Summer Residency

The Summer Residency

The highlight of our academic year is the Summer Residency, held each July on Western’s beautiful campus in Gunnison, Colorado. Over the course of two weeks, students take intensive courses in their concentrations, participate in workshops with visiting artists, and meet with publishers, editors and other industry professionals to advance their writing careers. Students also partake in a wide range of community-building social activities during their stay, including going to author readings, participating in open-mic sessions, attending receptions, dinners and other gatherings, and exploring the world-renowned natural beauty of the Gunnison Country. With all this and more going on, the Summer Residency powerfully launches students into the low-residency academic year, leaving them more prepared, more skilled and more inspired than ever to succeed in the program.

2020 Summer Residency Info

The 2020 Summer Residency will begin with a Welcome Reception on Monday, July 13th, and will culminate in the Graduation Ceremony and Farewell Celebration Dinner on Friday, July 24th. More details and schedule to follow.

Visiting Artist Program

At the 2019 Summer Residency, we debuted our Visiting Artist Program. The Visiting Artist Program is designed to enhance the student experience at the Residency by bringing out top-name authors to work closely with our students over a three-day period at the end of the Residency. Each concentration will invite its own Visiting Artist, so the program will host five Visiting Artists each year.

The 2019 Visiting Artists were:

Elizabeth Bear, Genre Fiction

Elizabeth Bear was born on the same day as Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, but in a different year. She is the Hugo, Sturgeon, Locus, and Campbell Award winning author of dozens of novels; over a hundred short stories; and a number of essays, nonfiction, and opinion pieces for markets as diverse as Popular Mechanics and The Washington Post. She is a frequent contributor to the Center for Science and the Imagination at ASU, and has spoken on futurism at Google, MIT, DARPA's 100 Year Starship Project, and the White House, among others.

Diane Bell, Screenwriting

Diane Bell is an award-winning screenwriter and director of three features: Obselidia, Bleeding Heart, and Of Dust and Bones. She has written numerous commissioned and optioned scripts, including two with renowned director John McTiernan (Die Hard, The Hunt for Red October). She has been a participant in the Sundance Screenwriters Lab as well as the Women in Film / Sundance mentorship program, and a finalist in the NBC Female Forward Directing Initiative. She is the author of Shoot from the Heart: Successful Filmmaking from a Sundance Rebel. 

Aaron A. Abeyta, Poetry

Aaron A. Abeyta is a Colorado native and professor of English and the Mayor of Antonito, Colorado, his hometown.     He is the author of four collections of poetry and one novel. For his book, colcha, Abeyta received an American Book Award and the Colorado Book Award.  In addition, his novel, Rise, Do Not be Afraid, was a finalist for the 2007 Colorado Book Award and El Premio Aztlan. Abeyta was awarded a Colorado Council on the Arts Fellowship for poetry, and he is the former Poet Laureate of Colorado’s Western Slope, as named by the Karen Chamberlain Poetry Festival. Abeyta is also a recipient of a Governor’s Creative Leadership Award for 2017. Aaron has over 100 publications including 'An Introduction to Poetry, 10th ed.,' Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, & Drama, 8th ed.' ‘Conversations in American Literature: Language, Rhetoric, & Culture’  ‘The Leopold Outlook’ ‘Colorado Central Magazine’ ‘The High Country News’ and numerous other journals.

Laura Pritchett, Nature Writing

Laura Pritchett is an American author whose work is rooted in the natural world. She began her writing journey with the short story collection Hell’s Bottom, Colorado, which won the PEN USA Award for Fiction and the Milkweed National Fiction Prize. This was followed by the novels Sky Bridge, Stars Go Blue, Red Lightning, and The Blue Hour, which garnered numerous literary awards, including the High Plains Book Award and the WILLA. She also has two nonfiction books: Great Colorado Bear Stories, and Making Friends with Death (more at Her work has appeared in The New York Times, O Magazine, Salon, High Country News, The Sun, Orion, Pinch, High Desert Journal, Lit Hub, Publisher's Weekly, The Normal School, Writers on the Range, OnEarth, Brain, Teen, and many others.

Dean Wesley Smith, Publishing

Considered one of the most prolific writers working in modern fiction, bestselling writer Dean Wesley Smith has published almost two hundred novels in forty years, and hundreds of short stories across many genres. Long involved in publishing, Smith is a passionate advocate for new methods in independent publishing. As early as 1988, he and Kristine Kathryn Rusch founded Pulphouse Publishing, an innovative small press that released 244 titles in the eight years of its existence. In 2010, Smith and Rusch founded WMG Publishing, one of the most successful indie publishing houses with over 600 titles released. In addition to his prodigious fiction output, Smith also runs numerous writing conferences and online workshops.

The 2020 Visiting Artists will be announced in spring 2020.