Alumni College 2018

Writers' Workshop: Reedies Writing Resistance

Word Workers of the World Unite: You have nothing to lose but your quatrains!

Introduction by Mike Teskey, Director of Alumni Initiatives

Dear alumni and friends,

As I prepare for my final Alumni College in my role at Reed, I am immeasurably pleased that Alumni College, the traditional precursor to Reunions, has evolved into a program that is inspired by and features incredibly talented Reed alumni. Over the course of the past 17 years, the most enduring feature of the Reedies who I have come to know and admire is the fearlessness with which they approach ideas. As I work with alea adigweme ’06 on assembling and structuring a faculty of alumni to serve as teachers, mentors, and panelists, I reflect on 20th century American writers who were bold, brave, and groundbreaking in their ideas and work, and how we are better for it—Ida Tarbell, Upton Sinclair, Langston Hughes, Ursula LeGuin, and so many more. If you are an aspiring writer or an established one who wants to return to Reed and share your ideas and their embodiment in the written word, I invite and embolden you do to so.


Mike Teskey
Director, Alumni Initiatives

Program Director's Invitation by alea adigweme 06

Each summer, over three days of lectures, conferences, panels, and Q&As, Alumni College brings Reedies together for a course focused on a timely topic that’s of interest to our community. Primarily taught by alumni experts, previous sessions have broached issues like global inequities in access to water, diversity, healthcare, and public education in the United States. This June, I invite writers, editors, publishers, booksellers, and other “word workers”—at all career stages and skill levels—to join us at Alumni College 2018. Our alumni-led writing workshops, talks, and panels will cover everything from literary craft to the business of writing. In honor of the 25th anniversary of Reed’s Multicultural Resource Center (which will be celebrated at Reunions 2018), Alumni College will center writing as and for political change.  

In the era of Black Lives Matter, catastrophic planet failure, #MeToo, refugee crises, and the rise of white nationalism in the U.S. and abroad, cultural production has never been a more important tool in the arsenals of individuals and activist collectives working at every scale. Where one might have previously understood the “local” and the “global” or the “public” and the “private” as binaries or even as oppositional poles on spectra, the technological affordances of the internet and the proliferation of pocket-sized telephone-computers have made it blatantly clear that these concepts are inextricable, that the local “is” the global as much as the personal “is” political, that problematic understandings of the private have primarily served to enable public figures to hide decades of predatory behaviors with impunity. Thus, our contemporary media landscape has given us more than a superabundance of dank memes, strangers’ cat videos, and other exquisite procrastinatory pleasures. Though traditional publishing is far from breathing its last gasps, the aforementioned media have facilitated the documentation and circulation of undeniable evidence of systemic injustices and provided creators of even the most niche content with opportunities to connect directly with audiences both where they live and around the world.  

Whether one is a citizen journalist focused on issues facing vulnerable populations in your municipality, a poet writing about climate change in the natural world, a podcaster documenting state-level political shenanigans, an essayist mining the personal for the relatable about human behavior, or a science fiction writer working on a semi-autobiographical account of your own #MeToo, words can expose wrongdoings, excavate forgotten histories, proclaim the inconvenient truths on which global survivals hinge, demand accountability, and imagine more just relationships, communities, and worlds. Writing, perhaps most crucially, is also a way to reaffirm one’s own humanity. As the Xicana writer Cherríe Moraga wrote:

Fundamentally, I started writing to save my life. Yes, my own life first. I see the same in my students — the dark, the queer, the mixed-blood, the violated — turning to the written page with a relentless passion, a drive to avenge their own silence, invisibility, and erasure as living, innately expressive human beings.

During Alumni College, you'll have the chance to have your words workshopped in sessions facilitated by skilled alumni who'll also share their insights and strategies for navigating the creative process from start to finish.

Join us!

alea adigweme ’06
Alumni College 2018 Program Director 



Alumni College will be divided into two workshops, so each participant will have the benefit of meaningful cross-genre feedback.

  1. Form + Genre (choose 1): fiction, poetry, essays, memoir, reportage, graphic novels and other illustrated tales
  2. Medium + Message (choose 1): the poetics of the personal, writing the natural world, writing the relational, food writing

Featured workshop leaders and panelists:

  • alea adigweme ‘06, program chair — essayist
  • Lucy Bellwood ‘12 — graphic novelist
  • John Daniel ‘70 — essayist and nature writer
  • Elyse Fenton ‘03 — poet and teacher
  • Lise Funderburg ‘82 — nonfiction writer
  • Debra Ginsberg ‘85 — memoirist, fiction writer
  • Linera Lucas ‘71 — poet and fiction writer
  • Steven Raichlen ‘75 — James Beard award-winning cookbook author
  • Gary Rogowski ‘72 — essayist

Workshop requirements (submissions due May 1):

  • Prose: One piece of 8001,200 words
  • Poetry: up to four poems, no more than five pages

Cost and registration:

  • Alumni College full registration: $425
  • Alumni College lecture-only registration: $200

For alumni who find these fees prohibitive, there are a small number of sliding-scale spots available. Priority for those sliding-scale spots will be given to alumni who have graduated in the last 15 years, but they are open to all alumni. To apply, please email with your name, class year, workshop preferences, and a brief note explaining your circumstances.

Questions or comments:

Please direct questions and feedback about Alumni College to For Reedies interested in getting involved as a workshop leader or panelist — especially younger alumni, alumni from minoritarian groups, alumni working in “new media,” and alumni with nontraditional career trajectories — we invite you to contact us as well!  


Tuesday, June 5

  • 12 p.m. Alumni College check in begins
  • 6—6:45 p.m. Alumni College Opening Reception
  • 6:45—7:45 p.m. Opening talk: Debra Ginsberg ’85

Wednesday, June 6

  • 8—9 a.m. Breakfast and welcome
  • 9—9:30 a.m. Practical pointers
    • Writing for a Living: The Dream vs. The RealityElyse Fenton ’03, Lise Funderburg ’82, and Chris Lydgate ’90
  • 10 a.m.—11:45 a.m. Workshop 1: Form + Genre, Session A
    • Fiction: TBA
    • Poetry: Linera Lucas ’71
    • Essays: Gary Rogowski ’72
    • Reportage: Chris Lydgate ’90
    • Memoir: Debra Ginsberg '85
    • Illustrated tales: Lucy Bellwood ’12
  • 12—12:45 p.m.: Roundtable discussions by genre and lunch
  • 12:45—2 p.m. Writing time
  • 2—5 p.m. Workshop I: Form + Genre, Session B
  • 6—7 p.m. Dinner
  • 7—8:30 p.m. Reading, featuring John Daniel ’70
  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are included in the day's activities
Thursday, June 7
  • 8—9 a.m. Breakfast
  • 9—9:30 a.m. Practical pointers
    • The Business of Writing: From Crowdfunding to Working with the Big Five (and Everything in Between!). Lucy Bellwood 12 and Steven Raichlen 75
  • 10—11:30 a.m. Workshop II: Medium + Message, Session A
    • Writing the natural world: John Daniel 70
    • Writing the relational: Lise Funderburg 82
    • Writing about food: Steven Raichlen 75
    • Writing the poetics of the personal: Elyse Fenton 03
  • 11:40 a.m. Transportation to Reed's Ski Cabin on Mt. Hood
  • 1:10—2:10 p.m.: Practical pointers and lunch
    • Lunch with a Literary Agent. Rita Rosenkranz 77
  • 2:30—3:30 p.m. Workshop II: Medium + Message, Session B
  • 3:30—5 p.m. Creative time
  • 5—6 p.m. Dinner on the Mountain
  • 6—7:30 p.m. Tentative return to campus
  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are included in the day's activities

Friday, June 8

    • 8—9 a.m. Breakfast
    • 9—9:50 a.m. Practical pointers
      • Editors Are a Writer’s Best Friend: How to Find a Proofreading, Prose-Polishing Gem Who “Gets” Your Work. TBA
    • 10 a.m.—12:15 p.m. Workshop II: Medium + Message, Session C
    • 12:30—1:30 p.m. Practical pointers and lunch
      • Independent Publishers and Bookstores. TBA 
    • Breakfast and lunch are included in the day's activities

Alumni College Faculty Snapshots