Tin House


The Tin House Summer Workshop is a weeklong intensive  of workshops, seminars, panels, and readings led by the editors of Tin House magazine and Tin House Books. and their guests – prominent contemporary American writers of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. The program combines morning workshops with afternoon craft seminars and career panels. Evenings are reserved for author readings and revelry.

Workshops meet for six sessions, Monday through Saturday, from 10:00 am until 1:00 pm. Each workshop will have no more than twelve students and will treat two to three manuscripts per session.

Tin House editors and guest agents are available to meet individually with students throughout the week. For students who have completed a collection of stories or poems, a memoir, or a novel, one-on-one mentorships are available with select faculty and staff for an additional fee (for further details see MENTORSHIP.)

$40 application fee

$1100 for tuition
$650 for room & board

$750-$1000 Mentorships

$350 Audit


July 10-17, 2016


The Tin House Summer Writers’ Workshop is held at Reed College, located on 100 acres of rolling lawns, winding lanes, and magnificent old trees in the southeast area of Portland, Oregon, just minutes from downtown and twelve miles from the airport. Portland offers a vibrant art scene, unique dining, and excellent public transportation. More importantly for writers, Portland is home to Powell’s, the largest independent bookstore in the world.

Summer Writers’ Workshop participants will be housed in the dormitories of Reed College near the center of campus. Most rooms are doubles, but not shared unless requested.  The confines are clean, but quite sparse (remember your college days?) and students are encouraged to bring extra blankets, lamps, and fans to help make their stay more comfortable. All classrooms, readings, panel presentations, dining and reception areas are within walking distance from the dormitories.

During the summer, Reed College offers access to its bookstore, library, mail service, art gallery, print shop, and athletic facilities. Computers with modems may be used through the telephone connection in dorm rooms for no charge. Wireless internet is also provided to those participants with airport cards in their laptops. Tin House will also host a cybercafé where students can access the Internet. A limited number of printers are available and students are highly encouraged to print all needed materials before arriving at the conference

Meals are served in the dining area of the college and are catered by Bon Appetit. We work closely with these folks in the hopes that all dietary requirements and restrictions are accounted for and that our participants’ needs are met. Students not staying with us on campus need to pay for meals individually.

Portland is easy to get to by air, train, bus, and car. The Portland International Airport (PDX) is accessible to major cities throughout the country, and is about twenty to thirty minutes from Reed College via public transportation, shuttle services, and cabs/Uber. The bus and train stations, located in downtown Portland, are about fifteen minutes from the college campus. Participants can also rent cars at the airport and throughout the city. Click here for directions.



All readings to be held at 8:00pm nightly in the Reed College Amphitheater.


Free and Open to The Public.


S16-WS-Readings-Week (1)




All lectures to be held at Vollum Lecture Hall or the Reed Chapel.


$10 per talk/$15 for an afternoon session.


No advanced tickets. Cash or Card accepted at the door.


Monday July 11th


Help Me Help You: The Agent Panel, with Amelia Atlas, Ayesha Pande Chris Parris-Lamb, and Marya Spence. Moderated by Rob Spillman.
Finding an agent to represent your work can be a time-consuming and hair-raising endeavor. Ideally, the relationship between agent and author is both professional and personal, providing a writer with much-needed support and encouragement. In this seminar, our panel of agents discuss what writers should know before seeking representation and offer unique insight into their professionVollum Lecture Hall

Dismantling Consciousness: Writing Beyond the Linear Mind, with Melissa Broder
Some texts come from the head: narrative, ego-driven, self-referentially clever. Others arrive from even deeper places–the heart, the crotch and the third eye–and it’s these works that can inhabit a universal language of feeling, seamlessly enter the reader, change their body temperature and compel them to say, “me too.” How do we become, as St. Francis said, “a channel” for this kind of language? This talk, which begins with a guided meditation, will explore various practices for getting out of one’s own way, including bibliomancy, pillaged nouns and alchemy. We will also discuss, and examine textually, the reasons why one might want to disappear as an act of creation. Reed Chapel

The Art of the List, with Dana Spiotta
A well executed list can be wonderfully seductive. But making a great list is not as simple as it seems. Together we will read and discuss some famous literary lists, catalogues, inventories, compendiums, and litanies to see if we can discover what makes them work. Possible subjects: repetition, rhythm, escalation, analogies, swerves, categories, good excess vs. lame excess, laziness, tedium, cultural hysteria, horror vacui, white space, the use of the colon, the use of numbers, the use of serial commas, and the inescapable challenge of the final note (or what Umberto Eco called “the poetics of etcetera”). Vollum Lecture Hall

Tuesday July 12th


From First Draft to Plot, with Alexander Chee
Typically we think of plot as something that is separate from character, like some crazy tube the character gets into and slides in, off into “trouble”. But really we are looking at how character is destiny, and how plot is for a character more like the shadow they cast. We will begin by looking at those first scenes in a draft for the clues we can find that lead into the past and future, and how we can grow plots from there. Vollum Lecture Hall

A Rubric for Self-Analysis:  Guidelines for Getting Out of My Own Way, with Gregory Pardlo
Thinking about my process comprehensively can actually prevent me from understanding how I work at various stages, and can keep me from seeing how each stage transitions into the next. This can make it difficult to distinguish poet from persona, artifice from fact. In this lecture, I will outline some areas of concentration that I think are elemental in the practice of aligning the vision in my head with the poem on the page. Reed Chapel

Tense Matters: How to Reckon with Identity, Trauma, and Joy in a Nation Obsessed with Tomorrow, with Kiese Laymon
In writing my new book, Heavy, about sexual violence, racial terror and food,  I came to discover that survivors and abusers in my family seem obsessed with talking more about tomorrow than yesterday. But I’ve noticed that the tense used in these stories, and particularly our use of the word “be”, not only matters, but reveals more about our imagined past and remembered futures. This lecture explores both. Vollum Lecture Hall

Wednesday July 13th


Going For a Beer and Other Foolproof Strategies for Writing Meaningful Stories, with Jess Walter
In fiction, funny is not the opposite of serious. Using stories like Robert Coover’s “Going For A Beer”, we’ll explore how comedic writing can actually lead to the most profound and transcendent fiction. Vollum Lecture Hall

Suicide and Joy, with Jericho Brown
The poet discusses a poem about love and suicide and how that poem makes him think of poetry as the real intersection of all things.  He then talks a bit about the joy of writing so as to make sure he didn’t leave everyone feeling down about suicide. Reed Chapel

The Multi-Tasking Scene: A Panel with Antonya Nelson, Chinelo Okparanta, and Joy Williams. Moderated by Michelle Wildgen
It’s a trope (rightly so) of the writing class that a scene has to do more than one thing. But why, as writers, do we want to bring a number of ideas, plot threads, character issues into one meaningful whole? By examining both our panelists work and some of their favorite scenes in literature we hope to find out. Vollum Lecture Hall

Thursday July 14th

No Lectures

Friday July 15th


The Loneliness of the Long Distance Writer: Mapping the Novel, with Jonathan Dee, Rachel Kushner, and Ayana Mathis. Moderated by Tony Perez.
By examining three stages of the novel writing process (generation, organization, revision), our panel will explore various strategies for creating longer works of fiction. Vollum Lecture Hall

It’s All About Me: The Practice and Pitfalls of Writing from Experience, with Michelle Tea
I will speak on the joys and pitfalls of using the events of your own life as literary fodder. Part craft talk, part philosophical musing, (part stand-up comedy) the author of five and half memoirs will touch on the many issues unique to the form. Whether you hope to pen a memoir or are seeking revenge on a memoirist for violating your privacy, this lecture holds something for everyone. Reed Chapel

The Lit Crush: When Desire Crashes into Doubt, with Steve Almond
A brief and semi-coherent treatise on the function of the crush in literature, and how desire placed in doubt generates story. We’ll consider Romeo, Juliet, Gatsby, Heathcliff, Humbert, Jane Eyre, Countess Olenshka, and other hopeless hankerers. Then we’ll do a little writing. Then we’ll have a good cry. Kleenex and ice cream optional. Vollum Lecture Hall

Saturday July 16th


Closing Time: Chronological Shifts at the Story’s End, with Rebecca Makkai
As the clock ticks down on the story, it’s often time to mess with the clock. We’ll discuss endings that jump ahead in time, ones that move us back to the past, ones that freeze us in the present, and ones that accomplish strange combinations of the above. How do these shifts carry the meaning of the work? How do they help an ending feel like an ending? And how can we steal these moves for our own writing? Vollum Lecture Hall

Eccentric Craft, with Sharon Olds
This is the story of how my craft came to be as it is — it’s an invitation to everyone to think about how their craft came to be and how it is evolving. Reed Chapel

Hymns to the Broken: A Manifesto from Luis Alberto Urrea
I am here to sing hymns to the broken. To offer bread to the disrespected. To throw love notes over the wall. My hope, as a writer, can be summed up in a line from an old Sam Peckinpah movie: “I just want to enter my home justified.” We all need a place to stand. I will tell you where I stand and offer you a place or two in your own art where you might pitch a tent. Vollum Lecture Hall

Once accepted and registered into the program, Workshop participants who have completed a book of stories or poems, a novel, or a memoir and want to receive a consultation on ways to improve their manuscripts are invited to apply for a mentorship with select faculty, guests, and editors. To be considered for this program, please fill out the mentorship application included in your acceptance packet. Tin House will then submit a query to your choice of faculty member. If the mentor is available, the student is required to submit his or her book-length manuscript before the Workshop begins.

A mentorship is not an edit, but a manuscript evaluation. Students can expect to meet with their mentors two times throughout the week of the Workshop and receive a comprehensive three-to-five-page manuscript evaluation.

Mentorships are highly competitive. Acceptance into the Workshop does not automatically qualify students for the mentor program.

Under 250 pages: $750.00
251 – 350 Pages: $1000.00
351 and over: TBD