The annual Postgraduate Writers’ Conference at VCFA is a haven for serious, emerging practitioners seeking to connect, recharge, and lift their process and craft to new levels.
The heart of the conference’s unique model is intimate workshop groups limited to five or six writers, led by a member of our acclaimed faculty. This format allows for in-depth, far-reaching discussion of participants’ work. Beyond the daily group sessions, each member has an individual consultation with the workshop instructor. The schedule also features readings by faculty and participants, craft talks, generative writing sessions, and social events that galvanize our lively, inclusive community.
Each year, we assemble a luminous roster of conference instructors, including members of VCFA’s own award-winning MFA in Writing faculty. Writers are selected not only for the brilliance of their own work but for their devotion to teaching and support of the PWC philosophy. We are pleased to announce the lineup for August 2022:
“Best week of my writing life.” —Ann Carson DeWitt
“What a wonderful experience. It really felt like a conference of peers.” —Nathan Long
“There is something magical going on up there. I think you have perfected the writers’ conference as we know it.” —Lisa Hartz
“I love that there is no border between students and teachers. A true creative community.”—John Hudson
“One of the most positive experiences I’ve ever had, and definitely the most valuable conference I have attended.” —Rebecca Caum
The Postgraduate Writer
The majority of PWC participants have MFAs, whether from VCFA or other distinguished writing programs across the country. Others have PhDs, MAs, or graduate study in related disciplines. PWC also welcomes writers without graduate degrees who have garnered equivalent experience along different pathways. While we applaud an applicant’s publishing credits, they’re not a prerequisite. For us, it’s about the work and a writer’s desire to take it to the next level.
The small-group workshops meet daily, Tuesday through Saturday. Manuscripts are due in early July and distributed about four weeks ahead of our starting date to allow thoughtful preparation for group discussions. Depending on the genre and instructor, workshop sessions may include other activities beyond critiques, such as in-class exercises and consideration of additional texts and broader craft topics. Some groups take on “homework” during the week, including targeted revision assignments or generating new material.
Most days begin with a gentle, all-levels yoga class and then a guided generative writing session, followed by workshop group meetings. After lunch, faculty present craft talks or panels. Late afternoons feature our participant readings, always a conference highlight. The post-dinner spotlight shines on readings by faculty, with evenings capped off by a social gathering. Special events include a Friday night open-house party and campfire at the nearby home of the Conference Director and a group hike at Montpelier’s beautiful nature trail park.
PWC Format Note
Due to the pandemic, our 2020 and 2021 conferences were held remotely, informed by VCFA’s understanding that at this historically challenging time, perhaps more than ever, artists craved the sustaining immersion in craft and community. Building on the designs and approaches developed by our low-residency MFA programs, we were able to host marvelously effective, vibrant gatherings using Zoom, scheduled to accommodate participants across US time zones.
While we’re grateful for the success of the virtual conferences, we naturally look forward to once again coming together on our historic campus in Montpelier, Vermont’s small and charming state capital. As we launch the 2022 cycle, we are planning on an in-person event. If public health and safety considerations should dictate a different course as summer approaches, this page will provide current updates and information.
If you have an MFA or PhD in creative writing, you are automatically eligible to enroll in the conference. Registration is now open through our online form, which you can access through the button at the top of this webpage.
Thanks to our trademark small workshop size, conference groups do fill quickly. The online system does not indicate actual availability of spaces in specific workshops. You will be asked to list three workshop and faculty choices in order of preference. If you are not flexible about your placement, please be sure to check in with the Conference Director about openings BEFORE proceeding to register.
Once specific groups or genres are full, we continue to place interested writers on an active waiting list. Some spaces typically reopen due to cancellations, so it’s always worth touching base and taking a spot on the waiting list.
If you do not have a graduate degree in creative writing but would like to attend the conference based on your equivalent experience, please send a detailed letter of interest describing your writing and related background along with a five-page sample of your work (by file attachment) to Conference Director Ellen Lesser at [email protected]. Please note that, as a non-degree-holding candidate, you must complete this admissions process prior to registration.
Most attendees opt for on-campus housing, for the convenience and camaraderie. These are simple dormitory accommodations, with a choice of single or shared rooms, and shared baths except in special-needs situations (and subject to availability).
Dining service is provided in VCFA’s house-run cafeteria, available as a full plan or on a flexible, pay-per-meal basis. Participants can also enjoy beverages and light fare in our popular campus café or explore downtown Montpelier, with its great mix of “localvore” dining and drinking spots. The conference schedule features a few specially catered dinners, enjoyed outdoors on the VCFA Green as weather permits, including our legendary artisan Woodbelly Pizza night.
Tuition and Fees
- Non-refundable deposit due at time of registration: $200
- Standard workshops: $995
- Poetry Manuscript workshops: $1,175
- On-Campus Housing (optional): $370 single, $200 shared room
- Full Conference Meal Plan (optional): $230
We have funding available for partial scholarships, especially to support and encourage diversity and inclusion within our conference community. Email Conference Director Ellen Lesser at [email protected] to request a scholarship and state your level of need. Please also attach a description of your writing and related background and your aims for attending the conference, along with a brief (five-page) sample manuscript, if you’re not already submitting these as a candidate for conference admission.
Scholarships are awarded on a rolling basis, so early requests are encouraged.
PWC belongs to the Writers’ Centers & Conferences branch of AWP (The Association of Writers and Writing Programs), which sponsors the annual Kurt Brown Prize competition for three $500 scholarships to support attendance at member conferences in creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. For details visit the AWP website.