include a 40-page fiction manuscript or 20-page poetry manuscript. Document margins should be at least one inch; text should be in an easily readable 12-point typeface. Pages submitted beyond the page count will not be considered. Manuscripts are judged blindly; your name should not appear anywhere on your manuscript. If it does, your application will be disqualified and removed from consideration.
  4. Submit your entry via Submittable. Do not use your name in the Submittable project title or filenames. (Your project title can be either the title of your manuscript or something like “Levis poetry manuscript.”) Label your attachments “cover letter” and “manuscript.” Both must be submitted as .pdf files.


  • Submissions will be accepted between September 1 and November 15, 2017.
  • Stipends will be awarded in January 2018. Stipends are fully taxable under United Stated tax laws, and Friends of Writers must declare the awards to the Internal Revenue Service. Taxes and payments of taxes are solely the responsibility of individual award winners.

About Larry Levis

Larry Levis (1946-1996) was an award-winning poet who wrote six books of poetry during his lifetime. His collection, Elegy, was published posthumously. A Selected Poems was published in 2000. The Darkening Trapeze, a collection of last poems, was published in 2016. Levis was a much-beloved member of the faculty at the MFA Program for Writers, cherished as much for his incisive mind as for the care and attention he gave to his students.

Any queries or requests for more information should be addressed to:

Ashley Nissler

Levis Fellowship Administrator

read more


The funds raised by Friends of Writers provide scholarships and grants to graduate MFA students.  Please help Friends continue to offer this much needed support by contributing to our spring fundraising campaign.

Read this important message from Friends of Writers Founder and Board Chair, Ellen Bryant Voigt:  The 2017 Spring Campaign

read more

Want a Scholarship for the Alumni Conference?

The deadline for conference scholarship requests is May 13.  We have six scholarships of $500 each.
read more

Friends of Writers Welcomes New Directors to the Board

Dean Bakopoulos is a ten year veteran of the Faculty at the Program, In addition to his writing and academic career, he was founding Director of the Wisconsin Book Festival, the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Humanities Council and currently directs Writers @Grinnell, all of which positions involve fund raising. He has had success in cultivating large donors in his past positions, and more recently, to build and support the programs at Iowa State and presently at Grinnell in which he teaches. He has, as well, a long record of service both institutional and public–from Chair of Wisconsin’s Cultural Coalition to member of the Board of the Chamber of Commerce in Mineral Point, WI.

Dean has always been active in support of FOW and its events and is already full of ideas for telling the Program’s story, as he put it, as “something that exists nowhere else in the world.”


Sharon Gelman  In tandem with Sonya Larson, Sharon spearheaded the drive to create and establish initial funding for the EBV scholarship. Sheserved as the Executive Director of the non-profit Artists for a New South Africa, whose mission is to promote social change in the U.S. and South Africa.   In this capacity she was responsible for program development and management, policy analysis, as well as fundraising and fiscal management. The efforts of the non-profit, including raising and granting $9 million to African NGO’s, have been extremely successful.   (1995- 2015).  She also served as Director of the Human Right Programs for the Hollywood Policy Center, an organization which seeks to involve the creative community in meaningful advocacy for social change. Sharon worked in program development, special event production, and coalition building. She was involved in significantly increasing the participation of people of color, the LGTB community, and young people. (1991-1995)  As Project Creator and Manager of Gelman Consulting, she developed and managed special projects for non-profit, political, educational and media clients, including The Association of Newspaper Publishers of America and Oxfam America. (1985-1991)

Sharon received her MFA in Fiction in 2016 and is a deeply committed member of our community who is passionate about the MFA Program and its mission.  She lives in Rockville, MD.


Larissa Vidal  joined Merrill Lynch in 1993.  She served on The Phil Scott Group, Merrill’s nationwide top-ranked brokerage team, which was named to Barron’s “Top 100 Advisors” list for twelve years.  In 2014, Larissa founded Insight Financial Planning, LLC, an independent fee-only service, because she wanted a more flexible schedule to spend time with her son. Larissa speaks publically at professional organizations on personal finance, hosts workshops (How I learned to Relax and Love Finance, Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Money (But Were Afraid to Ask) among other topics). She leads an on-going support group for women in the process of divorce and separation, is a lead sponsor for the Seattle Women’s Business Exchange, and served from 2008-2014 as Assistant Editor at Narrative Magazine.  Larissa graduated Stanford in 1992, is a Certified Financial Planner (2002 – present), and received her MFA in Fiction in 2007. She was one of the first alums to sign up when we first (about 5 years ago) circulated Volunteer forms. She is excited and honored at being asked to serve with Friends of Writers. In her email responding to us, she writes: “Studying at Warren Wilson changed my life and exposed me to writing styles and writer styles I had never imagined. The diversity of background and expression deepened my own work as well as the way I read. To help other writers … would give me a means to make the world richer.”

Larissa lives in Seattle, WA, with her son Leo, and plays the cello.

FOW also thanks our outgoing Directors for their exemplary service.  Much appreciation to Catherine Brown, Janet Crossen, Maudelle Driskell and Rolf Yngve for your hard work and dedication to the cause.

read more

Thanks to Our 2016 Donors

Friends of Writers  would like to thank all of our 2016 donors for their support! Your contributions further our mission to enrich American poetry and fiction by cultivating new and vital literary voices.

Review the list here: 2016 Donor List

read more
%d bloggers like this: