At long last, I am able to share the very probable dates of the Summer 2023 Warren Wilson/Goddard MFA Alumni Conference (aka Wally Camp) – with one caveat: We won’t be able to finalize a contract until the middle of January, but I know many of you are trying to make summer plans. So, while it’s not a 100% sure thing, it’s VERY likely that the conference will run on the following dates:

 

Saturday, August 5 – Saturday, August 12

Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts

 

As ever, there will be three options for attending: Full Stay (7 nights), Short Stay (4 nights), and Commuter. Prices are not yet finalized, but will be close to previous in-person rates, with expected increases due to inflation.

 

For those of you who have not attended a conference at Mt. Holyoke, this page shows transportation options: https://meetatmhc.com/about-us/transportation/#:~:text=Airports%3A,about%20a%2040%2Dminute%20drive

 

Note that the college will be in the process of installing a campus-wide geothermal system, so campus appearance may be a little disrupted, but this should not interfere with our activities (and should only augment the challenge of spontaneous disk golf contests).

 

We will likely be staying in a non-air-conditioned dorm. I will see if we can arrange for rental of a few window air conditioners, but otherwise you should consider investing in a portable fan. Hopefully August in New England will be pleasant.

 

Those are all the details I can offer at this point, so hang tight until things are finalized mid-January. At that point I will make another announcement, including prices and scholarship info, and instructions for registering.

 

Until then, start dreaming up those class offerings, polishing manuscripts for workshops, and reveling in the prospect of communing with your Wally tribe!

 

Most sincerely,

 

David Ruekberg

2023 Warren Wilson MFA Conference Coordinator

Fiction softball team posing in victory on the field

July Graduates of WWC MFA Program

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On behalf of the Board, I want to thank everyone who donated and volunteered, and made this a dynamic and eventful year of change for Friends of Writers. Here are a few highlights: 

Recap of Scholarship and Fundraising 

FOW awarded over $107,850 to 60 students and alumni in grants and scholarships, including 15 Grants for Change totalling $10,500. We had 100% participation from the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College class of 2022. We have raised $58,000 for Grants for Change and are 19% of the way toward our goal of raising the $300,000 that we will need to endow the fund. We are immensely grateful for your enthusiasm and generosity. 

July Graduation Ceremony 

This summer, the MFA Program for Writers held the first in-person Graduation Ceremony at WWC since the pandemic. Keynote speaker, Peter Turchi, delivered a moving speech to the graduates and their families, focusing on the individual nature of the writing journey, and the kinds of support that makes writing possible. You can read Pete’s speech here.

Alumni Conference

Over 70 alumni registered to share writing, workshops, panels, and the annual auction at the third virtual Wally Conference. We are grateful to new alumni, particularly Liza Duncan (Poetry ‘22) who dove right in and led a class and Sebastian Merrill (Poetry ‘21) who stepped up to help one participant with technical problems. Together, the conference raised over $4,000 through the annual auction and raffle. Thank you to all who attended!

A Piece of FOW History   

Larry Levis once wrote “…writing is the act of discovering something in the process of writing, and that fresh ‘something’ becomes the being of the poem, its identity which is somehow final and independent, when complete, of the poet.” 

The Larry Levis Post-Graduate Stipend opens for submissions September 15th through November 1st 2022. Two stipends, one in fiction and one in poetry, support alumni who are completing first books. For any questions, please contact Nathan McClain at [email protected]. We will be hosting a Levis Reading on November 10th, so mark your calendars!

Upcoming Event October 13th!

Join us for a reading and conversation with our board member Natalie Baszile on October 13th 2022 at 7 pm EDT via Zoom. Natalie’s new non-fiction book, We Are Each Other’s Harvest: Celebrating African American Farmers, Land & Legacy, brings together essays, poems, conversations, portraits, and first-person narratives to tell the story of Black people’s connection to the land from Emancipation to the present. Her previous novel, Queen Sugar, was named one of the San Francisco Chronicles’ Best Books of 2014, was long-listed for the Crooks Corner Southern Book Prize, and nominated for an NAACP Image Award. It is currently being adapted for a seventh television season by writer/director Ava DuVernay, and co-produced by Oprah Winfrey. Click here to register for Natalie’s reading! 

Staff

Please welcome our new staff member – Nuha Fariha. As FOW’s Administrative Manager, she is overseeing donor engagement, communication and more. Nuha is a second year MFA student at Louisiana State University. In addition, she serves as Development Assistant at Laal NYC, a nonprofit providing resources for Bengali women in the Bronx. She has worked in the nonprofit industry for over four years and currently lives in Baton Rouge with her partner and one year old son. You can contact her at [email protected].

We also want to thank the incredible Jessica Lane for her continued support. Jessica has worked for Friends of Writers since 2015. Prior to that, she worked as a Project Manager for the MFA Program for three years. In her position with FOW, she works primarily with constituent and donation management and reporting. During the day, she serves as the Director of Education + Public Programs for the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, WA. She has worked in the museum and nonprofit world for over 20 years and currently lives in Everett, WA with her husband, Ross, and their dog, Addie.

Have FOW history or news to share? 

Email Nuha at [email protected]. We welcome any news past, present and future to celebrate with the FOW community!

All best, 

Abby

President, Friends of Writers

P.S. If you recently changed your contact information, please send it to Nuha ([email protected]). 

On behalf of Friends of Writers, I want to thank the many volunteers, fellow writers, friends, and family who gave their time and resources to celebrate our community throughout—and despite!— this stressful year. 

The 45th anniversary conversations and readings held this spring and summer honored the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers and attracted more than 450 people. Seventy-seven alumni registered for the summer conference to share writing, workshops, panels, and the annual auction. Finally, our 2021 Spring fundraising campaign, Grants for Change, has already allowed us to help make our community demonstrably more inclusive and responsive to the growing needs of writing students by disseminating scholarships to writers of color. 

With the support of individual donors like you, we have raised $35,000 for Grants for Change. You have played a significant role in the ongoing success of this campaign, and I am writing to ask that you help us continue this new fund’s growth with an end-of-the-year gift. This new scholarship fund gives Friends of Writers more flexibility in meeting the needs of our community, particularly during crises such as the pandemic and its extended impact. Our target for the year is to raise $100,000 of the $300,000 we will need to endow the fund. We are immensely grateful for your enthusiasm and generosity, and with your help, we will meet our goal. 

As hoped, we were able to give $5000 in scholarships from Grants for Change in early July 2021. A recipient of a grant, Nandini Bhattacharya wrote, “Receiving [support] from Friends of Writers is a validating experience. It allows me to feel that I am in a community and that I belong, despite all my inexperience and late arrival to creative writing as a vocation and an avocation. It also conveys to me that I am making progress in my trajectory and that people are watching over me. I am not alone in this tremendous adventure.” This January 2022, as we grow the endowment, we will also direct 5% of all donations we receive immediately to talented writers of color. 

In the past two years, Friends of Writers has awarded $200,000 in grants and scholarships—monies raised almost entirely through our fundraising efforts. In the first half of 2021, FOW awarded over $64,000 to students and alumni. It is due to your kindness and generosity that we were able to meet the growing financial needs of deserving writers. We hope we can always offer talented writers the confidence and community that are necessary for every writer’s development.

Together we can work toward equity in our community by amplifying historically marginalized and unheard voices. Please, give what you can this season to help us fulfill our promise of cultivating new and diverse literary voices. To donate, link to friendsofwriters.org/donate/. Or click on the button found on the sidebar.

As this challenging year comes to a close, I am reminded of how important this community is to my wellbeing and practice as a writer, and I thank you for your generosity and commitment. I wish you a healthy and creative 2022.

Sincerely, 

Abigail Wender

President, Friends of Writers

Join us on Friday, November 5, at 8 p.m. (Eastern) for a grand slam of a reading. For the first time, a roomful (Zoomful) of past Levis Prize winners! The big reveal of who will be reading and the registration link will be posted soon.

The Friends of Writers “It’s all a draft until you die” t-shirt campaign closes this Sunday, July 18, at 11:59 p.m. Going, going, going, almost gone! All funds raised will be used in support of scholarships.
Many thanks to Ellen Bryant Voigt for allowing us use of the quote. 


https://www.customink.com/fundraising/friends-of-writers-anniversary-fundraiser-7825?pc=TXN-167780&utm_campaign=fr_organizer_email&utm_content=friends-of-writers-anniversary-fundraiser-7825&utm_medium=social&utm_source=copy-link&side=back&type=2&zoom&fbclid=IwAR1rR6boEnPqyR132zgBPgyne9Xdy1C39C4PdObN9CaqyKhls4FER5hQ4ow

Read the Message on the FOW Home Page. http://friendsofwriters.org/friends-of-writers-45th-anniversary-celebration-regional-literary-events/

And a reminder that proposals for the Diversity and Inclusion Fellowships are due later this month. http://friendsofwriters.org/request-for-proposals-for-the-friends-of-writers-diversity-and-inclusion-project-fellowships/

NOTE: UPDATE ON ELIGIBILITY

Dear Friends and Supporters, 

During this summer’s Black Lives Matter protests, we heard from several writers in our community who asked how they could help writers of color. Friends of Writers has established a new fund, Grants for Change, that will direct support immediately toward writers of color, including international writers of color. These immediate grants will allow us to assist new and diverse voices, and encourage writing that more accurately reflects the world we all share. We hope you will contribute this December to Grants for Change.

While we work toward the endowment goal of $300,000, we will, immediately, make 5% of all donations received available to Black, indigenous, and people of color, including international writers in those groups, who demonstrate need and promise. The first awards will be given in July 2021. Friends of Writers board members have already contributed $25,000 to the new fund. Won’t you join us by making a contribution today?

Your contribution will support the ongoing work of achieving equity within our community and amplifying historically marginalized or unheard voices. Ultimately, Grants for Change will allow us to broaden the scope of our giving to include assistance towards creative writing studies, residencies, retreats, festivals, and other writing-related endeavors.

Your gift to Grants for Change will ensure support for writers in need. In these difficult times, your contribution is essential. To donate, please visit this link:  friendsofwriters.org/donate/.

Thank you for your generosity, and best wishes for 2021.

Dear Friends and Supporters, 

During this summer’s Black Lives Matter protests, we heard from several writers in our community who asked how they could help writers of color. Friends of Writers has established a new fund, Grants for Change, that will direct support immediately toward writers of color and international students. These immediate grants will allow us to assist new and diverse voices, and encourage writing that reflects the entire American experience. We hope you will contribute this December to Grants for Change.

Until we meet the endowment goal of $300,000, we will make 5% of donations available to Black, indigenous, and people of color, and international writing students who demonstrate need and promise. The first awards will be given in July 2021. Friends of Writers board members have already contributed $25,000 to the new fund. Won’t you join us by making a contribution today?

Your contribution will support the ongoing work of achieving equity within our community and amplifying historically marginalized or unheard voices. Ultimately, Grants for Change will allow us to broaden the scope of our giving to include assistance towards creative writing studies, residencies, retreats, festivals, and other writing-related endeavors.

Your gift to Grants for Change will ensure relief for writers in need. In these difficult times, your contribution is essential. To donate, please visit this link: friendsofwriters.org/donate/.

Thank you for your generosity, and best wishes for 2021.

Just a Few Weeks Left to Apply for the 2020 Levis Prizes of $5,000 for a First Book of Poetry and First Book of Fiction  

Thank you to all who have submitted materials for this year’s prize thus far, and best of luck to all.  If you’ve been mulling it over, contemplating whether or not to apply, please know that it isn’t too late to get your applications in…

If you needed a bit more encouragement, however, here’s what poet Jennifer Funk, one of last year’s recipients, recently had to say about what the winning this prize has meant for her life and work:

When I tell people I am writer—and it is because of Ellen Bryant Voigt I do this, she who was so adamant that if I had gone to the trouble of getting myself to and through Warren Wilson, I should damn well claim the legacy—I do say first, “I am a writer,” because to say first, “I am a poet,” inevitably, inevitably, elicits a remark to effect of, “Oh, how nice.  I mean, I don’t really get poems, but that’s great.”  One shrugs.  Why couldn’t I have chosen fiction?  But I never dreamed of being understood (deeply legible, narratively inclined poet though I inevitably, inevitably, am) and I never imagined being sought out by other people to read, let alone widely, let alone making any money.  Forget prizes or publishing, I could barely get the arms of my ambition around the notion of stringing several decent sentences together in a row.  And yet.  And yet, each writer’s relationship with ambition is particular and eventually, I did come to terms with the reality that if I was—really and for truly—going to claim the legacy, I had to not only protect my writing life, but preserve it and until we have (as I raise my progressive fist, one day!) abolished capitalism, one must finance one’s life, that is to say, all of one’s various lives.  


I applied to the Levis in the last hour the prize was open and I did so without flinching or with any great hope.  A penny in a well, that was all.  I hardly need to tell you of my tearful shrieking or my astonishment or the absurd privilege of having an additional 5k on hand in 2020.  Like so much else in my wee little life, to have won the Levis seems patently ridiculous, and yet.  And yet, I will tell you that for the first time I feel a certain duty—to my community, to the tradition of our craft, to the reckless world we live in—to keep writing.  To win was to hold myself accountable to the legacy, and to live a writing life in which I try to do us proud is one I am (eye roll away) lucky to live
.” 

As a reminder, 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.

Submissions will be accepted until January 8, 2021, and must be made via our new Submission Manager: https://www.levisprize.com/submissions/

You can find current submission guidelines here.  We look so forward to receiving your work!

Please feel free to direct any queries or requests for more information to:  

Nathan McClain

Levis Fellowship Administrator 

[email protected]