Forrest Gander

Robert Hass

Brenda Hillman


J. Michael Martinez

Sharon Olds

Evie Shockley










June 20 - 27, 2015

staff bios | financial aid | accommodations | fees & deadlines | apply

The Poetry Program is founded on the belief that when poets gather in a community to write new poems, each poet may well break through old habits and write something stronger and truer than before. To help this happen we work together to create an atmosphere in which everyone might feel free to try anything. In the mornings we meet in workshops to read to each other the work of the previous twenty-four hours; each participant also has an opportunity to work with each staff poet. In the late afternoons we gather for a conversation about some aspect of craft. On several afternoons staff poets hold brief individual conferences.

Tuition for the Poetry Program includes six evening meals and daily photocopying of poems. A limited amount of financial aid is available.

Poetry Director: Robert Hass
Guest Director: Brenda Hillman
Note: We make no admissions decisions before all the submissions have been read and evaluatedDaily Schedule

In the mornings we meet in workshops to read to each other the work of the previous twenty-four hours; each participant will have an opportunity to work with each staff poet. In the late afternoons we gather for a conversation about some aspect of craft. On several late afternoons staff poets hold brief individual conferences.

Naturalist Will Richardson will be informative early morning walks up Shirley Canyon scheduled for 8:00 AM, before workshops beginat 10:00. This is an opportunity to learn from a professional naturalist about the biology of this valley. These walks are suitable for almost all fitness levels and are free of charge.

Will Richardson has been birding and conducting field research in the Sierra Nevada since 1994, including several seasons working for PRBO Conservation Science in the Mono Basin and elsewhere in the Eastern Sierra. Richardson received his PhD in Ecology, Evolution, & Conservation Biology from the University of Nevada, Reno, studying bird communities in Sierra Nevada aspen habitats. He resides in Truckee and now focuses most of his attention on the natural history of the Lake Tahoe region. He is currently authoring a status and distribution guide for the birds of the Lake Tahoe basin, and is co-founder and Co-Executive Director of a fledgling research, education, and outreach organization: the Tahoe Institute for Natural Science.

On Wednesday we will go to Lake Tahoe for the afternoon and evening. Poet softball will be played at the local elementary school for those who are interested, followed by a BBQ picnic at the spectacular Meeks Bay on the Lake. Poets may swim, hike the nearby trails to view abundant wild-flowers, or just relax. We return to Squaw Valley at nightfall.

On Thursday evening
Robert Hass, Brenda Hillman, Forrest Gander, J. Michael Martinez, Sharon Olds,
and Evie Shockley will read from their published and unpublished work, including poems written in Squaw Valley just days before. Their books will be available for sale and signing after the reading.

Poetry Staff

FORREST GANDER, a writer and translator with degrees in geology and English literature, was born in the Mojave Desert and grew up in Virginia. Among his most recent books are the novel The Trace, the poems Eiko & Koma, and two anthologies: Panic Cure: Poetry from Spain for the 21st Century and Pinholes in the Night: Essential Poems from Latin America. Gander’s book Core Samples from the World was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

ROBERT HASS is a poet, translator and essayist. Ecco/HarperCollins published a book of his prose this year, What Light Can Do: Essays 1985-2010. His other recent books include his selected poems, The Apple Trees at Olema (Ecco/HarperCollins), Time and Materials (Ecco/ HarperCollins), which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, and his edition of Walt Whitman's Song of Myself and Other Poems (Counterpoint). His other books of poetry include Sun Under Wood: New Poems, Human Wishes, Praise, and Field Guide. He has also co-translated many volumes of the poetry of Czeslaw Milosz and is the author or editor of several other collections of essays and translations, including The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson, and Issa; Twentieth Century Pleasures: Prose on Poetry; and Now & Then: The Poet's Choice Columns 1996-2000. His next book, essays exploring poetic form, A Little Book on Form, will be published by HarperCollins in 2015. He served as Poet Laureate of the United States from 1995 to 1997. Awarded a MacArthur Fellowship and the National Book Critics Circle Award twice, he is a professor of English at UC Berkeley and directs the Poetry Program of the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley.

BRENDA HILLMAN is the author of nine collections of
poetry, all published by Wesleyan University Press, the most recent of which are Pieces of Air in the Epic, Practical Water and Seasonal Works With Letters on Fire, which received the Griffin International Poetry Prize in 2014 for the best book of poetry published in English the previous year. Hillman has also published three chapbooks: Coffee Three A.M, Autumn Sojourn, and The Firecage; edited an edition of Emily Dickinson’s poetry for Shambhala Publications; and with Patricia Dienstfrey, co-edited The Grand Permission: New Writings on Poetics and Motherhood. Named by Poets and Writers magazine as one of “Fifty Inspiring Writers,” she was awarded the Academy of American Poets Fellowship for 2012 for Distinguished Poetic Achievement. Hillman participates in nonviolence activism and teaches at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, California where she is the Olivia Filippi Professor of Poetry.

J. MICHAEL MARTINEZ received the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets and he is a Ph.D. Candidate in Literature at the University of Colorado at Boulder. His latest book, from the University of Arizona Press, is In the Garden of the Bridehouse. He is the Poetry Editor of NOEMI Press and his poetry has been anthologized in Ahsahta Press’s The Arcadia Project: North American Postmodern Pastoral, Rescue Press’s The New Census: 40 American Poets, and Counterpath Press’s Angels of the Americlypse: New Latin@ Writing.

SHARON OLDS is the author of nine books of poetry. The Dead and the Living received the National Book Critics Circle Award; The Unswept Room was a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and One Secret Thing was a finalist for the Forward Prize. She teaches at New York University’s Graduate Program in Creative Writing where she has been involved with N.Y.U.’s outreach workshops. Her Goldwater Hospital workshop is in its 27th year, and the newest workshop is for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Her newest collection of poetry, Stag’s Leap, was published by Knopf in the US and Jonathan Cape in the UK in Fall 2012. Stag’s Leap won the 2012 T.S.Eliot Prize and the 2013 Pulitzer Prize.

EVIE SHOCKLEY is a poet and literary scholar. Her poetry collections include, most recently, the new black (Wesleyan), as well as a half-red sea and two chapbooks. She has also published a book of criticism, Renegade Poetics: Black Aesthetics and Formal Innovation in African American Poetry (Iowa). From 2007-2011, she co-edited jubilat; she currently serves as Creative Editor for Feminist Studies. Her honors include the 2012 Holmes National Poetry Prize; fellowships from ACLS and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; and residencies from Hedgebrook, MacDowell, and the Millay Colony for the Arts. She is Associate Professor of English at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, where she teaches African American literature and creative writing.

Photo credits:
Robert Hass © Miriam Berkley
Brenda Hillman © Brett Hall Jones
Forrest Gander ©
J. Michael Martinez © Jensen Larson Photography
Sharon Olds © Brett Hall Jones
Evie Shockley © Brett Hall Jones

The Community of Writers rents houses and condominiums in the valley for participants to live in during the week of the conference. If, when you are accepted, you would like us to arrange your accommodations, you may choose to stay in shared houses or in The Village at Squaw Valley (first come, first served.) Choose between Single ($700-890*), Twin ($465-525*) and Bargain Bunk Room ($295*) within these units. A private One Room Condo is $1,280 for the week. Some of the houses are within walking distance; some require a short drive, so please indicate whether you will have a car with you in the valley. Every unit will have a kitchen and will be supplied with linens. Visit our FAQ page for more information.

Dinners are provided each night. You may prepare your breakfasts and lunches in your house or visit one of the cafes in the valley. There is a small market within walking distance and supermarkets in the nearby towns of Truckee and Tahoe City.

For more information visit our Logistics page.

*Prices are for 7 nights and may change slightly without notice.

A limited amount of financial aid is available. Requests for financial aid must be made in our Financial Aid application. Please indicate the minimum amount of financial aid you would need to receive in order to attend. Financial aid decisions are made after admission decisions. If an applicant is accepted, but we don’t have enough aid for him or her, we will still issue an invitation in the hopes that other means of support may be able to be found by the applicant to attend. Likewise, if an applicant has indicated that she needs a certain amount of aid, but we can’t provide the full amount, we will grant out what we can.

The Lucille Clifton Scholarships:
The Lucille Clifton Scholarships will provide funding for three poets in 2015, and will cover full tuition and twin housing ($1,390). Please indicate your inerest in this scholarship on your application form. Please refer to the scholarship requirements.

The Foundation for Art ad Healing (, a 501c3 not for profit dedicated to exploring and promoting the role of creative expression in improving the health and well-being of individuals and community, is pleased to announce the 2015 Community of Writers Veteran’s Poetry Scholarship. The scholarship is for $1,450.00 and will be applied to costs for tuition and housing for the 2015 Summer Poetry Writing Workshop in Squaw Valley. The scholarship is for a poet to attend the Poetry Workshop in Squaw Valley who would not be able to attend without financial assistance. This scholarship is reserved for a poet who has not attended previously. Please indicate your inerest in this scholarship on your application form. Please refer to the scholarship requirements.

Scholarship for Locals:
The Local Scholarship ($925 toward tuition) has been established to help creative writers living within a radius of 100 miles of Squaw Valley to attend the Community of Writers Summer Workshops. After residency, qualification for the scholarship is based on financial need and the quality of work submitted. To apply, submit an application for financial aid and provide a paragraph titled "Application for consideration for the Local Scholarship" In this paragraph, please introduce yourself. Tell us what you hope to get out of your week at Squaw Valley and why you would be a good candidate for a scholarship. Make sure to submit this paragraph in the Financial Aid application. Indicate your wish to apply for this scholarship in the "notes" portion of the online workshop application form as well.

Deadline for receipt of submission/application: April 2, 2015
Application Fee (Due with submission): $30
Notification Date: May 1
Tuition: $1,025 - A deposit will be due upon acceptance.
Tuition & Housing Balance: Due on arrival in Squaw Valley.


Admission is based on submitted manuscript. To apply, complete our online application form. Application must be received by the April 2 deadline. Past Poetry participants: Please read additional guidelines, here.

Click here to open the online Application Form

  • Past Poetry participants: If you wish to attend this year, contact us for information about the returning poet procedure: (530) 470-8440 or, or read additional guidelines, here.
  • Deadline for receipt of application/submission: April 2, 2015
  • Submission should consist of four or five pages of recent poems, typed,12 pt. Submit PDF or Word.doc through our online application form.
  • Put your name in the upper right-hand corner of each page.
  • Attach a digital file (PDF or Word.doc) of your submission ms.
    to the online application form. (Manuscripts will not be returned; they will be recycled. Digital files will be deleted.)
  • To complete the online Application Form, submit Financial Aid application, and to upload a PDF of your manuscript, follow this link:
  • If any difficulty is encountered uploading your digital
    manuscript, or if you do not have access to the internet,
    contact us for assistance.
  • Once you have completed the online form, you will receive an email confirmation.
  • A $30 reading fee will be due with application & submission, payable by check or credit card, online.
  • For payments by check: Payable to ‘Community of Writers.’
    Print application confirmation email, and enclose with check. Mail to:

    S.V. Community of Writers - Poetry
    PO Box 1416
    Nevada City, CA 95959

  • Notification of acceptance by May 1.

Click here to open the online Application Form

QUESTIONS? Please go to our Frequently Asked Questions page.

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Slideshow Images by Tracy Hall