The Juniper Institute for Young Writers, an extraordinary 8-day creative writing program for high school students finishing their freshman, sophomore, or junior years, offers intensive multi-genre workshops in fiction and poetry, craft sessions, studio courses, and readings with visiting writers.
Through a curriculum that facilitates wild invention, Juniper participants generate new writing, experiment with style and form, access tools for finding inspiration in their day-to-day lives, and learn how to connect with an audience. Living together in close-knit "pods," Young Writers participate in workshops, studio sessions, readings, and field trips. Many also earn academic credit while they enjoy a pre-college residential experience on the UMass Amherst campus.
Workshops: At the heart of the Institute are daily multi-genre workshops. Working with faculty and a core group of peers, participants generate new work, revise work in progress, and form a supportive community of young writers committed to sharing and receiving feedback on their writing. Workshops are kept small so that each writer has ample opportunity to present his or her work.
Field Trips and Craft Sessions: Mid-week excursions to local museums, nature preserves, and literary sites are designed to encourage writers to integrate inspiration from the field into their prose and poetry. Craft sessions are paired with the field trips to illustrate how writers bring research and sensory experience back to the classroom. Recent topics and locations have included: "I Feel Weird: Language in Unexpected Places" at The Amherst College Natural History Museum, and "Mastering the Art of the Poem-Letter" at the Emily Dickinson Museum.
Studio Sessions: Through exploratory creative labs, exercises beyond the page, and/or mixing of writing with other art forms, participants explore avenues of creativity and experiment with new strategies to employ in their work. Past sessions have included podcasting, zine making, spoken word, and "The Walk as Poem."
Readings and Open Mics: During the day, young writers hear the poetry and fiction of their Workshop Instructors and Program Assistants. In the evenings, Visiting Writers share their work and take questions, and open mics encourage writers to practice putting their work in the world in a supportive and enthusiastic community.
Salons: Participants can engage in lively discussion, debate and presentation of creative ideas or controversies facing artists today. Sample topics have included: "The Bechdel Test: Female Representation in Film and Other Media," "Pop is Poetry," "Marginalia," and "The Perks of Being a YA Novel."
Workshops and craft sessions are led by MFA candidates from the renowned University of Massachusetts MFA Program for Poets and Writers who design curricula especially for the Institute setting.