Writers' Workshop


Our renowned faculty provides rigorous instruction to participants in their selected genre and through special topic sessions, panels, and lectures.

Build your library by purchasing titles through Bookshop.org from our faculty using the book images below. Each purchase supports scholarships to the Workshop.


Adriana Trigiani, a native of southwest Virginia and the best-selling author of eighteen books, including the award-winning Big Stone Gap series and The Shoemaker’s Wife, will deliver the Jim Wayne Miller/James Still Keynote Address.




Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon is the author of Open Interval, a 2009 finalist for the National Book Award and the LA Times Book Prize, and Black Swan, winner of the 2001 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. She has been awarded fellowships from Cave Canem, the Lannan Foundation, and Civitella Ranieri. She has written plays and lyrics for The Cherry, an Ithaca arts collective, and in 2018, her work was featured in Courage Everywhere, celebrating women’s suffrage and the fight for political equality, at National Theatre London.

Joy Harris

Joy Harris is one of the New York literary world’s most successful agents.  Her clients include Alice Walker, Sigrid Nunez, Silas House, Carole King, the Zora Neale Hurston Estate, Tessa Hadley, and many others. Harris established her own literary agency in 1990. She works primarily with literary fiction, strongly-written commercial fiction, narrative nonfiction across a broad range of topics, memoir and biography, and is drawn to a clear, original voice, an engaging point of view, and strong characters.


Silas House is the New York Times bestselling author of seven books. His writing often appears in The Atlantic and The New York Times. He has recently been published in Time, Ecotone, Garden and Gun, and many other places. He serves as the NEH Chair at Berea College and on the fiction faculty at the Spalding School of Writing.


Ouita Michel is a six-time James Beard Foundation Award nominee, including nominations for Outstanding Restaurateur and Best Chef Southeast. Michel and her restaurants are regularly featured in local and national media, such as the New York Times, Southern Living, Garden & Gun, Food Network, and the Cooking Channel. She was a guest judge on Bravo’s Top Chef series. Her first book is Just a Few Miles South: Timeless Recipes from Our Favorite Places.

Gurney Norman
Our beloved Gurney Norman will visit us for an afternoon session where he will read a short story to us, then show us the short film it is based on.  Norman is the author of Appalachian classics like Kinfolks and Divine Rights Trip, a legendary teacher, and served as the writer-in-residence at Hindman for many years.

creative nonfiction


Sonja Livingston is the author of four books of creative nonfiction that are widely taught and read throughout the nation. She is the winner of the AWP Book Prize for Nonfiction, the Gold Award for Essay from the Foreword Book Awards, and many other honors.  Her work has appeared in many publications and textbooks.  She currently serves as an associate professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University and teaches in the Postgraduate Program at Vermont College of Fine Arts.


Monic Ductan’s writing has appeared in Southeast Review, Shenandoah, Appalachian Heritage, South Carolina Review, and various other journals. Her essay “Fantasy Worlds” was listed as notable in Best American Essays 2019. She lives in Cookeville, Tennessee, where she teaches literature and creative writing at Tennessee Tech University. Monic is at work on her first novel, a book about a Gullah girl coming of age and leaving her South Carolina sea island.



Annette Clapsaddle’s debut novel, Even As We Breathe, was one of the most acclaimed novels published in 2020.  She is a a finalist for the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction. Clapsaddle is a high school teacher in Swain County, North Carolina and is the first enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to publish a novel. She has recently been published in The Atlantic and LitHub.


Robert Gipe is the author of three novels. Gipe formerly directed the Appalachian Program at SECTC and is a producer of the renowned Higher Ground community performance series. He coordinated the Great Mountain Mural 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. 




George Ella Lyon was the 2015-2016 Kentucky Poet Laureate.  She is the author of more than fifty books and her poetry prompt “Where I’m From” has been used all around the world.  Her many awards include the Golden Kite Award. Lyon is a beloved, much sought-after teacher who is also known for her activism and music.


Frank X Walker was the poet laureate of Kentucky in 2013 and 2014.  He is a winner of a NAACP Image Award, the Lillian Smith Award, and was the 2005 Recipient of a $75,000 Lannan Literary Fellowship in Poetry.  Walker coined the word “Affrilachia” and has been a leader in challenging the notion of a homogeneous all-white literary landscape in this region.  He has published eight volumes of poetry.  He is a professor of African American Studies, Appalachian Studies, and English at the University of Kentucky. 


Short story


Leah Hampton‘s debut collection, F*ckface and Other Stories, was released by Henry Holt in July 2020. A graduate of the Michener Center for Writers, she has been awarded UT-Austin’s Keene Prize for Literature, the James Hurst Prize for Fiction, and the Doris Betts Prize, and has held fellowships at Hedgebrook, the Adirondack Center for Writing, and the Stadler Center for Poetry at Bucknell University. Her work has appeared in EcotoneGuernicaMcSweeneys, and many other places. She lives near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.