Writers’ Workshop

The 41st annual Workshop will take place July 23-28, 2018. 

The Appalachian Writers’ Workshop at Hindman Settlement School, which is Kentucky’s premier writers gathering, provides an opportunity for aspiring and accomplished writers to immerse themselves in a community of people who appreciate Appalachian literature and who hail from or write about the region. This creative community comes to the Settlement to learn and teach the craft of writing through structured workshops and exchange with other writers. Both published and unpublished writers are urged to attend.


  • Nikki Giovanni, celebrated poet, educator, and activist, will deliver the Jim Wayne Miller/James Still Keynote Address.
  • A special James Still Celebration featuring archival collections and readings from Carol Boggess, biographer and author of James Still: A Life from University Press of Kentucky.
  • Offering immersive workshops for the genres of creative nonfiction, novel, short story, and poetry.
  • Multiple afternoon sessions to enhance your experience.
    • Ethical Writing in the Public Sphere
    • Gender, Food, and the American South
    • Journalistic Integrity in Modern America
    • Generative Writing Workshop

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. Due to facility renovations currently underway, there are no single occupancy rooms. Two, and occasionally more, people will share a room. For those requiring private accommodations, numerous local hotels offer discounted rates for Workshop participants. 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, 2018
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, 2018, 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, 2018.

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

Nikki Giovanni
Yolanda Cornelia “Nikki” Giovanni was born in Knoxville, Tennessee and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1960, she entered Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, where she worked with the school’s Writer’s Workshop and edited the literary magazine. After receiving her bachelor of arts degree in 1967, she organized the Black Arts Festival in Cincinnati before entering graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University.

Giovanni is the author of numerous children books and poetry collections, including Chasing Utopia: A Hybrid (William Morrow, 2013), Bicycles: Love Poems (William Morrow, 2009); Acolytes (HarperCollins, 2007); The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni: 1968-1998 (Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2003); Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea: Poems and Not-Quite Poems (William Morrow, 2002); Blues For All the Changes: New Poems (William Morrow, 1999); Love Poems (William Morrow, 1997); and Selected Poems of Nikki Giovanni (University Press of Mississippi, 1996). In her first two collections, Black Feeling, Black Talk (Harper Perennial, 1968) and Black Judgement(Broadside Press, 1969), Giovanni reflects on the African-American identity.

Her honors include a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1970, the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Award for Dedication and Commitment to Service in 2009, three NAACP Image Awards for Literature in 1998, the Langston Hughes award for Distinguished Contributions to Arts and Letters in 1996, as well as more than twenty honorary degrees from national colleges and universities. She has been given keys to more than a dozen cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Miami, and New Orleans.

Several magazines have named Giovanni Woman of the Year, including Essence, Mademoiselle, Ebony, and Ladies Home Journal. She was the first recipient of the Rosa Parks Woman of Courage Award. She has served as poetry judge for the National Book Awards and was a finalist for a Grammy Award in the category of Spoken Word.

She is currently University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech, where she has taught since 1987.

Genre Leaders

Nickole Brown (Poetry)
Brown grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. Her second book Fanny Says, a biography-in-poems about the grandmother who helped raise her, was the recipient of the 2016 Weatherford Award for Appalachian Poetry. It came out from BOA Editions in 2015, and the audio book of that collection will be available in late 2017. Her first collection, Sister, a novel-in-poems, was first published in 2007 by Red Hen Press and a new edition will be reissued by Sibling Rivalry Press in 2018. Currently, she is the Editor for the Marie Alexander Poetry Series and teaches at the Sewanee School of Letters MFA Program and the Great Smokies Writing Program at UNCA. She lives with her wife, poet Jessica Jacobs, in Asheville, NC, where’s she’s at work on a collection of poems about animals. The book will be a bestiary of sorts, but instead of the kind of pastorals that always made her (and most of the working-class folks she knows) feel shut out of nature and the writing about it, these poems will speak in a queer, Southern trash-talking kind of way about a nature that is beautiful, but also deeply damaged and often dangerous.

Marie Manilla  (Short Story)
Manilla is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. The Patron Saint of Ugly (winner of the 2014 Weatherford Award) has been described as a blend of magical realism, Southern Gothic, and Sicilian malocchio. Daniel Wallace selected her novel, Shrapnel (2012), as winner of the Fred Bonnie Award for Best First Novel. Still Life with Plums: Short Stories (2010), was a finalist for both the Weatherford Award and ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year. Learn more at www.mariemanilla.com.

Marc Harshman (Poetry)
Harshman has served as the Poet Laureate of West Virginia since 2012. Raised in Indiana, he has lived his adult life in West Virginia with his wife, Cheryl Ryan, an author, artist, and librarian. He was named the recipient of the WV Arts Commission Fellowship in Poetry for the year 2000 and the Fellowship in Children’s Literature for 2008.  He holds degrees from Bethany College, Yale University Divinity School, and the University of Pittsburgh. He has also recently received honorary doctorates from Bethany College and West Liberty University in recognition of his life’s work. His second full-length collection of poetry, Believe What You Can was published by the Vandalia Press of West Virginia University. In addition, he has published numerous chapbooks of poems. His work has won awards from Newport Review and Literal Latté and been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Anthology publication of poems include Kent State University, the University of Iowa, University of Georgia, and the University of Arizona.

Michael Parker (Novel)
Parker is the author of six novels: Hello Down There, Towns Without Rivers, Virginia Lovers, If You Want Me To Stay, The Watery Part of the World, All I Have In This World and two collections of stories, The Geographical Cure and Don’t Make Me Stop Now. His short fiction and nonfiction have appeared in various journals including Five Points, the Georgia Review, The Southwest Review, Epoch, the Washington Post, the New York Times Magazine, Oxford American, Shenandoah, The Black Warrior Review, Trail Runner, Runner’s World and Men’s Journal. He has received fellowships in fiction from the North Carolina Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the Hobson Award for Arts and Letters, and the North Carolina Award for Literature. His work has been anthologized in the Pushcart, New Stories from the South and O. Henry Prize Stories anthologies. A graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill and the University of Virginia, he is the Vacc Distinguished Professor in the MFA Writing Program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and since 2009 has been on the faculty of the Warren Wilson Program for Writers. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina and Austin, Texas.

Jessie van Eerden (Creative Nonfiction)
A West Virginia native, Jessie van Eerden holds a BA in English from West Virginia University and an MFA in nonfiction writing from the University of Iowa. Her work has appeared in The Oxford American, River Teeth, Image, Bellingham Review, Willow SpringsRock & SlingAppalachian Heritage,Ruminate, and other publications. Her prose has been selected for inclusion in Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods: Fiction and Poetry from West Virginia(Vandalia Press); Walk Till the Dogs Get Mean (Ohio University Press); Red Holler (Sarabande); Dreams and Inward Journeys: A Rhetoric and Reader for Writers, Seventh Edition (Longman); Jesus Girls: True Tales of Growing Up Female and Evangelical (Cascade Books); and Best American Spiritual Writing (Houghton Mifflin). She was selected as the 2007-2008 Milton Fellow with Image and Seattle Pacific University for work on her first novel, Glorybound (WordFarm, 2012), winner of ForeWord Reviews’  2012 Editor’s Choice Fiction Prize. Her second novel, My Radio Radio, is published by Vandalia Press (2016), and her collection of portrait essays, The Long Weeping, is published by Orison Books (2017).

Jessie has taught for over fifteen years in college classrooms and in adult literacy programs. She lives in West Virginia where she directs the low-residency MFA writing program of West Virginia Wesleyan College.

Kayla Rae Whitaker (Novel)
Kayla Rae Whitaker was born and raised in Kentucky. She is a graduate of the University of Kentucky and of New York University’s MFA program, which she attended as a Jack Kent Cooke Graduate Scholar. Her debut novel, The Animators (Random House, 2017), has received wild praise from People, Variety, and Elle magazines. Entertainment Weekly declared The Animators to be one of the best debut novels of the year and NPR’s BookPage writes that the novel is “one of the best books of the year.” After many years of living in Brooklyn, she returned to Kentucky, her home state, in 2016 with her husband and their geriatric tomcat, Breece D’J Pancake.

Afternoon Session Leaders

Tom Eblen (Ethical Writing in the Public Sphere)
Eblen is the metro/state columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader and Kentucky.com and was the newspaper’s managing editor from 1998 to 2008. Tom returned to his hometown in 1998 after 14 years with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where he was a regional/national reporter and a business and Olympics reporter and editor. Before that, he spent five years at The Associated Press, where he was a statehouse reporter in Nashville and Knoxville correspondent. Tom is a former board member of Associated Press Managing Editors. A graduate of Western Kentucky University, he taught journalism ethics for several years at the University of Kentucky and has been a writing/editing coach at The Mountain Workshops for two decades. He won the 2013 media award in the Governor’s Awards in the Arts and was inducted into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame in 2016. He and his wife, Becky, have two grown daughters and a young grandson and granddaughter.

Elizabeth Engelhardt (Gender, Food, and the American South)
Engelhardt, a native of Hendersonville, North Carolina, is the John Shelton Reed Distinguished Professor of Southern Studies at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Most recently, she wrote A Mess of Greens: Southern Gender and Southern Food and co-edited The Larder. She chairs the SFA academic committee.

Bill Goodman (Journalistic Integrity in Modern America)
A native of Glasgow, Ky., Goodman has served as host and managing editor of the Emmy Award-winning public affairs series Kentucky Tonight on KET (Kentucky Educational Television), since 1996. A long-time supporter of the humanities and arts in Kentucky, Bill Goodman will join the Kentucky Humanities Council on January 1, 2017. As its chief executive, Goodman will bring the same passion for developing an informed citizenry and educating the public at-large that he has performed at KET for the past 21 years. Additionally, Goodman serves as host for Education Matters, KET’s election night coverage, and One to One with Bill Goodman, where he has conducted compelling conversations with guests including Pulitzer Prize winner George Will; Nikky Finney, poet, professor and recipient of the National Book Award for Poetry; actor Richard Dreyfuss; current and former Kentucky political leaders; and many others. In April 2013, Bill was inducted into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame.

Silas House (Generative Writing Workshop)
House is the nationally bestselling author of six books including Clay’s Quilt and Eli the Good, as well as three plays. He is a frequent contributor to The New York Times and Salon and a former commentator for NPR’s “All Things Considered.” House founded the Mountain Heritage Literary Festival, is the NEH Chair of Appalachian Studies at Berea College, and serves on the fiction faculty of Spalding University’s MFA in Creative Writing. A native of southeastern Kentucky, House now lives in Berea, Kentucky.

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.

Tift Merritt (Musician-In-Residence)
Raised in North Carolina, Tift Merritt has released five full-length albums and two live records, including a recent reissue of her debut album Bramble Rose earlier this year. The New Yorker has called Tift Merritt “the bearer of a proud tradition of distaff country soul that reaches back to artists like Dusty Springfield and Bobbie Gentry.” Emmylou Harris calls her a diamond in a coal mine. She has performed with the NY Philharmonic and toured with artists as varied as Iron & Wine, Jason Isbell, Elvis Costello, and Gregg Allman. Her 2004 release Tambourine was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Country Album as well as three Americana Music Awards. In addition to recent recording and touring with Andrew Bird’s Hands of Glory, MC Taylor’s Hiss Golden Messenger and Simone Dinnerstein, Don Henley covered Merritt’s song “Bramble Rose” to open up his first solo album in fifteen years, Cass County. Tift’s new album, Stitch of the World is out on Yep Roc Records.

Amanda Jo Runyon (Participant Readings)
Runyon 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 is currently a student in the MFA in creative writing program at West Virginia Wesleyan College.

Carol Boggess (James Still Celebration)
Boggess is Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs at Mars Hill University. Her primary area of interest is the literature of the American Appalachian region. She is the author of James Still: A Life, published by University Press of Kentucky. She is president of the Appalachian Studies Association and a member of the North Carolina Humanities Council. She lives with her family in Burnsville, NC.

Tentative Schedule


Monday, July 23
3:00pm Registration/Check-In May Stone
6:00pm Dinner May Stone-Dining Hall
7:00pm Evening Program** May Stone-Great Hall
9:00pm Informal Campus Gatherings*
Tuesday, July 24 – Friday, July 27
8:00am Breakfast May Stone-Dining Hall
9:00am Concurrent Genre Workshops James Still
10:45am Concurrent Genre Workshops James Still
12:30pm Lunch May Stone-Dining Hall
1:30pm Concurrent Afternoon Sessions Various Locations
3:15pm Participant Readings May Stone-Great Hall
5:30pm Dinner May Stone-Dining Hall
7:00pm Evening Program** May Stone-Great Hall
9:00pm Informal Campus Gatherings*
Saturday, July 28
8:00am Breakfast May Stone-Dining Hall
9:00m Concurrent Genre Workshops James Still
10:45am Concurrent Genre Workshops James Still
12:30pm Lunch May Stone-Dining Hall



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 May Stone 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.