WILD SEEDS Writers Retreat: Notice- Submissions now CLOSED for Summer 2019

Wild Seeds Writers Retreat

for Writers of Color

[Formerly the North Country Institute and Retreat for Writers of Color]

Let Your Creativity Flow!

Retreat Dates: Tues. July 16, 2019 – Sat. July 20, 2019

(Current as of 5/29/19)

Information for the planned Winter Retreat in NYC will come Fall 2019.

Application Deadline for this Retreat:


Selected Fellows will be notified on or after June 15, 2019.

Genres: Fiction and Poetry

The Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College, CUNY, and the English Department at SUNY, Plattsburgh, present the Wild Seeds Writers Retreat at the Valcour Inn and Boathouse on the picturesque western shore of Lake Champlain.


One-on-One and small group sessions in a nurturing environment.


Fellows interested in participating in an upcoming retreat can apply online or via mail.

If you do not see your questions answered on this page, please contact the Center for Black Literature at 718-804-8883 or e-mail writers@mec.cuny.edu. Please note that all dates and instructors are subject to change.



Applicants’ Submission Materials Must Include

  • cover letter indicating which genre you are submitting for FICTION or POETRY. Please include your name, telephone number, mailing address, and e-mail address.
  1.  Expressing reasons for wanting to participate.
  2.  How you would benefit from this experience?
  3.  A brief description of the project you are presently working on, if applicable.
  4.  Background information on you as a writer.
  • A paginated writing sample. [See guidelines below. Submissions not in adherence to the parameters may be subject to disqualification.]
  • Two letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with their writing.
  • nonrefundable application fee of $25.

Highly Competitive – 6 slots available per workshop.

Tuition: $500

[inclusive of room and meals.]

Submissions Guidelines

Please paginate all submissions. Upon selection, be prepared to work on a particular project.

Submissions not in adherence to the parameters may be subject to disqualification. DO NOT SUBMIT FULL MANUSCRIPTS. 

Poetry: Up to five (5) poems.

Fiction: Submit one (1) chapter of the book you intend to work on or one (1) short story.

Please submit to only one category at a time: Fiction OR Poetry.

Submit electronically to:

e-mail writers@mec.cuny.edu / Cc: CReynolds@mec.cuny.edu  with “Wild Seeds Submission- YOUR NAME Genre” in your subject heading.

Hard copies – mail to:

Center for Black Literature
Medgar Evers College, CUNY
1650 Bedford Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11225

RE: Wild Seeds Retreat

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can students apply? Yes. Students at the upper level of high school and above may apply. If in high school, they should be exceptional in the genre of writing for which they are submitting an application.
  2. Do I have to be a professional writer? No. Anyone with an interest to hone their craft may apply.
  3. How are Fellows selected? Fellows are selected by a committee that includes writing instructors, writers and other qualified individuals for the genre. All recommendations for potential writing Fellows and sample writings are reviewed.
  4. Do I have to submit my references with the application? No. References may be submitted separately via mail or e-mail to writers@mec.cuny.edu; Cc: CReynolds@mec.cuny.edu with the subject heading:  “Wild Seeds Reference for YOUR FIRST NAME LAST NAME- GENRE”. References must be received at least two to three weeks prior to the first day of the scheduled retreat.

Note: Applications received without the $25 application fee will be considered incomplete until the payment is received by the Center for Black Literature.

Payment plans are available. All payments must be made BEFORE the first day of the retreat.

Download Paper Application:

Application__Wild Seeds_Retreat_2019_Single_sided[PDF]

Application__Wild Seeds_Retreat_2019_Single_sided[MSWord Doc]

For returning Fellows: [This applies to fellows who have participated within the last 12 month period.]

  • They must complete the application, indicating which retreat that they are applying for.
  • The $25 application fee is required.
  • The Cover letter is required.
  • Unless submitting for a different genre, they do not have to resubmit the text. If submitting for a different genre they should submit relevant text for consideration.
  • Scholarships – If fellows have previously received a scholarship, scholarships will be first made available to NEW applicants and then to re-applying fellows.
  • References will not be required if resubmitting.

Scheduled Retreats

Applications will be reviewed as received until all spaces have been filled for each scheduled retreat. Retreats are held in the summer and winter. Scholarships are made available based on sponsorship.

Tuition fees vary based on location. Tuition fees include lodging based on double occupancy and meals at the Valcour Educational Conference Center. Please see the hotel and travel options if traveling from out of town for the Medgar Evers College location. To Plattsburgh, visit www.amtrak.com for schedules for trains (for example, trains leave NY Penn Station to Plattsburgh, N.Y. in the AM).

Current Schedule

Wild Seeds Retreat Administrative Schedule – Summer 2019

May 24 – Deadline for applications. [EXTENDED FROM 5/15/19]
June 15 – Notification of Acceptance
June 24 – Confirmation of Acceptance by Residents
July 10 – Deadline for Residents to Pay Tuition
July 16- July 20- Retreat at Valcour

Wild Seeds Retreat Workshop Schedule in Brief

TUE July 16 –  SAT July 20, 2019

July 16 – Arrival & Introduction
July 17, 18, 19 – Writing/ Feedback/ One-on-One’s
*Possible reading at Plattsburgh on the evening of July 18 or 19.
July 20 – Departure


Current Faculty

Poetry Faculty Workshop Leader

Patricia Spears Jones is an award-wining poet, writer, playwright, cultural critic, and winner of the 2017 Jackson Poetry Prize from Poets & Writers. She is the author of A Lucent Fire: New and Selected Poems (White Pine Press, 2015), which was a finalist for the PSA’s William Carlos Williams Prize and the Paterson Poetry Prize, and a featured Pushcart Prize winning poem.  She has 10 additional publications: poetry books, chapbooks and featured in anthologies such as Of Poetry and Protest: From Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin; BAX: Best American Experimental Writing, 2016: 2017 Pushcart Prize XLI, Best of Small Presses; Truth to Power: Writers Respond to The Rhetoric of Hate and Fear; and Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry. Recent publications include The New Yorker, The Killens Review of Arts & Letters, and The Ocean State Review. She coedited Ordinary Women: An Anthology of New York City Women, one of the first multiracial, multiethnic women’s anthologies in 1978 and she edited THINK: Poems for Aretha Franklin’s Inauguration Day Hat in 2009. She has written extensively on the visual arts, theater, film, and music. She was commissioned by Mabou Mines for two music theater collaborations, one with Carter Burwell, the second with Lisa Gutkin. She has performed with Jason Hwang, Luke Stewart and other improvisational musicians. She has led workshops at Poets House, the Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church and for Brooklyn Poets and Cave Canem. In summer 2019, she teaches at Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill and Wild Seeds Writers Institute organized by the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College.

She has received grants and awards from NYSCA, NEA, the Foundation for Contemporary Art, and the BAU Institute for residency at Camargo Foundation in France. She has been a fellow at Robert Rauschenberg Residency and at VCCA, Yaddo, and the Millay Colony. She is also a recipient of a Goethe Institute grant for travel in Germany in 1989 and curated “Words Sunday” at Calabar Imports, Bed-Stuy featuring Brooklyn-based poets and artists including Janice Lowe, Nicole Peyrafitte, Gregory Pardlo, Alexis DeVeaux, Nicole Hefner Callihan, Cheryl Boyce-Taylor, Ras Moshe Burnett, Tai Allen, and Michael Broder. She is a Black Earth Institute senior fellow emeritus and founder/organizer of the American Poets Congress. www.psjones.com


Fiction Faculty Workshop Leader

Tony Medina is a two-time winner of the Paterson Prize for Books for Young People (DeShawn Days and I and I, Bob Marley) and the In the Margins Book Award (I Am Alfonso Jones and Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Boy), as well as the recipient of The Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Honor Award (Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Boy) and a Skipping Stones Honor Award (I Am Alfonso Jones). Medina’s poetry memoir My Old Man Was Always On the Lam and his graphic novel I Am Alfonso Jones were finalists for the Paterson Poetry Prize and the Excellence in Graphic Literature Award, respectively. The first Professor of Creative Writing at Howard University, Medina earned a BA from Baruch College (CUNY) and an MA and PhD from Binghamton University (SUNY) where he received the Distinguished Dissertation Award, and is the author/editor of 23 books for adults and young readers. A Pushcart Prize-nominated poet, his most recent books are the police brutality anthology, Resisting Arrest: Poems to Stretch the Sky, and the forthcoming poetry collections My Skin Is a Target Study, Serious Trouble, and Death, with Occasional Smiling.

Medina, whose poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in more than 100 journals and anthologies, has presented his work extensively throughout the United States as well as Germany, France, Poland, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and the Netherlands. His most recent television and radio appearances were on the philanthropic reality show GIVE (NBC), Good Day Washington (CBS), and Sirius XM’s Kids Place Live. An advisory editor for Nikki Giovanni’s anthology Hip Hop Speaks to Children, Medina’s recent fiction, poetry and nonfiction can be found in the anthologies We, Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices; Furious Flower: Seeding the Future; Revisiting the Elegy in the Black Lives Matter Era; and Ishmael Reed’s Black Hollywood Unchained. Born and raised in the Bronx and a longtime resident of Harlem, Medina is a veteran of the United States Army and was recently selected by the Mayor of the District of Columbia to serve as a commissioner to appoint the Poet Laureate of Washington, D.C. Medina is affiliated with the nonprofit literacy and literary organizations and institutions Behind the Book, Say It Loud, the Highlights Foundation, PEN American, the Caribbean Cultural Center in Harlem, Medgar Evers College’s The Center for Black Literature, the Furious Flower Poetry Center, and the American Poetry Museum in Washington, D.C.


Applicant Checklist & Instructions

  • Application  – you may include the eventbrite.com ticket/receipt when mailing your sample as proof of payment if paid on-line, and/or include the completed printed application.
  • Cover Letter
  • Registration Fee– Checks and money orders should be made out to “Medgar Evers College” with a note that reads “Center for Black Literature Retreat” (see note for “Application” for electronic payments.)
  • Writing Sample – this is to be e-mailed or mailed with the cover letter and application. Please follow the guidelines above.
  • Two References – your references can be e-mailed separately. The subject heading should read as such: “Wild Seeds Reference for YOUR FIRST NAME LAST NAME- GENRE”

Again, e-mails are to be sent to: writers@mec.cuny.edu

Payment plans are available. All payments must be made BEFORE the first day of the retreat.

Our History

Wild Seeds Writers Retreat

The Wild Seeds Writers Retreat (formally The North Country Institute & Retreat for Writers of Color), a collaboration with the Center for Black Literature, the English Department at SUNY, Plattsburgh, and the Paden Institute and Retreat for Writers, provides a writing community where established as well as newly discovered writers of color can focus on the craft of writing and create cross-cultural conversations around the literature created by writers of the African Diaspora.  Writing fellows have an opportunity to draw upon their experiences as writers in a racialized society; to become knowledgeable about the issues and concerns facing writers of color; and to study with a professional in the genres of fiction, memoir, and poetry.  The first Writers Retreat, held in 2004, was highly successful and featured poet Sonia Sanchez, author Tony Medina, and writer Indira Ganesan. Subsequent faculty workshop leaders have been nonfiction writer Patrice Gaines, poets Martin Espada, E. Ethelbert Miller, and Aracelis Girmay; and writers Jeffrey Renard Allen, Marita Golden, Victor LaValle, and Bernice McFadden among many others. The Writers Retreat alternates between the Valcour Educational and Conference Center in Plattsburgh, New York, and the campus of Medgar Evers College, Brooklyn, New York.


The Goal

Recognizing that the Writers Retreat should not be limited to a specific geographical region, the Center renamed the Retreat in honor of Octavia E. Butler, a speculative fiction writer known for blending science fiction with African American spiritualism. Butler was a writer whose writing crossed many boundaries and represented varying diverse voices. the Wild Seeds Writers Retreat strives to provide writers of color an opportunity to meet other writers; to workshop their writing among peers; and engage with published writers about concerns and issues related to writing and publishing in a creative, nurturing, and intellectually stimulating environments. Overall, the Wild Seeds Writers Retreat aims to provide the broader New York State area with an opportunity to become knowledgeable about works being produced by writers of color and the challenges they face.


Past Faculty Workshop Leaders

Jeffrey Renard Allen, Martin Espada, Bernice McFadden, Major Jackson, Indira Ganesan, Aracelis Girmay, Marita Golden, Patrice Gaines, Ravi Shankar, Tonya Cherie Hegamin, Sandra Jackson-Opoku, Victor LaValle, E. Ethelbert Miller, Greg Pardlo, Ernesto Quiñonez, and Sonia Sanchez.