News & Announcements

Atom Atkinson to Step Down as Director of Literary Arts

Chautauqua Literary Arts Director Atom Atkinson has announced their resignation effective Aug. 30 to take on a new professional opportunity at Catapult, a New York City-based literary arts organization with an educational mission.

Atkinson has served as Director of Literary Arts at Chautauqua since 2017. Their focus has been to build on the Institution’s literary legacy by aligning programs and services around Chautauqua’s mission and convening authority, inviting a diverse range of authors and educators and pursuing partnerships to further enliven and elevate the experience of learning through reading and writing for participants of all ages and experience.


During Atkinson’s tenure, new partnerships and collaborations have been formed with The Paris Review, Kent State University’s Wick Poetry Center, The American Academy of Poets, Just Buffalo and Catapult, among others. They also oversaw the creation of a new literary arts prize, the Chautauqua Janus Prize, established to recognize “an emerging writer’s single work of short fiction or nonfiction for daring formal and aesthetic innovations that upset and reorder readers’ imaginations.” Funded with philanthropic support of Chautauquans Twig and Barbara Branch, the second Janus Prize was awarded earlier this month to My Tran for their work, “Tree rings, like concentric ghosts.”

“It has been a privilege to help Chautauqua envision a larger and more impactful vision for the literary arts,” said Atkinson. “I have deeply appreciated the support and engagement of many who have been involved here for decades and who share our belief that the literary arts are an important part of Chautauqua’s mission, history and potential.”

Matt Ewalt, Vice President and Emily and Richard Smucker Chair for Education, offered praise for Atkinson’s contributions.

“In a very short time, Atom has framed and launched not only a compelling vision but a detailed plan to more fully live into our distinction in the literary arts,” Ewalt said. “We are grateful for their leadership and service to Chautauqua, work that has helped to set the stage for us to more fully live into our mission to convene critical conversations that call us to explore the best in human values. We look forward to pursuing ways to partner with Atom and Catapult going forward.”

The Institution will soon launch a search for Atkinson’s replacement. It will be posted at

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