Overview

Application Requirements

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The CSSSA Writing Program offers personalized and interactive workshops for approximately seventy talented and motivated young writers. A faculty of four professional writers and educators guide and instruct students in the techniques of fiction, poetry, non-fiction, and dramatic writing.

We’re looking for students who have the courage to be themselves on the page. We’re looking for students who love language. We’re looking for students who want to tell their own stories: stories from their imagination, from their neighborhood, from their family.

Ideally our students have begun to outgrow the High School reading list. They have struck out and found the writers that speak to their own inner life and experiences. Whether it’s edgy YA, slam poets at the local cafe or on YouTube, European novelists, or the latest New York playwrights, CSSSA students tend to have a list of writers they love.

We’re also looking for students with discipline and endurance. CSSSA is one of the most free, creative environments a young artists can experience. It is also a great deal of hard work. During the course of the four weeks you will write and workshop more than you ever have in your entire life. Be ready.

Students currently enrolled in grades 8 through 12 are eligible to apply. (CSSSA is open to students entering grades 9, 10, 11 or 12 next fall 2024. CSSSA is also open to students who are graduating from high school in the spring of 2024. You can still do the program the summer after graduation.)

Core Class

Core is a foundational writing workshop that meets four mornings each week. Students will spend one week with each member of the faculty. Faculty members will teach their specialty, offering an introductory class in prose fiction, poetry, memoir, or dramatic writing. By the end of the month, every student will have had a class in every genre.

Elective

Electives meet four afternoons each week. These workshops provide students with an opportunity to go deep in a particular genre or approach to writing: poetry, drama, fiction, and non-fiction. Students will choose their elective during the departmental orientation.

Guest Artists

Published writers, editors, agents, and select panels are invited to CSSSA for workshops, discussions, and presentations. CSSSA Writers have the opportunity to participate in lively discussions and learn creative strategies from nationally recognized writers.

Colloquium

On Saturday mornings the Writing department gathers to hear students to share work created during the prior week. Faculty members describe the writing exercises, their purposes, and the problems and discoveries made by the writers.

Group Work

Every week students will work together on group projects. These might include creating a play, writing group poems, or working together to tell stories from their lives. This is a chance for writers to get out of their heads and learn that writing isn’t only about what happens on the page.

Literary Anthology

Writing students have the opportunity to contribute work for the CSSSA Writing Anthology. Our anthologies live on as a demonstration of the exceptional work produced by CSSSSA Writing students each summer.

Office Hours

Every week during Writer's Desk students will have the opportunity to drop in for office hours with the Writing faculty. This can be a time to go over student work, discuss future projects, and find strategies to deal with the CSSSA workload.

Program Instructors

Zay Amsbury

Zay Amsbury is a playwright and native Californian whose theater credits include The Thing in Jesse’s Room, Fertile Ground Theater Festival, The Daemon, a 10-episode dramatic podcast commissioned by Wondery Media/Audible, Lady Shade and the Yellow King, En Garde Entertainment, The Word, SF Playhouse, An Alan Turing Fantasy, New School for Drama, Love is the Law, The Wake-Up Crew, Lackaday, and, Sweet Self, Impact Theatre. Zay has performed versions of his stories in Live Transmission, a series of solo shows in the San Francisco Bay Area. Zay earned his BFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and his MFA in Playwriting from the New School for Drama. He attended CSSSA as a student in 1990, 1991, and 1992.

Michael Buckley

Michael Buckley, MFA, is a widely-published fiction writer whose work has appeared in Best American Non-Required Reading 2003, The Southern California Review, Struggle, Transcurrents MFA Journal, Spot Lit Literary Magazine, Rip Rap, and Watermark. He is a frequent contributor to Alaska Quarterly Review and a former London-based correspondent for the Rotary International Newsletter. Mr. Buckley is co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Transcurrents Literary Journal, and he has been twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize for short fiction. His short story collection Miniature Men was published by World Parade Books in 2011.

Chiwan Choi

Chiwan Choi is a poet, writer & publisher. He is the author of four books – The Flood (Tia Chucha Press, 2010) & the Daughter Trilogy: Abductions (Writ Large Press, 2012), The Yellow House (CCM, 2017) & my name is wolf (2023) – and multiple poetry chapbooks, including Time Out of Space and lo/fidelity lovesongs. He wrote, presented & destroyed the novel Ghostmakerthroughout the course of 2015, as part of his ongoing examination on the meaning of a book, of conjuring & nurturing of ghosts. Chiwan has published his poetry, fiction & essays in numerous journals and magazines, including The New York Times Magazine, ONTHEBUS, Poem-A-Day and many other publications. Chiwan has been the subject of features on KCET, LA Weekly & the OTHRPPL podcast. He was a librettist for the opera Songs and Dances of Imaginary Lands, produced by Overtone Industries.

Rosa Boshier

Rosa Boshier González (she/her) is a Colombian-American writer whose fiction, essays, and art criticism appear in Guernica, Catapult, Literary Hub, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Artforum, Hyperallergic, The Rumpus, The Guardian, The Washington Post, and The New York Times, among others. She serves as the Editor-in-Chief of Gulf Coast Journal.

Meg Shevenock

Meg Shevenock is a poet and artist whose poetry collection, The Miraculous, Sometimes, was selected by Bob Hicok as winner of the 2019 Marystina Santiestevan first book prize for Conduit Books & Ephemera. Meg's poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in the Times Literary Supplement, Lana Turner, Denver Quarterly, Fence, Best New Poets, Kenyon Review blog, and elsewhere. She received a writing grant from The American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2021 and an Individual Excellence Award in poetry from the Ohio Arts Council in 2020. Meg privately teaches writing to gifted youth and has been a researcher and the “reader” for visual artist Ann Hamilton. She lives in Los Angeles.

Kini Sosa

Kini Sosa is a teaching artist and poet from San Diego, CA. A current Creative Writing MFA student at the California Institute of the Arts, she also holds a BA in Creative Writing from the University of California, Riverside. Their practice consists of graphic text and poetry with an emphasis on liminal human forms, intimacy, trauma, queerness, and the “feminine grotesque." She has previously taught at the UVA Young Writers Workshop and Inlandia’s Poetry is Power Institution, and is a two-time alumnus of CSSSA herself. Their work can be found in pacificREVIEW, Rejoinder, Mosaic Arts Literary Magazine, Experiencing Comics: An Introduction to Reading, Discussing, and Creating Comics, and other publications.

Sarah Louise Wilson

Sarah Louise Wilson is a California based artist who writes, directs, teaches, paints, and acts, and is the co-founder of Stella Bella Productions with Mercedes LeAnza, where she penned and starred in her pseudo-autobiographical romantic comedy Jelly starring Natasha Lyonne (Orange Is the New Black) and Hollywood icon Ed McMahon, released on Netflix, Hulu, PBS, and The Sundance Channel. With Stelle Bella she also wrote and produced The Accidental Death of Joey by Sue, which premiered at the HBO Latino Film Festival. In early 2016, while Sarah was living in Almaty, Kazakhstan, she shot the award-winning feature film No Exit. Her plays have been performed at The Walt Disney REDCAT theatre, California Institute of the Arts, and Artishok in Almaty, Kazakhstan and she has been featured in Esquire KZ, Variant Literature, Drunk Monkeys, The Huffington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Indiewire, Cosmopolitan, Variety, Diversions LA, and more.