A HOMELAND FOR WRITERS
Writing with New Light by Nelly Rosario
The Writing with New Light four-day workshop honors the work of two organizations that continue to “advance creativity, foster generosity, and serve the community” among Latinx writers and artists: Macondo and En Foco, Inc. This generative writing workshop invites Macondistas to begin or build upon original literary projects through new ekphrastic writings inspired by photographs from En Foco’s Nueva Luz archive. Founded in 1974, En Foco, Inc. is a non-profit that supports contemporary primarily U.S.-based photographers of color, making their work visible to the art world, yet remaining accessible to under-serviced communities. In 1985, En Foco launched Nueva Luz, an ongoing art publication that addresses social and cultural issues at the fore of photography, with a particular emphasis on narratives from artists of color. Macondistas will engage Nueva Luz’s rich collection of visual imagery through description, ventriloquism, interrogation, and testimonio that align with personal project goals. The workshop involves writing prompts, readings on craft, and discussions aimed at strengthening narrative elements, including characterization, plot, dialogue, setting, and point of view.
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Nelly Rosario is the author of Song of the Water Saints: A Novel, winner of a PEN/Open Book Award and shortlisted for a Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University, and her fiction and creative nonfiction work appears in various journals and anthologies, most recently in Critical Diálogos in Latina and Latino Studies (New York University Press, 2021) and Teaching Black: Pedagogy, Practice, and Perspectives on Writing (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2021). She is the recipient of a Sherwood Anderson Award in Fiction and a Creative Capital Artist Award in Literature. Rosario has been on the writing faculties of The City College- CUNY, Texas State University- San Marcos, Columbia University, and is currently a tenured associate professor in the Latina/o Studies Program at Williams College.
The World in Full By Dorothy Allison
A traditional non-fiction workshop that focuses on how we use storytelling to heal the heart or break it.
All storytelling is virtual. As writers we seek to create not just a voice on the page, but a full depiction of the world in our imaginations. Non-fiction storytelling is complicated by an implied contract with the reader—that what we tell is true in the large sense. The use of voice can shape how we render our experience or observations—what the reader will believe or question or link to their own lives. We swim in language, always from an approach that questions, challenges, and at its best reveals not only what we have experienced but how we can shape life on the page. Always we are tentative even as we seek to be revelatory.
“I am only telling you this to make you leave me alone.” “I am telling you this so you will know what I know.” “I tell you this to remake what you believe, what you question, and what you assume to be the truth.” “I am not lying, I am reaching past myself.”
Writing is ruthless. As a teacher so am I. I want your world remade on the page. I want to know what you know. I will push you to make your work true in the largest sense–telling us what you know that no one else knows, what you question, what you fear, and most of all what you are trying to understand. You will be asked to read your work out loud, so that we can hear your voice, and hopefully make it stronger, more powerful, and more true. Most of all I want to know what you are trying to understand, a naked rendition of how you have become who you are and what you yet hope to become. Always you are a writer, a liar, a truth-teller, a fabulist, and a seer.
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Dorothy Allison is the author of the prize-winning novels, Bastard out of Carolina and Cavedweller, the non-fiction memoir Two or Three Things I know for Sure, the short story collection, Trash, the essay collection Skin, and the book of poetry, The Women Who Hate Me. A popular teacher, Ms. Allison has been Emory University’s Distinguished Writer in residence, as well as the Writer in Residence at Columbia College in Chicago, and the McGee Professor at Davidson College in North Carolina.
Landscapes, Borderscapes, and Truth in Storytelling By Kristen Iversen
From radioactive and toxic environmental poisoning in metropolitan areas to the devastating health and environmental consequences of uranium mining on native lands, on how the U.S. border wall has affected wildlife, groundwater, communities: as writers we bear a responsibility to investigate and reveal the deadly environmental legacy we face, particularly in underrepresented cultures and communities. This generative writing workshop is designed to help you explore the ways in which you can address pressing environmental issues in the US and its borderlands. How can storytelling reveal long-suppressed and hidden truths? How does creative writing inform and help shape public and institutional debate? Can it, directly or indirectly, affect environmental policy? What stories have you personally lived, or faced, or wish to investigate? We will explore how literary nonfiction writing can expose current environmental topics and concerns and support new ways of creatively thinking and writing about the environment. Short readings will be springboards for the writing process to explore and critique topical environmental and social justice issues.
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Kristen Iversen is the author of the award-winning Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats (Crown), chosen by universities around the country for their Common Read programs and now forthcoming as a documentary and television series. Two-time winner of the Colorado Book Award, her books include Molly Brown: Unraveling the Myth; Shadow Boxing: Art and Craft in Creative Nonfiction; and the forthcoming books Friend and Faithful Stranger: Nikola Tesla in the Gilded Age and a collection of essays, Wide and Generous World. She is also editor of Doom with a View: Historical and Cultural Contexts of the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant and co-editor of the anthology Don’t Look Now: Things We Wish We Hadn’t Seen. Iversen writes about social and environmental issues and her nonfiction and fiction has appeared in The New York Times, The Nation, Hotel Amerika, American Scholar, and others. She has taught at universities around the country and abroad and is currently Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Cincinnati, where she is also Literary Nonfiction Editor of The Cincinnati Review. In 2021 Iversen was chosen as a Fulbright Scholar to the University of Bergen, Norway.
Poetics of the Translingual Américas By Urayoán Noel
In this generative workshop, we will use examples of some translingual poetics from across the Américas as points of departure for our own writing and thinking. Beyond reductive and imperially weighted genealogies of the bilingual, we will engage a range of vernacular Englishes, Spanishes, and Spanglishes, as well as Creole and Indigenous poetics. In making room for embodied poetics, on and off the page, this workshop is animated by García and Wei’s (2013) crucial concept of translanguaging, understood as “the expanded and complex practices of speakers who could not avoid having had languages inscribed in their bodies.” Understood this way, the translingual thus haunts even so-called monolingual poetics, and it provides a way of working together from our differences, across our many borders and diasporas. While we will respond to some translingual poetics individually and as a group, no special language skills are needed or implied, and all are free to pursue work that aligns with their own interests, beyond the workshop topic.
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Urayoán Noel is the author of eight books of poetry, most recently Transversal and Buzzing Hemisphere/Rumor Hemisférico, both with the University of Arizona Press. Forthcoming from Catafixia Editorial in Guatemala is 24/7: Obra Poética Escrita, 2000-2020, edited by José Miguel Curet. He has also published the critical study In Visible Movement: Nuyorican Poetry from the Sixties to Slam (University of Iowa Press), winner of the LASA Latino Studies Section Book Prize. Noel has been a finalist for the National Translation Award and the Best Translated Book Award, and his translation of two artist books by Puerto Rican poet Nicole Cecilia Delgado, Adjacent Islands, is forthcoming with Ugly Duckling Presse. His international performances include Poesiefestival Berlin, Barcelona Poesia, Enclave Global (México), and the Toronto Biennial of Art, and his poetry has been exhibited at the Museum of the City of New York, Taller Boricua, and the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico. Originally from Río Piedras, Puerto Rico, Noel lives in the Bronx and serves on the board of the Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural and Educational Center. He teaches at New York University and at Stetson University’s MFA of the Americas. Urayóan is on Twitter: @urayoannoel and online at urayoannoel.com
Why YA? A Young Adult Fiction Workshop by Jennifer De Leon
Young Adult fiction—a relatively new term that was coined in the 60s—has gained much popularity in recent years. YA readership has exploded, and not just among teens. So, what makes a YA novel successful? In this workshop we will lift the hood and take apart the engine—examining the tried-and-true elements of fiction including character, voice, point of view, dialogue, plot, setting, and more—through a YA lens, and we will consider popular themes in YA: coming-of-age narratives, self-identity, friendship, family, and social justice. Our class sessions will include generative writing exercises, and workshopping of student work. Participants will submit up to 10 pages which will be critiqued by all members of the workshop. In addition, and because nobody writes in a vacuum, we will read brief excerpts by YA authors in order to apply similar strategies to our own pages. Finally, we will also have time to discuss the submission process and how to break into the market. Why YA? Come find out!
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Jennifer De Leon is author of the YA novel Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From (Simon & Schuster) which was chosen as a Junior Library Guild selection, and the essay collection White Space: Essays on Culture, Race, & Writing (UMass Press), which is a recipient of the Juniper Prize in Creative Nonfiction. She is also the editor of Wise Latinas: Writers on Higher Education (University of Nebraska Press), an anthology that won an International Latino Book Award. An Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Framingham State University and faculty member in the MFA in Program at Bay Path University, she has published prose in over a dozen literary journals including Ploughshares, Iowa Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, and more. A long-time GrubStreet Creative Writing Center instructor and board member, Jenn makes her home outside the Boston area with her husband and two sons. Her next YA novel, Maya, is forthcoming in August, 2022. Also on the way are two children’s picture books—So Many Gifts, and a biography of Nobel Peace Prize winner, Rigoberta Menchú.
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
Leslie Marmon Silko
Helena María Viramontes
John Phillip Santos
Allison Adelle Hedge Coke
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 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?
This year’s deadline has already past. The annual application deadline is normally in February each year and applicants are notified of acceptance in March.
When is the Macondo Writers Workshop held?
Traditionally, the Macondo Writers Workshop is held in San Antonio, Texas during the last week of July annually. In 2022 we are hosting a virtual workshop event via Trinity University due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are planning a return to in-person summer workshop at Trinity University in summer 2023.
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?
The 2022 virtual workshop costs are significantly lower. It is $400 for virtual workshop classes. It is $100 for Chuparosa “No Frills” and $150 for Chuparosa con Ganas, a category which includes a one-hour writing consultation with a Macondista. Please note that the Chuparosa category is only open to returning Macondistas.
Are there scholarships or financial assistance available?
There are limited partial scholarships available, and the amount that is available from year to year varies depending on funds and donations. For more information please contact Pat Alderete, the Applications Administrator at Macondoapplication@gmail.com.
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.
Please check back for applications to the 2023 Macondo Writers Workshop in January.