ETSU hosts signature youth writing workshop

Published 10:51 am Wednesday, July 12, 2023

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JOHNSON CITY – More than 40 high school students from across the Volunteer State explored East Tennessee State University this summer while participating in one of the region’s signature writing programs.

Students explored the Archives of Appalachia, the premier repository that documents life in Southern Appalachia. They spent time at the Reece Museum, home to more than 20,000 artifacts, and were given a tour and creative prompts in the Sherrod Library. Observing and writing all along the way, they also received mentorship from seasoned writers.

“The Young Writers’ Workshop is an excellent program that allows high school students to practice their craft and receive guidance and encouragement from professional, published authors,” said Dr. Jesse Graves, the poet-in-residence and a professor of English at ETSU. “It is a great opportunity for our campus to host this event for the second consecutive year of what we hope will become a long-running partnership with Humanities Tennessee.”

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Along with Graves, award-winning authors such as Sheree Renee Thomas, Valencia Robin and Molly McGhee taught intensive writing classes throughout the week. The high schoolers stayed in campus residence halls for the duration of the workshop that ran in June. The program offered each student personal attention with a student-to-teacher ratio of 12-to-1.

“For many of these students, this was their first time staying on a college campus,” said Lacy Snapp, the campus workshop director. “They got a truly immersive experience not only as it relates to writing, but what life might be like for them if they attend college in the years ahead.”

This year’s workshop reached capacity only three weeks after registration opened.

In a letter of gratitude to the sponsors of the workshop, one student reflected: “Attending this camp has become the highlight of my summer each year. I love making new friends, honing my skills, and creating lifelong memories. I’ve truly learned a great deal from our instructors, mentors, and peers. Without supporters like you, our generation may quickly lose the art of writing in favor of AI generators or other technology. Thank you so much for supporting the camp, humanities, and writers like me!”

ETSU is home to a vibrant academic and arts community, hosting dozens of concerts, exhibitions and performances throughout the year. This year’s workshop was sponsored by the Bert C. Bach Written Word Initiative, the Department of Literature and Language and the College of Arts and Sciences, in partnership with Humanities Tennessee.

Learn more about the workshop at