The Aspen Writers Foundation was founded as a grassroots event by Aspen local Kurt Brown, he convinced restaurants to donate meals for the staff, hotels to offer unbelievably cheap rooms for students and local families to host literati. Like other Aspen treasures that were built on blood sweat and tears AWF has grown into a world class suite of writing retreats, speaker series and educational outreach programs.
In 2009, the AWF took a great leap forward as the organization officially voted to become a program of the Aspen Institute. With the new partnership secured, and a generous gift from Sam and Cheryl Wyly, the Aspen Summer Words was held under a unified roof at the beautiful, state-ofthe- art Doerr-Hosier Center on the Institute’s Aspen Meadows property for the first time in 2010. This move proved to be a keystone to the collaboration with the Institute as it brought in new audience members, heightened the AWF’s stature, and secured an even stronger foundation in the literary world.
The flagship event Aspen Summer Words offers writers a place to experiment and learn, to listen and explore. It is at once a Writing Retreat and the Literary Festival. Approaching the written word from different, yet complementary angles, the Retreat features introductory and intensive workshops with some of the nation’s most notable writing instructors and includes literature appreciation symposia and professional consultations with literary agents and editors. The Writing Retreat supports writers in developing their craft by providing a winning combination of inspiration, skills, community, and opportunity. Each year the Retreat brings a cast of authors including Noble Laureates, National Book Awardees and Pulitzer Prize winners.
Each year the festival focuses on a literary heritage celebrating the works and authors of a specific region, including: The American West, The American South, Ireland, The Middle East, Ireland, Africa, China and more. Bringing another level of a cultural event to an already powerful experience.
The Winter Words program is a series of readings and talks featuring prominent contemporary writers. Acclaimed authors of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and memoir read from their work and discuss topics that range from the creative process to the role of art in today’s world. These events also take place on the at the Aspen Institute and give locals and tourist a great compliment to a fantastic day on the ski slopes.
Like many arts organizations in the Aspen Valley Aspen Writers Foundation has delved deep into the community, offering programs for students after school and during the summer to pursue their passion for writing.
Aspen Writers Foundation is just one more example of how the magnificent place embodies the Aspen Idea of balancing Mind, Body and Spirit.