Writers ought to do something like this once a year, for solidarity and posterity.
I often feel alone in this creative writing world, so it was jaw dropping to be able to talk to others about what we all do in isolation. Fantastic people.
Every summer, the Juniper Institute gathers a community of writers to explore the creative process and develop new approaches to the craft of writing.
At the heart of the Institute are intensive workshops in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Writers generate new work and share that work or other work-in-progress with an assigned faculty member and a core group of peers. We keep our workshop numbers small so that every writer’s work gets dedicated attention.
Morning craft sessions offer writers a chance to talk with faculty and writers in residence about varied topics of interest, writers’ lives, books, and the state of contemporary letters. Sessions may also explore techniques, themes, and forms. Many craft session facilitators invite participants to try out writing exercises and exchange ideas.
On alternating mornings, the Juniper community gathers for moderated Q&As with one of the previous night’s readers. These conversations add depth and spontaneity to the week’s curriculum. Together, craft sessions and Q&As give Juniper participants numerous opportunities to engage with the Institute's distinguished faculty and writers in residence.
Each evening features dynamic readings by Juniper faculty and writers in residence. Common meals and open-mic readings are both held at the charming and historic University Club—a home base for participants to engage with their fellow writers. The daily schedule also includes free time for writing, relaxing, socializing, and enjoying the many charms of the Pioneer Valley.
A typical day’s schedule looks something like this:
10:30 Craft Sessions or Q&A
12:00 Lunch at the University Club
4:00 Open-mics for Juniper participants
7:30 Readings by Institute faculty and writers in residence
It was great to have the chance to hear the authors speak after hearing a reading of their work. It helped to put their writing intentions in context and provide insight into their process.
The food was excellent, exceeding my expectations, and the lunches were good places for conversations to develop.
Institute tuition does not include housing. Participants choose accommodations that best suit their needs. Upon acceptance, applicants receive information about a range of convenient options, including suite-style university residence halls ($44/night), campus and area hotels, inns, and B&Bs.
With ties to writers like Robert Frost, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Sylvia Plath, and W. E. B. Dubois, New England has one of the country’s richest literary traditions. Amherst’s most famous author might be Emily Dickinson, whose homestead draws visitors from all over the world. Juniper participants who visit the Emily Dickinson House frequently report experiencing a profound connection to the area’s literary heritage. Amherst and Northampton are also home to The Eric Carle Museum, the Yiddish Book Center, and a host of restaurants, independent bookstores, cinemas, and is driving distance from the neighboring Berkshires.
The Juniper Institute seeks to create a diverse community of writers. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Workshops fill quickly, so early application is recommended.
The Institute awards several work-study scholarships and scholarship grants on the basis of need and merit. Scholarship applications must be postmarked by March 16, 2015.
Tuition of $1,350 includes all Institute activities, daily lunch, a welcome dinner, and a farewell reception. Academic credit is available.
Space allowing, individuals may audit the Institute for a fee of $300, which includes craft sessions, Q&As, and evening readings only. Auditors do not attend workshops, and there is an additional cost for community meals.
All participants receive detailed attention to their writing in workshop. For those interested, a limited number of private manuscript consultations with faculty or writers in residence are available for a fee of $150.