A tribute to the UW-Madison’s Writers Institute
It is with a heavy heart that I share news of the end of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Writers’ Institute. The 30-year-long literary conference is shutting down due to financial loss from the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s hard to express how much of a loss this is for the Wisconsin writing community. The Writers’ Institute was part of the university’s Division of Continuing Studies and provided more than a conference. It offered courses, certifications, workshops, retreats, and a welcoming, thoughtful community to writers of all genres. People from all walks of life, writing in all forms, came together for decades to improve their craft and find like-minded folks.
I’ve twice had the honor of presenting as faculty at the Writers’ Institute, and I posted some pix from those times below. I’ll miss being there again. But I know the UWM-WI community will carry on. Let’s make sure it does.
Thank you, Laurie Scheer, Laura Kahl, and Christine DeSmit, for creating this event and profoundly affecting so many lives.
If you have a Writers’ Institute story, I’d love to hear it! Send it to me in a comment, and, once approved, it’ll show up here. Write on.
I remember attending my first Institute back in 2017. I was nervous. I didn’t know whether I’d be accepted by this venerable group of attendees and instructors. What I found, instead, was a warm community not only accepting me but embracing me as only writers can. After the conference that year, I found the courage to assert myself as a writer not by means of a hobby but as a life passion and a profession.
I’m bereft at knowing the Institute won’t be back. Writers and writing change people and the world. The Writers’ Institute did both for me, and if there’s ever a hint of a return I want to be there with sleeves rolled up to help and arms wide open to welcome the next batch of nervous, uncertain writers.
I too hope it returns. These hard times won’t last forever, and the community is too close and caring to let it disappear forever.