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Mountain Words Literary Festival Announces Expansion of Inaugural “Writer-in-Residence” Program

March 18, 2021 | , | No Comments





Crested Butte, CO (March 6) –  When Brooke MacMillian, Director of Literary Arts and Lectures at The Crested Butte Center for the Arts in Crested Butte, Colorado, first conceived of a “Writer In Residence” program, she had a modest but exciting vision.

“Initially, we thought it would be great to have a single writer join us in Crested Butte for four weeks, working on their writing and being inspired by our stunning natural beauty. You know, start small,” said MacMillan. “Then we were flooded with applications from truly brilliant writers, in all genres and from places all across the world, and we just knew that one writer was not going to be enough.”

After looking at budgets, consulting the Literary Arts Advisory Council, Center staff decided to quadruple the number of available residencies, going from one writer to four. “We aren’t 100% sure, but our best guess is that this group represents one of the largest and most diverse gatherings of writers in residence ever for an inaugural residency program. We just can’t find another example of a first-year writer-in-residence program with this scope or ambition,” said Center Executive Director, Scott Palmer, “We are thrilled and very proud.”

The 2021 cohort includes writers and poets from a huge range of backgrounds and voices, including poet and novelist, Chris La Tray, novelist Chelsey Johnson, essayist Lee Anderson, and Adam Valen Levinson.

La Tray, a Métis writer, storyteller, and enrolled member of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians, will focus his four week residency on completing a chapbook of poetry borne from a daily, writing ritual that spanned for over a year. His first book, One-Sentence Journal: Short Poems and Essays From the World At Large (2018, Riverfeet Press) won the 2018 Montana Book Award and a 2019 High Plains Book Award. His next book, Becoming Little Shell, will be published by Milkweed Editions in Spring 2022.

Chelsey Johnson’s debut novel Stray City came out with Custom House/HarperCollins in 2018, and her writing has appeared in Ploughshares, One Story, Gulf Coast, The New York Times, and NPR’s Selected Shorts, among others. She received an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a Stegner Fellowship from Stanford, as well as fellowships to the MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, and Signal Fire Arts. Born and raised in rural northern Minnesota, she now lives in Flagstaff, Arizona, where she is an associate professor of fiction at Northern Arizona University.

At the residency, Johnson will focus on completing her latest novel, Refuge on North American wolves and “the politics around their near-extinction and recovery, controversies and complex histories around public land use in the west; and thorny questions about how people craft “true” narratives—about ourselves, about others, and about our sense of entitlement to the lands we occupy.”

Lee Anderson, a nonbinary MFA candidate at Northern Arizona University, is the Managing Editor of Thin Air Magazine. Lee’s work can be found in The Rumpus, Columbia Journal, and Unstamatic Magazine. Anderson plans to work on completing a hybrid novel series of essays exploring their experiences as a nonbinary, transmasculine person.

Also joining the group is Visiting Author, Adam Valen Levinson who is an affiliate of the Middle East Institute, and a Fellow at the Center for Cultural Sociology at Yale University, where he studies senses of humor as a key to cross-cultural understanding.  In 2018, the International Society of Humor Scholars granted him their Young Scholar Award. He has written, filmed, and photographed for Al Jazeera, The Paris Review, Haaretz, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, and VICE, and did college stints at the Meccas of real fake news: The Colbert Report and The Onion.  His first book, The Abu Dhabi Bar Mitzvah came out in 2017, and he will be focusing his month in Crested Butte on his next book, 302’d which explores psychiatric facilities in the U.S.

The residency, a program of the Center’s Literary Arts & Lectures program aims to support emerging writers with time, means (a sizable stipend is included), and space to write and create in Crested Butte. Selected writers are lodged in downtown Crested Butte while given access to the Center’s Writers Room.

While writers of all genres and backgrounds were encouraged to apply, in keeping with the mission of the Center, the selection committee was committed to supporting diverse, underserved, and marginalized writers, with the goal of helping to develop emerging writers and build the careers of working writers.

“We are enormously excited to present this opportunity to writers. A month of focused writing time in our warm and supportive community, and against the stunning and rejuvenating Rocky Mountain backdrop, is a special gift to be able to give,” said MacMillan. “We are thrilled at the lineup of voices and projects that will undoubtedly enrich our community with new perspectives and ideas.”

The residency will come to a close at the Mountain Words Literary Festival, May 28 – 30 where La Tray, Johnson, and Anderson will read and present their residency-produced work. More info can be found at


Any questions can be directed to: 

Brooke MacMillan

Director of Literary Arts & Lectures

Center for the Arts | Crested Butte

Phone: 970-349-6247

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