Summer 2019 Workshops

For our inaugural summer at The Priory Writers’ Retreat, we’re thrilled to welcome four incredible writers-in-residence: Dasha Kelly Hamilton (poetry), Nickolas Butler (fiction), Mary Mack (comedy/humor writing), and David McGlynn (memoir/nonfiction). Additionally, former Wisconsin poet laureate Max Garland will serve as the retreat’s keynote speaker! Join us Julyl 18-21, 2019!

Click here for information on scholarship opportunities and here for a daily schedule.

Scroll below to check out their amazing workshops!

Dasha Kelly Hamilton presents: “Power Lines: Crafting Poems with Punch

Credit: Va’Na Barki

Credit: Va’Na Barki

Word by line by stanza, we construct poems charged with life, truth, and power. But how, precisely, do our words render such power? And how might our power-filled poems change the world? Join Dasha Kelly Hamilton for workshop and instruction on the craft of writing power-charged poems.

Dasha Kelly Hamilton is a writer, performer, facilitator, and creative change agent. She has released four spoken-word recordings, written two novels, and appeared in HBO Presents Russell Simmon’s Def Poetry Jam. She has twice been a finalist for poet laureate of Wisconsin and was named Artist of the Year by the city of Milwaukee.

Click here to learn more about Dasha.

Nickolas Butler presents “Stepping into Story: The Theory and Practice of Fiction”

Credit: Jeff Rogers

Credit: Jeff Rogers

Writers are invited to submit either an opening chapter of a novel-in-progress or a completed short story. Each writer will receive a workshop, a letter from the instructor, free-time to work on their craft, and the ability to casually chat about the publishing process, agents and editors, writing-as-craft, among other writing-related topics.

Nickolas Butler is the internationally-acclaimed author of several books of fiction, including Little Faith, The Hearts of Men, Shotgun Lovesongs, and the short story collection, Beneath the Bonfires. He is the winner of France's prestigious PAGE Prix America, the 2014 Great Lakes Great Reads Award, the 2014 Midwest Independent Booksellers Award, the 2015 Wisconsin Library Association Literary Award, the 2015 UW-Whitewater Chancellor's Regional Literary Award, and has been long-listed for the 2014 Flaherty Dunnan Award for First Novel and short-listed for France's FNAC Prix.

Click here to learn more about Nick.

Mary Mack Presents “Finding the Funny: Make Millions with Humor (Just Kidding)”

Credit: Va’Na Barki

Credit: Va’Na Barki

Are people walking out during your presentations? Are you losing friends? Do people yawn or use recreational drugs during your stories? This multigenre workshop is for you! Speeches, essays, op-eds, stories, how-tos, standup comedy performance pieces, eulogies, wills—bring’em all! This class addresses how to find the humor in your creative work. Be the subject of gentle scrutiny by sharing a piece to read, or an original comedy bit you’ve practiced in front of a mirror (hopefully in your own home, not a public restroom or something). Join Mary for a warm and welcoming class open to all levels to help you find your funny.

Mary Mack has been a professional stand-up comedian the past fifteen years, appearing on Conan, Last Call with Carson Daly, Comedy Central, WTF with Marc Maron, and more. She has written sketches and essays for radio programs around the country, and would love to help you find where your funny is, and how to execute it. 

Click here to learn more about Mary.

David McGlynn presents “Flirting with Disaster: Turning Personal Obsession into Memoir”


Memoirists and personal essayists, by definition, fashion their art from the rubble-field of their memories and desires, their ghosts and guilts. But turning a life into a story is risky business. Your secrets may be exposed, your friends and family embarrassed. Or maybe you’ll be accused of “navel gazing,” mistakenly believing the world is waiting to read your diary. Either way, it seems, it’s a disaster. This workshop will focus on how essayists and memoirs navigate these treacherous waters, as well as how to avoid sounding narcissistic and how to turn ordinary interests and everyday obsessions into stories worthy of a reader’s attention.  

David McGlynn is the author of three books – One Day You'll Thank Me: Lessons From an Unexpected Fatherhood,  A Door in the Ocean, and the 2008 story collection, The End of the Straight and Narrow, all published by Counterpoint Press. His writing has appeared in Men’s Health, Real Simple, Parents, The New York Times, Swimmer, Best American Sports Writing, and numerous literary journals. He teaches at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, where he lives with his wife and sons.

Click here to learn more about David.

Keynote Address: Max Garland presents “What I Learned On My First Day of Writing” Or “Don’t Quit Your Job”

Credit: Lisa Venticinque

Credit: Lisa Venticinque

On Thursday, July 18, join former Wisconsin poet laureate Max Garland for a keynote address titled “What I Learned On My First Day of Writing” or “Don’t Quit Your Job.”

Max Garland is the author of The Word We Used for It, winner of the 2017-18 Brittingham Poetry Prize. Other books include The Postal Confessions, winner of the Juniper Prize for Poetry, and Hunger Wide as Heaven, which won the Cleveland State Poetry Center Open Competition, and a chapbook, Apparition, from the University of Wisconsin Press. His poems, essays, stories, and interviews have appeared in journals such as Poetry, New England Review, Gettysburg Review and many other journals, anthologies, and newspapers, and his poetry has been regularly featured on Wisconsin Public Radio. Garland is a graduate of Western Kentucky University and the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, and a former Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellow at the University of Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing.