Many summer writing programs for college students focus on craft and critique. The Summer Writing Program at Naropa goes beyond that approach, pushing participants to bend genres, take risks, and enliven the creative writing process.
In a creative writing program like no other, students, poets, fiction writers, musicians, editors, translators, Buddhist teachers, performance artists, and more meet for three transformative weeks on Naropa's campus in Boulder, Colorado.
Here, we invoke and continue the "Outrider" lineage — a legacy of revolutionary scholarship and counter-poetics that exists alongside but in healthy resistance to the norms of academic mainstream culture. This is not a traditional summer writing program. Rather, it's an ongoing experiment in creative freedom.
Whether your medium is poetry, fiction, experimental theater, or a combination of genres, Naropa's Summer Writing Program will help you reveal truth as you refine your craft.
Change the composition of your summer, your work, and your life.
The first Summer Writing Program drew over 1,300 students to Boulder, transforming the small mountain town into "a magnet of learning and exploration and promise” (East-West Journal, September 1974). Allen Ginsberg, Anne Waldman, John Cage, Amiri Baraka, and other great thinkers of the time came to read their work, teach poetry writing classes, and engage in community with students from around the country. The success of that first Summer Writing Program was the impetus for the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics.
Grounded in Naropa's contemplative mission, both the Jack Kerouac School and the Summer Writing Program are committed to social change through contemplation and community. As champions of experimental, open-genre writing, the Summer Writing Program has, since its very first days, sought to revolutionize the act of creative writing.
The Summer Writing Program is open to any interested participant, though it also serves as a third semester for Jack Kerouac School MFA degree students. The palpable sense of excitement from that first summer has carried through to each subsequent Summer Writing Program.
As poet and SWP faculty member CAConrad said, "I leave here filled with information that changes my life." We think you will, too.
Each year, the three weeks of Naropa’s Summer Writing Program are inspired by a central concept. All courses — whether fiction, experimental prose, poetry, or performance — tie into that overarching theme.
Past Summer Writing Programs have included 2019’s Against Atrocity, which included courses such as Poetics of Political Change with Solmaz Sharif or Stress Compositions, a multi-media workshop with artist Ronaldo Wilson. 2018’s theme, The Capital-Ocene, included workshops with Hoa Nguyen (Matrix Mix: Archetypes and Myth) and Tonya Foster (Activating the Afterlife).
The Summer Writing Program offers three distinct forums for learning:
2021 Course Catalog TBD
With a lineage rooted in poets of the Beat Generation, the Summer Writing Program holds at its center ideals of social justice and social change. Guest faculty member Janine Pommy Vega reminds us that Jack Kerouac School co-founder Allen Ginsberg "was a major proponent of 'bare knuckle warrior poetics.' That means you hit the ground running, you see [what’s happening], and you do something about it. What is going to be your role here?"
The Summer Writing Program asks poets and writers to recognize that they're writing not in a vacuum, but in the larger context of social issues. In the words of co-founder Anne Waldman, the program "is here to help wake you up."
In college creative writing programs, a sense of community is essential. Few creative writing programs foster writing communities as supportive and welcoming as Naropa's. The Summer Writing Program, like the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, values presence over prestige and collaboration over competition.
Here, poetry writing classes and fiction workshops are opportunities to exchange ideas and learn from your peers. Literary readings are opportunities to celebrate and share in the growth of our fellow writers. This isn't just a creative writing program. It's a meeting place.
We’ll see you there.
How to Attend
|“A lot of academia keeps things cloistered off or pigeon-holed into boxes: this is math, this is science, this is English. While it makes sense why that kind of tidiness would happen, I don't think art is tidy a lot of the time. Naropa has provided a place for my art to be sprawling."|
Zoe Azrael, Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Poetics, 2014
|“It's a new kind of poetry and a new kind of awareness. We're at a stage where we're not pretending that environmental degradation isn't happening; we're recognizing it and asking ourselves, as poets, how can poetry change the world?”|
|Jaclyn Hawkins, Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Poetics, 2014|