Skip to Main Content
Skidmore College
NYS Summer Young Writers Institute

2018 Summer Young Writers Institute Visiting Authors

Elizabeth Benedict

Elizabeth BenedictElizabeth Benedict is a bestselling novelist, journalist, and editor. Her novels include Slow Dancing, shortlisted for the National Book Award, Almost and The Practice of Deceit.Her journalism and essays appear in The New York Times, Salmagundi, Esquire, Tin House, and many other publications. She is the founder of an internationally known college application essay firm, Don’t Sweat the Essay, which helps students around the world craft winning application essays via Skype. Using her decades of experience as an editor and professor of creative writing at Princeton, Columbia, Swarthmore, and elsewhere, she helps high school seniors find topics, find their voices, and craft essays that are unique and persuasive. She has been on the fiction faculty of the New York State Summer Writers Institute for 20 years. Please visit her website or email

Jon Sands

Jon Sands

Jon sands is the author of The New Clean (2011, Write Bloody Publishing), as well as the co-host of The Poetry Gods Podcast. His work has been published widely, and anthologized in The Best American Poetry. He's a Youth Mentor with Urban Word-NYC, and teaches creative writing for adults at Bailey House in East Harlem (an HIV/AIDS service center). He's a recent MFA Graduate in Fiction from Brooklyn College, where his work won the Himan Brown Award for short stories. He's represented New York City multiple times at the National Poetry Slam, and lives in Brooklyn. (Photo by Jonathan Weiskopf)


Kathryn Walat

Kathryn Walat(Playwright): Plays include: Creation (The Theatre @ Boston Court, Pasadena; Ovation Award for Playwriting nomination), Bleeding Kansas (Hangar Theatre, Ithaca; Francesca Primus Citation/American Theatre Critics Association), Victoria Martin: Math Team Queen (Women’s Project, Off-Broadway; published in New Playwrights: The Best Plays of 2007), See Bat Fly (Brown-Trinity Playwrights Rep), Ancient Gods of the Backwoods (New George’s Germ Project, NYC), Know Dog (Salvage Vanguard, Austin), Johnny Hong Kong (Perishable Theatre, Providence), On the Road anthology project (Actors’ Theatre of Louisville). Opera libretti: Paul’s Case (Pittsburgh Opera, Prototype Festival; The New Yorker’s 10 Notable Performances of 2014), Jason and the Argonauts (Lyric Opera of Chicago), The Echo Drift (co-librettist; Prototype Festival, NYC). Residencies include: Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, The American Academy in Rome (Affiliated Fellow), Bay Area Playwrights Festival, and Yaddo. Commissions from: MCC Theatre, Yale Rep, and New Georges, where she is also an Affiliated Artist. Education: BA Brown University, MFA Yale School of Drama. Kate is an Assistant Professor in the Theatre Program at University at Albany (SUNY).