Online Writing Workshops

This winter and spring, Orion will host several Online Environmental Writers’ Workshops in poetry and nonfiction. This unique opportunity lets you maintain social distance, while improving your writing skills from home. Connect with us for six sessions with an experienced instructor and writer. Learn more about environmental writing, and renew, illuminate, and deepen your relationship with nature and place.

Conducted over Zoom (or similar platform) and limited to twelve participants, the workshops will feature a combination of generative exercises, craft talks, readings, special guest appearances, and workshopping of student manuscripts. In addition to the six, three-hour sessions, you will have an opportunity to meet in a short one-on-one or small group session with your instructor for a more detailed conversation about your work. The application window for winter courses is December 10-31, 2020. Spring 2021 course application dates are TBA. Please check back as we will be adding new courses in the weeks to come.


Creative Nonfiction Workshop Offerings
Poetry Workshop Offerings
How to Apply
Instructor Bios







With Pam Houston

January 27 – March 3, 2021. Six consecutive Wednesdays from 12-3pm EST.

This will be a workshop in which we focus on all the ways the sensory details that surround us—the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures from the physical world, often the natural world—can give us access to that much more elusive interior landscape we are always trying to access when we write. We will focus on what I believe to be the real artistry of prose writing: the way we dip our ladles into the bottomless pot of metaphor soup of our lived and witnessed experience and pull out what we need; the way we pick up hunks of the physical world and bring them back to the page, translated into language. We will work toward demystifying some of the essential components of prose writing (image, metaphor, structure, dialogue, character, scene, among others) and turning them into comprehensible tools that are at our disposal.

  With Toni Jensen

February 2 – March 9, 2021. Six consecutive Tuesday afternoons from 2-5pm EST. 

This class will explore strategies and forms of nonfiction relating to place and home. Most of us are writing from home these days, and the class will focus on writing through our ideas of place or home.


With Jessica J. Lee

February 6 – March 27, 2021. Eight consecutive Saturday afternoons from 12-2pm EST. *NOTE: This course runs for eight 2-hour sessions.

This course will center on long-form nature writing, personal essays, and a wealth of contemporary work inspired by the more-than-human world. We’ll examine ways of portraying our changing planet on the page, considering not just place and nature in our writing, but also the commitments such writing can make. For example, we’ll ask how readers can be excluded from or invited into environmental conversations, how writing about land engages with issues of access and migration, and how writing about nature is necessarily tied to struggles for justice and a better world.

  With Amy Irvine

Spring 2021 dates TBA


  With Nadia Owusu

Spring 2021 dates TBA

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  With Elizabeth Bradfield 

February 16 – March 23, 2021. Six consecutive Tuesday evenings from 5-8 pm EST.

In this workshop, we’ll read and write and workshop poems that defy boundaries and boxes. Identity poetry and nature poetry will intermingle. Docupoetics and confessional verse. We will work toward poems that hold the non-human world in their awareness and that are accurate, ethical, nuanced, ranging, and surprising. Each 3-hour session will be divided between discussion, writing, and workshopping.


With Geffrey Davis

February 6 – March 20, 2021. Six Saturday afternoons from 1-4 pm EST. 

*NOTE: There will be no class on March 6th during AWP.

What’s your image for h/earth? Where else can we make contact with the self? Can an embodied mapping of the interior help balance all we’ve lost? Which distances do you believe? With these and other questions in mind, we will consider some of the convergences between poetry and place, in an effort to deepen our appreciation for the challenges and joys of reading and writing poems.

  With Keetje Kuipers

Spring 2021 dates TBA


  With Joseph O. Legaspi

Spring 2021 dates TBA

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Each six-session Zoom workshop is available for $500. Payment within five days of acceptance will guarantee your spot. Cancelations up until a week before the start of the course will result in a full refund. After that, refunds will be conditional on our ability to fill your spot before the course begins.


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These workshops tend to be quite competitive. Please send a cover letter and your best nonfiction writing sample of up to 1,500 words or up to five pages of poetry to the Submittable button below. (The button will become active only when the application window is open.) Sample writing can be published or unpublished, and might, but probably will not be used in class. Applicants will be notified whether they have been admitted within two weeks of the application deadline.  

The application window for winter courses is December 10-31, 2020.
The application window for spring courses is TBA.
Questions? Please contact


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Elizabeth Bradfield (poetry) is the author of the poetry collections Once Removed, Approaching Ice, Interpretive Work, and Toward Antarctica, which explores her work as a naturalist/guide in Antarctica and combines her photographs with brief, hybrid essays. Theorem, a collaboration with artist Antonia Contro, is forthcoming in November, 2020. Her work has been published in The New Yorker, Kenyon Review, Poetry, The Atlantic Monthly, and elsewhere. Winner of the Audre Lorde Prize from the Publishing Triangle, finalist for a Lambda Literary Award and the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, her awards also include a Stegner Fellowship and a Bread Loaf Scholarship. Bradfield grew up in the Pacific Northwest and lives now on Cape Cod. Founder and editor-in-chief of Broadsided Press, she works as a naturalist/guide and teaches creative writing at Brandeis University.

Geffrey Davis (poetry) is the author of two poetry collections: Night Angler (BOA Editions, 2019), winner of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, and Revising the Storm ​(BOA Editions, 2014), winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize. He also coauthored the chapbook Begotten (URB Books, 2016) with LA-based poet and friend F. Douglas Brown. His poems have appeared in Crazyhorse, ​Massachusetts Review, Mississippi Review, New England Review, New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, PBS NewsHour, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. Named a finalist for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, Davis has received the Anne Halley Poetry Prize, the Dogwood Prize in Poetry, and the Wabash Prize for Poetry, as well as fellowships from Bread Loaf, Cave Canem, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Vermont Studio Center. He was also awarded a Public Engagement Fellowship from the Whiting Foundation for his work in Arkansas with The Prison Story Project. A native of the Pacific Northwest, Davis currently lives with his family in the Ozarks. He teaches with the Program in Creative Writing & Translation at the University of Arkansas and with The Rainier Writing Workshop, Pacific Lutheran’s low-residency MFA program. Davis also serves as poetry editor for Iron Horse Literary Review. Photo by Hamilton Matthew Masters.  

Pam Houston (nonfiction) is the author of the memoir, Deep Creek: Finding Hope In The High Country, which won the 2019 Colorado Book Award, the High Plains Book Award and the Reading the West Advocacy Award and even more recently, Air Mail: Letters of Politics Pandemics and Place coauthored with Amy Irvine. She is also the author of Cowboys Are My Weakness as well as five other books of fiction and nonfiction, all published by W.W. Norton. She lives at 9,000 feet above sea level on a 120-acre homestead near the headwaters of the Rio Grande and teaches at UC Davis and the Institute of American Indian Arts. She is cofounder and creative director of the literary nonprofit Writing by Writers and the fiction editor at the Environmental Arts Journal Photo by Mike Blakeman.

Amy Irvine (nonfiction) won the Orion Book Award for her memoir, Trespass: Living at the Edge of the Promised Land. Her next book, Desert Cabal: A New Season in the Wilderness, is a feminist response to Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire, and one of Orion’s “25 Most-Read Stories of the Decade.” It was also added to Outside Magazines Adventure Canon and named by Backpacker as one of its New Wilderness Classics. During the pandemic, Irvine co-authored Air Mail: Letters of Politics, Pandemics & Place with Pam Houston; the book is forthcoming in October 2020. Irvine teaches in the Mountainview Low-Residency MFA program at Southern New Hampshire University. In addition to frequently teaching for Orion, she has taught at Western Colorado University, the Free Flow Institute, Whitman College’s Semester in the West, the University of Utah’s Environmental Humanities Program at Rio Mesa, and Fishtrap’s Outpost. She lives and writes off-grid, on a remote mesa in southwest Colorado, just spitting distance from her Utah homeland.  

Keetje Kuipers (poetry) is the author of three books of poems, all from BOA Editions:  Beautiful in the Mouth (2010), which was chosen by Thomas Lux as the winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize, The Keys to the Jail (2014), which was a book club selection for The Rumpus, and All Its Charms (2019), which was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award and includes poems honored by publication in both The Pushcart Prize and Best American Poetry anthologies. Keetje’s poetry and prose have appeared in Narrative, Tin House, Virginia Quarterly Review, The New York Times Magazine, American Poetry Review, Orion, The Believer, and over a hundred other magazines. Her poems have also been featured as part of the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day series and read on NPR. Keetje has been a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, the Katharine Bakeless Nason Fellow in Poetry at Bread Loaf, the Emerging Writer Lecturer at Gettysburg College, and the recipient of multiple residency fellowships including PEN Northwest’s Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Writing Residency. Keetje is Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Montana and Editor of Poetry Northwest. Photo by Fiona Margo.

Jessica J. Lee (nonfiction) is a British-Canadian-Taiwanese author and environmental historian, and winner of the 2019 RBC Taylor Prize Emerging Writer Award. She is the author of two books of nature writing: Turning and Two Trees Make a Forest, shortlisted for the 2020 Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction. She has a PhD in Environmental History and Aesthetics and was Writer-in-Residence at the Leibniz Institute for Freshwater Ecology in Berlin from 2017–2018. Jessica is the founding editor of The Willowherb Review and a researcher at the University of Cambridge. She lives in London.

Joseph O. Legaspi (poetry), a Fulbright scholar and two-time NYSCA/New York Foundation for the Arts poetry fellow, is the author of two poetry collections from CavanKerry Press, Threshold and Imago; and three chapbooks: Postcards (Ghost Bird Press), Aviary, Bestiary (Organic Weapon Arts), and Subways (Thrush Press). His poems have appeared in POETRY, New England Review, World Literature Today, Best of the Net, Orion, and the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day. He co-founded Kundiman (, a national organization serving generations of writers and readers of Asian American literature. Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths.

Toni Jensen (nonfiction) is the author of Carry: A Memoir of Survival on Stolen Land, a memoir-in-essays about gun violence, land and Indigenous people’s lives (Ballantine 2020), and a short story collection, From the Hilltop. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literature fellowship in nonfiction for 2020 and a Sustainable Arts Foundation fellowship in 2019. Her essays have been published in journals such as OrionCatapult and Ecotone. She’s an Associate Professor in Creative Writing and Indigenous Studies at the University of Arkansas and also teaches in the low residency MFA Program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. She received her doctorate from Texas Tech University and is the recipient of fellowship support from the Lannan Foundation, the Sowell Family Foundation, the Norcroft Foundation, UCross, Hedgebrook, and the Virginia Faulkner Fund. She is Métis. Photo by Sophia Spirlock.

Nadia Owusu (nonfiction) is a Brooklyn-based writer and urban planner committed to doing her part to create a more just and sustainable world. Simon and Schuster will publish her first book, Aftershocks: A Memoir, in January 2021. Her lyric essay chapbook, So Devilish a Fire won the Atlas Review chapbook contest. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in the New York Times, the Washington Post’s The Lily, Orion, Quartz, The Paris Review Daily, Electric Literature, Catapult, Epiphany, Bon Appétit, and others. She is the recipient of a 2019 Whiting Award. Photo by Beowulf Sheehan.

Previous Online Workshop Instructors: 

Chris Dombrowski
J. Drew Lanham
Kim Stafford
Joe Wilkins

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