Orion Environmental Writers’ Workshop

The Orion Environmental Writers’ Workshop is an annual week-long writing workshop for writers who want to improve their writing about nature and the environment. This workshop gives writers the unique opportunity to connect with Orion writers and editors in order to understand more deeply Orion‘s approach to the relationship between literature and the natural world.

This program is for writers who want to learn how to write an Orion essay, short story, or poem; for writers who seek to become better advocates for the environment through their writing; for poets who are drawn to writing about nature and culture; for teachers and scholars who wish to write for a more general readership; and for environmental professionals who want to bring better writing skills to bear on their work.


Sunday, June 10 – Friday, June 15, 2018. The workshop will be held at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York.

The application period has been re-opened for a limited number of spots, due to a few last-minute cancellations. Apply here.



The program will feature small writing workshops dedicated to poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, as well as faculty readings and lectures, student readings, and presentations on publishing. Workshops will be limited to twelve participants so that each participant will receive focused attention and feedback. All participants will meet individually with their workshop leader, as well, to discuss their manuscripts. Special guests will include literary agents, publishers, and editors, who will offer advice on book publishing, placing work in magazines and journals, and the environmental publishing world.


Megan Mayhew Bergman

Megan Mayhew Bergman was raised in North Carolina and now lives on a small farm in Vermont. She is an essayist for The Paris Review and contributes literary criticism to The Washington Post and New York Times. Her work has been translated into German, Italian, and Dutch, and her stories have been featured on NPR’s Selected Shorts and in Best American Short Stories 2011 and 2015. Scribner published her first story collection, Birds of a Lesser Paradise, in March 2012, which was a Barnes and Noble Discover pick, Indie Next selection, and one of Huffington Post’s Best Books of 2012. Scribner published Almost Famous Women in January 2015, also an Indie Next selection. Her novel will publish in 2018.



Major Jackson

Major Jackson is an American poet, professor and the author of three collections of poetry: Holding Company (W.W. Norton, 2010) and Hoops (W.W. Norton, 2006), both finalists for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literature-Poetry, and Leaving Saturn (University of Georgia, 2002), winner of the 2001 Cave Canem Poetry Prize and finalist for a National Book Critics Award Circle Award. He is also a recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award and has been honored by the Pew Fellowship in the Arts and the Witter Bynner Foundation in conjunction with the Library of Congress.


Amy Irvine

Amy Irvine is a sixth-generation Utahan and long-time public lands activist. Her work has been published in Orion, Pacific Standard, High Desert Journal, Climbing, Triquarterly, and other publications. Her memoir, Trespass: Living at the Edge of the Promised Land, received the Orion Book Award, the Ellen Meloy Desert Writers Award, and Colorado Book Award. Her essay ”Spectral Light,” which appeared in Orion and The Best American Science and Nature Writing, was a finalist for the Pen Award in Journalism, and her recent essay, “Conflagrations: Motherhood, Madness and a Planet on Fire” appeared among the 2017 Best American Essays’ list of Notables. Irvine teaches in the Mountainview Low-Residency MFA Program of Southern New Hampshire University—in the White Mountains of New England.


Christopher Merrill

Christopher Merrill is director of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. His work as poet, essayist, journalist, and translator has been recognized with numerous awards. Books of his nonfiction include The Tree of the Doves, Self-Portrait with Dogwood, and Things of the Hidden God.





Anne Haven McDonnell

Anne Haven McDonnell is an award-winning poet who lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with her partner and their rescue dog. Anne teaches as an associate professor of English and Creative Writing at the Institute of American Indian Arts. Her poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Orion Magazine, The American Journal of Poetry, The Georgia Review, Nimrod Journal, Flyway: Journal of Writing and Environment, About Place Journal, Tar River, Terrain.org, Whitefish Review, and elsewhere. Her poems have been nominated for a Pushcart prize and are included in Nature and Environmental Writing: A Craft Guide and Anthology. Anne has been a writer-in-residence at the Andrews Forest Writers’ Residency and the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology.


Lisa Couturier

Lisa Couturier is author of The Hopes of Snakes & Other Tales from the Urban Landscape. She is a 2012 Pushcart Prize winner for her essay “Dark Horse” a contributing editor for Pushcart, and named a notable essayist in Best American Essays in 2004, 2006 and 2011. Her collection of poems, Animals / Bodies, won the 2015 New England Poetry Club Chapbook Award. Her work has appeared in Orion, Orion’s Animals & People, National Geographic’s Heart of a Nation, and the American Nature Writing series, among other publications. Her papers are part of The Sowell Family Collection in Literature, Community and the Natural World. She lives on an agricultural reserve in Maryland and is at work on a memoir about her horses.




The application period has been re-opened for a limited number of spots, due to a few last-minute cancellations. 

Workshops will be offered in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. For prose, a writing sample of 1,500 words will be required; for poetry, a sample of up to 6 pages of poetry will be required. Acceptances will be made on a rolling basis and applicants will be notified whether they have been admitted within 2 weeks of applying.

Please note that a variety of housing options are available at the Omega Institute. Those who apply earlier will be able to choose their housing sooner. Some housing options may sell out faster than others.

To apply, please visit Orion’s Submittable page. Applicants who already have a Submittable account in place will be asked to login; those new to Submittable will be prompted to set up a free account before accessing the application.



There is no application fee.

Participant tuition: $995

Participants may choose from a variety of accommodations, listed below.

Housing, meals, and amenities packages:

  • Single cabin with private bath, $1370
  • Double-occupancy cabin with private bath, $1065
  • Shared cabin with shared bath, $865
  • Dorm single (private room with shared bath), $740
  • Single tent cabin (bathhouse nearby), $750


All scholarships for the 2018 workshop have been awarded at this time. Please note that there are variably priced housing options available through the Omega Institute.


Travel: The Omega Institute is easily accessible. It is conveniently located in Rhinebeck, New York, with easy access to major airports and public transportation.

Meals: The Omega Institute offers local, organic, sustainable, nutrient-dense, artisanal, and whole-food meals, and are able to accommodate a variety of tastes, dietary needs, and food allergies.


This page will be updated frequently with more information. Please see the Omega Institute website for details on their venue.

Questions? Email us at [email protected]