Southampton Writers Conference

About the Conference

Our History

2003 conference poster

Since 1976, writers have gathered every July in Southampton to take workshops with some of the country’s most distinguished authors of fiction, poetry and nonfiction. The Southampton Writers Conference, as it has long been known, began with just a few offerings, but has gradually grown to include dozens of creative writing workshops and hundreds of participants.

Among the literary luminaries who have visited are Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott, Joyce Carol Oates, E.L. Doctorow, Elizabeth Strout, Mark Doty and Tom Wolfe. The late Frank McCourt was a beloved member of the summer faculty for a decade. Equally beloved are such regular faculty as Billy Collins, Meg Wolitzer and Roger Rosenblatt.

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Creative writing on the seaside campus of Stony Brook Southampton has a long and distinguished history, due in no small part to its magnificent location in the heart of the Hamptons, a renowned resort area only 80 miles from New York City. Writers, artists and entertainers have been summering here for over a century. Indeed, the literary legacy of the area stretches back through Kurt Vonnegut and Elizabeth Hardwick to Tennessee Williams and John Steinbeck, even back to Harriet Beecher Stowe, whose father was a 19th-century minister in East Hampton.

It’s no wonder, then, that Southampton Arts is able to attract world-class authors to its faculty, authors who are also experienced, accessible teachers. Creative writing workshops are the heart and soul of the summer experience, meeting four afternoons or mornings throughout the session. Enrollment is limited to 13 lucky writers who have applied with writing samples. Those accepted have the privilege of sharing their work in an intimate, rigorous and friendly setting.

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Remaining hours are devoted to lectures, readings, performances and panel discussions featuring faculty members and distinguished visiting authors, editors, publishers, and agents. Participants also enjoy a rich schedule of formal and informal social gatherings— author receptions, an open-mic night, and an issue launch of The Southampton Review. Since theater, film, children’s literature and visual arts workshops are occurring simultaneously, special events in those fields give participants a rich diversity of options. During free time, participants can draw inspiration from Atlantic beaches or explore charming towns. Courtesy shuttles run regularly to the beach and downtown Southampton.

The Southampton Arts Creative Writing Workshops are part of Stony Brook Southampton’s MFA in Creative Writing program. Graduate Credit is available to eligible students. Upon successful completion of the workshop three graduate credits may be awarded. A limited number of partial scholarships are also available. Please see the Applications & Guidelines.