A HOMELAND FOR WRITERS
Macondo Writers Workshop Guest Faculty in 2024
Starting from the Middle | Naomi Shihab Nye
“I think a poem begins out of what you don’t know and you begin not by having a good idea but by hearing something in the language.”
“More and more often I think the rare treasure I gather in writing poems in the awareness I would not have without writing them. Can that state of awareness be communicated through a poem? Can the poem be a secret machine carried on a little scrap of paper or hidden in the mind, so one can always have a place to rest, to resist?
I also hope for the possibility of communion, both with the hidden parts of myself and with imagined readers. One can believe for a moment that one is no longer lonely.
…you can start a poem by putting one or two lines in the middle of the page and then writing out from them, alternating a line before and then one after…It’s always better to start with a phrase, however ordinary, than an idea, however grand.”
— Matthew Zapruder
Middle of our thoughts, lives, summer, hopes, worries, writing experiences. Please bring with you many scraps of paper on which you have written things in the past – ripped from notebooks, retrieved from drawers, back corners of your desks…bits and pieces, could span years. They do not have to go together, in fact, better if they don’t. YOU, yourself, are the thread stitching them together. Or, you will find some new threads you didn’t even know existed, or make them, and hopefully go away feeling richer in material even than before.
This will be a generative writing/discussion workshop open to all genres. Come with an open heart, a lack of self-criticism or criticism of others, a lot of paper and pencils or pens. Also feel free to bring a favorite poem by someone else which has girded you through the past year. Amen. See you!
Click for Naomi's bio
Naomi Shihab Nye is Palestinian-American writer, editor and educator who grew up in St. Louis, Jerusalem, and San Antonio, Texas, where she continues to live. She has been Young People’s Poet Laureate for the U.S. (Poetry Foundation), poetry editor for the New York Times magazine, and The Texas Observer, and a visiting writer in hundreds of schools and communities all over the world. Her books include Everything Comes Next, The Tiny Journalist, Voices in the Air, Sitti’s Secrets, Habibi, This Same Sky, & The Tree is Older than You Are: Poems & Paintings from Mexico. Her volume 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East, was a finalist for the National Book Award. The Turtle of Oman and The Turtle of Michigan have both been part of the Little Read program, North Carolina. She received Lifetime Achievement Awards from The Texas Institute of Letters and the National Book Critics Circle.
The Photographic Poem | Richard Blanco
Whether candid snapshots, cell phone images, or formal portraits, photographs are replete with conscious and subconscious stories to mine. Participants will use their personal photographs as prompts to write poems that explore their emotional responses to those stories—some resonant, evocative, perhaps treasured, perhaps troubling—but guaranteed to spark creative responses. We will then take new photographs of our own to explore how our poetic eye—like the eye of a camera—focuses and frames our experiences; we’ll then “redevelop” these photos into poems. All poems will be shared in workshop sessions as we continue to investigate the relationships between imagery, imagination, and story. In addition, through interactive lectures, exercises, and readings of various illustrative poems, we will dive deeper into some of the core techniques of poetry, namely: sensory details, modulation of the poetic line, figurative language, and linguistic musicality.
Click for Richard's bio
Richard Blanco was selected by President Obama as the fifth Presidential Inaugural Poet in U.S. history. Blanco was the youngest, the first Latinx, immigrant, and gay person to serve in that role. In 2023, Blanco was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Biden from the NEH. Born in Madrid to Cuban exile parents and raised in Miami in a working-class family, Blanco’s negotiation of cultural identity and the universal themes of place and belonging characterize his many collections of poetry, including his most recent, Homeland of My Body. Blanco serves as Education Ambassador for The Academy of American Poets and Poet Laureate of Miami-Dade County, and is an Associate Professor at Florida International University.
Cultivating Chaos | Cristina García
This workshop will encourage you to make a mess—to allow your stories, and novels, and poems to unspool in unpredictable, organic ways; to welcome what surprises and disturbs you. Over controlling your writing (too soon) often kills the spontaneous gifts that come with the embrace of what we only dimly perceive, of the mysterious and the random that can so enliven our work.
We can’t always describe this mystery, this wildness, but we recognize it: the strange, ineluctable, jagged-edged power of the wonderfully, dangerously unexpected. The feeling that the world, as we thought we knew it, has irrevocably changed. It might be a single image, or a startling convergence of events, or a devastating utterance that, for an instant, illuminates a character. Great poetry and prose are replete with these moments, moments that alter our perceptions and challenge us, as poet Simon Ortiz says, to “the vastness we do not enter.”
In this workshop, we will enter this vastness of unknowing, and emerge with fifteen-plus pages of new writing. We will cultivate mystery, invite it into our work, harness the wildness without domesticating its energies. We will create from a sense of mission, and discovery, and relentless curiosity. And we will learn how to do this consistently enough to make a lasting, vivid difference in our writing.
Click for Christina's bio
Christina García is the author of eight novels including Dreaming in Cuban, The Agüero Sisters, Monkey Hunting, A Handbook to Luck, The Lady Matador’s Hotel, King of Cuba, Here in Berlin, and the most recent, Vanishing Maps. García’s work has been nominated for a National Book Award and translated into fifteen languages. She’s taught at universities nationwide and is currently Resident Playwright at Central Works Theater in Berkeley.
Chronicles of Desire | Cherríe Moraga
Shunryu Suzuki writes: In the beginner’s mind there is no thought, ‘I have attained something.’ All self-centered thoughts limit our vast mind. When we have no thought of achievement, no thought of self, we are true beginners. Then we can really learn something.
In the spirit of ‘zen mind/beginner mind’, this workshop begins simply with the blank page – that abundant place of ‘zero’ understood by the MesoAmerican scribes. The project of our meeting together is to help us uncover more deeply the ‘why’ and ‘want’ of one’s writing process as a kind of “Chronicle of Desire.”
On the road to that inquiry, our workshop will largely be spent engaged in generative writing exercises as points of departure. Each workshop session will allow time for “feedback/problem-solving” of particular pieces, as they emerge organically within the context of the workshop. In our short time together, we will discuss longer-term questions of narrative structures, characterizations, research, dialogue and more.
At some point in our week together, each student will be required to meet in a very short one-on-one “interview” with la Maestra (a zen retreat practice, which I’ve found to be especially beneficial).
Assigned reading: Native Country of the Heart – A Memoir (provided by the author, in advance.)
Click for Cherríe's bio
Cherríe Moraga is an internationally recognized poet, essayist and playwright whose professional life began in 1981 with the co-editorship, with Gloria Anzaldúa, of This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color. The author of several collections of her own writings, her most recent publications include: Native Country of the Heart—A Memoir; Loving in the War Years & Other Writings 1978-1999, and Waiting in the Wings—Portrait of a Queer Motherhood. A Distinguished Professor of English at UC Santa Barbara, Moraga is the co-founder & co-director with Celia Herrera Rodríguez of Las Maestras Center for Xicanx Indigenous Thought, Art and Social Praxis.
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 afternoon 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 on January 3, 2024. All essential information is detailed in the application form which is made available via 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?
The application deadline is February 18, 2024 (11:59 pm PST). Participants must submit both their application form and process their non-refundable, non-transferrable $35 application fee online by the deadline. Click here to reach the online payment portal. If paying by check, please have it postmarked by February 18, 2024. Accepted participants will be notified no later than March 31, 2024 and announced no later than April 15, 2024.
When is the Macondo Writers Workshop held?
The Macondo Writers Workshop will be held Tuesday, July 23-28, 2024 in-person at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. For an additional fee of $35, participants can opt for an early arrival on July 22, 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?
$800 for Workshop classes
$450 for Chuparosas (Chuparosa participation is open to returning Macondistas only.)
$545 for room and board, includes: Single lodging (shared bathroom), breakfast and lunch, linens and facilities. Early monday arrival can be added for an additional $35.
Participants are responsible for covering the cost of their own transportation, dinners, and incidentals.
Are there scholarships or financial assistance available?
There are no waivers to cover the $35 workshop application and processing fee. A limited amount of partial and full scholarships will be available to accepted participants to attend the workshop, with preference for first-time Macondistas. This amount varies based on the amount of donations that come in and distributed in a way that allows for maximum participation.
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. This year we will be hosting several community-based workshops in San Antonio that are open to the public. Click-back for more details.