For more than 20 years, Williston’s Writers’ Workshop Series has brought celebrated authors to campus to teach, share insights on the writing process, and inspire the next generation of writers. We’ve hosted screen writers, poets, editors, novelists, journalists, and memoirists, including multiple winners of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award. For students in the Writers’ Workshop class, the trimester involves the study of a visiting author, culminating in a master class and community-wide reading. Read an article about the 20th anniversary of the Writers’ Workshop.
2019-20 Writers' Workshop Presenters
October 14: Debra Immergut is the author of The Captives, a finalist for a 2019 Edgar Award for Best First Novel, published by Ecco/HarperCollins and in over a dozen other countries. Her next novel, You Again, is forthcoming from Ecco in 2020. She is a MacDowell and Michener fellow and has an MFA from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. She has published literary work in American Short Fiction and Narrative, and journalism in the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe, New York magazine, among other places. She lives in western Massachusetts, where she teaches writing in a variety of settings, including libraries and prisons.
October 28: Jim Shepard has written seven novels, including The Book of Aron, which won the Sophie Brody Medal for Jewish Literature, the PEN/New England Award for Fiction, and the Clark Fiction Prize, and five story collections, including Like You’d Understand, Anyway, a finalist for the National Book Award and Story Prize winner. Seven of his stories have been chosen for the Best American Short Stories, two for the PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, and two for Pushcart Prizes. He’s also won the Library of Congress/Massachusetts Book Award for Fiction and the ALEX Award from the American Library Association. He teaches at Williams College.
November 5: Manuel Gonzales is the author of the novel The Regional Office is Under Attack! and the acclaimed story collection The Miniature Wife, winner of the American Academy of Arts and Letters Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction and the John Gardner Fiction Book Award. A graduate of the Columbia University Creative Writing Program, he teaches writing at the University of Kentucky and the Institute of American Indian Arts. He has published fiction and nonfiction in Open City, Fence, One Story, Esquire, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, and The Believer. Gonzales lives in Kentucky with his wife and two children.
February 17: April Bernard grew up in New England, where she was educated at Harvard University. Upon receiving her bachelor’s degree, she moved to New York City to work in publishing, eventually serving as senior editor of Vanity Fair. Bernard left publishing in order to pursue a Ph.D. in English literature from Yale University. Her first book, Blackbird Bye Bye (Random House, 1989), earned the 1989 Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets. Other books of poetry include Brawl & Jag (W. W. Norton, 2016), Romanticism (W. W. Norton, 2009), Swan Electric (2002), and Psalms (1995). She is the author of a novel, Pirate Jenny (W. W. Norton, 1990). Bernard is the recipient of many honors, including a 2003 Guggenheim Fellowship. She has taught at Amherst College and Baruch College, and she now teaches at Skidmore College and in the low-residency MFA in Writing program at Bennington College. She lives in Saratoga Springs, New York.
A Selection of Past Presenters
Irish-born journalist and novelist Colum McCann discussed his National-Book-Award-winning novel Let the Great World Spin with classes, and made the case for reading’s being a gateway to empathy.
The late best-selling author of The Pilot’s Wife and The Weight of Water—a parent of two Williston graduates—Anita Shreve spoke to students about her stories that describe “life intensely felt.”
Award-winning writer Jennifer duBois ’02 has twice led workshops at Williston, first with her acclaimed debut novel A Partial History of Lost Causes, and then for its follow-up, the “psychologically astute” Cartwheel.
New York Times best-selling author Nic Stone discussed her debut novel Dear Martin, whose protagonist opens a literary dialogue with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Her second novel is Odd One Out.
Mo Willems P’19 told his Williston audience that he writes “incomprehensible books for illiterates,” which was his way of saying that the pigeon and other iconic characters he’s invented are co-created by his readers.
Richard Russo’s Pulitzer-Prizing-winning novel Empire Falls is “grounded,” says New York Times reviewer A. O. Scott, “in the New England bedrock of class-bound fatalism.”
Past Visiting Writers by Year
Dr. Roger Reeves
Madeleine Blais P’00, ’04
John Katzenbach P’00, ’04
Elinor Lipman P’00
Mary Jo Salter
Jennifer duBois ’02
Andre Dubus III
John Edgar Weideman
Mary Jo Salter
Nora Raleigh Baskin
Suzanne Strempek Shea