Colgate Writers' Conference - Faculty Skip Navigation

Colgate Writers' Conference - Faculty

Each year, an array of faculty members contribute their expertise to the Writers' Conference.

Workshop Leaders

Greg Ames
Greg AmesBiography
Greg Ames is the author of Buffalo Lockjaw, a novel that won the Book of the Year Award from the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association (NAIBA). Buffalo Lockjaw was voted #1 in The Believer's Reader Survey. His work has appeared in numerous literary journals, magazines and anthologies, including The Best American Nonrequired Reading, McSweeney's, Southern Review, The Sun, and Fiction International, among others. He is an assistant professor in the English department at Colgate University.

Short Fiction Workshop Description
This is a supportive and intensive fiction workshop. We read and discuss submitted work and generate new writing in class. After your story is discussed in the workshop, I will meet with you in an hour-long private tutorial to discuss specific elements of your writing. In her essay “The Nature and Aim of Fiction,” Flannery O’Connor describes the habit of art as “a certain quality or virtue of the mind,” a form of curiosity about the world and a devotion to seeing and feeling. I’m not saying a summer workshop can provide that, but my hope is that you’ll consider this week an opportunity to take artistic chances that might prove fulfilling. I look forward to meeting you.
Jennifer Brice
Jennifer BriceBiography
Jennifer Brice has been on the Colgate faculty since 2003. Unlearning to Fly, a memoir in essays, is her latest book. She is also the author of The Last Settlers, a work of literary journalism. Her essays have appeared in such journals as The Gettysburg Review, Under the Sun, and River Teeth.

A graduate of Smith College, Jennifer holds an MFA from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. At Colgate, she teaches courses in creative writing and literature, as well as Living Writers on Colgate X.

Full: Creative Nonfiction Intensive Workshop Description
A nurturing, rigorous workshop open to writers of memoirs, essays, and journalism. Partial or complete book manuscripts welcome. The idea is to meet every manuscript where it's at and help the writer take it to the next level. Ideally, everyone should come to the conference having read everyone's manuscript with care. Detailed written comments aren't necessary; constructive contributions are. Individual conferences will be scheduled in addition to the workshop. Depending on time, we may read outside work and generate new writing.

Carrie Brown
Carrie BrownBiography
Carrie Brown is author of six novels, mostly recently The Last First Day (Pantheon, 2013) and a collection of short stories, The House on Belle Isle (Algonquin, 2002). A new novel, The Stargazer’s Sister, will be published by Pantheon in January 2016. She has won many awards for her work, including a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Barnes & Noble Discover Award for her first novel, Rose’s Garden (Algonquin, 1998), and the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize, among others. Her short stories and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in journals including The Southern Review, One Story, Glimmer Train, The Georgia Review, The Oxford American, and Tin House. She taught for many years at Sweet Briar College alongside her husband, the writer John Gregory Brown, and from 2012 to 2015 was the Distinguished Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at Hollins University. She and her husband now live in Massachusetts, where she is the Wilson Fellow at Deerfield Academy.

Novel Intensive Workshop Description
This writing workshop focuses on the novel – in all its many parts and aspects, in all its abundance and specificity – and aims to provide writers with useful, supportive responses that will help them move forward with the process of revision. Participants may submit full or partial manuscripts (minimum 50 pages) and will be asked to read each other’s work in advance of the workshop. The workshop is most productive when participants prepare written comments on each other’s work; line edits and comments in the margins of a manuscript are welcome, and a letter that attempts to describe a reader’s overall experience of the novel is helpful. (As Iris Murdoch said, “Literature is meant to be grasped by enjoyment.” Try to articulate your “enjoyment” of the work in question, and to be descriptive rather than prescriptive in your responses.) We will spend each morning discussing one manuscript in detail – and sometimes looking at work by writers outside the workshop, where such examples seem useful -- and I will meet individually with the writer in the afternoon, providing line editing in certain areas to help the writer address specific issues, as well as written comments aimed at giving the writer direction and confidence.

John Gregory Brown
John Gregory BrownBiography
Born and raised in New Orleans, John Gregory Brown is the author of the novels Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery; The Wrecked, Blessed Body of Shelton Lafleur; and Audubon’s Watch. His fourth novel, A Thousand Miles from Nowhere, will be published by Lee Boudreaux Books, an imprint of Little Brown & Co., in June 2016. His honors include a Lyndhurst Prize, the Lillian Smith Award, the John Steinbeck Award, A Howard Foundation fellowship, and the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Book of the Year Award. After two decades as the Julia Jackson Nichols Professor of English at Sweet Briar College, he now teaches at Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts. He and his wife, the novelist Carrie Brown, have three children.

Novel Intensive Workshop Description
In this workshop we’ll tackle as many of the aches, pains, wonders, missteps, dance moves, sorrows, and joys of writing a novel as we can manage. For the workshop sessions themselves, please be willing to submit the best pages you’ve got – at least fifty of them – and a brief summary of your plans for the novel as a whole. We’ll have workshops in the morning in which we’ll talk about your writing, and I’ll meet with everyone in one-on-one conferences during the week. In advance of arrival, workshop participants should compose detailed responses – sympathetic and constructive and forward-looking – to their fellow participants’ submissions. Based on the work submitted, I’ll also bring in excerpts from other novels that I think might be helpful, and we’ll read and discuss those as well.

J. Robert Lennon
J. Robert LennonBiography
J. Robert Lennon is the author of two story collections, Pieces For The Left Hand and See You in Paradise, and seven novels, including Mailman, Castle, and Familiar. He holds an MFA from the University of Montana, and has published short fiction in The New Yorker, Harper's, Playboy, Granta, The Paris Review, Tin House, and elsewhere. He has been anthologized in Best American Short Stories, Best American Nonrequired Reading, and Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, and his story "The Rememberer" inspired the detective TV series Unforgettable. Lennon's book reviews have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Guardian, and The London Review of Books, and he lives in Ithaca, New York, where he teaches writing at Cornell University.

Novel Intensive Workshop Description
This workshop will focus on writing and revising a novel. Participants are welcome to submit whatever they've finished, whether it's a full draft that needs revision or a small excerpt that is looking for direction. Please indicate, on the first page of your submission, what sort of advice you're seeking—are you open to major changes, or do you merely want to refine what you've got? Participants should be prepared to do a lot of reading in preparation for the conference. Close line editing of other participants' manuscripts won't be necessary, but I'd like everyone to be able to comment in detail on each submission, and provide one another with an editorial memo. I will also give each of you a detailed memo, of course, and will line-edit representative portions of each manuscript. Each participant will get his or her own in-depth workshop session, and I'll bring along examples of published books and stories that might inspire you.

Kathleen Ossip
Kathleen Ossip Biography
Kathleen Ossip is the author of The Do-Over, a New York Times Editors' Choice; The Cold War, which was one of Publishers Weekly's best books of 2011; The Search Engine, which was selected by Derek Walcott for the American Poetry Review/Honickman First Book Prize; and Cinephrastics, a chapbook of movie poems. Her poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, Best American Magazine Writing, the Washington Post, Paris Review, Poetry, The Believer, A Public Space, and Poetry Review (London). She teaches at The New School in New York, and she is the co-editor of the poetry review website SCOUT (

Poetry Workshop Description
During the course of our workshop, we’ll explore many aspects of the poetic landscape. First and most important, this is a workshop, a studio class – which means that your work, and your responses to your classmates’ work, will be front and center. Every day, student work will be read and discussed. We'll talk about how to develop your strengths, how to recognize and mine inspiration, how to become more ambitious in your goals for your work, how to open up to new areas of expression, what revision practices work best for you. We’ll also do periodic in-class and out-of-class writing exercises – to encourage spontaneity, experimentation, and general poetic craziness. Finally, part of our time together will be spent exploring some of the most compelling issues informing contemporary poetry: specific aspects of craft and content and a consideration of various outposts and ideas about contemporary practice.

Joni Tevis
Joni TevisBiography
Formerly a park ranger, factory worker, and seller of cemetery plots, Joni Tevis is the author of two books of essays, The Wet Collection: A Field Guide to Iridescence and Memory, and The World Is On Fire: Scrap, Treasure, and Songs of Apocalypse, both published by Milkweed Editions. Her essays have appeared in Orion, Oxford American, Poets & Writers, the Pushcart Prize anthology, and elsewhere. She serves as the Bennette E. Geer Professor of Literature at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina.

Creative Nonfiction Intensive Workshop Description
This workshop will explore the art and craft of creative nonfiction. We will apprentice ourselves to published work as well as to our own lives, exploring the building blocks of nonfiction. Armed with this knowledge, we will apply new techniques to our own essays, which may take the form of memoirs, personal essays, lyric essays, natural history, or journalism.

Our writing exercises will help us engage in the work and play of writing. Among other exercises, we’ll try our hands at becoming “archaeologists of memory,” using fragments of history—postcards, photographs, and other ephemera—as triggering points for our own work. As we workshop and revise together, we will grow into the habit of reading as writers, writing voraciously, being “one on whom nothing is lost,” and becoming wise and generous editors of our own and others’ work.


Readers and Speakers

Peter Balakian
Peter BalakianBiography
Peter Balakian is the author of seven books of poems, including Ziggurat (2010) and June-tree: New and Selected Poems, 1974-2000 and Ozone Journal (2015). His books of prose include Black Dog of Fate (an American son uncovers his Armenian Past), which won the 1998 PEN/Martha Albrand Prize for the Art of the Memoir, and was a best book of the year for the New York Times, the LA Times, and Publisher’s Weekly, and The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response (HarperCollins, 2004), which won the 2005 Raphael Lemkin Prize and was a New York Times Notable Book and a New York Times Best Seller, and his newly published selected essays Vice and Shadow: Essays on the Lyric Imagination, Poetry, Art, and Culture.

Balakian is the recipient of many awards, prizes, and civic citations, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, The Spendlove Prize for Social Justice, Tolerance, and Diplomacy (recipients include President Carter); and The Emily Clark Balch Prize for poetry from the Virginia Quarterly Review. He has appeared widely on national television and radio (60 Minutes, ABC World News Tonight, PBS, Charlie Rose, CNN, C-SPAN, NPR, Fresh Air, etc), and his work has been translated into a dozen languages and foreign editions, including Armenian, Arabic, Bulgarian, French, Dutch, Greek, German, Hebrew, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Spanish, and Turkish. He is the Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor of the Humanities, Professor of English, and Director of Creative Writing at Colgate University.

Sasha Bristol
Sasha Bristol writes smart, readable, fun, and sexy literary romances and historical fiction. In writing The Novelist's Wife, Sasha visited many of the places Frieda lived both before and after she met D.H. Lawrence: Metz, Berlin, Munich, numerous parts of Italy, London, Cornwall, New Mexico, and southern France. One memorable day, she persuaded a taxi driver in Nottingham to help her find each house occupied by Frieda and Ernest Weekley, moving up a steep hill and ending at a private road that made her understand Frieda's boredom--and Ernest's outrage--at the end of their marriage.

Also memorably, she visited Lawrence's tomb several times to read the messages people continue to leave for D.H. Lawrence in the chapel Frieda had built. They update relationships, make astonishing sexual and amorous confessions, and muse on experience in general. As Frieda hoped, people really do come to visit D.H. Lawrence to tell him about their lives.

Sasha's goal in The Novelist's Wife has been to give texture to Frieda's story, which has been labeled, far too simply, as sloppily promiscuous and contrasted with Lawrence's brand of monogamy--a contrast that seems to her quite dubious. Frieda had what has been called "a genius for life"--and more than a few theories about how women should behave as wives, mothers, and lovers.

The Novelist's Wife shares the spirit of The Paris Wife, Loving Frank, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, Vanessa and Her Sister, and even the Fifty Shades Trilogy. Sasha has a long-standing interest in fiction that builds on factual histories and an even longer stake in novels as friends for life.

Like Frieda Lawrence, Sasha likes pueblo dances, art, and being in nature. A very contemporary woman, she also spends a lot of time with plays, movies, restaurants, and music. She has two daughters and lives mostly in New York, with her husband.

Kim Edwards
Kim EdwardsBiography
A graduate of Colgate University, Kim is the author of a story collection, The Secrets of a Fire King, was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award. Her stories have been published in The Paris Review, Story, Ploughshares, Zoetrope, and many other periodicals. She has received many awards for the short story as well, including a Pushcart Prize, the National Magazine Award, the Nelson Algren Award, and inclusion in both The Best American Short Stories and the Symphony Space program ‘Selected Shorts.’ She is the recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award, as well as grants from the Pennsylvania and Kentucky Arts Councils, the Kentucky Foundation for Women, and the National Endowment for the Arts. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, her first novel, was a Barnes and Noble Discover Award pick and became a word-of-mouth best-seller, spending 122 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list, 20 of those weeks at #1. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter won the Kentucky Literary Award and the British Book Award, and was chosen as Book of the Year for 2006 by USA Today.  Her second novel, The Lake of Dreams, an Independent Booksellers pick, was also an international best seller; her work has been published in more than 32 countries. Currently, Kim is working on a new novel, as well as a collection of related stories.

David Ryan
David Ryan Biography
David Ryan is the author of the story collection Animals in Motion (Roundabout Press). Stories of his have appeared, or are forthcoming, in Esquire, Electric Literature, BOMB, Tin House, Fence, No Tokens Journal, Hayden's Ferry Review,, Booth, Denver Quarterly, Alaska Quarterly Review, New Orleans Review, Cimarron Review, several Mississippi Review Prize issues, Nerve, Hobart, and Salt Hill, among others. His fiction has been anthologized in WW Norton's Flash Fiction Forward, The Mississippi Review: 30, and Akashic Book's Boston Noir 2: The Classics. His essays, reviews and interviews have appeared in The Paris Review, The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature, Tin House, BookForum, and elsewhere. A recipient of the Elizabeth Yates McGreal Writer in Residence, a Connecticut state arts grant and a Macdowell fellowship, he currently teaches in the writing program at Sarah Lawrence College and in the low residency program at New England College.