Q: How old are Conference participants?
A: We accept students currently enrolled in 9th, 10th and 11th grade. We do not accept rising 9th graders or students who will have completed the 12th grade at the time of the Conference.
Q: How do I apply to attend the Conference?
A: All prospective participants must submit an online application, where they will upload a personal statement detailing their interest in the conference and a brief writing sample: a few poems, a short story, a play, a creative nonfiction essay, or a recent English essay if they wish to try a genre with which have no experience. The online application will also ask for contact information--name and email address--of the English teacher whom an applicant chooses to write a letter of recommendation. The teacher will be sent an email with a link to the site, where he/she will submit the letter. The student is responsible for making sure the teacher follows through and submits the recommendation in a timely manner.
Q: Do you offer a workshop in songwriting?
A: We do not offer songwriting, but many songwriters have attended the conference. Often they enroll in the poetry section, but whichever workshop they choose, they have almost always found that the serious attention to language and form that our workshops encourage makes them better songwriters.
Q: How do participants prepare for the Conference?
A: Several months in advance of the Conference, participants receive a list of books to obtain and read before coming to Sewanee. The authors of these books, our special guests, visit campus in the summer to give a reading and meet with participants to discuss writing. There is at least one guest in each genre--fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and playwriting—and all students participate both in discussions of the assigned books and in the readings.
Q: May participants fly to the Conference?
A: Yes. We are located between the Nashville and Chattanooga airports, and we send shuttles to both of them on arrival and departure day.
Counselors accompany all shuttles to make sure students find their way in the airports.
Q: May participants bring their own cars to the Conference?
A: Participants may use their own cars to arrive and depart, but they must turn over their keys to the program coordinator for the duration of the Conference.
Q: Where do participants live during the Conference?
A: All Conference participants live in Benedict Hall, a popular, air-conditioned, courtyard dormitory on central campus. Men live on the ground floor; women live on the top floor. Participants live in suites where they share a room with one person and a bathroom with two others.
Q: Where do participants dine?
A: Participants, faculty, and staff all eat together in McClurg Hall, an extensive dining facility on central campus. Vegetarian and vegan options are readily available.
Q: How are participants supervised?
A: Benedict Hall is also home to five Counselors (a mix of college students, recent graduates, and M.F.A. students) who participate in all activities except morning workshops. Participants are allowed freedom to explore our beautiful campus, but we count heads at each conference event and at 10:30 p.m. each evening, when all participants are required to be in the dorm. We live in a remarkably safe community, and our staff pays careful and constant attention.
Q: How do participants spend their time at the Conference?
A: Participants spend three hours each morning in workshop. When not in class, students take hikes, explore caves, throw frisbees, sing karaoke, and attend Sewanee's Fourth of July festivities. Recreational activities are a part of most days. In the evenings, participants enjoy readings and craft lectures by faculty and special guests, who are accomplished and magnanimous writers. Participants will also have reading and writing assignments to complete most afternoons and evenings. Click here to view a sample schedule.
Q: How are workshops structured?
A: The morning workshop is the cornerstone of our Conference. Each workshop consists of ten participants guided by a member of our faculty, a singular group of professional writers who are both accomplished in their genres and passionate about teaching. Participants spend workshop sharing their own writing and responding to the writing of their peers, as well as writing from prompts, free writing and discussing readings assigned by the teachers. Workshops are not simply classes; they are close-knit microcosms of our larger creative community.
Q: May participants workshop in multiple genres?
A: Our workshops are dedicated to the serious study of fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and playwriting, and the formation of a writing community. Therefore each participant works deeply in a single genre, not lightly across the board. But ours is a varied literary world; participants hear and read work of all sorts, enjoy constant exposure to an accessible and enthusiastic faculty, and meet some of the most successful writers working today in each genre.