Thank You for Those Who Inquired about the Wild Seeds Retreat for Writers of Color


This spring (May 2023), we are announced that Jeffery Renard Allen, N. Jamiyla Chisholm, and Joanna Sit will join us as workshop leaders for the Wild Seeds Retreat for Writers of Color workshops (summer 2023). The dates are July 17 - 22, 2023 at SUNY Polytechnic Institute (Utica, NY). Allen will lead the fiction sessions, Chisholm will lead the memoir sessions, and Sit (will lead the poetry sessions.


About the Week

Wild Seeds Retreat (WSR) workshop fellows will engage in daily writing, reading, and sharing sessions with workshop leaders and cohorts. Fellows will also have an opportunity for one-on-one sessions with their workshop leader (who will tailor the sessions to their genre). A detailed itinerary will be provided to accepted fellows. A limited number of scholarships are available. A written rationale is required in the cover letter that is required in the application.

About the Lodging

Fellows and workshop leaders will stay at Mohawk Residence Hall. During the academic year, the hall functions as a coed facility that houses 180 upper-class and graduate students. It offers a townhouse-style living with four single bedrooms, and common living areas within each suite allowing each student to live with a smaller group of friends while still having ties to the larger community through lounge spaces, the dining halls, and student involvement. Learn more HERE.

About the Directions

SUNY Polytechnic Institute in Utica, NY is approximately a four-hour drive from New York City or a six-hour train ride. For Amtrak information, visit

About the Deadline

The deadline to apply was Friday, May 26, 2023. We are no longer accepting applications for the summer retreat.

The Writers Retreat Goal

The Wild Seeds Retreat provides writers of color with an opportunity to meet other writers; to workshop their writing among peers; and to engage with published writers about concerns and issues related to writing and publishing. Through its writing workshops leaders, the Retreat provides the public with an opportunity to become knowledgeable about the range and diversity of the work produced by writers of color.

Our Background

The Wild Seeds Retreat for Writers of Color (formerly the North Country Institute & Retreat for Writers of Color), began in 2004 as a collaboration with the Center for Black Literature, the English Department at SUNY, Plattsburgh, and the Paden Institute and Retreat for Writers. Today it continues to provide a writing community where established and emerging writers can focus on the craft of writing and create cross-cultural conversations around the literature created by writers of the African diaspora.

Writing fellows have an opportunity to draw upon their experiences as writers in a racialized society; to become knowledgeable about the issues facing other writers of color; and to study with a professional in the genres of fiction, memoir, and poetry.

Recognizing that the Writers Retreat should not be limited to a specific geographical region, the Center renamed the Retreat in honor of Octavia E. Butler, a speculative fiction writer known globally for blending science fiction with African American spiritualism. Butler's writing crossed many boundaries and represented varying diverse voices.

A Look Back

The first Writers' Retreat, held in 2004, was highly successful and featured the internationally acclaimed poet Sonia Sanchez, author Tony Medina, and writer Indira Ganesan. The Retreat had alternated between the Valcour Educational and Conference Center in Plattsburgh, New York, and the campus of Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, New York. Venues are subject to change each year.

Previous Poetry, Fiction, and Playwriting Workshop Leaders

Jeffery Renard Allen, Mo Beasley, Kia Corthron, Martin Espada, Patrice Gaines, Indira Ganesan, Aracelis Girmay, Marita Golden, Tonya Cherie Hegamin, DaMaris B. Hill, Donna Hill, Major Jackson, Sandra Jackson-Opoku. Patricia Spears Jones. Victor LaValle, E. Ethelbert Miller, Bernice McFadden, Shaun Neblett, Greg Pardlo, Willie Perdomo, Ernesto Quiñonez, Sonia Sanchez, and Ravi Shankar.

Last updated July 5, 2023


is the award-winning author of six books of fiction and poetry, including the celebrated novel Song of the Shank, which was a front-page review in both The New York Times Book Review and The San Francisco Chronicle. Allen’s other accolades include The Chicago Tribune's Heartland Prize for Fiction, the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, a grant from Creative Capital, a Whiting Writers' Award, a Guggenheim fellowship, residencies at the Bellagio Center and Jentel Arts, and fellowships at The Center for Scholars and Writers, the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Studies, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Allen is the founder and editor of Taint Taint Taint magazine. His latest book is the short story collection Fat Time. |

is an author, journalist, and educator. She is the author of The Community: A Memoir. Jamiyla has appeared in The New York Times, and her writing has been published by BET, Colorlines, Essence, TIME’S UP, and other companies and publications. As a writer and editor, Jamiyla leads creative content and storytelling for New York City’s first women’s college and has created narratives that seek to empower Black survivors and people of color. As an educator, Jamiyla teaches writing and about the importance of storytelling to create positive narrative and social change. |

- Joanna Sit. Portrait 1

JOANNA SIT was born in China and grew up in New York City, where she lives with her family. She studied poetry with Allen Ginsberg and Susan Fromberg Schaeffer at Brooklyn College and now teaches Creative Writing at Medgar Evers College, City University of New York. She is the author of My Last Century (2012), In Thailand with the Apostles (2014),  and most recently, Track Works. Her poem "Timescape: The Age of Oz" was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2016. She is working on an ethnographic narrative called The Reincarnation of Red and another book of poems called Fantastic Voyage.

What Fellows Are Saying

Contact Us

Center for Black Literature (CBL)
at Medgar Evers College, CUNY
1534 Bedford Avenue | 2nd Floor
Brooklyn, New York 11216
(Click HERE for the Postal Mailing Address)

Main Phone: (718) 804-8884
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The Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College is supported in part by an American Rescue Plan Act grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to support general operating expenses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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