In this literary retreat, students work intensively to generate new writing in the enchanting, historically rich setting where so many writers—from Dante to E. M. Forster—have found literary inspiration. Students participate in daily workshops and craft seminars and attend a lively series of readings, lectures, and special events. Writing and reading assignments are designed to encourage serious study as well as immersion in the local landscape—for example, students might visit the Galleria degli Uffizi and write ekphrastic poems, conduct literary research in Villa la Pietra's library, or take an afternoon trip to Fiesole, a memorable locale in E.M. Forster's "Room with a View," for a lesson on fictional settings. On weekends, students have the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of their literary predecessors: they might walk along the Arno River, view the sunset from Piazzale Michelangelo, or stroll through the Boboli gardens.
Writers in Florence students focus on either poetry or fiction. Coursework consists of alternating afternoons of craft seminars and writing workshops, as well as daily literary colloquia events, including readings, lectures and tours. The schedule includes time for writing, reading, and exploring Florence, and the program culminates in a celebratory reading showcasing student work.
Students have the opportunity to work closely with two accomplished faculty members—one in the context of the writing workshop, and another in the context of the craft seminar.
La Pietra is NYU's academic center for study abroad in Florence. Donated to the University by Sir Harold Acton, this 15th-century, 57-acre estate is graced by five villas, formal gardens, olive groves, and a priceless art collection. The estate is situated just outside the city center of Florence, a 20-minute walk or a 10-minute bus ride away.
All students participating in the program are required to live in NYU-provided housing. Students reside on the estate grounds in Villa Natalia which is air-conditioned and includes a cafeteria, a computer lab, a student lounge, a small gym, and a laundry facility. The greater La Pietra facilities include multimedia-equipped classrooms, a screening room, two computer labs, a reference library, and a second cafeteria with terrace.
Housing rates are inclusive of breakfast and dinner daily in the Villa Natalia cafeteria. Students are responsible for their own lunches, snacks, and other non-program meal expenditures. Lunches are available for purchase on-campus at the Villa Natalia cafeteria.
Please see a slideshow of Villa La Pietra gardens and estate here.
Students register for one of the following courses:
Workshops provide students with guidance on the art of revision, as well as with experience giving and receiving feedback. Each student submits a final portfolio of writing at the end of the program. In the craft seminars—literature courses taught by writers for writers—students study great works of literature in order to learn how to create their own. Emphasis is on close reading and the basic elements of craft. A special colloquia of literary readings, lectures and events complements students' work in the classroom.
Tuesdays - Fridays
3:00pm - 5:30pm: Alternating days of workshops and craft seminars.
Morning and/or evenings TBD: Literary colloquia events.
Sample Syllabi - Writers in Florence Fiction
Sample Syllabi - Writers in Florence: Poetry
Mark Bibbins (Poetry) is the author of three books of poems: Sky Lounge (Graywolf Press), which received a 2004 Lambda Literary Award, The Dance of No Hard Feelings (Copper Canyon Press), and They Don’t Kill You Because They’re Hungry, They Kill You Because They’re Full (Copper Canyon), which was named one of the best poetry books of 2014 by Publishers Weekly magazine and a standout book by The Academy of American Poets. He has taught in the graduate writing programs of The New School, where he co-founded LIT magazine, and Columbia University, and at Purchase College and the 92nd Street Y. A recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship, Bibbins edits the poetry section of The Awl. His poems have appeared in such venues as The New Yorker, Poetry, The Paris Review, and four editions of The Best American Poetry. He lives in New York City.
Heidi Julavits (Fiction) is the author of The Folded Clock: A Diary, to be published in April 2015, as well as four critically acclaimed novels (The Vanishers, The Uses of Enchantment, The Effect of Living Backwards, and The Mineral Palace). She co-edited, with Sheila Heti and Leanne Shapton, the New York Times bestseller Women in Clothes. Her fiction has appeared in Harper's Magazine, McSweeney’s, and The Best American Short Stories, among other places. She's a founding editor of The Believer magazine and the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. She lives in Manhattan, where she teaches at Columbia University. She was born and raised in Portland, Maine.
Dorothea Lasky (Poetry, director) is the author of ROME (Liveright/W.W. Norton, 2014), as well as Thunderbird, Black Life, and AWE, all out from Wave Books. She is a co-editor of Open the Door: How to Excite Young People About Poetry (McSweeney's, 2013) and has authored many chapbooks, including Poetry is Not a Project (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2010). Her poems have appeared in numerous places, including The Paris Review and POETRY. She holds a doctorate in creativity and education from the University of Pennsylvania and has been educated at Harvard University, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and Washington University. She is an Assistant Professor of Poetry at Columbia University's School of the Arts, is a co-founder of the Ashbery Home School, served as a 2013 Bagley Wright Lecturer in Poetry, and co-directs Writers in Florence with Jessica Flynn. She lives in Brooklyn and can be found online at dorothealasky.tumblr.com.
Meghan O'Rourke (Poetry) is the author of The Long Goodbye (Riverhead), a memoir about grief, and the poetry collections Once and Halflife (W.W. Norton). A former poetry editor for The Paris Review, she is also a culture critic for Slate magazine and a founding editor of the web site Double X. She was awarded the inaugural May Sarton Poetry Prize, the Union League Prize for Poetry from the Poetry Foundation, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Radcliffe Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, two Pushcart Prizes, and a Front Page Award for her cultural criticism. Her essays and poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, The Kenyon Review, Best American Poetry, 32 Poems, and more. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she grew up.
Colson Whitehead (Fiction) is the author of five novels and two books of nonfiction. His most recent book is The Noble Hustle, his account of the 2011 World Series of Poker. He has received a Whiting Writers Award, a MacArthur Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. His reviews, essays, and fiction have appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Harper's.
The following additional expenses should also be considered when budgeting for the Writers in Florence program. Please note that these are only general estimates. Interested students are encouraged to conduct their own research.
Round-Trip Flight from New York: $1,740.00 - $1,900.00
Short Taxi Ride: $11.00 - $15.00
Bus Ride: $1.50
Inexpensive Lunch: $6.00 - $14.00
Inexpensive Dinner: $9.00 - $21.00
Prepaid Cell Phone: $15.00 - $30.00
Sim Card: $5.00 - $10.00
Hostel: $15.00 - $40.00
Hotel: $45.00 - $150.00
Tourist Attractions: $10.00 - $15.00, admission