Matt Ewalt
Vice President and Emily and Richard Smucker Chair for Education 716.357.6246 | 
Sony Ton-Aime
Director of Literary Arts 716.357.6255 |
Emily Carpenter
Education Department Coordinator
(assistance finding answers about our many programs, memberships for CLSC and CLAF)
716.357.6310 | 
Karen Schiavone
Manager of Special Studies and Youth Programs (Young Readers, Battle of the Books) 716.357.6290 | 
Lillian-Yvonne Bertram
Director, Chautauqua Writers' Festival 
Jill Gerard (she/her/Ms.)
Philip Gerard (he/him/Mr.)
Editors, Chautauqua literary journal 
Cindy Hinsdale (she/her/Ms.) Manager, Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall 716.357.6481 (in-season)
Stephine Hunt (she/her/Ms.) Manager, CLSC Veranda 716.357.6293 (in-season)

Friends of the Chautauqua Writers' Center, formerly known as Chautauqua Literary Arts Friends (CLAF), is a volunteer network of writers and readers who work year-round in support of Chautauqua Literary Arts. During the nine-week summer program, the Friends provide support to the Chautauqua Writers’ Center, sponsor weekly opportunities for writers to present their work and meet other writers and readers, and organize contests and other special events.

Friends of the Chautauqua Writers' Center Events

Readings by Prose and Poetry Writers-in-Residence
Sundays, 3:30 p.m. • Hall of Philosophy
Followed by reception and book-signing on the porch of the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall. Co-sponsored with Writers’ Center. Open to the public.

Open Mic
Sundays, 5 p.m. • Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall
Ages 18 and up. No registration required.

Informal Prose and Poetry Critiques
Tuesdays around 1:15 p.m. after Brown Bag lunch events • Porch, Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall
No registration required, but bring 10 copies of one page of your work.

Authors' Hour Readings
Thursdays, 12:15 p.m. • Porch, Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall
Brown Bag lunch, Weeks 1–9 | Information and Application

Annual Robert Pinsky Favorite Poem Project
August 5, 3:30 p.m. • Hall of Philosophy
Information and Application

Annual Writing Contests
Poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction. For adults, young adults and young writers. Fee for non-members.
Submissions open June 27. Deadline: August 2 – Information and Application
Awards Ceremony: August 16 at 2:30 p.m., Hall of Philosophy

Annual Local Authors Book Fair 
July 19, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. 
Deadline to apply: July 18. Fee for non-members. – Information and Application

Annual Dinner with Friends
6 p.m.
Membership required, available at the door. Reservation required at

Membership Information

Annual membership (new pricing) is $20/person. Membership fees help provide housing scholarships for emerging writers.

All members receive a discount voucher for the newest issue of the literary journal Chautauqua, redeemable for a $5 copy at either the Octagon or the second floor of the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall.

Join ONLINE now or in person on the second floor of the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall!

2020 Writers’ Festival Authors Convening

Wednesday, June 24, 2020 • 1 p.m. EST

Panelists: Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, Martha Collins, Porochista Khakpour, Marie Myung-Ok Lee, Jess Row, and Lillian-Yvonne Bertram.

Panel’s Title: Here in the After: Writing Towards (More) Uncertain Futures

Join the 2020 (now the 2021) Chautauqua Writers’ Festival faculty for this webinar and Q&A about the role of writing about the pandemic, writing out the pandemic, and writing past the pandemic. How has our writing changed? Must it change, in light of recent events? In lieu of the festival, cancelled due to the pandemic, the festival director and faculty will convene to talk about what it means to write towards an even (more) uncertain future and what this has meant for their own writing practices, lives, and communities. Featuring Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, Martha Collins, Porochista Khakpour, Marie Myung-Ok Lee, and Jess Row.

June 23–26, 2021
Personal Geographies

The 2021 Chautauqua Writers’ Festival takes place over the four days (Wednesday to Saturday) before Week One of Chautauqua Institution's summer season commences.

In addition to the Festival’s tradition of intensive workshops and one-on-one conferences with award-winning contemporary authors, attendees can also experience panel conversations, breakout sessions, and a keynote address. The 2021 theme is "Personal Geographies," and these various conversations will draw fruitful and urgent connections between the personal, the political, and the craft of writing. All of these features are included in the cost of Standard Registration and available as an option to any workshop participant.

Alternatively, Explorations Registration will make it possible for anyone to pay a reduced rate to attend everything other than workshops, fostering an even more vibrant, dynamic convening of writers from near and far. Explorations Registration is available through June 24 and at the door. Learn more below about registration, applications to join a panel or lead a breakout session, and our incredible faculty!

All registrants receive lodging discounts and special discount dining menus from Afterword and Brick Walk cafes on Bestor Plaza, as well as complimentary daily continental breakfast and airport shuttle service (reservation required; see "Schedule" tab). 

2021 Keynote

2021 Keynote

Shane McCrae

Shane McCrae
Explorations or Standard registration required to attend.

Shane McCrae’s most recent books are In the Language of My Captor (Wesleyan University Press, 2017), which won the 2018 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Poetry, and was a finalist for the National Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Award, and the William Carlos Williams Award, The Gilded Auction Block (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2019) and Sometimes I Never Suffered (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2020). He has received a Whiting Writer’s Award, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Lannan Literary Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He lives in New York City and teaches at Columbia University.


Chautauqua publishes writing that speaks to Chautauqua's tradition of inquiry into questions of personal, social, political, spiritual, and aesthetic importance — and when, where, and how those values and questions intersect.



The Chautauqua Writers' Center is a lively community of writers at all levels of development who cultivate the courage, craft and vision necessary to grow as artists under the tutelage of nationally recognized authors. Started in 1987, the original core program of eighteen summer workshops, readings and lectures has grown to include the Chautauqua Writers' Festival, the Chautauqua Literary Journal, and an active support organization, Chautauqua Literary Arts Friends.

Whether you are an accomplished writer looking for peer support, a novice striving to take your work to the next level, or simply an avid reader in love with all things literary, we welcome you and hope to see you at one of our many programs.

Writers' Center Programs at-a-glance

  • Readings on the Porch — Each Sunday from 3:30 – 4:30 p.m., the week's poet and prose writers-in-residence read from their own work on the porch of Alumni Hall. (free)

  • Brown-bag Lectures — Each Tuesday and Friday from 12:15 – 1:15 p.m., the week’s poet and prose writers-in-residence (respectively) offer a public lecture on the porch of Alumni Hall. Bring your lunch! (free)

  • Chautauqua Literary Arts Friends — $30 annual membership in this literary arts support group includes a copy of the journal Chautauqua, membership in the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle (CLSC) and perks such as social events. Literary Arts Friends programs include, amongst others, the Chautauqua Poetry Contest and Hauser Prize.

Summer Workshops

Each workshop is taught by an experienced, published author (writer-in-residence) in a small group setting. Most classes are limited to just 12 participants. All workshops are held on the second floor of the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall. (Located on the south end of the grounds on Wythe Ave. across from the Hall of Philosophy.)

For specific questions regarding workshops, please contact Clara Silverstein.

Registration begins in April. Call the ticket ofice at 716.357.6250 to register by phone or register online at You may also register at one of our ticketing windows at our Main Gate Welcome Center.

Weekly prose and poetry workshops have been the core of the Chautauqua Writers' Center for 24 years. Faculty members are selected not only for their national reputations and the quality of their work, but also for their ability to inspire developing writers to grow in their craft.

Reading together since 1878, the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle has remained a leader in adult education through quality programming.

Each summer, the CLSC chooses nine books of literary quality and invites the authors to Chautauqua present their work to an audience of approximately 1,000 readers.

Chautauqua Literary & Scientific Circle Vertical Theme 2015

Books chosen as Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle selections in 2015 will celebrate the theme of “truth and consequences.” In most cases, the book will complement the theme of its corresponding week. In all selections, exceptional writing will define the authors honored by the CLSC.

 Author programs are held Thursdays at 3:30 in the Hall of Philosophy unless otherwise noted.

2014 CLSC Selections

Rosenblatt Roger CLSC 062614 cover

Week One
Roger Rosenblatt
The Boy Dectective