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Skidmore College
New York State Summer Writers Institute

The Program

The Institute is designed for college-aged students and adults, and approximately 50 percent of the program participants are undergraduate or graduate students.

2024 Workshops 

Session 1: June 23 - July 6
Session 2: July 7 - 20


Elizabeth Benedict (week 1)
James Hannaham (week 2)

Amy Hempel (week 1)            Adam Braver (week 2)

Cristina Garcia (week 1)              Jenny Offill (week 2)

Rick Moody (week 1)                Karan Mahajan (week 2)   

  Historical & Mythological 
  (online only)
Madeline Miller (week 1)
NON-FICTION: Phillip Lopate Thomas Chatterton Williams
Megan Fernandes (week 1)          Richard Blanco (week 2)
Peg Boyers
Rosanna Warren (week 1)            Campbell McGrath (week 2)
Henri Cole

Sample Weekly Schedule (at a glance, subject to change):

Monday, Wednesday, Friday: 1 – 4 pm Workshop Classes

Tuesday, Thursday: 2 – 4 pm Question and Answer Sessions with Faculty and Writers-in-Residence

Evening Readings will feature Faculty, Writers-in-Residence and students. 

Small classes offer individualized attention with approximately 16 students in each 2-week workshop. Workshops will discuss student works collected prior to the program and distributed in time for upcoming classes. Faculty may also assign additional writing exercises or recommend brief readings not written by students for classroom discussion. Students must attend all classes. Students may choose to register for four semester hours of undergraduate credit from Skidmore College when enrolled for 4 weeks in the same genre.

Applicants are encouraged to select the workshop which seems most appropriate and attractive to them when applying, but the Directors of the program will make final placement decisions.


Student-led panel discussions with Writers-in-Residence, including Mary Gaitskill, Paul Harding, Jamaica Kincaid, John McWhorter, Joyce Carol Oates, Caryl Phillips, Robert Pinsky, Francine Prose and Daniel Torday. Each of the panels will focus on the work of the Writer-in-Residence, with student participants drawn from the 2024 scholarship award recipients. 

Faculty and Writers-in-Residence will offer public evening readings. Students will also have the opportunity to read from their own works each week. A welcome orientation and social gatherings are planned.


In the late spring enrolled students will receive instructions on how to prepare and submit electronic manuscripts to be read and discussed with their instructor and fellow workshop participants. Students enrolled in a two-week workshop with two different instructors will have their manuscript reviewed by one instructor only (not both). Every effort will be made to accommodate requests for manuscript review by a particular instructor, but we cannot guarantee this will be possible.  


Students enrolled in Fiction who are writing novels are invited to register for intensive tutorial sessions. Manuscript Tutors will read and discuss entire novels (fiction works in progress, not collections of stories) of up to 250 pages in length for an additional $500 fee. 

Students enrolled in Poetry or Non-Fiction may register to receive critiques and advice on book-length collections. Poetry students may submit up to 75 pages to be reviewed, and Non-Fiction students may submit up to 150 pages.

Specific instructions on how to register and pay for these tutorial sessions will be sent to enrolled students in the late spring.

The Setting

The Institute’s classes and public events are held on the Skidmore College campus in Saratoga Springs, New York. Saratoga is renowned for its mineral springs, Saratoga Race Course, and other points of historical interest. The city is home to the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Caffé Lena,  Northshire Bookstore, Lyrical Ballad Bookstore and many shops, cafes and restaurants. The College is located just one mile north of the historic downtown. Discover more of what Saratoga Springs has to offer by visiting the Saratoga Chamber of Commerce.

Participants who choose to live on campus will be housed in the Northwoods Apartments. Rooms are spacious and feature free internet access and cable television (students must bring their own televisions, computers, etc). Participants staying on campus must purchase the College's board (meal) plan for the duration of their stay. It is important to note the apartment kitchens are equipped with a microwave, refrigerator, sink, stove/oven, dishwasher and fire extinguisher, but they do NOT come equipped with dishes, utensils, a coffee maker, etc. Participants who choose to cook in the apartments must plan accordingly and bring these items to campus. Workshop participants may request specific roommates.

Our dining hall has an award-winning culinary staff that offers a broad array of freshly made items, including ample vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and other special dietary options. Participants will also have access to the College's Scribner Library and recreational facilities, including swimming pool, weight and fitness rooms, lighted tennis courts, track, North Woods hiking trails, and the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery.

Students are encouraged to contact the Office of Special Programs with questions or concerns related to services available to students with disabilities. Skidmore College is a smoke-free campus and the Smoking Policy applies to all members of the Skidmore community and to all guests and visitors to campus.


The Historical & Mythological Fiction workshop with Madeline Miller will meet online for one-week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 1pm to 4pm (ET). Students must attend all classes. Additional information on other optional online activities will be available in the spring.

We recommend using a computer (preferred) or a tablet with a camera. Classes will be conducted via Zoom. If you are on your computer, you can access Zoom through the browser or desktop application. If you are on a tablet, you will require the application. Please download the FREE Zoom app in advance from the link above.

If you have never been on Zoom before, please take the time to familiarize yourself with the following functions before your workshop begins:

  • Turning your camera on and off
  • Muting and unmuting your microphone
  • Changing your name that appears on the screen (include pronouns if you wish)

You can find helpful tutorials on these functions and more here:

Faculty and students will utilize Skidmore’s online Dropbox for accessing your fellow classmates’ manuscripts for review and discussion. Further instructions will be in your student welcome packet.

These suggestions should go without saying, but as a reminder:

  • You should be in a well-lit room where you can be alone with your computer/tablet
  • Come prepared for class
  • Turn off or mute any electronic devices and notifications
  • Sign in to Zoom early if possible

What former students are saying

Matt Straus, editor of kitchen work: Fifteen or twenty years ago, I was lucky enough to encounter the writer Phillip Lopate in a classroom. My life changed forever. It was my second or third enrollment in a non-fiction prose workshop, which lasted for two weeks, at the New York State Summer Writers Institute. Every instructor I have met at the Institute over the years has been fascinating, intuitive, deeply humane. For me, Phillip occupies still yet a different level; not just as a prolific author and brilliant editor, but as a maestro of a workshop instructor.

Garth Greenwell, novelist (What Belongs to You; Cleanness): I wish I could remember which year it was I first went to the NYS Summer Writers Institute at Skidmore College. I think it was 1999, just after taking my first poetry workshop with James Longenbach; he was certainly the one who encouraged me to apply. (His wife, the brilliant novelist Joanna Scott, was teaching that summer, I think, or at least visited.) But it might have been 2000. In any event, I remember very clearly, as I sat in the audience for the first night’s reading (by the poet Richard Howard), being amazed by the concentration of literary brilliance in the room: Marilynne Robinson, Mary Gordon, Frank Bidart, Carolyn Forché, Philip Lopate, Honor Moore—there are others I’m forgetting. Maybe not that evening, but later in the summer there would be visits from Michael Ondaatje, Russell Banks, Robert Pinsky, Joyce Carol Oates; was Caryl Phillips also there that summer, or was it the next? In later years I would meet Henri Cole and Lucie Brock-Broido. After each event there was a reception (with an open bar, so it was popular), where (unlike in some other writing festivals) there was no hierarchical segregation, which meant that even a 21-year-old baby poet could hang out with the august writers, or at least shyly gaze on them from a distance. I remember a moment that first summer when Carolyn Forché (whose workshop I was in) introduced me to Marilynne Robinson (whose workshop I would be in decades later), then walked off, leaving us alone to chat. Terrifying! The Institute was crucial to my writerly education—not just, not even primarily, because of the workshops, but for the model of literary community created there. As I have said before in these (virtual) pages, I’m suspicious of “community” as a value, and writers, solitary creatures as a rule, typically shun it; but that’s why those two weeks at Skidmore were so valuable, why they still seem to me ideal: the community formed there was temporary, bounded, in a corporeal sense, but spiritually vast. A Republic of Letters.

I enjoyed working with both the professors and the students and I felt that by workshopping others’ pieces I grew as a writer myself.    

                  – 2019 PARTICIPANT


Photo by participant Aliah Candia