Writers’ Workshop

The 42nd annual Workshop will take place July 22-27, 2019. 

The Appalachian Writers’ Workshop at Hindman Settlement School is the mountain South’s premier literary gathering. This week-long residency welcomes published and unpublished writers alike, all learning alongside one another in a supportive environment guided by the region’s unique tradition. Here is an opportunity to study craft in structured workshops, attend special topic afternoon sessions, and enjoy captivating readings by our award-winning faculty. This historic gathering, now in its fourth decade, is known for providing rigorous instruction in a family-like atmosphere, where writers of place come together at the banks of Troublesome to meet a year-round community. Beginning, emerging, and established writers are all encouraged to apply.


  • Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina and a self-described “feminist, working class storyteller, Southern expatriate, and sometime poet”, will deliver the Jim Wayne Miller/James Still Keynote Address.
  • Offering immersive workshops for the genres of creative nonfiction, novel, short story, and poetry.
  • Multiple afternoon sessions to enhance your experience.
    • Documentary
    • Appalachian Literature

Explore the tabs below to discover more about the workshop and presenters. To apply, click here or the link in the blue banner near the bottom of the page.

Application & Fees

Application Instructions & Fees

Tuition: $450
Includes access to sessions, readings, and evening programs including the Jim Wayne Miller/James Still Keynote Address and James Still Celebration.

Housing & Meals: $400
Participants may choose to stay in the Settlement’s dormitory and cottage-style housing. Two, and occasionally more, people will share a room. For those requiring private accommodations, numerous local hotels are available. All meals are on campus at the Settlement. Our kitchen accommodates vegetarian diets. For more information on accommodations, click the “About Campus” tab.

For those opting to stay off campus in hotels or commuting from home can arrange a meal package for $200 for the entire week, but this must be noted during the registration process. A la carte meals are also available.

Application & Manuscript

Application Deadline: May 1, 2019
All applications and manuscripts must be submitted online.
Click here to access the online application form.

Workshop participants will be selected based on the strength and promise of their work. All applicants must submit an original, unpublished manuscript, along with the online application form and a $200 deposit. If accepted to the workshop, the deposit will be applied to your balance. If not, it will be refunded. Deposits for accepted applicants will not be refunded after June 5, 2019, despite changes in applicants’ plans.

The number of participants accepted will depend on the quality of manuscripts, as well as the availability of housing. If there are too many manuscript submissions in any of these genres, they will be read and ranked by an outside reader.

All manuscripts should be formatted with one-inch margins, 12-point type with no unusual fonts. Please submit your best work in your chosen genre. Limit your manuscript submission to the following number of pages:

  • Novel: (20 or less, double-spaced)
  • Nonfiction | Short Story: (10-15, double-spaced)
  • Poetry: (10-15, single-spaced)

Your manuscript should not include your name or any identifying information.

The submission system will only accept PDF and Microsoft Word files. The maximum file size is 2mb. The document should be named using the following protocol: Genre_Year_FirstName_LastName.pdf (or .doc/.docx).

Applicants will be notified of their acceptance by approximately June 1, 2019.

For technical assistance with the online application, email jsmullins@hindmansettlement.org. Please allow ample time for a response.



Jim Wayne Miller/James Still Keynote Address

Dorothy Allison
Dorothy Allison grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, the first child of a fifteen-year-old unwed mother who worked as a waitress. Now living in Northern California with her partner Alix and her son, Wolf Michael, she describes herself as a feminist, a working class story teller, a Southern expatriate, a sometime poet and a happily born-again Californian.

An award winning editor for Quest, Conditions, and Outlook—early feminist and Lesbian & Gay journals, Allison’s chapbook of poetry, The Women Who Hate Me, was published with Long Haul Press in 1983. Her short story collection, Trash (1988) was published by Firebrand Books. Trash won two Lambda Literary Awards and the American Library Association Prize for Lesbian and Gay Writing. Allison received mainstream recognition with her novel Bastard Out of Carolina, (1992) a finalist for the 1992 National Book Award.

The novel won the Ferro Grumley prize, an ALA Award for Lesbian and Gay Writing, became a best seller, and an award-winning movie. It has been translated into more than a dozen languages. Cavedweller (1998) became a national bestseller, NY Times Notable book of the year, finalist for the Lillian Smith prize, and an ALA prize winner.

The expanded edition of Trash (2002) included the prize winning short story, “Compassion” selected for both Best American Short Stories 2003 and Best New Stories from the South 2003. In Fall 2009, Allison was The McGee Professor and writer in residence at Davidson College, in North Carolina. In Spring, 2007, Allison was Emory University Center for Humanistic Inquiry’s Distinguished Visiting Professor. In Summer, 2007, she was Famosa in residence at Macondo in San Antonio, Texas. In 2006, she was writer in residence at Columbia College in Chicago. Dorothy was awarded the 2007 Robert Penn Warren Award for Fiction, and is a member of the board of the Fellowship of Southern Writers.

Genre Leaders

Michael Croley (Short Story)
Croley was born in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in Corbin, Kentucky. A graduate of the creative writing programs at Florida State and the University of Memphis, and his work has won awards from the Kentucky Arts Council, the Key West Literary Seminars and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. His stories have regularly appeared in Narrative where he was named to their list of “Best New Writers” in 2011. His other fiction and criticism has been published in The Paris Review Daily, Blackbird, The Louisville Review, The Southern Review, Fourth Genre, and the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. The recipient of an NEA Fellowship in Literature in 2016, his debut collection of stories, Any Other Place, will appear in 2019. He teaches creative writing at Denison University.

Diane Gilliam  (Poetry)
Gilliam grew up in Columbus, Ohio, daughter of parents who were part of the post-war Appalachian outmigration, from Mingo County, West Virginia and Johnson County, Kentucky. She earned a PhD in Romance Languages and Literatures from Ohio State and an MFA from Warren Wilson. Gilliam is the recipient of the 2013 Gift of Freedom Award from A Room of Her Own Foundation. Gilliam’s first book, One of Everything (2003), tells the stories of four generations of women in her family, beginning on Stepp Mountain in eastern Kentucky and ending in a shopping mall in Akron. Her second book, Kettle Bottom (2004), showcases the voices of people living in the coal camps at the time of the 1920-21 West Virginia Mine Wars. Kettle Bottom has won several prizes, including a Pushcart Prize and the Ohioana Library Association Book of the Year in Poetry. Gilliam also won the the 2008 Chaffin Award for Appalachian Writing. She lives in Akron, Ohio, where she works as a poet and quilter.

Robert Gipe (Novel)
Gipe won the 2015 Weatherford Award for outstanding Appalachian novel for his first novel Trampoline. His second novel is Weedeater (2018). Both novels were published by Ohio University Press. From 1997 to 2018, Gipe directed the Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College Appalachian Program in Harlan. He is a producer of the Higher Ground community performance series; has directed the Southeast Kentucky Revitalization Project, which trains workers in fields related to creative placemaking; coordinated the Great Mountain Mural Mega Fest; co-produces the Hurricane Gap Community Theater Institute; and advises on It’s Good To Be Young in the Mountains, a youth-driven conference. Gipe formerly worked at Appalshop, an arts center in Whitesburg, Kentucky.

Karen Salyer McElmurray
Karen writes both fiction and creative nonfiction. Her memoir, Surrendered Child, won the AWP Award Series for Creative Nonfiction and was listed as a “notable book” by the National Book Critics Circle. She is also the author of Strange Birds in the Tree of Heaven (University of Georgia Press), a novel that won the Lillie Chaffin Award for Appalachian Writing and, most recently, Walk Till the Dogs Get Mean, co-edited with Adrian Blevins, from Ohio University Press. Karen has an MFA in Fiction Writing from the University of Virginia, an MA in Creative Writing from Hollins University, and a PhD from the University of Georgia, where she studied American Literature and Fiction Writing. Her work has received numerous awards, including grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the North Carolina Arts Council, and the Kentucky Foundation for Women. She is frequently visiting writer and lecturer at a variety of programs and reading series.

Matthew Neill Null (Novel)
Null is a recipient of the Joseph Brodsky Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Mary McCarthy Prize, and the Michener–Copernicus Society of America Award. His stories appear in American Short FictionEcotone, the Oxford AmericanPloughsharesThe PEN /O. Henry Prize Stories, and The Best American Mystery Stories 2014. A native of West Virginia, he holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and was a fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts. His novel, Honey from the Lion(Lookout, 2015), was short listed for the L.D. and LaVerne Harrell Clark Fiction Prize, and his story collection, Allegheny Front(Sarabande, 2016), was named a finalist for Foreword’s INDIE collection of the year.

Jacinda Townsend (Creative Nonfiction)
Townsend is the author of Saint Monkey (Norton, 2014), which is set in 1950’s Eastern Kentucky and won the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize for best fiction written by a woman and the James Fenimore Cooper Prize for historical fiction. Saint Monkey was also the 2015 Honor Book of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. Jacinda is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is Appalachian Writer in Residence at Berea College.

Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon (Poetry)
Van Clief-Stefanon is the author of Open Interval, a National Book Award finalist and Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist, and Black Swan, winner of the 2001 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in such journals as African American Review, Callaloo, Crab Orchard Review, Gulf Coast, and Shenandoah, and in the anthologies Bum Rush the Page, Role Call, Common Wealth, Gathering Ground, and The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South. She is currently at work on The Coal Tar Colors, her third collection of poems, and Purchase, a collection of essays. Van Clief-Stefanon is a native of Florida and received her BA at Washington and Lee University and her MFA from Penn State. She lived for many years in Virginia and now teaches in the English Department at Cornell University.

Afternoon Session Leaders

Ashley York (Documentary)
York is a Pike County, Kentucky-native, mediamaker, and film producer who is interested in documentaries, socially conscious media, and emerging modes of storytelling. She has worked on Academy Award® nominated teams and as a producer on projects that have premiered at the Sundance, Berlin, and SXSW film festivals as well as on Oprah Winfrey’s Network, A&E, IFC, HBO, Discovery, and the Sundance Channel.Ashley’s work also includes the landmark film, Hillbilly, on which she served as co-director. Ashley received her BA in journalism from the University of Kentucky and her MFA from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts where she currently teaches.

Chris Green (Appalachian Literature)
Green grew up in Lexington and attended UK where Appalachian Studies answered his need to write poetry, know the world, and fight for justice.  He went on to earn his MA in English from Appalachian State University, and his MFA in Poetry and MS in secondary education at Indiana University, where he studied post-colonialism.  He returned to Lexington where he worked as a poet in the schools and edited Wind Magazine: A Journal of Writing and Community. After returning to the academy & completing his PhD on multicultural American poetry, Chris also co-edited Radicalism in the South Since Reconstruction, a collection of scholarly essays, and edited Coal: A Poetry Anthology. Chris currently works as the director of the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center at Berea College.

Additional Staff

George Ella Lyon (Writer-In-Residence)
Lyon has published award-winning books for readers of all ages, and her poem, “Where I’m From,” has been used as a model by teachers around the world. Dr. Lyon was appointed the Poet Laureate for the Commonwealth of Kentucky for 2015-16. Recent titles include She Let Herself Go and the picture books, Which Side Are You On? The Story of a Song, and All the Water in the WorldThe Pirate of Kindergarten and You and Me. Originally from the mountains of southeastern Kentucky, Lyon works as a freelance writer and teacher based in Lexington.

Amanda Jo Slone (Participant Readings)
Slone is a writer and educator from Draffin, Kentucky. Her work has appeared in Still: The Journal, Appalachian Heritage, The Louisville Review, Kudzu, Pine Mountain Sand and Gravel, and other journals. She is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Pikeville and serves as co-editor of the literary journal, The Pikeville Review. Amanda Jo earned the MFA in creative writing at West Virginia Wesleyan College and is currently a doctoral student at Northwest Nazarene University.



Monday, July 22
3:00pm Registration/Check-In Gathering Place
5:30pm Dinner Mullins Center-Dining Hall
7:00pm Orientation & Introductions Mullins Center-Great Hall
7:30pm Evening Program* Mullins Center-Great Hall
Tuesday, July 23 – Friday, July 26
8:00am Breakfast Mullins Center-Dining Hall
9:00am Concurrent Genre Workshops
Poetry: Diane Gilliam
  Novel: Karen Salyer McElmurray
Novel: Matthew Neill Null
Short Story: Michael Croley
Various Locations
10:45am Concurrent Genre Workshops
Poetry: Lyrae van Clief-Stefanon
Novel: Robert Gipe
Nonfiction: Jacinda Townsend
Various Locations
12:30pm Lunch Mullins Center-Dining Hall
1:45pm Concurrent Afternoon Sessions
Appalachian Literature
Various Locations
3:15pm Participant Readings Mullins Center-Great Hall
5:30pm Dinner Mullins Center-Dining Hall
7:00pm Evening Program* Mullins Center-Great Hall
Saturday, July 27
8:00am Breakfast Mullins Center-Dining Hall
9:00am Concurrent Genre Workshops
Poetry: Diane Gilliam
  Novel: Karen Salyer McElmurray
Novel: Matthew Neill Null
Short Story: Michael Croley
Various Locations
10:45am Concurrent Genre Workshops
Poetry: Lyrae van Clief-Stefanon
Novel: Robert Gipe
Nonfiction: Jacinda Townsend
Various Locations
12:30pm Lunch Mullins Center-Dining Hall

*Evening Programs
Monday: Michael Croley & Ashely York, followed by a screening of Hillbilly
Tuesday: Matthew Neill Null, Chris Green, & Jacinda Townsend
Wednesday: Karen Salyer McElmurray, Diane Gilliam, & George Ella Lyon
Thursday: Lyrae van Clief-Stefanon & Robert Gipe
Friday: Jim Wayne Miller/James Still Keynote Address with Dorothy Allison, followed by a book signing and reception



The David Payne Writers’ Workshop Scholarship Endowment, the Lucy Furman Pratt (Rodman) Scholarship Fund, the Thelma Smallwood Scholarship Fund, the Mike and Frieda Mullins Scholarship FundNikki Giovanni Scholarships for Women Writers of Color, and the Appalachian Writers’ Workshop Scholarship Fund make it possible for us to offer full and partial scholarships to aspiring writers. The availability of scholarships depends on the amount of donations we receive each year.

Scholarships are generally available to college students and graduate students who aspire to be writers and have financial need, though some exceptions are made. Scholarships will only be awarded for tuition and on campus arrangements (they are unavailable for off campus/hotels). Any scholarship recipient who opts to stay off campus or exclude meals from their registration will only be awarded the amount for tuition, regardless of the initial scholarship offer.

We will not make a decision on scholarships until after the application deadline. If you do not receive a scholarship and cannot attend the workshop, we will refund your application fee. Scholarship recipients may be asked to write a letter describing their workshop experience, which may be shared with those who provide scholarship assistance.

Please note that very few full scholarships are awarded.

Scholarship applications must be submitted online. Click here to access the application.

Literary Tradition

Settlement’s Literary Tradition

The annual Appalachian Writers’ Workshop at Hindman Settlement School has grown from a small group of writers and folk artists who gathered in 1977 to a strong community of writers throughout the country who come to Hindman to learn and to teach the craft of writing through structured workshops and exchange with other writers.

The Settlement has an outstanding literary tradition that started with the early workers who wrote about the school and Knott County.

Ann Cobb arrived in 1905 and remained to write sketches and dialect poems, many of which were collected for her book, Kinfolk: Kentucky Mountain Rhymes. She left a number of unpublished poems that are part of the Hindman Settlement School archives. As part of the Settlement’s 100th anniversary celebration, a new volume, Kinfolks & Other Selected Poems by Ann Cobb, edited with an introduction by Jeff Daniel Marion was published.

Lucy Furman, an accomplished writer before coming to Hindman, published five novels about her years as housemother to the small Settlement boys and her association with the school and the surrounding area. Her novels were: Mothering on Perilous, Sight to the Blind, The Quare Women, The Glass Window and The Lonesome Road.

James Still, poet, novelist and short story writer, was associated with Hindman for nearly 70 years and is buried on the Settlement’s campus. He published 13 books, including his classic River of EarthFrom the Mountain, From the Valley: New and Selected Poems by James Still, edited by Ted Olson, was released after his death in 2001. In 2011, Chinaberry was published. The manuscript was part of Still’s literary estate and was edited by Silas House.

Albert Stewart, poet and founding editor of Appalachian Heritage magazine, became part of the Settlement family at the age of five. He organized the first Appalachian Writers’ Workshop.

Those interested in learning more about the workshop and its history should read Crossing Troublesome Creek: 25 Years of the Appalachian Writers Workshop, edited by Leatha Kendrick and George Ella Lyon. It was published by Wind Publications in 2002.

Regional literature can be purchased from Hindman Settlement School’s Online Craft Shop and during the annual Writers’ Workshop.

About Campus

About Campus

In order to maximize their experience at the Workshop, it is recommended that participants stay in campus housing.

The campus is hilly, and there will be some walking during the week. So, bring comfortable shoes. Please detail any mobility issues or concerns during the registration process and we will make every effort to accommodate your needs.

Rooms are simple but comfortable. Bed linens and pillows are provided, but you will need to bring your own towels, wash cloths, and toiletries. Our facilities utilize shared bathrooms. Consequently, you may wish to bring a robe. There are no telephones or TVs. A small, shared refrigerator is available.

Wireless Internet is available in the Mullins Center, May Stone Gathering Place, and Stucky buildings. The Knott County Public Library, located adjacent to campus, has public computers available with Internet access.

Depending on you service provider, cell phone coverage is spotty to good. You can leave the main office number (606-785-5475) as an emergency contact number. It is staffed during business hours. After hours, in the event of an emergency, a staff member may be reached at 606-438-5455.

All buildings are air-conditioned and smoke-free.

Pets, firearms, and alcohol are prohibited on School property.

Dress is casual, but shirt and shoes are required.

Our dining hall offers traditional and vegetarian meal options. Please indicate your dietary preference during the registration process. We have a filtered water system at the Dining Hall and public water is supplied from the Carr Fork Reservoir. The tap water is drinkable, but some prefer to bring their own drinking water. Bottled water is also available for purchase on campus.

A Dollar General, a Rite-Aid, and an IGA grocery store are located a few miles down the road. A small convenience store is located within walking distance of campus. A Wal-Mart and other major stores are located in Hazard, which is about 20 minutes away.