Writing in Times of Crisis
June 20-23, 2018

The 2018 Chautauqua Writers’ Festival will take place over the four days (Wed-Sat) before Chautauqua Institution's summer season commences. This timing allows attendees to choose from an array of lodging, restaurant, and transportation options—and those who stay past Saturday will enjoy all the literary excitement of Week 1 of the summer season, themed on “The Life of the Written Word."

In addition to the Festival’s tradition of intensive workshops and one-on-one conferences with award-winning contemporary authors, writers may also explore the craft of writing in the context of urgent social questions through panel conversations, breakout sessions, and a keynote address. The 2018 theme for this slate of new options is “Writing in Times of Crisis,” which will draw connections between the personal, the political, and the craft of writing. All of these new features are optional to workshop participants and included in the cost of Standard Registration.

Additionally, the new Explorations Registration option will make it possible to attend only the Festival's panels, keynote, breakout sessions, screenings, and faculty readings, fostering an even more vibrant, dynamic convening of writers from near and far. Multiple new university and non-profit partners will facilitate this growth, including the Academy of American PoetsCatapult, and Wick Poetry Center.

Looking to respond to our call for panelists and breakout session leaders? Visit the "Keynote & Panels" tab below!

Because we are an AWP member organization, anyone can apply for a Kurt Brown Prize to support their attendance of this festival. (Their deadline is March 30.)

Keynote & Panels


For the first time, the Writers’ Festival will feature a keynote address. This year’s keynote speaker, highlighting the theme of Writing in Times of Crisis, will be Kiese Laymon.


kiese laymon

Kiese Laymon is the author of the essay collection How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America and the novel Long Division, named one of the Best of 2013 by The Believer, Buzzfeed, Library Journal, the Crunk Feminist Collective, and others. A memoir called Heavy arrives in September 2018, and a novel called And So On is also forthcoming, both from Scribner. Laymon has written essays, stories, and reviews for numerous publications including EsquireThe New York Times, NPR, The GuardianEbony, and Guernica, and he is a contributing editor of Oxford American. Laymon is currently a Professor of English and African American Studies at the University of Mississippi and a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Nonfiction at the University of Iowa.


Panels & Breakout Sessions 

We invite proposals from writers, scholars, editors, and educators who would like to moderate or participate in any of the following panels—or lead breakout sessions that illuminate a craft-based approach to any of these same topics:

  • Poetry & The Body
  • Teaching Writing in Times of Crisis
  • Writing Memoir in an Age of Alternative Facts

All panelists and breakout session leaders receive discounted hotel options and complimentary Explorations registration, granting access to all Writers' Festival programs except for workshops, where space is limited. All proposals must be received by March 31, 2018 and will receive a response by April 30, 2018.

Submit here


Questions? Email the festival’s director Dr. Lillian-Yvonne Bertram at writersfestival@chq.org or the Director of Literary Arts Atom Atkinson at aatkinson@chq.org.