The digital downloads from the 2017 WWC/MFA summer residency are now available.  Included in the bounty is this summer’s Tom Lux Tribute reading.  Download it for free with any purchase, or listen below!

Download Summer 2017 Lectures Here.

A Thomas Lux Tribute

Recorded at the July 2017 residency of the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.

In honor of former faculty member Thomas Lux (1946-2017), who taught in the MFA Program for Writers from 1979 until 2006, Stephen Dobyns, Brooks Haxton, Heather McHugh, and Alan Shapiro read from Lux’s poetry and offer remembrances of their friend and colleague.

Here’s the playlist:

Stephen Dobyns: “The Swimming Pool”
Brooks Haxton: “An Horatian Notion”
Heather McHugh: “The Milkman and His Son”
Alan Shapiro:  “I Love You Sweatheart”
Thomas Lux: “Snake Lake”
Here’s the link to “Snake Lake” originally published in the Atlantic.

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

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

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.

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

We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of our friend and colleague, poet Thomas Lux, who died of cancer on February 5 in Atlanta.
The author of 18 books of poetry, Tom joined the MFA Program for Writers at Goddard in 1979 and taught in the program at the Warren Wilson campus until 2006. In his 25+ semesters with the Program, he supervised more than 75 students. He also taught for many years at Sarah Lawrence, and, in recent years, at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
His numerous awards included the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and multiple fellowships from the NEA and Guggenheim Foundation. (More details about his accomplishments can be found here: POETRY FOUNDATION: TOM LUX.)   Most recently, Tom was the editor of I am Flying into Myself: Selected Poems of Bill Knott, to be published this month by Copper Canyon Press.
From MFA Program for Writers founder Ellen Bryant Voigt:
“Tom Lux was utterly pure of heart.  In his life, and in his indelible, authentic poems, he was playful, kind, generous, loyal, unpretentious, and capable of great joy.  He was also a truly remarkable teacher, making contagious his own love of poetry, simultaneously faithful to the highest standards for the art and his belief that you, whoever you were, could reach them.”
The appellation for the Program’s legendary “Sweatheart Ball” had its origins in this poem by Tom Lux:



The thing gets made, gets built, and you’re the slave
who rolls the log beneath the block, then another,
then pushes the block, then pulls a log
from the rear back to the front
again and then again it goes beneath the block,
and so on. It’s how a thing gets made – not
because you’re sensitive, or you get genetic-lucky,
or God says: Here’s a nice family,
seven children, let’s see: this one in charge
of the village dunghill, these two die of buboes, this one
Kierkegaard, this one a drooling

nincompoop, this one clerk, this one cooper.
You need to love the thing you do – birdhouse building,
painting tulips exclusively, whatever – and then
you do it
so consciously driven
by your unconscious
that the thing becomes a wedge
that splits a stone and between the halves
the wedge then grows, i.e., the thing
is solid but with a soul,
a life of its own. Inspiration, the donnée,

the gift, the bolt of fire
down the arm that makes the art?
Grow up! Give me, please, a break!
You make the thing because you love the thing
and you love the thing because someone else loved it
enough to make you love it.
And with that your heart like a tent peg pounded
toward the earth’s core.
And with that your heart on a beam burns
through the ionosphere.
And with that you go to work.

Friends of Writers is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 Larry Levis Post-Graduate Stipend: Edward Porter in Fiction for THE CHANGING STATION, and Ross White in Poetry for GUILT LEDGER. Each winner received $4000. The judge in fiction was Eileen Pollack.  The judge in poetry was Edward Hirsch.

Congratulations to Edward and Ross, and many thanks to everyone who applied. Both judges report that choosing just one winner in each category was a difficult decision, as there were so many high-quality entries.

In 2017 there will again be two awards, one in poetry and one in fiction. Submission guidelines will be available and the amount of the 2017 awards announced as of August 1, 2017, with submissions accepted beginning September 1.


We’re happy to announce that the 2017 Annual Goddard/WarrenWilson MFA Alumni Writing Conference will be held at Mount Holyoke College,South Hadley MA, from July 1 through July 8, 2017. A Short Stay option will beavailable July 4 through the 8th. South Hadley is convenient toBradley International Airport (BDL) and several stops on Amtrak’s Vermonterline. Prices and preliminary details can be found at 2017 Alumni Conference .


The words of alum, poet, and editor Ross White remain asright on as ever: “Nowhere is the spirit of what the program means to working writers moreevident than at the annual alumni conference. I remember being stunned to learnthat, upon graduation, alums gather and hold a residency, complete withclasses, lectures, panels, readings, and yes, even the dance. Whereas most MFAprograms send graduates into the world without so much as a walking stick, weget a yearly opportunity to revisit what made our MFA program amazing.”


Wallies! Submissions for the 2017 Levis Prizes close November 1, one week from today. Got a first-book manuscript you’re working on? Apply now!

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,

To the last syllable of recorded time…
You get it. You’re a writer. You’re acutely aware that time is passing and we’re all gonna die. 
Now, before dusty death claims you – OK, long before that point, I suggest – submit your manuscript for the 2017 Levis Prizes
Submissions are open now through November 1. Alums who haven’t yet published a full-length collection in the selected genre are eligible.

Tick, tick, tick.