Community of Writers at Squaw Valley

The mission of the Community of Writers is to assist talented writers with diverse cultural perspectives to achieve their goals. Through the interplay of talented participants, professionals, and established writers in a community atmosphere, prose writers are assisted in their journeys from writers to authors, and poets to achieve resonant frameworks for their collected words. CW serves California and the country as a literary center for the craft of poetry, fiction and nonfiction.

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Address: PO Box 1416
Nevada City, CA 95959
County or Parish: Nevada County
Executive Director: Brett Hall Jones
Contact Email:
Primary Phone: 530-470-8440
For 49 summers, the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley has brought together poets, prose writers, and screenwriters for separate weeks of workshops, individual conferences, lectures, panels, readings, and discussions of the craft and the business of writing. Our aim is to assist writers to improve their craft and thus, in an atmosphere of camaraderie and mutual support, move them closer to achieving their goals. The Community of Writers holds its summer writing workshops in Squaw Valley, California. The Community of Writers was established in 1969 by novelists Blair Fuller and Oakley Hall, who were both residents of the valley. Over the years the community has mounted workshops in Fiction, Nonfiction, Screenwriting, Playwriting, Poetry, Nature Writing, and Writing the Medical Experience. Since 1991, The Community of Writers has been under the direction of Brett Hall Jones, Oakley Hall's daughter. Lisa Alvarez and Louis B. Jones co-direct the Fiction Program and Michael Carlisle directs the nonfiction Program of the Writers Workshop. Robert Hass has directed the Poetry Workshop since 2004. The Screenwriters Workshop, directed and founded by Diana Fuller, will be folded into the Writers Workshop, beginning in 2016. In addition to providing writing and poetry workshops, The Community of Writers also strives to assist writers in their careers after they have attended through a comprehensive alumni website, various events hosted throughout the west, including poetry readings, published alumni readings, and attendance at conventions and book fairs. We often hire select successful alumni back as summer staff members. Along with promotional assistance, the Community of Writers works hard to foster a wide network of alumni writers that assist and support each other. We do this through publication of the Omnium Gatherum and newsletter, maintaining several Facebook alumni groups, and publication of an annual poetry anthology, Written Here: The Community of Writers Poetry Anthology. The Community of Writers at Squaw Valley has two, week-long summer writing workshops: Poetry and Writers Workshops. Regular morning workshops, staff readings, craft talks, panel discussions on writing and editing, as well as individual conferences are offered during the week. Donations can be directed to particular programs' Scholarship Funds which pay for tuition, or can be directed to general operations for specific programs.
The Community of Writers at Squaw Valley is facing rising facilities costs, which directly impacts the cost of the program and the cost of tuition for each writer and poet who wishes to attend. We strive to offer as much financial aid as we can to applicants that express a need for it, which helps ensure that the workshops remain diverse, and all writers, no matter their economic resources, have access to them. Because of the caliber of participants, we are able to attract the highest quality staff, however, they are paid very little to teach at the workshops. It is our goal to support the writing staff by paying them a higher honorarium. Our top needs: 1. Funding: Program - Operating Funds ($20,000): The cost to run the summer writing workshops has escalated in recent years as the Squaw Valley Ski resort has become a year-round destination. An increase of $25,000 in operating funds would help offset the need to raise our tuition. 2. Funding: Other - Student Scholarships/Financial Aid ($10,000): The Community of Writers is unique in the amount of financial aid offered to applicants. Every effort is made to meet the financial needs of the writers selected for admission into the conference. 3. Funding: Other - Staff Honoraria: ($10,000): We would like to increase the current staff honoraria to reflect market rates and continue to attract a higher caliber of writer. 4. Board Members - Board Members: The Community of Writers at Squaw Valley has an active board of 27 members. It is our goal to encourage community members who support literature and are actively working to increase funding for the arts to consider serving on the Board. 5. Funding: Other - Support Staff ($10,000): The Community of Writers has become a year round endeavor, and the work load increases each year. We have recently added a Development and Alumni Relations position to help support the community.
We've been here for a long while now, forty-nine years. And our longevity - which nobody exactly planned on - makes us believe even more in what we do. We run a very tight budget and try very hard to hold costs down and keep workshops affordable to the participants. The Community of Writers is an independent group, not a project of any college or university. We are emphatically a not-for-profit organization, run by a group of writers to help other writers, with no institution funding our operations or managing the budget or providing the venue. But every year our expenses rise. In recent years much faster than our modest tuition increases can absorb. As such, we depend on the generosity of our fellow writers, alumni, and patrons of the arts to help us meet our financial goals. The impact of attending a summer writing conference at Squaw Valley is best relayed by the writers who have been through the program.

Consider this feedback from Curtis Last, who attended the Poetry Workshop in 2013: "I am a Hospital Corpsman in the United States Naval Reserves who volunteered for deployment to Afghanistan in 2011. I had the honor of taking care of our wounded troops, as well as Afghani civilians, and even captured enemy. I saw and directly treated a lot of unimaginable injuries and experienced the most inglorious elements of death frequently during my 7-1/2 months in the theater. In our culture, I feel that the population at large is completely out of touch with our warrior culture, and hope my poetry can bridge that gap in understanding. Unfortunately, I have had difficulties bringing some of my experiences to the page. This past June, I had the opportunity to attend the poetry workshop. It was possibly the most productive period of creation and community engagement I have experienced in years. The whole essence of the community- the other students, the teaching faulty, and the staff, all created an energy that was hard to not tap into. I would hate to think that this community would be affected by lack of funds."

With your help we can continue to offer a place for writers to flourish and build a community of writers that support each other.

Brett Hall Jones
Executive Director
Community of Writers at Squaw Valley
-- Brett Hall Jones, Executive Director