Wild Seeds Writers Retreat

Wild Seeds Writers Retreat is formerly the North Country Institute and Retreat for Writers of Color

Winter 2021 Retreat Dates:

February 18-12 at Medgar Evers College, CUNY in Brooklyn, NY.

Details Coming Soon!


Our History

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.

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.

What Fellows are Saying

“I truly appreciate having a spaced carved out for Black Writers. The facilities were beautiful. The food was beyond my expectations and the cohort was inspiring.” – Akanke W. – Educator, Author. Pennsylvania, Fiction Fellow, 2019

“I enjoyed getting feedback from my workshop leader Dr. Tony as well as his availability to explain concepts to me after the sessions were finished. I also enjoy the fellowship with the workshop leaders, the other writers from my fiction group as well as those from the poetry group. I also enjoyed the impromptu to writing project, the location, and the late-night reading cyphers… This was my first writers retreat ever and it was perfect, I just wish it could have been longer.” – Felice P. – Fiction Fellow, 2019

“This experience was cleansing and it taught me to dig deeper or at least deep enough to write more honestly.”
—Eartha H., Legal Assistant. New York, Fiction Fellow – Author of “Love Changes” (2013)

“This was my first workshop that the instructor allowed, suggested, and expected to have you write from your spirit, and it instantly worked for me.” —Miriam F., Paralegal, New York, Fiction Fellow

“I enjoyed the personal relationships that were formed. [Valcour ] was a wonderful venue. One of the best experiences in my life as a writer.”
—Sean A., Program Director, New York, Fiction Fellow – Author “Alphabet City Blues” (2019)

“I enjoyed discussing literature and the fellowship. This was the perfect retreat, and I believe that I worked with the best writers in the country.” —Maggie C., Teacher, New Orleans, Louisiana, Fiction Fellow – Author of “Celestial Blue Skies” (2015)

“The feedback from the faculty, the independent writing, goal orientation [writing projects] getting to the breakthrough… it was great and on point because the fiction and nonfiction groups met together for class and received personal feedback from the genre specialist. They were great.” —Elaine F., Consultant, Albany, New York, Memoir Fellow

“The best part of the workshop was the community of writers (my peers) with whom I had the privilege of interacting during all times of the day and night….” —Sergio R., Los Angeles, Fiction Fellow

“This was my first experience in a true writers’ workshop. And it was outstanding. Sharing my story with the instructor and my fellow participants has really helped me to see my work in a new light. And I got some great practical advice and ideas.” —Holly E., Journalism Professor, Columbia, Missouri, Fiction Fellow – Award Winning  Short Story Writer

“The NCI Retreat was a fabulous experience… having the chance to be exclusively with other folks of color allowed for a certain kind of safety, idea development and freedom of expression that I have yet to encounter in non-POC workshop spaces. Strong relationships were generated with other writers who I now consider good friends and allies. In four days, we established networks to exchange and share our work; raising the workshop roof, if you will, to maintain the dialogue and run with it beyond the time constraints of the Retreat.” —Amalia A., Creative Writing Instructor, California, Poetry Fellow

“The Retreat was everything I hoped it would be! Our instructor gave us exercises and readings that made us seriously consider not only the craft of writing, but also our personal development as writers. And, when it was time to workshop, [Victor] explored each piece with great sensitivity…My classmates, too, impressed me with their insight and commitment to writing.  From them, I learned how varied the contemporary fiction of writers of color can be…Overall, I am so glad that I was able to be a part of a workshop that truly respected what each individual writer wanted to accomplish.” —Rochelle S., Freelance Journalist, Georgia, Fiction Fellow – Co-editor of All About Skin: Short Fiction by Women of Color (Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 2014)