Writers’ Workshop

The 43rd annual Workshop will take place July 27-August 1, 2020. 

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 This week-long residency welcomes published and unpublished writers alike, all learning alongside one another in a supportive environment guided by the region’s unique tradition.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.


  • Wiley Cash, author of three New York Times bestselling novels including his most recent, The Last Ballad, will deliver the Jim Wayne Miller/James Still Keynote Address.
  • Offering immersive workshops by renowned faculty:
    • Creative Nonfiction: Jesse Donaldson
    • Novel: Silas House and Mark Powell
    • Poetry: Nickole Brown and L. Lamar Wilson
    • Short Story: Ann Pancake
  • Multiple afternoon sessions to enhance your experience:
    • Literary Activism: Jason Howard
    • Writing The Christ-Haunted South: Rebecca Gayle Howell
    • publishing panel
    • craft lecture with Wiley & Mallory Cash
  • Writing for Children Pre-Conference with George Ella Lyon

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: $500
Includes access to sessions, readings, and evening programs, including the Jim Wayne Miller/James Still Keynote Address.

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, 2020
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 7, 2020, 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, 2020.

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



Jim Wayne Miller/James Still Keynote Address

Wiley Cash
Wiley Cash is the New York Timesbestselling author of three novels. His most recent, The Last Ballad (William Morrow, 2017),was an American Library Association Book of the Year and a Chicago Public Library Best Book of 2017. The novel received the Southern Book Prize, the Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction, the Weatherford Award, and the Bloodroot Mountain Prize. Cash’s short stories and essays have appeared in The Oxford American, Garden & Gun, Our State Magazine, and other publications, and his fiction has been adapted for the stage and film. The founder of the Open Canon Book Club and co-founder of the Land More Kind Appalachian Artists Residency, he has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and the Weymouth Center. He serves as the writer-in-residence at the University of North Carolina-Asheville and lives in North Carolina with his wife, photographer Mallory Cash, and their two daughters.

Genre Leaders

Nickole Brown (Poetry)
Nickole Brown’s first collection,Sister, a novel-in-poems, was first published in 2007 by Red Hen Press and a new edition has been reissued by Sibling Rivalry Press (2018). Her second book, a biography-in-poems called Fanny Says,came out from BOA Editions in 2015.  Brown received her MFA from the Vermont College, studied literature at Oxford University, and was the editorial assistant for the late Hunter S. Thompson. Currently, she is the Editor for the Marie Alexander Poetry Series and teaches periodically at a number of places, including the Sewanee School of Letters MFA Program and the Great Smokies Writing Program at UNCA.   She was recently awarded Rattle‘s 2018 Chapbook Contest with the publication of To Those Who Were Our First Gods, and The Donkey Elegies, a related project, will be published by Sibling Rivalry in January 2020.

Jesse Donaldson (Creative Nonfiction)
Jesse Donaldson was born and raised in Kentucky, attended Kenyon College and Oregon State, and was a fellow at The Michener Center for Writers in Austin, Texas. He is the author of a novel, The More They Disappear(Thomas Dunn Books, 2016) and a collection of prose poems, On Homesickness:  A Plea (In Place)(Vadalia Press, 2017). Donaldson’s work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Crazyhorse, Little Star, The Greensboro Review, Confrontation, and The Oxford American.  He lives in Oregon with his wife and daughter.

Silas House (Novel)
Silas House is a nationally bestselling writer andthe author of six novels, Clay’s Quilt (Algonquin, 2001) and Southernmost (Algonquin, 2018), as well as three plays and a book of creative nonfiction, Something’s Rising, co-authored with Jason Howard, (UK Press, 2009). His work frequently appears in The New York Timesand Salon. He is a former commentator for NPR’s “All Things Considered”. His writing has also appeared in TimeGarden and Gun, Oxford American, NarrativeBlackbird, Newsday, as well as in anthologies such as Best Food Writing, 2015and New Stories From the South, The Year’s Best: 2004.  House serves on the fiction faculty at the Spalding MFA in Creative Writing and as the NEH Chair at Berea College.

Ann Pancake (Short Story)
Author of two collections of short stories and a novel, Ann Pancake grew up in Romney and Summersville, West Virginia. Her novel, Strange As This Weather Has Been (Counterpoint 2007), features a southern West Virginia family devastated by mountaintop removal mining. Pancake has received many other accolades for her work, including a Weatherford Award, an Orion Book Award, a Whiting Award, an NEA Grant, a Pushcart Prize, and creative writing fellowships from the states of Washington, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Her fiction and essays have appeared in various journals and anthologies including The Georgia Review, Poets and Writers, Narrative, and New Stories from the South. She holds degrees from West Virginia University, the University of North Carolina and the University of Washington.  For many years, Ann Pancake taught in the low-residence writing program at Pacific Lutheran University and recently served as the 2018-2019 writer-in-residence at the University of West Virginia.

Mark Powell (Novel)
Mark Powell is the author of six novels, including Firebird (Haywire Books, 2020), Small Treasons (Simon & Schuster, 2017), and The Sheltering (Story River, 2014). Powell has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Breadloaf and Sewanee Writers’ Conferences, and in 2014 was a Fulbright Fellow to Slovakia. He has received many accolades for his work including the Peter Taylor Prize for the Novel and the Chaffin Award for contributions to Appalachian literature. Powell holds degrees from Yale Divinity School, the University of South Carolina, and the Citadel. He lives in the mountains of North Carolina where he teaches at Appalachian State University.

L. Lamar Wilson (Poetry)
A multi-genre writer and filmmaker invested in documentary poetics, L. Lamar Wilson is the author of Sacrilegion—the 2012 selection for the Carolina Wren Press Poetry Series, a 2013 Independent Publishers Group bronze medalist, and a 2013 Thom Gunn Award finalist—and co-author of Prime: Poetry and Conversation(Sibling Rivalry Press, 2014), with Phillip B. Williams, Rickey Laurentiis, Saeed Jones, and Darrel Alejandro Holnes. Other poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in The New York Times, the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day, African American Review, Black Gay Genius (2014), jubilat, A Literary Field Guide to Southern Appalachia(UGA Press, 2019), The 100 Best African American Poems(2010), Oxford American, The Root/The Washington Post, and elsewhere. Wilson has received fellowships from, among others, the Cave Canem, Ragdale, and Hurston-Wright foundation, and he currently teaches on the creative writing faculty at Wake Forest University and in the low-residency MFA program at Mississippi University for Women.

Afternoon Session Leaders

Jason Howard (Literary Activitsm)
Jason Howard is the award-winning author, co-author or editor of three acclaimed books: A Few Honest Words: The Kentucky Roots of Popular Music(University Press of Kentucky, 2012), Something’s Rising: Appalachians Fighting Mountaintop Removal(University Press of Kentucky, 2009), and We All Live Downstream: Writing About Mountaintop Removal(Motes Books, 2009). His essays, features and commentary have appeared in the New York Times, Salon, The Nation, Sojourners, Paste and in other publications, as well as on NPR. He is editor of Appalachian Heritage, a literary quarterly based at Berea College, where he teaches and directs the creative writing program. He also serves on the graduate faculty of the Spalding University School of Creative and Professional Writing.

Rebecca Gayle Howell (Writing The Christ-Haunted South)
Rebecca Gayle Howell is a 2019 United States Artists Fellow. The author of two poetry collections and a book of translation, her most recent collection is American Purgatory, selected by Don Share for Great Britain’s 2016 Sexton Prize.  Among Howell’s other honors are fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and the Carson McCullers Center, as well as a Pushcart Prize. From 2017-2019 she served as the James Still Writer-in-Residence at Hindman Settlement School, where she founded Fireside Industries, an imprint of University Press of Kentucky charged with advancing Appalachian literature. Howell lives in Lexington where she is on faculty at the University of Kentucky’s Lewis Honors College. Since 2014, she has served as Poetry Editor for Oxford American.

Mallory Cash (Craft Lecture)
Mallory Cash is an editorial and portrait photographer based in Wilmington, North Carolina. Her work has appeared in the Knoxville Museum of Art, Salt Magazine, Dear Photographer Magazine, The New York Times, Encore Magazine, O’Henry Magazine, Garden and Gun, Our State, PineStraw Magazine, Bold Life, and has been or will be featured in galleries in Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Additional Staff

George Ella Lyon (Writer-In-Residence | Writing for Children Pre-Conference)
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.

Sheri Castle (Chef-In-Residence)
Sheri Castle is an award-winning professional food writer, cook, recipe developer, cooking teacher and public speaker.  Sheri Castle hails from Watauga County, North Carolina, but now lives in Fearrington Village. She is fueled by mountains, excellent bourbon, farmers’ markets, and searching for the right word.

Sam Gleaves (Musician-In-Residence)
Sam Gleaves was born and raised in Wytheville, Virginia where he began playing music as a teenager with the help of local mentor Jim Lloyd, a multi-instrumentalist, storyteller and barber. Lloyd introduced Gleaves to nationally recognized ballad singer Sheila Kay Adams who shared with Gleaves the old “love songs” of her community tradition. Rooted in Appalachian sounds, Gleaves’ songwriting sings of contemporary rural life and social issues. While earning a degree in Folklore at Berea College, Gleaves performed with the Berea College Bluegrass Ensemble directed by Al White. In 2015, Gleaves collaborated with Grammy-winning producer Cathy Fink and released a debut record of original songs, titled “Ain’t We Brothers,” which has been featured by The Guardian, National Public Radio, and No Depression. Gleaves tours extensively in the U.S. and he has performed in Ireland, England, Canada, Japan and Italy. In 2017, Gleaves released a duo recording with Tyler Hughes which received glowing reviews from Fatea, Rock n Reel, fROOTS, and others. In 2018, Gleaves collaborated with Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer on a trio recording, “Shout & Shine,” which Justin Hiltner of the Bluegrass Situation called, “viscerally powerful . . . a perfect illustration of cross-generational mind melds and musical melds.”  Gleaves now makes his home in Hindman, Kentucky where he currently serves as the Traditional Arts Director at the Hindman Settlement School. A passionate teaching artist, Gleaves has shared Appalachian traditions at numerous music camps, colleges, universities, and public schools.

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 27
10:00am Pre-Conference: Writing for Children with George Ella Lyon Gathering Place
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 28 – Friday, July 31
8:00am Breakfast Mullins Center-Dining Hall
9:00am Concurrent Genre Workshops Various Locations
10:45am Concurrent Genre Workshops Various Locations
12:30pm Lunch Mullins Center-Dining Hall
1:45pm Concurrent Afternoon Sessions 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, August 1
8:00am Breakfast Mullins Center-Dining Hall
9:00am Concurrent Genre Workshops Various Locations
10:45am Concurrent Genre Workshops Various Locations
12:30pm Lunch Mullins Center-Dining Hall

*Evening Programs
Schedule To Be Announced



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.

Apply to the 43rd annual Writers' Workshop! July 27 - August 1, 2020