Each summer, the faculty and participants of The Rainier Writing Workshop gather on the beautiful PLU campus for the intensive summer residency. The residency consists of lectures, workshops, classes, readings, and other immersive activities. Each day is full, with activities from 8AM until 8PM. The morning workshops are facilitated by core and guest faculty; the workshops are mandatory for all participants. During the first half of the residency, each participant takes part in a workshop composed of writers in his or her primary genre; in the second half, the participant takes part in mixed-genre workshops.
“This residency — compressed time — has provided me with time, with time out of time, that has allowed me to immerse myself in language, in my contemporaries, in the writing world.”
In addition to the workshops, participants are required to take 16 credits of classes during the residency. A superb variety of classes is offered each day, exploring thematic and technical issues in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Classes are also offered on issues of pedagogy, and how to build and maintain a writing practice and community beyond the MFA.
Each participant is free to create his or her own menu of classes during the residency, regardless of the participant’s primary genre. A participant who is primarily a poet, for example, may opt to take classes in nonfiction, while a participant involved with writing a memoir project may choose to take classes in fiction. During the residency, each participant is paired with the faculty mentor who will work with the participant in the coming year. Their initial dialogue will touch upon the following: the schedule of exchanges for the year, and the method of exchange; an overview of the participant’s goals and projects for the year; and the reading and writing assignments suggested by the mentor.
The participants also take part in cohort-specific meetings that outline the work to be done by the participants in the upcoming year. The residencies are intellectually challenging and invigorating. Along with the academic components of each residency, there are also opportunities for more relaxed socializing, including meal-time conversations, open-mic readings, and field trips to Seattle and Mt. Rainier during the mid-residency break.
During the residency, participants are housed in a dormitory on the PLU campus. Each participant gets a private room on a same-sex floor; bathrooms are shared. All meals are included. Room and board are part of the full program cost, and participants cannot opt out.