Although we can’t gather in person this week, we are offering an assortment of prompts and curated online content to nurture your writing and reading.

These materials are available for you to view on your own schedule for free; no registration or payment is required (though we won’t say no to a donation — see below for options).

Book titles link to Readers’ Books, our long-time conference bookseller. Your purchase supports this beloved community resource. Titles from this series are 15% off all week; the discount is applied automatically online, or if ordering by phone  or buying in person, mention the writers’ conference to claim it. Shipping and curbside pickup available!

Brenda Hillman | Faculty Poet – 1987 through 2018

Writing Prompt: My usual advice: Raise your standards but lower your expectations. The soul is experimental. Revise toward strangeness.

Latest Work: Extra Hidden Life, amongst the Days

Reading Now: I’m rereading work by Cesar Vallejo and Tongo Eisen-Martin, as well as a new book by Song Lin, Sunday Sparrows(translated by Jami Procter-Xu, former conferee) and Gillian Conoley’s wonderful A Little More Red Sun on the Human: New and Selected Poems. About to start Bosch’d by Joan Retallack.

Essential Viewing: Cracks in the Oracle Bone,” from The Poetry Foundation

Online Writings: Mysticpoetics: Writing the Alchemical Self in Brenda Hillman’s Poetry,” from Jacket2; “Extra Hidden Life, amongst the Days,” reviewed by Major Jackson for

Peter Ho Davies | Fiction Faculty – 2009, 2013, 2017

Writing Prompt: Mistaken Identity
It’s sometimes said of writers that we only ever write about two characters: ourselves and everyone else. This is an exercise in which we’ll try to write about both, at the same time.
View the full prompt (PDF download)

Latest Work: The Fortunes

Reading Now: John Edgar Wideman’s creative non-fiction Writing to Save a Life: The Louis Till File; Zachary Lazar’s novel Vengeance; and Jesmyn Ward’s edited volume of essays The Fire this Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race

Essential Viewing: Cultural Appropriation – Uh oh, No-no, or #appropo?,” Grub Street/Muse and the Marketplace Conference, 2018; “Reading: ‘Chance‘,” The Drum, 2014 — a story which is also the opening of Peter’s forthcoming novel, A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself

Online Writings: Only Collect: Something about the Short Story Collection“; “Done,” an essay about revision, ideas from which will be included in Peter’s The Art of Revision: The Last Word, a craft book forthcoming next year


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Even without a physical conference this year, our staff has been on the job, and we anticipate rising costs and increased need for scholarships as we move into planning for 2021 and beyond.

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Caffeinate & Donate!

A percentage of sales July 26-31 of the Writers’ Conference Blend from the Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Co. will be donated to the conference.

Buy Online for Home Delivery