Founded in 2004, the Juniper Initiative for Literary Arts and Action engages the community at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, in Western Massachusetts, and beyond with outstanding and diverse literary programming and provides opportunities for MFA candidates to develop professional skills, participate in critical issues of the day, and cultivate a network of professional and academic colleagues. As a national focal point and regional home for literary art, the Juniper Initiative offers a dynamic range of programs including:
Visiting Writers Series
This world-class reading series is free and open to the public, presenting emerging and established writers of poetry and fiction. The series provides students and the community opportunities to interact with living writers.
Juniper Literary Festival / Admitted Students Weekend
This weekend aims to introduce our newly admitted Poets and Writers to the vibrant literary community here at UMass and the Pioneer Valley as a whole, with panels and readings featuring current students and alumni.
Juniper Summer Writing Institute
This week-long residency on the UMass Amherst campus is an opportunity to practice living with your art at the center of your life; it is a week to imagine with wild invention as you mingle, experiment, and take chances; it is a chance to connect with writers, poets and artists from around the country who value what prose, poetry, word, image, fiction, essay, memoir and autobiography can do. Juniper encourages participants to explore the creative process and develop new approaches to the craft of writing through workshops in poetry, fiction, and memoir; craft sessions; and readings. The Institute welcomes applications from writers at all stages of their careers. For more information about scholarships and application deadlines, visit the Summer Institute website. The Institute runs annually mid-June.
MFA candidates gain literary arts management experience as Institute Director’s Assistants (one poet and one fiction writer work in tandem for 2-3 years as paid student employees); undergraduate students gain experience in arts administration in work/study positions. These jobs offer significant opportunities in marketing, program coordination, and event planning.
Juniper Institute for Young Writers
For high school students who have completed their 9th-grade year, this week-long residency offers a pre-college experience with a literary arts focus on the UMass Amherst campus. Dynamic multi-genre workshops in fiction and poetry, as well as craft sessions, studio courses, field trips, salons, and open mics, give young writers an opportunity to live the writer’s life. For more information about scholarships and application deadlines, visit the Young Writer website.
MFA candidates have the opportunity to apply for positions to teach in the Young Writer program, gaining experience in developing mixed genre curricula and working with high school students. The Institute for Young Writers runs annually at the end of July.
Writers @ Work
This professional development series explores the wide range of careers in which writers and other artists apply their skills, pursue their passions, and earn their livings. Here students gain unparalleled access to a diverse group of professionals including agents and editors.
Juniper Literary Prizes in Fiction, Poetry, and Creative Nonfiction.
For poetry, the judges award one prize for a first book of poems, and they select a second winner for an author who has been published previously. For fiction, the judges choose a novel and a collection of short stories. One prize is awarded for a work of creative nonfiction, including (but not limited to) essays, biography, literary journalism, or memoir.
MFA candidates read for these nationally recognized annual book prizes.