Green Mountain Writers' Conference - About

Green Mountain Writers Conference


Introduction Introduction | About | Accommodations

The Green Mountain Writers Conference will celebrate its 20th anniversary this year!

The conference started subversively as an effort to create a gathering of writers that was as encouraging to new or inexperienced writers as it would be useful to those who had succeeded in publishing stories and poems. After several years of participating and attending other conferences and classes for writers across the genres, the conference director Yvonne Daley had become dismayed by what she saw as a pattern of management in which emerging and developing writers could easily become discouraged from continuing to write by a nasty critique or grandstanding on the part of another participant or lack of respect by a workshop leader. Yvonne felt the inherent hierarchy of many of the conferences she'd attended was the root of the problem. The "stars" among the staff and the participants got all the attention and perks while newcomers and developing writers got the left-overs. Yvonne vowed to have a different tone at the conference she instituted.

Yvonne also felt that size mattered. Some of the conferences she had taught at had become too large for individual attendees to attend the workshops they wanted or to get to know other attendees. Writing is a solitary act, a leap of faith in which we work to bring the ideas in our head, our own experiences, our research and our true and imaginary tales to life on the page or the screen. It is both an art and a craft. It requires attention, commitment, truthfulness, self-examination and encouragement. Because we labor alone, we need a community of honest supporters who can help us to see what works in our stories and poems and what doesn't, an environment in which we can learn from others while holding on to the right of our individual voices. By keeping our conference small, even the most shy or reticent person can make a friend, share their work with another attendee or a staff writers and feel surrounded by people who care to listen.

All this is what we set out to do in 1997 when a group of Vermont writers who had published work across the genres and also had given considerable thought to teaching the mechanics and magic of writing joined Yvonne in her experiment in creating a different kind of writing conference. The result, for 19 years, has been a weeklong gathering of writers who practice the art and craft of writing together, joyfully and sometimes tearfully, experiencing a level of freedom and support that can't be found in large conference settings or places where the value is set on big publishing contracts, rather than the quality and enjoyment of the practice. That is not to say that we don't value publishing. Indeed, many of our past and returning attendees have had considerable success with their books, articles and other work. But it is not our reason to be. You are. By that we mean that our attendees and their words are what matters to the conference organizers and staff.

And, while our staff has consistently included many of the nation's best authors and teachers of writing, you will find them accessible, present after workshops, at lunch and in the evening. Each year, the staff is carefully chosen to include published authors who also have a gift of sharing their expertise, open to conceding their own limitations, struggles and even failures. Writing is hard work. Don't kid yourself otherwise. But it can be fun, as well. And we promise both at the conference.

The conference is held at the gorgeous and restorative Mountain Top Inn in Chittenden, Vermont. This beautiful rural resort has comfortable guest rooms in the main inn and a variety of cabins and houses available to participants who live too far to commute or locals who want to immerse themselves in the conference experience. Located on the shores of a 721-acre lake surrounded by national forest land that rises dramatically to elevations of more than 2,000 feet, the inn provides a canvas for the full effect of Vermont's dramatic summer season. We've rearranged our schedule this year to provide free time for enjoying the natural resources of the area and, of course, for writing and sharing strategies, challenges, ideas and written work with others who love words. We'll provide the opportunity for small-group readings as well as for some participants to read a short excerpt from their work to all participants.

Mountain Top offers us a greatly reduced rate, which will include breakfast and lunch, snacks and beverages, cookies and fruits during the day, and access to the inn's ammenities. These include swimming in both a pool and the pristine Chittenden Dam; kayaking, hiking and horseback riding, a spa and other activities. Details are available below.

As in previous years, attendees make their own housing arrangements. If you choose not to stay at the Mountain Top Inn, you'll also find airbnb rentals and less expensive motels in the area. Please look for possibilities in Chittenden, on Route 4 in Mendon and in Killington. Some people even camp or rent shelters in the nearby Gifford Woods State Park.

Again this year, we've invited a group of award-winning novelists, short-story writers, poets and essayists -- all together an astonishingly gifted crew of authors -- who will open their toolboxes and share the tricks of their trade with conference attendees. Our philosophy is to meet each person at his or her level of comfort and competence and provide strategies, techniques and feedback that might make you a better writer and reader.

And because music is so essential to the creative process, again this year we've invited poet Verandah Porche and musician Patty Carpenter to share new work with us and lead a blues workshop.

None of these words about the location or logistics of the conference rightly describes the Green Mountain Writers Conference, because what happens here each year is something magical. For five days each summer, people who have been coming to the conference for years and first-timers together and separately joyously tackle the job of putting words together to tell story, to craft poetry, to communicate, to share, learning from one another under the close tutelage of published authors. We are a casual lot but we are fierce about using our time together to learn and grow.

This year's staff includes:

Yvonne Daley, Elizabeth Inness-Brown, Justen Ahren , Major Jackson, Chuck Clarino, Verandah Porche, Patty Carpenter and Elizabeth Rosner

Fur conference this year will run from Monday afternoon to Friday afternoon, with readings by our staff writers Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights and several afternoons. We'll offer a choice between prose and poetry workshops twice most days, as well as open readings for participants each afternoon.

The conference director Yvonne Daley will open the conference with a welcoming reception mid-afternoon Monday, July 23; there, you'll have the opportunity to meet the staff and other participants, and take part in a quick writing exercise. We'll break to let you get settled into your rooms and meet one another, take a swim or kayak, and have dinner, and get back together for our keynote talk at 7:30 p.m.

Over the course of the next four days, participants can take part in a variety of writing sessions, led by one of our professional writers. These sessions present opportunities to develop writing skills and practice them immediately, following prompts offered by the instructors.

Of course, some of you might choose an Adirondack chair situated lakeside or under a maple tree instead of the classroom for an hour or so, to work on a piece in process or follow a new idea. After all, there's inspiration to be found surrounded by so much living green or watching the loons patrolling the far shore. Here, the poet might suddenly discover the right image for a poem she has been struggling to finish for months and a memoir writer might contemplate a scene from the past and suddenly the memory returns whole and is quickly captured on the page held in the writer's lap.

That's the kind of place The Green Mountain Writers' Conference is. Think of it as summer camp for writers -- an opportunity for you to escape the demands of everyday life and immerse yourself in the experience of creating poems, stories and essays, all in a setting that brings you back to the freedom of youth, to a place where nature reigns and time moves a bit more slowly.

Why Vermont?

Throughout time, Vermont has attracted more than its share of the nation's best and most interesting writers. The reasons for this are many and complex but, as participants at our conference have experienced over the years, that combination of rural beauty and tolerant community so richly found in this small state snuggled into America's far northeast corner is a fine prescription for breaking through writer's block, restoring confidence, and developing the skills needed to turn thoughts and ideas into stories and poems.

When we first started our conference, we hired only writers living in Vermont but over the years have expanded far and wide. You'll find, however, whichever area our staff writer lives that they share a generosity of spirit and a desire to use their words to make the world a better place, to foster understanding, to bridge cultures and explore common joys and sorrow.

Who comes to the Green Mountain Writers Conference?

We use the terms "emerging" and "developing" to describe the kind of writers who usually find our conference particularly useful and enjoyable. Many writers come to us with a desire to write, a longing to write and some natural talent. At the same time, they might feel stalled in their progress or don't know how to approach new material. Other participants need some basic tools to get started or feedback on what they have been struggling to express in the isolation of their notebooks and computers. These are emerging writers.

Other attendees have had some success in their writing endeavors and wish to grow their skills and share the challenges of the writers' life with others who appreciate a good tale, an engaging poem, a thoughtful memoir, a meaningful piece of journalism. And still others have been writing professionally or narrowly for years and now want to try different genres, to spread their wings, to write more freely. These are evolving writers.

Other attendees have published books, poems and articles and bring some of their material to share at the conference. Writing is a continual learning and sharing process; it's important to try new approaches to our work, to get feedback, to listen to others and learn from them. You'll be surprised at the depth and breadth of talent you'll find amongst the participants. It is precisely this range of talent, interest and subject matter that we hoped to attract to our conference 20 years ago.

That said, we also welcome writers who simply seek confirmation of their right to their material and those who want to garner a few necessary tools to record a family story or a once-in-a-lifetime experience ... not necessarily for a large audience, but simply for the pleasure of capturing the moments, ideas and reflections.

We welcome all these and other ways in which people define themselves as writers.

How does the conference work?

Our day begins with open readings in the lounge. These are informal affairs organized by the participants, not the staff. The idea is to share your work, talk about a problem, discuss a project in a casual setting that allows for feedback. After breakfast, our formal work day begins with a choice of workshops in prose, both fiction and nonfiction, and poetry. We'll meet first in the barn where the day's presenters will give a quick synopsis of their workshop focus. These sessions will concentrate on some aspect of craft with our staff writers leading the discussion and using their and other writers' works as example. Most sessions will include time to write based on a prompt or assignment followed by a gathering back together to share work and receive feedback. We've listened to our attendees and have made these sessions longer; some may be repeated to allow a participant to spend time with an author they may have missed. While these workshops may focus on a particular genre, they will be useful across the spectrum of writing so that, for example, character development might help a person writing a memoir, a personal profile, a short story, a novel or a narrative poem.

New this year are two workshops that we encourage participants to sign up for ahead of time. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings, Justen Ahren will lead a workshop entitled A Devotion to Writing. This is designed for writers across the genres. Borrowing from principles found in monastic practices throughout the world, each day Justen will lead discussion on a different topic, such as surrender, gratitude and intention and tie the discussion to several writing prompts. The idea is to help you develop strategies to stay on task, to find time in our busy lives for writing, to learn how to concentrate. This workshop will be open to 12 writers. Please let Yvonne know if you are interested. Justen will also teach a poetry workshop on Friday. Our hope is that participants in this workshop attend all sessions. Simultaneously, other workshops will be offered in poetry and prose.

Yvonne will also offer a continuating memoir workshop on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons. In this, we'll work on various aspects of memoir, looking at examples, both classic and avant-garde, and the role of setting, attention to detail, character, voice, honesty and scene-setting. As with Justen's workshop, we'll read, talk, write, read, talk, write. Again, if you're interested in the three-day memoir workshop, please indicate so when you register. We'll make room when we can but both workshops will be kept to roughly 12 people max.

And, as with the morning sessions, there will be opportunity for you to work with our other writers in the afternoons. What we're hoping to do this year is to create opportunities for some people to delve deeply into an experience while others can sample and spread themselves amongst the possibilities, working with many of our staff writers during the week, or as many as time and energy allows.


About the conference Introduction | About | Accommodations

Accommodations Introduction | About | Accommodations

We have made arrangements for attendees to stay at the Mountain Top Inn for four nights at an extremely discounted rate of $700, which includes breakfast and lunch and private rooms in the inn itself (lodge rooms) or one of the private cabins and houses available for rent on the property. While the inn is rural, these rooms are first-class. This rate does not include tax and gratuity. Luxury rooms and suites are also available at a higher rate. If you share a room, the second person's rate (including breakfast and lunch) is $390, making the shared cost quite affordable. Consider asking a friend to come along! If you would like to share a room, let Yvonne know and she'll try to find a roommate.

Dinner is on your own in the tavern or dining room. A full menu and bar are available with much of the food locally sourced.

To learn more about housing options please call The Mountain Top Inn at 802-483-2311, ext 216 and mention the Green Mountain Writers Conference or visit their website at

Attendees who are not staying at the inn can purchase lunch from the extended menu for a discounted price. Snacks and beverages will be available throughout the day and evening for everyone for free.

For those wishing to stay elsewhere, there are many inns and resorts available nearby, particularly along Route 4 from Rutland to Mendon. And the Holiday Inn at Rutland is setting aside a few rooms for conference attendees at a reduced rate, based on availability. Please mention the conference to get the reduced rate. You can reserve a room at 802-775-1911. The Holiday Inn has a restaurant, pool, etc. and is close to other restaurants, a short distance from downtown Rutland and about 30 minutes from the conference site by car.

What's the area like?

Chittenden is Vermont's largest town by area, located in west-central Vermont about 20 miles north of Rutland, the state's third-largest city. There's an airport in Rutland served by JetBlue through Cape Air. The airport has been newly expanded and provides transportation from Boston and elsewhere. The Mountain Top Inn provides free transportation from the Rutland airport to and from the inn. There are numerous larger airports serviced by all the major airlines and within a few hours' drive. Check flights to Burlington, VT., Albany, N.Y., Boston, and Manchester, N.H. We can arrange transportation to and from Albany and Burlington at $100 each way. Please provide details and requests as soon as possible; because of our small staff, however, we may not be able to accommodate everyone's travel plans. Rental cars are available at both the Burlington and Albany airport. With enough notice and coordination, it's possible to arrange car-pooling but again we can only do our best. Amtrak service to Rutland is available directly from New York City. Mountain Top Inn will pick you up at the train station. There is also bus service on Trailways to Rutland. Please check out your options in time to get the best price and arrangement and let us know as soon as you can how you plan to come to Vermont.

As mentioned, visitors from afar often rent a car upon arrival at the airport as the region has little public transportation but lots to offer in terms of both entertainment and outdoor activities. With so many historic and natural resources in the region, along with concert venues and museums, some people try to spend either the weekend before or after the conference exploring Vermont at its best. Among the towns located nearby are Manchester, which has several dozen outlets and a wonderful bookstore and coffeeshop; Rutland, the county seat with many restaurants, a movie theater, farmers' market and weekend entertainment; Killington, the ski giant of the East, which in summer offers great hiking and several world-class hotels; Brandon, home of the folk artist Warren Kimble and a French cooking school. Further north, Burlington on Lake Champlain boasts the Church Street Marketplace and the Shelburne Museum. In Waterbury, you can tour the Ben & Jerry ice cream factory and fill up with the full-fat treatment of Cherry Garcia or Chunky Monkey. Throughout the state, you'll find lovely state parks, historical sites, quaint villages and hiking trails.

About the conference | Our writers | How to register
Green Mountain Writers Conference
Chittenden, Vermont | July 24 - July 28, 2017