Make Your Own Title at Southampton Writers Conference

Matt Klam and Melissa Bank at the Southampton Writers Conference
Matt Klam and Melissa Bank at the Southampton Writers Conference

Since 1976, the Southampton Writers Conference—held annually at Stony Brook Southampton—has brought together writers at all stages of their careers with world-class novelists, essayists, editors, poets and children’s book authors for lectures, readings, panels and workshops. This summer in Southampton is no different!

As in years past, this year’s faculty includes former U.S. Poet-Laureate Billy Collins, New York Times best-selling writers Meg Wolitzer, Melissa Bank, Matt Klam, Patty Marx, Lucas Hnath, Ursula Hegi and Frederic Tuten. Exciting additions to the faculty this year include poets Natalie Diaz and Sharon Olds, and novelists Roxana Robinson and Brit Bennett.

Each of these critically acclaimed writers will teach small, intimate workshops designed for talented writers looking to take their writing to the next level. Christian McLean, now the Director of Summer Programs at Stony Brook Southampton (aka the man behind the scenes making sure the conference runs as smoothly as anything else TSR Managing Editor Emily Gilbert is in charge of), attended the Writers Conference four times between 2005 and 2008. McLean says his experience at those conferences “taught me that strong writing comes more easily when I don’t take myself too seriously.” And we didn’t even have to adjust his answer for grammar!

Workshop sessions consist of four meetings over five days at either the first session of the conference from July 12–16 or at the second, from July 19–23. If you want a little more bang for your buck, there are also five workshop meetings over the span of 12 days from July 12–23. All conference attendees have access to morning and evening programming, which includes salons, readings and panel discussions with faculty and guests.

Susan Merrell, Director of the Writers Conference (aka, the head honcho making sure there always IS a conference), says, “No matter where you are in your writing journey, the conference can help.” She points to the “stimulating readings and lectures, particularly Roger Rosenblatt’s Master Class, which is open to all attendees, even those who do not yet have manuscripts ready for workshop” and the fact that attendees receive serious critiques of their works-in-progress from both the esteemed faculty and from fellow writers in similar stages of their careers. The Southampton Writers Conference, she says, is “perfect for any writer, in any phase of her career.”

Speaking of Roger Rosenblatt’s Master Class: Yet another local New York Times best-selling author, Rosenblatt will be leading the class, titled “Imagine What You Know: Five Ways of Looking at Writing.” The class examines the art and craft of writing for every genre, using a multi-media array of music, film clips and other works of art to broaden and deepen the discussion. The class was designed by Rosenblatt to be as useful for accomplished writers as it is for those taking their first steps or simply exploring the idea of writing.

The Master Class meets every other day from July 13 to July 21. Each session is two hours and 45 minutes, and focuses on a different topic. There’s no requirement to do a lot of work or to stick around after class, but everyone enrolled in the Master Class can attend everything the conference has to offer, including the above-mentioned panels, salons, readings, parties and mini-workshops. The cost of the Master Class is $650, though a discount is offered to East End locals. Pro tip: If you can make it to the Master Class, you’re probably a local…

Seaside creative writing has a long history on the East End—think Kurt Vonnegut, John Steinbeck, Betty Friedan. Now is your chance to be a part of it!

To apply to the Southampton Writers Conference and/or Roger Rosenblatt’s Master Class, visit or call 631-632-5030 for more information.

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