A HOMELAND FOR WRITERS
Macondo Writers Workshop Guest Faculty in 2023
Sandra Cisneros / Ruth Behar – Uncensoring the Self: Writing From Our Taboos
When we write from our taboos, we find the passion to tell the stories we’ve repressed and uncensor ourselves. We will explore how to transform our taboos so we aren’t silenced and can bear witness to the stories that fill us with shame. The three novellas we have suggested for our workshop are Tennessee Williams, The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone; Gwendolyn Brooks, Maud Martha; Merce Rodoreda, The Time of the Doves (originally written in Catalan and available in Spanish, La plaza del diamante). The workshop will be generative and we will be writing during the week.
Click for Sandra's bio
Born in Chicago, Sandra Cisneros is internationally acclaimed for her poetry and fiction, which has been translated into more than twenty-five languages. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including NEA Fellowships in both poetry and fiction, a MacArthur Fellowship, the Texas Medal of the Arts, the PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature, the National Medal of Arts, and, most recently, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. Her novel The House on Mango Street has sold nearly 8 million copies and is required reading in schools at all levels. As a single woman, Cisneros made the choice to have books instead of children. Cisneros is a dual citizen of the United States and Mexico and earns her living by her pen.
Click for Ruth's bio
As a storyteller, anthropologist, poet, teacher, and public speaker, Ruth Behar is acclaimed for the compassion she brings to her quest to understand the depth of the human experience. She made her fiction debut with the Pura Belpré Award-winning Lucky Broken Girl, a novel for young readers about how the worst of wounds can teach a child a lesson about the fragile, precious beauty of life. Her subsequent young adult novel, Letters from Cuba, is inspired by her maternal grandmother’s escape from Poland to Cuba on the eve of WWII. Her newest book, a picture book, Tía Fortuna’s New Home, explores the Sephardic heritage on the paternal side of her family. She is also the co-author of a forthcoming picture book, Pepita Meets Bebita, written with her son Gabriel Frye-Behar, a Macondista, which will be out in fall 2023. She is currently at work on a new novel focusing on four girls living in different historical eras – from 15th century Spain to 20th century Turkey and Cuba, ending in 21st century Miami – seeking freedom during revolutionary times.
Born in Havana, Cuba, Ruth grew up in New York, and has also lived in Spain and Mexico. A 25th anniversary edition of her classic book, The Vulnerable Observer: Anthropology That Breaks Your Heart, will be out in fall 2022. Her chronicle-style memoirs, An Island Called Home and Traveling Heavy, as well as her bilingual poetry book, Everything I Kept/Todo lo que guardé, explore her search for home as an immigrant and a traveler. She was the first Latina to win a MacArthur “Genius” Grant, and her honors also include a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a Distinguished Alumna Award from Wesleyan University, and being named a “Great Immigrant” by the Carnegie Corporation as well as being elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is a distinguished professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan and lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Non-Fiction (virtual instruction)
Ishmael Reed – Essay Writing Workshop
This non-fiction class will be a manuscript workshop experience. Participants will submit three, 750-word essays to the instructor and classmates in advance of the workshop. Workshop participants will read, review, and comment on each other’s work ahead of the workshop week. This class will physically meet in-person, however, note that the instructor for this workshop will be remote and zooming in on a large screen into the classroom. There will be an in-person Macondista facilitator who will assist Mr. Reed and facilitate the in-person activities and group experience.
Click for Ishmael's bio
Ishmael Reed is the author of novels, plays, poetry, and non-fiction and has received prizes in every category. The University of California at Berkeley’s 2020 Distinguished Emeritus Awardee and 2022 recipient of the Anisfield-Wolf Lifetime Achievement Award, a new edition of Mumbo Jumbo (Scribner’s, 2022), including an introduction by Reed, commemorates its 50 years in print. It was cited by Harold Bloom as one of 500 great books of the Western Canon and called “among my top ten books of all time,” by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Among his most recent publications are the novella, The Man Who Haunted Himself, (audible.com, 2022); the novel The Terrible Fours (Baraka Books, 2021); Why the Black Hole Sings the Blues: Poems 2007-2020 (Dalkey Archive Press, 2020); the essay collection, Why No Confederate Statues in Mexico (Baraka Books, 2019); the play The Haunting of Lin-Manuel Miranda (Archway Editions, 2020); and a CD of his compositions, The Hands of Grace, which comes in 47 of the top 50 albums of the year. His author website is located at www.ishmaelreedpub.org.
Photo Credit: Tennessee Reed
Sharon Bridgforth – Finding Voice
Within the context of the personal as political, Bridgforth will use her Finding Voice Facilitation Method* to walk participants through a process of developing work. The goal of this workshop is to strengthen collective connection and individual artistic voice by focusing on creative process, virtuosity, improvisation, innovation, the art of being present, and listening. Focus will be on writing exercises, improvisation, discussions, and the development of work. Organically this workshop deepens one’s ability to fully embody, and present one’s artistic vision.
“I believe that life and art are not separate. It is important that artists integrate all aspects of themselves, their histories, identities and beliefs into the creation process and into the vision of their lives as artists. As artists we document the cultures, place(s), issues, and times we live in. Who are you? Where are you from? Who Yo People Is? This is the bone and marrow of the work. These are the areas of focus for our time together.” – Sharon Bridgforth
* The Finding Voice Method walks participants through a process of giving voice to identity-culture-memory-family histories-dreams to articulate and examine the socio-political realities of their lives. The Finding Voice FacilitationManual is published in, Experiments in a JazzAesthetic: Art, Activism, Academia, and the AustinProject. Edited by Dr. Omi Osun Joni L. Jones, Dr.Lisa L. Moore, and Sharon Bridgforth. 2010 University of Texas Press.
Click for Sharon's bio
A 2022 Winner of Yale’s Windham Campbell Prize in Drama, Sharon Bridgforth is 2020-2023 Playwrights’ Center Core Member, a 2022-2023 McKnight National Fellow and a New Dramatists alumnae. She has received support from The Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, Creative Capital, MAP Fund and the National Performance Network. Her work is featured in Teaching Black: The Craft of Teaching on Black Life and Literature, Mouths of Rain an Anthology of Black Lesbian Thought, Feminist Studies Vol 48 Number 1, honoring 40 years of This Bridge Called by Back and But Some of Us Are Brave! Sharon’s new book, bull-jean & dem/dey back (53rd State Press 10/2022) features two performance/novels that will be produced by Pillsbury House + Theatre in Minneapolis 2022/2023.
Rigoberto González – Elevating Language
In this poetry workshop, we will be examining each poem’s linguistic landscape and amplifying its strengths through the use of diction, syntax, rhythm, imagery, and other key elements of craft. Participants will also be expected to attempt a series of writing exercises that highlight the linguistic pleasures of poetry.
Click for Rigoberto's bio
Rigoberto González is the author of nineteen books of poetry and prose. His awards include Lannan, Guggenheim, NEA, NYFA, and USA Rolón fellowships, the PEN/Voelcker Award, the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation, the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets, and the Shelley Memorial Prize from the Poetry Society of America. A contributing editor for Poets & Writers Magazine, he is the series editor for the Camino del Sol Latinx Literary Series at the University of Arizona Press. Currently, he’s Distinguished Professor of English and the director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Rutgers-Newark, the State University of New Jersey.
What is the Macondo Writers Workshop?
The Macondo Writers Workshop is an association of socially-engaged writers working to advance creativity, foster generosity, and serve the community. Founded in 1995 by poet and writer Sandra Cisneros and named after the town in Gabriel García Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, the workshop gathers writers from all genres who work on geographic, cultural, economic, gender, and spiritual borders. An essential aspect of the Macondo Workshop is a global sense of community; participants recognize their place as writers in our society and the world. We are also experienced writers who demonstrate a professional or master’s level of writing. Qualified applicants must meet both criteria. Excellent writing does not excuse poor community spirit; vice-versa, an impressive record of community involvement does not excuse poor writing. Macondo is a gift we give to one another, with willing hands and open hearts.
Macondo Writers Workshop is a weeklong experience for professional writers that is made up of daily workshops with guest faculty, optional afternoon seminars, and evening public readings. We normally hold the workshop annually the last week of July in San Antonio, Texas.
In your first year as a new member, you must participate in a workshop. However, if you return to the Macondo Writers Workshop in the future, you have the option of coming as either a workshop participant or as a Chuparosa (hummingbird), a designation for Macondistas who choose to come and work independently during the workshop time, but who participate in seminars, readings, and within the wider community activities during our week together. Returning Macondistas do not have to reapply to come back again, but they do need to submit an application for the workshop they would like to join, or sign up as a Chuparosa.
When you apply for the workshop, whether you are new or returning Macondista, you select the workshop that you would like to join. We offer workshops across different genres (fiction, poetry, non-fiction, etc.) and each year we invite different distinguished guest faculty. Some past faculty have included: the Poet Ai, Joy Harjo, Julia Alvarez, Helena María Viramontes, Marjorie Agosín, Ruth Behar, Leslie Marmon Silko, Richard Blanco, Sandra Cisneros, John Phillip Santos, Dorothy Allison, Sherwin Bitusi, Luis Rodríguez, Joy Castro, Manuel Muñoz, and others. Acceptance to workshops is based on availability, with workshops generally limited to ten participants.
The Poet Ai
Allison Adelle Hedge Coke
John Phillip Santos
Leslie Marmon Silko
Helena María Viramontes
What does the workshop experience look like?
The workshops are either generative workshops or reading/response workshops. In reading/response workshops, all the participants and faculty read and comment on the manuscripts (usually 10-20 pages) of all their workshop cohort ahead of Macondo. During the workshop week, participants meet every morning for three hours and give feedback to two writers in the workshop each day. These morning sessions are confidential and it is mandatory that all participants attend and participate fully. Generative workshops do not require submission of manuscripts. The writing and sharing of writing happens within the workshop week.
As a participant you agree to abide by the Compassionate Code of Conduct, a charter our members have developed to make this workshop experience different. You can expect critical insight and critique, but this is made within a kind, generous, and generative community. Many lasting friendships, collaborations, and projects have grown out of this space. Our mission, then, is to help each other create community, assist others as activist writers, and to continually grow to be better, more empathic, compassionate individuals.
Who can apply?
You! We are a group of experienced writers who demonstrate a professional or master’s level of writing. The workshop gathers writers from all genres who work on geographic, cultural, economic, gender, and spiritual borders. Qualified applicants must meet both high writing standards and dedicated community involvement. It is a highly competitive process and you must be willing and able to offer rigorous, helpful critiques. Excellent writing does not excuse poor community spirit; vice-versa, an impressive record of community involvement does not excuse poor writing. Please review the application for additional details.
Each year we accept no more than ten new Macondistas. It is a highly competitive process, and writers who do not get accepted are welcome to reapply again in the future. We add a small cohort each year to make sure that we have the resources and space to accommodate their participation and experience. Once you have been accepted you can apply to return to future workshops.
At this time we do not have formal requirements for members. We strongly encourage active engagement. Stay in touch with Macondo, share accomplishments and publications, give back regularly, and volunteer to help!
How do you apply?
Workshop applications/registration for the 2024 workshop will open in the first week of January 2024. All essential information is detailed in the application form which is made available via an application form on our website. If you have general questions, please email [email protected].
How are applications assessed?
The reading panels, one for each genre, are comprised of a rotating volunteer panel of Macondistas. The applications are anonymized and judged on strength of essay and writing samples based on the criteria described in the application. Acceptance is based on availability, with workshops generally limited to ten participants.
What are this year’s deadlines?
Applications open annually in January and the deadline for the application materials and a small fee is due in early February. Accepted participants will be notified in early April.
When is the Macondo Writers Workshop held?
The Macondo Writers Workshop will be held in-person at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. The workshop begins with a Welcome Dinner on Tuesday evening, July 23rd, 2024 and concludes on Sunday, July 28th, 2024.
Can I defer my acceptance?
Because of the logistical difficulties involved, at this time we do not allow accepted participants to defer their admission. If they are unable to attend the year that they are admitted, they must reapply to join again in the future.
How much does it cost?
We aim to keep workshop costs as low as possible to maximize participation. Workshop costs will be posted at the same time as the applications open in January 2024.
Are there scholarships or financial assistance available?
There are no waivers to cover the workshop application and processing fee. A limited amount of partial scholarships will be available to accepted participants to attend the workshop, with preference for first-time Macondistas. This amount varies based on how the amount of donations that come in.
Are there ways that I participate if I’m not a member?
Yes! Our workshop week always includes free readings that are open to the public. We also periodically hold events, readings, and fundraisers throughout the year, including a virtual gathering in April to celebrate National Poetry Month and to raise scholarship funds.