High School Writing Retreat 

presented by the Adirondack Center for Writing

October 28th & 29th, 9am-3pm

Paul Smith’s College


Since 2005, the Adirondack Center for Writing has hosted its annual High School Writing Retreat, and each year brings in more talented local teen writers. This year on October 28 and 29, the workshop leaders will include three New York City-based performance poets Jose Olivarez, Lauren Whitehead, and Jon Sands. The two-day retreat will feature writing workshops, performances, and general awesomeness! Each student will have the chance to write and perform their own work, and learn from some of the best performance poets in the world. The High School Writing Retreat is free and open to high school students, classes, and homeschooled students. Lunch is included.

Through unique creative writing exercises, students generate poems and essays and learn to read their work to an audience. This program exposes students to diverse writing styles and backgrounds from contemporary writers. 

This program is often the first time students have heard contemporary writing from Latino and African-American writers, steeped in tradition and dealing with social and political issues. It’s particularly fascinating to hear how students apply what they hear to their own experiences and emotions living in the North Country. Another role of this program is to create a place where regional students with a common interest can meet and develop friendships based on a mutual love of literature.

This event is made possible thanks to support from the Charles R. Wood Foundation, Cloudsplitter Foundation, Saranac Lake Young Arts Association, Stewart’s Holiday Match and the Adirondack Foundation: Benght Ohman Fund, Evergreen Fund, Saranac Lake Public School Education Fund. 

About the workshop leaders:

José Olivarez is the co-author of the book of poems Home Court, and co-host of the poetry podcast The Poetry Gods. He is a graduate of Harvard University and the Program Director at Urban Word NYC. A winner of a 2016 Poets House Emerging Poet Fellowship and a 2015 Bronx Recognizes Its Own award from the Bronx Council on the Arts, his work has been published in The BreakBeat Poets, Vinyl Poetry and Prose, Specter Magazine, and Union Station Magazine, among other places. He is from Calumet City, IL, and lives in the Bronx. Follow him on social media at @jayohessee. 

Lauren Whitehead is a writer, performer and MFA recipient in Dramaturgy (Columbia University). Recently she played “Un/Sung” in a workshop performance of the opera “We Shall Not be Moved” (Apollo Theater, Dir. Bill T. Jones). She directed “How Bodies Reclaim Light” (New York Live Arts) and was playwright/adapter of “Three Sisters: Tulsa 1921” (The Secret Theater). Her play, “stunning, still” was read at Naked Angels and her writings have been published in Apogee, Winter Tangerine and Union Station Magazine. Lauren teaches dramaturgy at The New School and facilitates a poetry and performance workshop at Juilliard. She really likes picking flowers, giving gifts and the aura of elephants. Find more info on her here: laurenawhitehead.com

Jon Sands is a writer known for electric readings, and the author of  The New Clean (2011, Write Bloody Publishing). His work has been featured in The New York Times, published widely in various journals, and anthologized in The Best American Poetry 2014. He starred in the award winning web-series Verse: A Murder Mystery from Rattapallax Films, is the co-founder of Poets in Unexpected Places, and a facilitator with the Dialogue Arts Project. He is a Youth Mentor with Urban Word-NYC, and teaches creative writing for adults at both Bailey House in Harlem (an HIV/AIDS service center) and the Positive Health Project (a syringe exchange in Manhattan). He tours extensively, but lives in Brooklyn. 

To register as an individual or a class, please contact Baylee at info@adirondackcenterforwriting.org.  


Check out videos from the High School Writing Retreat on the Adirondack Center for Writing Youtube channel

2015 Workshop Leaders:

Jon Sands is a writer known for electric readings, and the author of  The New Clean (2011, Write Bloody Publishing). His work has been featured in The New York Times, published widely in various journals, and anthologized in The Best American Poetry 2014. He is the co-founder of Poets in Unexpected Places and the Program Director of the Dialogue Arts Project. He is a Youth Mentor with Urban Word-NYC, and teaches weekly creative writing for adults at Bailey House in Harlem (an HIV/AIDS service center). He has represented New York City multiple times at the National Poetry Slam. He tours extensively, but lives in Brooklyn.

Angel Nafis is a Cave Canem Fellow and Ruth Lilly Dorothy Sargent Finalist.  Her work has appeared in The Rattling Wall, The BreakBeat Poets Anthology, MUZZLE Magazine, The Rumpus and Poetry Magazine. She has represented the LouderArts Poetry Project at both the National Poetry Slam and the Women of the World Poetry Slam in 2011. She is an Urban Word NYC Mentor and the founder, curator, and host of the quarterly Greenlight Bookstore Poetry Salon reading series. She is the author of BlackGirl Mansion (Red Beard Press/ New School Poetics, 2012) Facilitating writing workshops and reading poems across the United States and Canada, she lives in Brooklyn.

Jive Poetic received his BA in Media Studies from the State University of New York at Buffalo. After graduation he was one of two poets selected by the US Embassy to represent American slam poetry as a part of an international cultural exchange program in Warsaw, Poland. Jive Poetic has preformed and collected slam titles in various other countries including Amsterdam, Canada, Germany and The United Kingdom. In 2003, Jive Poetic was a member of the Nuyorican Poet’s Café’s National Slam team ranking second in the nation as a team and 10th individually. He was also the Grand Slam Champion of Pensacola, Florida in 2004; as well as a member of the 2004 Providence Rhode Island Slam Team, the 2005 Louder Arts Slam team and the 2006 Brooklyn Slam team. He is the co-founder of The SOUNDBITES POETRY FESTIVAL, the only performance poetry festival in New York City and currently hosts the open slam at Nuyorican Poets Cafe. When he is not on tour or hosting Jive Poetic teaches performance poetry and hip – hop workshops. Recently Jive has released his latest album, PERPENDICTIVE and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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