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Aspen Words Announces Lineup for 2019 Summer Words Writers Conference

Writers conference & literary festival to feature Rumaan Alam, Meghan Daum, Nick Flynn, Susan Minot and other acclaimed authors
Aspen, CO (December 5, 2018) – Aspen Words today announced the faculty lineup for the Summer Words Writers Conference and Literary Festival, to take place June 16-21, 2019.


Recognized as one of the nation’s top literary gatherings, the conference includes juried and non-juried writing workshops, networking with publishing agents and editors and a readers retreat. New this year is a personal essay workshop taught by best-selling author Meghan Daum, a former longtime opinion columnist for The Los Angeles Times whose work also has appeared in such publications as The New Yorker and The Atlantic. The Summer Words’ offerings also include a readers retreat focused on great travel writing, moderated by award-winning National Geographic photographer and filmmaker Pete McBride, a Roaring Fork Valley native.
Summer Words also features afternoon panel discussions at The Gant (conference headquarters) and evening events at The Belly Up that are open to the public and provide an opportunity for locals and visitors to participate in the literary festivities.
In addition to Daum’s and McBride’s workshops, Summer Words includes juried fiction workshops taught by three acclaimed writers: Rumaan Alam, whose most recent novel, “That Kind of Mother,” was named a “most anticipated book of 2018” by The Boston Globe; Tom Barbash, author of four books as well as numerous reviews, essays and articles for McSweeney’s, The New York Times and other publications; and Susan Minot; an award-winning novelist, screenwriter and playwright.
Two writers will offer juried memoir workshops: Nick Flynn, author of three memoirs, including “Another Bullshit Night in Suck City,” which was made into a movie, “Being Flynn,” starring Robert DeNiro; and Heather Harpham, whose best-selling book, “Happiness: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After,” was chosen for Reese Witherspoon’s book club. Laura Fraser, a best-selling author, editor and co-founder of publisher Shebooks.net, will teach a juried book editing workshop, and Tina Chang, the first female to be named the poet laureate of Brooklyn, will give a juried poetry workshop.Samrat Upadhyay, an author and professor in the creative writing program at Indiana University, will teach a non-juried writing workshop. Upadhyay was a finalist for the inaugural Aspen Words Literary Prize and is now serving as head judge during the award’s second year.
The Aspen Words benefit dinner, held during Summer Words on June 19 at the Hotel Jerome, will feature a guest speaker from the literary world, as well as the winner of the $35,000 Aspen Words Literary Prize, for a work of fiction with social impact. The Summer Words faculty, along with literary agents and editors, also will attend the dinner.
Aspen Words will award 10 fellowships to emerging writers demonstrating exceptional talent and promise. Candidates are nominated by writers, agents, editors and others associated with publishing. Fellows receive a full scholarship to Summer Words, including tuition, airfare, lodging and some meals.
The general application process for Summer Words opens on December 5, 2018. Workshop descriptions and other details can be found at http://www.aspenwords.org/programs/summer-words/workshops-2/

Thank you to Gerri Karetsky & Larry Naughton
Additional partners: http://www.aspenwords.org/programs/summer-words/

Rumaan Alam (juried fiction) is the author of the novels “Rich and Pretty” and “That Kind of Mother.” His short fiction has appeared in Crazyhorse, the Gettysburg Review, StoryQuarterly and elsewhere. Other writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Elle, Buzzfeed and the New Yorker.
Tom Barbash (juried fiction) is the author of four books as well as reviews, essays and articles for publications such as McSweeney’s, Tin House, the Believer, Narrative Magazine, Zyzzyva and The New York Times. His short story collection “Stay Up With Me” was nominated for the Folio Prize and picked as a Best Book of the Year by the Independent of London, NPR, the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Jose Mercury News. His novel “The Last Good Chance” was awarded The California Book Award and was a Publishers Weekly and Anniston Star Best Book of the Year. His nonfiction book “On Top of the World,” about the horrific fate of the bond firm Cantor Fitzgerald on 9/11, was a New York Times best-seller and landed him on the "Today Show" and "Larry King Live." A well-regarded speaker, panelist and interviewer, Barbash teaches the novel, short fiction and nonfiction at California College of the Arts. His most recent book, the novel “The Dakota Winters,” was released this month. 
Tina Chang (poetry) was the first female to be named poet laureate of Brooklyn and is the author of the collections of poetry “Hybrida,” “Of Gods & Strangers” and “Half-Lit Houses.” She is also the co-editor of the W.W. Norton anthology “Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia and Beyond.” The recipient of numerous awards, she teaches poetry at Sarah Lawrence College and is also a member of the international writing faculty at the City University of Hong Kong.
Meghan Daum (personal essay) is the author of four books, most recently the collection of original essays “The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion, which won the 2015 PEN Center USA Award for creative nonfiction. She is also the editor of the New York Times best-seller “Selfish, Shallow & Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not To Have Kids.” The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and an NEA grant, Daum was an opinion columnist at The Los Angeles Times for more than a decade and also has written for numerous magazines, including The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic and Vogue.
Nick Flynn (memoir) has worked as a ship’s captain, an electrician and as a case worker with homeless adults. In 2019, he will publish two new books: “Stay,” which represents 25 years of collaborations and writings; as well as “I Will Destroy You,” a new collection of poems. Flynn’s film credits include executive producer and artistic collaborator on “Being Flynn,” the film version of his memoir “Another Bullshit Night in Suck City.” Currently he is a professor on the creative writing faculty at the University of Houston, where he is in residence each spring.
Laura Fraser (book editing) is the author of the New York Times-bestselling memoir “An Italian Affair,” as well as two other non-fiction books. She has taught writing for many years, mainly at the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto, but also at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, Stanford Continuing Studies and Aspen Summer Words. She has worked with numerous writers to help edit and develop their books from idea to publication. As co-founder and editorial director of Shebooks.net, Fraser acquired and edited 75 short books by women authors. Fraser is a fourth-generation Coloradan whose great-grandfather was Aspen’s town doctor.
Heather Harpham (memoir) is a writer, teacher and theater artist whose fiction, essays and reviews have appeared in The Gaurdian, Slate, Parents, More Magazine, Water~Stone Review and Red Magazine in the U.K. Her debut book, a memoir titled “Happiness: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After,” came out in paperback in November 2018. “Happiness” was a Barnes & Noble’s Discover Great New Writers Series selection, an Indie Next pick and was chosen for the Reese Witherspoon Bookclub. Harpham’s writing for the stage includes six solo plays, the most recent of which, “Happiness” and “BURNING,” toured nationally and were produced in Kathmandu, Nepal. Harpham has taught as a guest artist at colleges and universities throughout the U.S. and in Europe. 
Pete McBride (readers retreat) is a self-taught, award-winning photographer, writer and filmmaker. He has traveled on assignment to over 70 countries for National Geographic, Smithsonian, Outside, Esquire and Audubon, and for companies including Patagonia, Microsoft and The Nature Conservancy. After a decade working abroad and completing a Knight fellowship for journalism at Stanford University, McBride began documenting the Colorado River, culminating in a coffee table book, “The Colorado River: Flowing Through Conflict,” and a series of short films, Chasing Water, I AM RED and Delta Dawn. His work as a photographer, writer and filmmaker has garnered awards from the Banff Mountain Film Festival, North American Society of Journalists and Lowell Thomas Travel Writing. McBride’s most recent book, “The Grand Canyon: Between River and Rim,” documents his experience hiking the entire 750 miles of Grand Canyon National Park.
Susan Minot (juried fiction) is the author of the novels “Monkeys,” which was published in a dozen countries and won the 1987 Prix Femina Étrangerin France; “Folly”; “Evening”; “Rapture”; and “Thirty Girls.” She’s written two collections: “Lust & Other Stories” and “Poems 4 AM.”  Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies, including The O. Henry Awards and “Best American Short Stories” and she’s written essays and travel stories for a wide variety of magazines and journals.  She wrote the screenplay for Bernardo Bertolucci’s “Stealing Beauty,” and her novel was made into the film “Evening.” Last summer, her first play, “On Island,” was performed in North Haven, Maine. Minot teaches in the graduate writing program at Stony Brook University.  Her last name is pronounced Mine-it.
Samrat Upadhyay (non-juried writing) was born and raised in Nepal. His short story collection “Mad Country” was a finalist for the 2018 Aspen Words Literary Prize. His other books include “The City Son,” which was shortlisted for a PEN Open Book Award; “Arresting God in Kathmandu,” winner of the Whiting Award; “The Royal Ghost”; “The Guru of Love,” a New York Times Notable Book and a San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year; and “Buddha’s Orphans.” Upadhyay teaches in the creative writing program at Indiana University.

Download high-resolution faculty headshots
Download press release
Questions or requests for author interviews can be directed to: 
Elizabeth Nix, Program Coordinator
Aspen Words | The Aspen Institute
[email protected]
Phone: 970-925-3122 ext. 4

4th of July Parade Waiver


PARADE STARTING/STAGING: The parade will begin at 11:00am. Parade positioning is “first come, first serve” and line up begins no earlier than 10:00am. There is no entry fee and the parade is open to the public. All 5 lanes of Main Street, from Aspen Street to 2nd Street, will be closed to all traffic & designated for parade staging only. Power is not provided in staging area and remember generators do need gas.

PARADE ROUTE: The parade will start East on Main Street. It will turn South onto Hunter Street, then West onto Cooper Avenue. The parade will continue West on Cooper Avenue to Galena Street. At Galena it heads North for 2 blocks before turning West onto Hopkins Avenue. The parade will continue South on Mill then West on Hyman Avenue. Parade participants will be directed to disperse at Hyman and Monarch Street.  PARADE JUDGING: Parade judging will take place in front of the Hotel Jerome. Participants will be limited to 1 minute or less for any performances in front of the judges. Security will be onsite monitoring all entries to help prevent gaps in the parade route. Recognition will be awarded to the best entries in the following categories: 

Most Patriotic | Most Humorous | Best Animal | Best Music | Most Outrageous | Best Children’s  


  • Consumption of alcohol is prohibited during the parade.
  • Candy, favors, etc. should not be thrown from your float/vehicle during the parade. This is for the safety of the spectators and to prevent children from running out into the street. 
  • Water balloons will not be permitted. According to city ordinances, those caught throwing balloons will be removed from the parade and could face citations and/or arrests. 
  • All parade entries must be in “good taste” and will be allowed in the parade per the director’s discretion. 
  • Maximum height restriction for any float entry is 13’5”.


The undersigned organization has elected to participate in the Fourth of July parade sponsored by the City of Aspen and Aspen Chamber Resort Association (“ACRA”). In consideration for City of Aspen and ACRA allowing the undersigned to participate in the festivities, the undersigned has read, understood, and willingly agreed to the terms of this INSURANCE LIABILITY AGREEMENT and WAIVER AND INDEMNITY AGREEMENT (collectively referred to herein as “RELEASE”).


                                    Participants are required to carry insurance adequate to cover any liability for damage, injury, economic loss, or other liability that may be incurred by individuals and/or organizations during the Fourth of July parade. All participants agree to carry such insurance, and also agree not to submit any claim against the insurance of City of Aspen, ACRA and/or any other sponsors of the parade, their officers, directors, agents, shareholders, employees, or anyone else directly or indirectly connected with production of the parade.


                                         The undersigned understands the potential dangers that could be encountered in participating in the Fourth of July parade. The dangers include, among other things, dangers relating to vehicular and pedestrian traffic; crowds of persons in close proximity to such traffic; animals that may react unpredictably in a parade environment; celebration and recreational activities; loud and unexpected noise; items that may be thrown to and from the crowd in connection with the parade; and other dangers traditionally associated with parades.  Understanding those risks, the undersigned for itself and for all persons who the undersigned invites or allows to participate in the parade with the undersigned, does hereby agree to indemnify, hold harmless, and release City of Aspen, ACRA and/or any other sponsors of the parade, their officers, directors, agents, shareholders, employees, and anyone else directly or indirectly connected with production of the parade from any and all liability, claims, demands, actions, or rights of action (including attorneys’ fees and costs) that are related to or are in any way connected with the undersigned’s participation in the parade. By signing this RELEASE, the undersigned intends to extinguish any and all liability and to indemnify against any loss on the part of City of Aspen, ACRA and/or any other sponsors of the parade, their officers, directors, agents, shareholders, employees, and anyone else directly or indirectly connected with production of the parade for any injury or damage of any nature (without regard to negligence or fault) to the undersigned and to all persons who the undersigned invites or allows to participate in the parade.

                                      The undersigned warrants and represents that it will not invite or allow any person to participate in the parade unless such person is bound to the terms of this RELEASE. To that end, the undersigned agrees that it shall take any steps necessary to secure agreement of such persons to the terms of this RELEASE, and that it shall be deemed a responsible person within the meaning of C.R.S. § 13-22-107 and § 19-1103(94) for all children who the undersigned invites or allows to participate in the parade.


   I am the official representative of the undersigned organization. On behalf of the organization, I acknowledge our responsibilities as set forth above. I also accept on behalf of the organization all of the terms and conditions of this



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