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Skidmore College
New York State Summer Writers Institute

2023 Faculty 

Director Robert Boyers leads this extraordinary faculty of distinguished writers, among them winners of such major honors as the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award. 

Elizabeth BenedictElizabeth Benedict  is the author of Almost, a novel described by Edmund White as “a fast-paced, funny, and splendidly intelligent drama [with] a varied, unforgettable cast of characters.” Her earlier books include Slow Dancing (a finalist for the National Book Award), The Beginner’s Book of Dreams, Safe Conduct, and The Joy of  Writing Sex (“Read it because it will teach you everything you need to know about writing good fiction,’’ suggests Peter Carey). Benedict has taught at Princeton University, Swarthmore College, and the Iowa Writers Workshop. Her latest novel is The Practice of Deceit.

Calvin BakerCalvin Baker is the distinguished Writer-in-Residence at Skidmore and former Yale University Professor of Creative Writing. Baker is author of four acclaimed novels, including Naming The World , Dominion and Once Two Heroes. He writes frequently for Harper’s, The Atlantic and The New York Times. His most recent non-fiction book (2020) is A More Perfect Reunion: Race, Integration, and The Future of America.  Francisco Goldman writes of his work: “Book by book, Calvin Baker is singing a whole new America into being.”


Adam BraverAdam Braver is author of several historical novels including Divine Sarah, Mr. Lincoln’s Wars and Crows Over The Wheatfield. (“Brilliant and inventive work,” wrote a reviewer for the Los Angeles Times Book Review. “A novelist whose works are richly imagined,” says the Washington Post.) Braver’s most recent novels are NOV 22, 1963, which revolves around the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and Misfit. (“Amazing...a book about identity, privacy and intimacy that both exposes and conceals its subject – Marilyn Monroe,” writes Ann Beattie).

GordonMary Gordon was for two decades the McIntosh Professor of English and Creative Writing at Barnard College and is the author of many novels, short story collections and books of non-fiction. Her novels include Final Payments, The Company of Women, Spending and Payback. She won The 2017 STORY Prize for TheCollected Stories of Mary Gordon, and was the Official New York State Author in 2010. A book of her essays is Good Boys and Dead Girls, and her most widely read memoir is The Shadow Man.




HempelAmy Hempel is the author of five collections of stories, most recently Sing To It. Her Collected Stories won The Ambassador Award for Best Fiction of the Year in 2006, and was one of the top five books of fiction in the NYTBR that year. Her stories have appeared in Harper's, Vanity Fair, the Harvard Review, The Yale Review, and many other publications, and have been included in the Best American Short Stories and other prize anthologies. She is a memberof The American Academy of Arts & Letters, and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. She received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and United States Artists Foundation, and was awarded the REA Award and the PEN/Malamud Award. She teaches at The MIchener Center in Austin, and in the graduate writing program at Bennington College.

Claire MessudClaire Messud is a Professor at Harvard University, and is one of the leading fiction writers in the country. Her novels include The Woman Upstairs, The Burning Girl, The Last Life, When The World Was Steady and the NY Times best-selling book The Emperor’s Children. Rachel Cusk says of her: “I can think of few writers capable of such thrilling seriousness expressed with so lavish a gift.” Her most recent book is a non-fiction volume called Kant’s Little Prussian Head & Other Reasons Why I Write. She has taught at the NY State Summer Writers Institute for thirteen years.

Madeline MillerNovelist Madeline Miller has a BA and MA from Brown University in Latin and Ancient Greek, and has been teaching both for over fifteen years. She has also studied at the Yale School of Drama, specializing in adapting classical tales to a modern audience. Her first novel, The Song of Achilles, was the winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction 2012. Her second novel, Circe, was a New York Times bestseller and drew praise from classic scholars and novelists.  Miller’s novels have been translated into over twenty-five languages and her essays have appeared in the Guardian, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post among others.



Rick MoodyRick Moody is author of several novels including The Ice Storm, Purple America, and Garden State. He has also written two acclaimed volumes of short fiction, Demonology and The Ring of Brightest Angels Around Heaven. Newsday describes him as “our anthropologist of desolate landscapes,” John Hawkes as “a writer of meticulous originality.” He received the Academy of Arts and Letters Addison Metcalf Award. His memoir is The Black Veil (“Moody’s writing rants and raves and roars,” writes a reviewer for The New York Times. “He is an unrepressed quester after meaning,” writes Robert Boyers). Moody’s latest novels are The Diviners (2005) and The Four Fingers of Death (2010), and his latest collection of short fiction is Right Livelihoods (2007). “One of our best writers,” said a reviewer for the Washington Post. Moody’s acclaimed recent novel is Hotels Of North America (2016).

Danzy SennaDanzy Senna is author of the novels Carcasia, Symptomatic and New People; of the memoir Where Did You Sleep Last Night?; and the short story collection You Are Free. Senna is Professor of English at USC and taught at the Summer Writers Institute for more than a decade. She has won many awards for her writing, including the Stephen Crane Award and the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.


Phillip LopatePhillip Lopate is a central figure in the recent revival of interest in memoir writing and what has come to be called “the personal essay.” Lopate is the author of Portrait of My Body, Confessions of Summer,Against Joie de Vivre, The Rug Merchant, Being with Children, and Totally Tenderly Tragically. He is also the editor of The Art of thePersonal Essay and was the series editor of The Anchor Essay Annual. Lopate’s work has been included in The Best American Essays and The Pushcart Prize Series. His most recent books are To Show and Tell,Portrait Inside My Head, Waterfront, Getting Personal: SelectedWritings and Notes On Sontag. In 2008 he published a volume of fiction entitled Two Marriages. He directs the non-fiction MFA program at Columbia University. “He is our Montaigne,” writes Robert Boyers.

Thomas Chatterton WilliamsThomas Chatterton Williams is one of the leading memoirists and cultural critics in the country, the author of Self-Portrait in Black & White (Norton, 2019) and Losing My Cool (Penguin-Random House, 2010). A contributing writer at The New York Times, where several of his feature articles have been published in the Sunday Times Magazine, he is also a regular columnist for Harper’s Magazine. In January of 2021 he delivered the Annual Martin Luther King Address, and in 2019 he won the Berlin Prize. Though he lives with his family in France, he is a non-resident Fellow at The American Enterprise Institute and has taught as a visiting professor at Bard College’s Hannah Arendt Center.

Peg Boyers

Peg Boyers is the author of three volumes of poems, all published by the University of Chicago Press. The first, Hard Bread (2002), was described by Richard Howard as “the most original debut in my experience of contemporary American poetry.” With poems spoken in the invented voice of the late Italian writer Natalia Ginzburg, the book, says Robert Pinsky, “not only surpasses the notion of a merely good first book” but “soars beyond the conventional expectations of ‘persona’ and dramatic monologue.” “The creation of the voice in this book,” wrote Frank Bidart, “stoic, passionate, resigned, insistent on truth—is a brilliant achievement.” Boyers’ second book, Honey With Tobacco (2007), “has a rare power,” wrote George Steiner; “a beautiful book,” wrote Henri Cole. Peg Boyers is executive editor of the quarterly Salmagundi and teaches creative writing at Skidmore College. Her third book, entitled To Forget Venice, came out in October of 2014 and was hailed for its “disarming flights of imagination” and “inspired ventriloquism.” Her most recent book, The Album, was published by Dos Madres Press in the fall of 2021.

Henri ColeHenri Cole is the author of seven books of poems, including The Look of Things, The Marble Queen, The Visible Man and Middle Earth. (“Henri Cole has become a master poet, with few peers,” writes Harold Bloom. “Middle Earth is [his] epiphany, his Whitmanesque sunrise… [These] are the poems of our climate.”) Of his earlier books, Wayne Koestenbaum wrote in the New Yorker: “a poet not content to remain in the realm of the merely lapidary, the self-consciously coloratura…he produces lines of natural and nonchalant brio…in stanzas as shapely as topiary…; he can write about the soul stumbling against quotidian impediments… [approaching] a variety of subjects, from first love… to family history.” Cole has taught at the Summer Writers Institute since 2004. His most recent books are Blackbird & Wolf and Pierce The Skin, a volume of Selected Poems: 1982-2007.

Campbell McGrathCampbell McGrath teaches creative writing at Florida International University and has taught at the Summer Writers Institute since 2007. The winner of a MacArthur “Genius” Award, he is the author of many books of poetry, including American Noise, Pax Atomica, Spring Comes To Chicago, Seven Notebooks, Florida Poems and Capitalism. “A poet of formal eloquence and rhetorical power,” writes the reviewer for Publishers Weekly, “of vision and engagement….he descends into the maelstrom of American culture and emerges singing.” “He is our Whitman,” writes the reviewer for American Review. McGrath’s latest book XX: Poems For The 20thCentury has been celebrated as a “tour de force” and “an improbable feat of the imagination.”

Gregory PardloGregory Pardlo's ​collection​ Digest (Four Way Books) won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. His other honors​ include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts; his first collection Totem was selected by Brenda Hillman for the APR/Honickman Prize in 2007. He is Poetry Editor of Virginia Quarterly Review and currently teaches in the graduate writing program at Rutgers-Camden University. Air Traffic, a memoir in essays, was released by Knopf in April. 

VijayVijay Seshadri is a Brooklyn, New York–based Pulitzer Prize–winning poet who won the 2014 Pulitzer in poetry for Three Sections. He has been an editor at The New Yorker, and for many years a professor and chair in the undergraduate writing and MFA program at Sarah Lawrence College. Seshadri’s poem The Disappearances came to prominence after the The New Yorker published it on their back cover following the September 11 attacks in 2001. The New Yorker poetry editor, Alice Quinn, said that the poem “...summoned up, with acute poignance, a typical American household and scene...The combination of epic sweep (including the quoted allusion to one of Emily Dickinson’s Civil War masterpieces, from 1862) and piercing, evocative detail is characteristic of the contribution Seshadri has made to the American canon.” Author of several volumes of poems, Seshadri has been praised for the “electric energy and gravitas” of his work by Frank Bidart, and for his “musicality and wit” by Eavan Boland. Campbell McGrath has written that Seshadri is “grave and witty, classical and contemporary, casually brilliant….a writer of subtle, elastic and brilliant intelligence.”

Rosanna WarrenRosanna Warren has won the Lamont Poetry Prize and many other awards for her poetry. She is the author of five books of poems, including Departure, Stained Glass, Each Leaf Shines Separate and Ghost In A Red Hat. Harold Bloom writes: “Warren is an important poet, beyond the achievement of all but a handful of living American poets.” And Charles Simic writes in The NY Review of Books: “Her work has become stronger and stronger… The new book explores intimacy and separation in poems of difficult love….masterful and ambitious.” Until recently Rosanna Warren was University Professor at Boston University and is now a Professor in the Committee on Social Thought at University of Chicago.

Barry Goldensohn is the author of several books of poetry, including The Hundred Yard Dash Man, The Marrano and others. Before his retirement he was Director of the Creative Writing Program at Skidmore College and the Dean at Hampshire College.

Lorrie Goldensohn is the author of Dismantling Glory and Elizabeth Bishop: The Biography of a Poetry. She has published memoirs in a wide range of magazines, including Yale Review and Salmagundi. A book of her poems is entitled The Tether. She taught for many years at Vassar College.

Catherin Pond photoCatherine Pond is the author of a 2021 volume of poems entitled Fieldglass, which won the Crab Orchard First Book Prize awarded by the Southern Illinois University Press. Her work has appeared in many magazines and anthologies, including AGNI, Salmagundi and Best New Poets. She was for five years the Assistant Director of The Summer Writers Institute, has an MFA from Columbia University’s School of the Arts and is completing a PhD at USC, where she teaches workshops in poetry.


Amy Wallen Amy Wallen MFA is the author of the bestselling novel, MoonPies & Movie Stars (2007 Penguin), and more recently the memoir, When We Were Ghouls (2018 UNP). Her collaborative book with illustrator Emil Wilson How to Write a Novel in 20 Pies: The Sweet & Savory Secrets of the Writing Life will be published Fall 2022 by AMP. Her essays can be found in The Gettysburg Review, Normal School, The Writer, Los Angeles Times, and other anthologies. She teaches personal narrative to disenfranchised youth at the renowned Ocean Discovery Institute in San Diego, CA. She also edits book manuscripts and offers quarterly book-length manuscript workshops online and in-person.



Robert Boyers

Robert Boyers, Director is editor of the influential quarterly magazine Salmagundi, professor of English at Skidmore College, and director of the New York State Summer Writers Institute. He is the author of eleven books, including a volume of short stories called Excitable Women, Damaged Men. He writes often for such magazines as Harper’sThe New RepublicThe NationYale Review, and Granta. His latest book is The Tyranny of Virtue: Identity, the Academy, and the Hunt For Political Heresies.


Adam Braver

Adam Braver, Associate Director,  has been teaching fiction in the  New York State Writers Institute since 2014. He is the author of seven novels, as well as the editor of the University of New Orleans Press’ Broken Silence book series, which documents first-hand accounts of political dissidents. His forthcoming novel, Rejoice the Head of Paul McCartney, will be published in Fall 2022. Of the book, Rick Moody writes that “Adam Braver writes about history and consciousness, and he balances these with gentle and pitch-perfect moral consciousness. The results are sophisticated, subtle, nuanced, and very moving.”

Marc Woodworth

Marc Woodworth, Associate Director is Associate Editor of Samagundi Magazine and author or editor of several books: Arcade (poetry), Solo: Women Singer-Songwriters in Their Own Words, Bee Thousand (in the 33 1/3 series), and How To Write About Music. He teaches for the Moore Documentary Studies Collaborative and Department of English at Skidmore College.

Faculty Awards Received

  • Pulitzer Prize
  • National Book Award
  • PEN/Faulkner Award
  • Pushcart Prize
  • Mac Arthur Genius Award
  • National Book Critics Circle Award
  • Lamont Poetry Prize
  • Poet-Laureate of the U.S.
  • L.A. Times Book Award
  • New York Arts Award
  • Martin Luther King Memorial Prize
  • James Tait Black Memorial Prize
  • Lambda Literary Award in Poetry
  • Berlin Prize
  • Orange Prize
  • Hurston/Wright Legacy Award
  • Morton Dauwen Zabel Award (from American Academy of Arts & Letters)
  • Green Carnation Prize
  • Grolie Poetry Prize
  • PEN/Malamud Award
  • Flannery O’Connor Award
  • Notable from Best American Short Stories
  • Addison Metcalf Award (from American Academy of Arts & Letters)
  • Brandeis Creative Arts Award
  • The Booker Prize for Fiction
  • The Irish Times International Prize for Fiction
  • Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize
  • Prix Medicis
  • Governor-General’s Award
  • Giller Prize
  • Cannes Film Festival Awards (novels adapted into films)