We Seek to Inspire Equity Empowerment Innovation in all of our Writing Workshops

The Clarion West Writers Workshop was founded on the belief that writers from diverse backgrounds need an opportunity to be heard — and to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Clarion West has historically been successful in reaching women writers and LGBTQIA+ writers and many of our graduates are actively publishing in the field. 

With over 600 graduates from the Six-Week Workshop, Clarion West has played a significant role in shaping the careers of speculative fiction writers, and our work continues. As we explore our own efforts at equity and inclusion, we see an ongoing disparity in both the writers we serve and in the greater community of published writers in speculative fiction[link] who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), are from non-English speaking countries, and writers with disabilities. As such, we are now seeking to do better at following our mission to help new and emerging voices in speculative fiction through an examination of our workshop techniques, workshop and organizational culture, community programs, and internal processes. 

As a result of feedback and community forums with our alumni, Clarion West is in the process of making lasting structural changes that promote a Six-Week Workshop culture distinctive to Clarion West’s mission of equity, empowerment, and innovation — by providing a safe space for participants to explore concepts of race, class, nationality, disability, neurodivergence, gender, and sexual orientation within and beyond the genre of speculative fiction. We hope to expand the focus of this process to every program presented by Clarion West over the next few years. 

Workshop Model

For over 35 years, Clarion West held strictly to the Milford peer workshop model. However, it is clear that a serious examination of traditional peer critique methods has already been taking place in the broader writing and workshopping field. Clarion West has been coming to terms with the fact that not all writers — especially BIPOC and other marginalized writers — have been involved in the conversations around — and represented in — the design of our workshops. (See below for a recommended reading list.) 

Over the course of the past year, Clarion West began exploring where our assumptions about key components of the Six-Week Workshop, including critiquing methods and social interactions, have limited the experiences of writers from a broad range of underrepresented communities — especially those whose voices are still emerging in prominent speculative fiction outlets and who continue to face barriers to entry into the field.

A lot of people in our community have had questions about this process and what it means, and the truth is that we are still testing new methods, working with experts in the field, and making sure that the result helps Clarion West follow-through on our mission. We will be providing further information here as we go. Email us directly at workshop@clarionwest.org if you have questions or concerns about the workshop process at Clarion West.

Methods

  • Organization-wide inventory and student surveys  
  • Establishing an ongoing Workshop Culture Committee
  • Design workshop models and protocols rooted in Clarion West’s mission and vision
  • Staff and organization-wide training
  • Documentation and ongoing evaluation 

Project Consultant and Advisor

Rachelle Cruz

Rachelle was appointed the 2018–2020 Inlandia Literary Laureate. She co-edited Kuwento: Lost Things (An Anthology of New Philippine Myths) (Carayan Press, 2015) with Melissa Sipin. Her most recent book, Experiencing Comics: An Introduction to Reading, Discussing and Creating Comics, was published in Fall 2018. Her work has appeared in As/Us, Yellow Medicine Review, The Lit Pub,The CollagistBone BouquetPANKMuzzle Magazine, and Inlandia: A Literary Journey, among others. She hosts The Blood-Jet Writing Hour with Muriel Leung. She is a Lecturer in the Creative Writing Department at the University of California, Riverside. An Emerging Voices Fellow, a Kundiman Fellow, and a VONA writer, she lives and writes in Southern California.

rachellecruz.com

Advisory Committee

An image of Nelly Geraldine Garcia-Rosas

Nelly Geraldine García-Rosas (CW 19)

Nelly Geraldine García-Rosas is a Mexican immigrant and a graduate of the Clarion West class of 2019, which she attended with the help of an Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship. Her short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in ClarkesworldLightspeedNightmare, the World Fantasy Award-winning anthology She Walks in Shadows, and elsewhere.

She can be found online at nellygeraldine.com and on Twitter as @kitsune_ng

A photo of the author Georgina Kamsika

Georgina Kamsika (CW 12)​

Georgina Kamsika is a speculative fiction writer born in Yorkshire, England, to Anglo-Indian immigrant parents, and has spent most of her life explaining her English first name, Polish surname, and South Asian features.

As a second-generation immigrant, her work often utilizes the speculative element to examine power structures that are mirrored in the real world, touching on issues of race, class, and gender.

Her debut novel, Goddess of the North, began as a short story written for Connie Willis during Clarion West 2012. She can be found on Twitter @Gkamsika and at kamsika.com.

Karen Lord

Karen Lord is a Barbadian author, editor, and research consultant. Her debut novel, Redemption in Indigo, won several awards and was nominated for the 2011 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel. Her other works include the science fiction novels The Best of All Possible Worlds and The Galaxy Game, and the crime-fantasy novel Unraveling. She edited the anthology New Worlds, Old Ways: Speculative Tales from the Caribbean.

She was a judge for the 2019 Commonwealth Short Story Prize and the 2018 CODE Burt Award for Caribbean YA Literature. She has taught at the 2018 Clarion West Writers Workshop and the 2019 Clarion Workshop, and she co-facilitated the 2018 Commonwealth Short Story Prize Workshop in Barbados. She has been a featured author at literary festivals from Adelaide to Edinburgh to Berlin, and often appears at the Bocas Lit Fest in Trinidad & Tobago.

Nibedita Sen (CW 15)​

Nibedita Sen is a Hugo, Nebula, and Astounding Award-nominated queer Bengali writer, editor, and gamer from Calcutta. She acquired several English degrees in India before deciding she wanted an MFA too, and that she was going to move halfway across the world for it. A graduate of Clarion West 2015, her work has appeared in venues like PodcastleNightmare, and Fireside. These days, she can be found in NYC, where she helps edit Glittership, an LGBTQ SFF podcast, enjoys the company of puns and potatoes, and is nearly always hungry. Hit her up on Twitter at @her_nibsen.

Izzy Wasserstein (CW 17)​

Izzy Wasserstein is a queer and trans woman. She is a Senior Lecturer in English at Washburn University, where she teaches writing, literature, and film. Her fiction has appeared in Apex, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Clarkesworld, and many other magazines and anthologies. She’s an enthusiastic member of the Clarion West class of 2017 and shares her home with the writer Nora E. Derrington and their animal companions.

Additional Advisors

  • Shweta Adhyam (CW 17 and Clarion West board)
  • Andy Duncan (CW 94)
  • Huw Evans (CW 12 and Clarion West board)

Staff

  • Marnee Chua
  • Stephanie Malia Morris (CW 17)
  • Rashida J. Smith (CW 05)
  • Jae Steinbacher (CW 14)

Recommended Readings

  • “25 Essential Notes on Craft” by Matthew Salesses
  • Appropriate by Paisley Rekdal
  • Craft in the Real World by Matthew Salesses
  • “Decolonizing your syllabus? You might have missed some steps.” by Max Liboiron in Civic Laboratory, August 12, 2019
  • “How to Build an Antiracist Workshop” by Felicia Rose Chavez in Lit Hub, January 6, 2021
  • The Anti-Racist Writing Workshop by Felicia Rose Chavez
  • “Unsilencing the Writing Workshop” by Beth Nguyen in Lit Hub, April 3, 2019
  • “Viet Thanh Nguyen Reveals How Writers’ Workshops Can Be Hostile” by Viet Thanh Nguyen in the New York Times, April 26, 2017
  • “White Anti-Racism: Living the Legacy” from Learning for Justice