Chautauqua Institution

Each workshop is taught by an experienced, published author (writer-in-residence) in a small group setting. Most classes are limited to just 12 participants. All workshops are held on the second floor of the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall. (Located on the south end of the grounds on Wythe Ave. across from the Hall of Philosophy.)

For specific questions regarding workshops, please contact Clara Silverstein.

Registration begins in April. Call the ticket ofice at 716.357.6250 to register by phone or register online at You may also register at one of our ticketing windows at our Main Gate Welcome Center.

Weekly prose and poetry workshops have been the core of the Chautauqua Writers' Center for 24 years. Faculty members are selected not only for their national reputations and the quality of their work, but also for their ability to inspire developing writers to grow in their craft.

Week 1, June 22-28


Jim Daniels

Ekphrastic writing is written in response to other art forms. In this workshop, we will look at various examples of ekphrastic writing in order to familiarize you with what other writers have done. Then we will engage with some other art forms on the grounds at Chautauqua and see what it inspires in us as writers. Writers in all genres and at all levels are welcome. No previous experience with art, or with creative writing, is necessary.

Jim-Daniels-1-5424Jim Daniels’ most recent publication is Birth Marks, his fourteenth book of poems, published in 2013. His fifth book of short fiction, Eight Mile High, will be published this fall. He has also written the screenplays for three produced films, including Mr. Pleasant. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. He is the Baker Professor of English at Carnegie Mellon University.

Week 2 and 3, June 29-July 12


Shara McCallum

This workshop will ask you to stretch your practice as a poet by experimenting with various fixed forms (such as the ghazal) and more open-ended forms (such as ekphrasis). The goal of this workshop is to dispel the idea that form is a straightjacket and to encourage you to approach form in more organic fashion and as a way to create your own inspiration. The class will meet on alternate days to allow time for writing and revision. Admission will be by advance submission only. Send two poems (in any form, including free verse) that you would like to discuss in the workshop by June 1 c/o Clara Silverstein, 216 Grove St., Auburndale, MA 02466.

M-W-F 1:15 to 3:15 p.m. Weeks 2 and 3

Shara-McCallum-seated-photoShara McCallum is the author of The Face of Water: New and Selected Poems, This Strange Land, finalist for the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, Song of Thieves, and The Water Between Us, winner of the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize for Poetry. She’s received a Witter Bynner Fellowship from the Library of Congress, and a National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship, among other awards. She directs the Stadler Center for Poetry and teaches at Bucknell University.

Week 3, July 6-12


Stephen Haven

When does a poem become too private or exclusively personal? When does a poem become too public and distant from the intimate, emotional life of the poet? Sometimes the most powerful poems achieve range and emotional intimacy through a contrapuntal movement that includes both personal history and knowledge or understandings more broadly shared by entire cultures. Though the main focus of this workshop will be on discussing poems written by participants, we will also consider strategies in contemporary poems that successfully explore their subjects in both personal and transpersonal ways. Participants should send 1-2 poems for discussion by June 1 to or bring 14 copies to discuss in class as time allows.

Stephen-HavenStephen Haven is the author of The Last Sacred Place in North America, winner of the 2010 New American Press Poetry Prize. He has published two earlier collections of poems and one memoir. He was 2009 Ohio Poet of the Year and has twice been a Fulbright Professor at universities in Beijing. For his poetry he has received four Individual Artist grants from the Ohio Arts Council and residency fellowships from Yaddo, MacDowell, the Djerassi Foundation, and the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. He directs both the Ashland University MFA Program andthe Ashland Poetry Press.

Week 4, July 13-19


Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Using the language and vocabulary of myth, folklore, science, and natural history as inspiration for poems, this generative workshop will help you jump-start the blank page in front of you. We’ll participate in several immersion ideas for poems and journaling (some outdoors, weather permitting) to help you explore the natural world through poetry. Our time will be divided into composing drafts; chatting about various myths, articles, essays, and published poems by established writers; and discussion and sharing student writing in a workshop format. This class is ideal for both the beginner and someone wanting a quick refresher course. No experience or advance submissions necessary.

Aimee-NezhukumatathilAimee Nezhukumatathil is the author of three award-winning collections of poetry, most recently, Lucky Fish. Her poems have appeared in Tin House, Poetry, and American Poetry Review. She has been published in several anthologies and was awarded an NEA Fellowship in Poetry and the Pushcart Prize. She is a Professor of English at the State University of New York-Fredonia where she received the Hagan Award and the SUNY Chancellor's Medal of Excellence.

Week 5, July 20-28


Andrew Mulvania

In this workshop, we will have what poet William Butler Yeats describes as “singing school” based on the assumption that there are exercises that can get the aspiring poet’s soul “singing.” With “Sailing to Byzantium” as our point of departure, we will explore a number of different types of poems, including ekphrastic poems (based on other art forms), the ode, the persona poem, and other exercises designed to provide both subject matter and structure and get you writing quickly and with authority even or especially if you’ve never written a poem before. No experience or advance submissions necessary.

Andrew-MulvaniaAndrew Mulvania is the author of the poetry collection Also In Arcadia. Recent poems and reviews have appeared in the Southwest Review, Hudson Review, and The Missouri Review. He was the recipient of a 2008 Individual Creative Artists Fellowship in Poetry from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and was a poet-in-residence at the Chautauqua Writers' Center in the summer of 2011. He lives in Washington, Pennsylvania, where he is Associate Professor of English at Washington & Jefferson College.

Week 6, July 27- August 2


Robert Ostrom

In this workshop, we will map and mine our own personal landscapes to write poems. The places we carry inside ourselves, be they hometowns or an amalgam of the places we’ve known, are entirely unique to each of us. Thus, it stands to reason that the writing generated from these places can also be inimitable. With a focus on imagery, we will explore how the memory of place can ignite sensual language and evoke emotions. We will also use various types of generative exercises and discussions to experiment and grow in our own work. No experience or advance submissions necessary.

AFTERNOON 1:15 to 3:15 p.m.

Rob-OstromRobert Ostrom is the author of The Youngest Butcher in Illinois, which was the finalist for the 2013 Norma Farber Award. His poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in The Saint Ann’s Review, The Awl, The Atlas Review, and Guernica. Originally from Jamestown, N.Y., he now lives in Queens and teaches at New York City College of Technology and Columbia University.


Week 7 –AFTERNOON WORKSHOP, August 3-9


Charlotte Matthews

This workshop will address how to preserve wonder in writing.  Once the moment in the woods passes, once the eclipse is over, how do we make experience indelible so that our readers encounter the marvel with as much verve as we originally did? Our texts will be poems that keep the moment alive. We’ll ascertain how other writers cultivate awe -- and ultimately how to bring it into our own writing. You are welcome to send 1-3 poems to Charlotte Matthews at 5871 Saint George Ave., Crozet, VA  22932, or bring 14 copies to discuss in class as time allows.  

Charlotte-MatthewsCharlotte Matthews is author of two poetry collections: Still Enough to Be Dreaming and Green Stars. She this spring was the Maxwell C. Weiner Distinguished Professor of Humanities at Missouri University of Science and Technology. Her work has recently appeared in American Poetry Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, Chatauqua, storysouth and The Greensboro Review. She teaches writing in The Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies Program at The University of Virginia.

Week 8, August 10-16


John Hoppenthaler

Do you try to read a contemporary poem and find yourself confused about its meaning? Have you been unaware of new trends in poetry writing? We are in the midst of what many consider the most insistently democratic period poetry has known, one of great eclectic vitality. It is often difficult to appreciate new art in its own time; this course intends to provide a friendly gateway into the myriad poetry -- from received forms to free verse to elliptical -- being written, published, and talked about today. The focus will be on reading and lively discussion instead of writing. No previous knowledge of poetry necessary.

John-HoppenthalerJohn Hoppenthaler’s books of poetry are Anticipate the Coming Reservoir, Lives of Water, and Domestic Garden (forthcoming in 2015). He has co-edited a volume of essays on the poetry of Jean Valentine, This-World Company. For Connotation Press: An Online Artifact, he edits “A Poetry Congeries.” An Associate Professor of Creative Writing at East Carolina University, he regularly teaches at community-based writing workshops, including the Sanibel Island Writers Conference and the UT-Chattanooga Meacham Writing Workshop.

Week 9, August 17-24


Susan Grimm

This workshop focuses on approaching the poem from new directions -- startling the poem, catching up with it as it tries to escape, inserting a singular object or two, splitting the poem into two hitched chariot horses, pasting on wings, or singing the poem its own song. These practices are useful to begin new poems or to coax those that can’t yet quite stand up for themselves. You are welcome to bring 14 copies of 1-2 of your poems to discuss in class as time allows.

Susan GrimmSusan Grimm has taught creative writing at Cleveland State University, Case Western Reserve University, and the Cleveland Institute of Art. She has published one book of poems, Lake Erie Blue, and edited Ordering the Storm: How to Put Together a Book of Poems. In 2010, she won the inaugural Copper Nickel Poetry Prize, and in 2011, she won the Hayden Carruth Poetry Prize. Her most recent publication is the chapbook Roughed Up by the Sun’s Mothering Tongue.


Registration for all workshops begins in April. Tuition is $110 is open to writers of all stages ($150 for Advanced Poetry Workshop, and requires writing samples to be submitted).

Register online -

Register by phone - Call 716.357.6250. Please have all registration information ready before calling. Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover are all accepted.

Pre-register by mail or fax (716.357.5823) - Complete the registration form printed in the Special Studies Catalog and return it to:

Special Studies
PO Box 28
Chautauqua, New York 14722

Registration forms will be available in the Special Studies Catalog which can be obtained by writing to the address above.

Register in-person - Walk-in registrations will be accepted at the Main Gate and the Colonnade.

Note: A $5 handling fee will be added to all phone, fax and mail registrations.


Clara Silverstein
Program Director

Sherra Babcock
Director of Education