Wild Seeds Writers Retreat (Established 2004)

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The Wild Seeds Writers Retreat (formerly the North Country Institute & Retreat for Writers of Color), a collaboration with the Center for Black Literature, the English Department at SUNY, Plattsburgh, and the Paden Institute and Retreat for Writers, provides a writing community where established and newly discovered writers of color 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.

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. Subsequent faculty workshop leaders have been nonfiction writer Patrice Gaines; poets Martin Espada, E. Ethelbert Miller, Aracelis Girmay, and Patricia Spears Jones; and writers Jeffery Renard Allen, Marita Golden, Victor LaValle, and Bernice McFadden, among many others. The Wild Seeds Writers Retreat alternates between the Valcour Educational and Conference Center in Plattsburgh, New York, and the campus of Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, New York.

The Goal

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. The Wild Seeds Writers Retreat strives to provide 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.

Previous Poetry, Fiction, and Playwriting Workshop Leaders

  1. Jeffery Renard Allen
  2. Mo Beasley
  3. Martin Espada
  4. Patrice Gaines
  5. Indira Ganesan
  6. Aracelis Girmay
  7. Marita Golden
  8. Tonya Cherie Hegamin
  9. Donna Hill
  10. Major Jackson
  11. Sandra Jackson-Opoku
  12. Patricia Spears Jones
  13. Victor LaValle
  14. E. Ethelbert Miller
  15. Bernice McFadden
  16. Shaun Neblett
  17. Greg Pardlo
  18. Willie Perdomo
  19. Ernesto Quiñonez
  20. Sonia Sanchez
  21. Ravi Shankar


Upon receipt, applications will be reviewed until all spaces have been filled for each retreat (which are offered twice a year: summer and winter). The cost of the Retreat is $500 and there is a one-time nonrefundable $25 application fee. Scholarships are made available only when sponsorship gifts permit and are not necessarily applicable for each Retreat. Please direct inquiries to Clarence V. Reynolds at creynolds@mec.cuny.edu.

The 2022 Workshop Leaders | Middle Photo: Best-Selling Novelist DONNA HILL; Bottom Photo: Award-Winning Poet MAJOR JACKSON.

What Fellows Are Saying

Contact Us

Center for Black Literature at
Medgar Evers College, CUNY (CBL)
1534 Bedford Avenue, 2nd Floor
Brooklyn, New York 11216

Office: (718) 804-8883
Email: writers@mec.cuny.edu

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