For 45 summers, the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley has welcomed scribes of all stripes-from poets to prose writers to screenwriters-to its workshops in the Sierra Mountains, launching innumerable careers along the way. Since 1969, when the Community of Writers was established by novelists Blair Fuller and Oakley Hall, hundreds of wordsmiths have found inspiration, sharpened their skills, and experienced true community at the foot of ski slopes near Lake Tahoe.
Faculty and alumni number among the most successful in American letters: Maya Angelou, Ethan Canin, Gary Snyder, Michael Chabon, Amy Tan (who will appear tonight), Richard Ford, Anne Rice, and many more. Now overseen by Oakley's daughter Brett, the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley continues apace, with regular scholarships as well as satellite projects including the Published Alumni Reading Series and an annual poetry anthology.
Heather Altfeld teaches at California State University, Chico, and Butte Community College. Her work has been published in Narrative Magazine, Pleiades, ZYZZYVA, Poetry Northwest, Jewish Currents, Watershed Review, The Squaw Valley Review, and Clackamas. She is the winner of the 2015 Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry.
Anita Amirrezvani, born in Tehran, is the author of the novel Equal of the Sun, which was published by Scribner. Her first novel, The Blood of Flowers, has appeared in more than 25 languages and was long-listed for the 2008 Orange Prize for Fiction. A recipient of an MFA in Creative Writing from SF State, Anita teaches at the California College of the Arts and at Sonoma State University. She is the co-editor of Tremors: New Fiction by Iranian American Writers.
Sands Hall is an author, playwright, director, and singer/songwriter. Her works include a novel, Catching Heaven; a CD of her own tunes, Rustler's Moon; and a play, Fair Use, which takes on the “is it plagiarism?” controversy surrounding Wallace Stegner’s Angle of Repose. She teaches Creative Writing at Franklin & Marshall, in Lancaster, PA, and has worked with the Community of Writers for most of its 46 years.
Robert L. Hass
Robert Hass served as Poet Laureate of the US from 1995 to 1997 and as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 2001 to 2007. He received the 2014 Wallace Stevens Award for proven mastery in the art of poetry by the Academy of American Poets. He is a Distinguished Professor in Poetry and Poetics at UC Berkeley.
Brenda Hillman is author of nine books of poetry, and has received numerous awards for her work including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Poetry Society of America, as well as a Pushcart Prize and the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award. She holds the Olivia Filippi Chair in Poetry at Saint Mary’s College.
Troy Jollimore won the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award for his first book of poetry, Tom Thomson in Purgatory. His second book, At Lake Scugog, was published in 2011, and his poems have appeared in The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, The Believer, and other publications.
Nayomi Munaweera's debut novel, Island of a Thousand Mirrors won the 2013 Commonwealth Literary Prize for Asia and was nominated for the Northern California Book Award. The New York Times called it "incandescent" and Publisher's Weekly has compared her work to that of Jumpha Lahiri and Michael Ondaatje. Her second novel, What Lies Between Us will be released in Spring 2016.
David Perlman is the San Francisco Chronicle’s science editor and writer. He is past president of the National Association of Science Writers and the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing, and is a Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences. He has won journalism awards from many organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Novelist, poet, and essayist Elizabeth Rosner is author of two highly acclaimed bestselling novels, The Speed of Light and Blue Nude. Her newest books are Electric City: A Novel, which was named one of the best books of the year by NPR, and Gravity, a poetry collection.
Amy Tan is author of six bestselling books, most recently, 2013’s The Valley of Amazement. She is also creator of the libretto for San Francisco Opera’s production of her book, The Bonesetter’s Daughter. As dominatrix singer for the Rock Bottom Remainders, she has helped raise millions for literacy.
Christopher Upham is a writer and filmmaker. His documentary Return to Dakto recently screened at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. His novel Daktoum will be published this fall by Skywriter Books.
Al Young is California’s Poet Laureate Emeritus. His many books include novels, poetry, essays, memoirs, and anthologies. His latest is Something About the Blues. His work has appeared in the Paris Review, Norton Anthology of African American Literature, and more. His honors include a Wallace Stegner Fellowship and National Endowment for the Arts grant.
Matthew Zapruder is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Come On All You Ghosts, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and Sun Bear. Why Poetry, a book of prose, is forthcoming from Ecco Press in 2016. An Associate Professor in the Saint Mary's College MFA program and English Department, he is also Editor at Large at Wave Books. He lives in Oakland.