Orion Environmental Writers’ Workshop
June 18-23, 2023
The Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York
Join a community of writers, improve your craft, and reimagine how you think about nature. Guided by award-winning instructors, the Orion Environmental Writers’ Workshop provides an intimate space to connect with writers, artists, and editors, spark creativity, and renew, illuminate, and deepen your relationship with place. This week-long workshop is cosponsored by the Omega Center for Sustainable Living.
Whether your passion is nonfiction, fiction, or poetry, the Orion Environmental Writers’ Workshop is a creative laboratory for anyone seeking to reflect their environments through their work. The course features breakout sessions dedicated to intensive craft practice, faculty readings and lectures, student readings, and panels on publishing.
Workshops will be limited to twelve participants so that each participant receives individualized attention, feedback, and focused meetings with faculty members and Orion editors to discuss manuscripts, projects, or whatever is on their minds. Throughout the week, literary agents and editors will stop by and offer advice on bringing out your work in the publishing world.
HOW TO APPLY
The application period is open from February 1 – May 1, 2023.
Submit your application by clicking on the button below.
The early bird rate registration deadline is March 15. The final registration deadline is May 10th.
Workshops will be offered in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. Please submit a cover letter and sample of your work through Submittable. For prose, please send a 1,000 – 1,500 word writing sample; for poetry, send up to six pages of poetry.
Acceptances will be made on a rolling basis and applicants will be notified whether they have been admitted within a couple of weeks of applying.
Note that a variety of housing options at different price points are available at the Omega Institute. Those who apply earlier will be able to choose their housing sooner. Some housing options may sell out faster than others.
Some financial aid is available but in limited numbers. Please reach out if you’d like to discuss, or include a statement of need in your cover letter. **NOTE: The deadline for scholarship consideration is March 1st.**
More questions related to Orion workshops? Contact us.
Elizabeth Bradfield (poetry) is the author of five collections of poetry, most recently Toward Antarctica and Theorem, a collaboration with artist Antonia Contro, and she has coedited the anthologies Broadsided Press: Fifteen Years of Poetic/Artistic Collaboration, 2005–2020 and Cascadia Field Guide: Art, Ecology, Poetry (forthcoming in 2023). Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, Poetry, The Sun, and Orion, and her honors include the Audre Lorde Prize and a Stegner Fellowship. Based on Cape Cod, Liz works as a naturalist, teaches at Brandeis University, and runs Broadsided Press.
Francisco Cantú (nonfiction) is a writer, translator, and author of The Line Becomes a River, winner of the 2018 Los Angeles Times Book Prize and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in nonfiction. A former Fulbright Fellow, he has been the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, a Whiting Award, and an Art for Justice Fellowship. His writing and translations have been featured in The New Yorker, Best American Essays, Granta, and VQR, as well as on This American Life. A lifelong resident of the Southwest, he now lives in Tucson and coordinates the Field Studies in Writing Program at the University of Arizona, a residency that fosters work at the intersection of border justice and environmental issues.
Jennifer Elise Foerster (poetry) is the author of three books of poetry, most recently, The Maybe-Bird. She served as associate editor of When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through: A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry. She is the recipient of an NEA Creative Writing Fellowship, a Lannan Foundation Writing Residency Fellowship, and a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford. Jennifer currently teaches at the Rainier Writing Workshop and the Institute of American Indian Arts Continuing Education program. She lives in San Francisco.
Amy Irvine (fiction/nonfiction) is a sixth-generation Utahn and descendant of notorious Mormons. Her memoir, Trespass: Living at the Edge of the Promised Land, received the Orion Book Award, Ellen Meloy Desert Writers Award, and the Colorado Book Award. Desert Cabal: A New Season in the Wilderness is a feminist response to western wilderness icon Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire, and was included in Orion magazine’s “25 Most-Read Articles of the Decade,” Outside’s “Adventure Canon,” and Backpacker’s “New Wilderness Classics.” Her second memoir, Almost Animal, is forthcoming from Spiegel & Grau. Irvine lives and writes off-grid from a remote mesa in southwest Colorado.
J. Drew Lanham (nonfiction) is the author of The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature, which received the Southern Environmental Law Center’s Reed Award and the Southern Book Prize, and was a finalist for the John Burroughs Medal. His most recent book is Sparrow Envy: Field Guide to Birds and Lesser Beasts. He is a birder, naturalist, and hunter-conservationist who has published essays and poetry in publications including Orion, Audubon, Flycatcher, and Wilderness, and in several anthologies, including The Colors of Nature, State of the Heart, Bartram’s Living Legacy, and Carolina Writers at Home. A 2022 MacArthur Fellow, Alumni Distinguished Professor of Wildlife Ecology, and Master Teacher at Clemson University, he and his family live in upstate South Carolina, a soaring hawk’s downhill glide from the southern Appalachian escarpment that the Cherokee once called the Blue Wall.
Nadia Owusu (nonfiction) is a Brooklyn-based writer and urbanist. Her memoir, Aftershocks, was selected as a best book of 2021 by more than a dozen publications, including Time, Vogue, Esquire, and the BBC. It was named one of Barack Obama’s favorite books of the year and a New York Times Editors’ Choice. She is a winner of the 2019 Whiting Award in Nonfiction, and her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Orion, Granta, the Paris Review Daily, The Guardian, the Wall Street Journal, Bon Appétit, Travel + Leisure, and others. Nadia is the director of storytelling at Frontline Solutions, a Black-owned consulting firm that helps social change organizations define goals, execute plans, and evaluate impact. She teaches creative writing at Columbia University and Southern New Hampshire University’s Mountainview MFA program.
Travel: The Omega Institute is easily accessible. It is conveniently located in Rhinebeck, New York, with easy access to major airports and public transportation.
Tuition and Board: Tuition is $1200 ($1100 early bird rate if you register by March 15th). Additional room and board fees vary based on your choice of accommodation and range from $495-1500.
When successful applicants call Omega, they will be given various housing options for their 5-day stay, including private cabins, dorm rooms, and tent space. Fees are all-inclusive and include three meals a day, optional daily classes in yoga, meditation, and tai chi, and access to amenities like tennis courts, a basketball court, walking trails, boating on the lake, the Ram Dass Library, the Sanctuary for meditation and an Omega Art Bag with art supplies for drawing or painting.
The campus also offers a Wellness Center with massage and other services for an additional cost.
Meals: The Omega Institute offers local, organic, sustainable, nutrient-dense, artisanal, and whole-food meals, and is able to accommodate a variety of tastes, dietary needs, and food allergies.
What do you want to see in my cover letter?
As much as you want to share! We love hearing about your background, career, hobbies, relationship to literature and the environment, why you’re drawn to an Orion workshop, and anything else. Knowing a bit about you helps with class matchmaking, and gives staff a head start on casual mealtime conversation.
What is daily programming like?
You can find a sample schedule here, subject to change.
Check-in on Sunday, June 18th runs 4-7 pm. Dinner is available that evening and there will be a brief welcome/orientation beginning around 7:30 pm.
The daily broad strokes Monday - Thursday are that class workshops run after breakfast, 9-12 daily (Friday morning, too), followed by lunch and free-time/individual conferences/opportunities to chat with Orion staff at the campus café. Each afternoon there will be a professional panel or discussion open to everyone, and every evening after dinner there will be a public reading (faculty on Monday and Tuesday, students on Wednesday and Thursday).
Morning workshop sessions run until noon on Friday, June 23rd, followed by lunch if you'd like it. Plan to depart campus at 1 pm that afternoon.
You will receive a more precise schedule as we get closer to the event.
How is the workshop set up?
You will be assigned to a particular instructor’s workshop and your group will meet for a three-hour session each morning. Most workshops feature a mix of craft talks, readings, manuscript review, and generative prompts.
How many students are in each class?
Each workshop has no more than twelve students.
Will my writing sample be workshopped in class?
Probably not. Your instructor will be in touch ahead of the event with information regarding class expectations. You may be asked to bring a piece you’re already working on (which could be your writing sample) to the workshop (or your one-on-one), but instructors may also focus on new work generated during class.
Can I submit a previously published writing sample in my application?
Sure. We suggest sending what you feel is your strongest work.
Can I request a particular workshop instructor?
Yes, and we try to honor first and second choices as much as possible. That said, we put a lot of thought into group dynamics as we fill our classes, so we also encourage you to simply apply and see where you end up.
How does registration work?
If your application is accepted, Orion will send an email on how to contact Omega to officially claim your spot. Omega handles all payments and housing selections. You will be asked to claim your spot and register within four weeks of acceptance (or by the registration deadline if that falls sooner than four weeks from acceptance). For the early bird registration rate please register by March 15th. We ask everyone to officially register by May 10th.
What is Omega’s 2023 Covid-19 protocol?
Omega keeps this page updated with the latest.
Who do I go to with questions about train stations, food allergies, lodging, and campus amenities?
Try here first, then call the Omega help desk at 877-944-2002 if you still have questions.
Do you offer financial aid?
We do have some partial tuition scholarships available in limited quantities. If you would like to be considered for one, mention it in your cover letter with a statement of need, and apply by March 1st. We will read all requests for aid together before making any final decisions.
More questions related to Orion workshops? Contact us here.