The Aspen Writers’ Foundation was started in 1976 with the electricity of 50 or so participants living in a hotel together, creating new work, sharpening their craft, and sharing the fruits of their labor created an intensity that brought many attendees back summer after summer. Born from this home grown event is a complete array of year round events feature the worlds most celebrated authors as well as community outreach program educating youth about the joys of writing and cultivating their talents.
By the fall of 2003, the organization’s near netherworld encounter was a distant memory and under the leadership of current Executive Director, Lisa Consiglio, the AWF expanded to new heights. With support from the Bedell World Citizenship Fund, the 2005 Festival celebrated the literature of Ireland and included the late Frank McCourt and Nuala O’Faolain, Edna O’Brien, Polly Devlin, Paul Muldoon, and the 2009 National Book Award winner and this year’s AWF Writer in Residence, Colum McCann. The Festival also included the first annual Aspen Prize for Literature, a $10,000 cash prize bestowed on a published author from the highlighted country, which in 2005 was shared between Edna O’Brien and Paul Muldoon. In 2009, the AWF took another great leap forward as the organization officially voted to become a program of the Aspen Institute with ties to the Harman-Eisner Program in the Arts. With the new partnership secured, and a generous gift from Sam and Cheryl Wyly, last year’s 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.
The signature event, Summer Words Writing Retreat and Literary Festival has been named one of the nation’s “Top Ten Literary Gatherings” by USA Today, and continues to garner international support and acclaim. This six day celebration of the literary arts features author readings, book panel discussions with the authors, literary consultations of attendees work, live music and more.
The increasingly popular Winter Words is an event hosting the current most popular authors from around the world and their latest work. Read something from the New York Times “Best Seller” list and there is a chance you will get to see them present their work at some point during the winter at the Aspen Meadows in the Paepcke Auditorium.
AWF Reads gives the community to get involved on a regular basis, bestsellers, first novels, book club favorites and award winners are the discussion du jour on AWF Reads, the Aspen Writers’ Foundation’s community book club on GrassRoots TV, Channel 12 in Aspen. Join their panels of local literary enthusiasts as they read between the lines of new and notable books.
This is where the community outreach starts but by no means where it ends. AWF hosts many events for kids including Scribes & Scribblers, a creative writing workshops designed to help kids discover that stories are everywhere. Story Swap is an innovative educational program that uses storytelling, creative writing, and the visual arts to generate understanding between various groups of diverse individuals. These are just two of the programs that engaging youth with literature, AWF strives to promote literature as part of adult development with children and young adults of all ages and in as many places as they can reach.
So whether you are here to ski and are have a night free to hear a renowned author, or if you are preparing your life’s work for a review at Summer Words Aspen Writers Foundation has an event for you.