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Coming Next Summer: Edgar Allan Poe Young Writers’ Conference

Students at a previous Poe Young Writers' Conference visiting the Poe Museum

Want to be the next Edgar Allan Poe? If you are a high school student we loves writing, the Edgar Allan Poe Young Writers’ Conference is for you.

The Edgar Allan Poe Young Writers’ Conference, scheduled for June 17-23, 2012, provides a weeklong residential program designed to encourage and stimulate the writing skills of high school students. Students will have a variety of experiences including small group instruction with a writing instructor, lectures by practicing writers in several different fields, personal writing time with critical response from instructors, and special events designed to enhance the writing experience.

This conference is sponsored by the Edgar Allan Poe Museum of Richmond, Virginia, to continue the legacy of Edgar Allan Poe. One of Poe’s greatest concerns was the development of a truly American literature. As editor of many of the nation’s leading journals, Poe inspired many young writers. In keeping with that concern, the Poe Museum hopes to encourage the development of the next generation of writers.

Poe called Richmond his home, having spent the greater part of his life here. During his teenage years in Richmond, he was encouraged to write by Mrs. Jane Stith Stanard. In Richmond he began his career in journalism when he took over the editorship of The Southern Literary Messenger.


Each morning the participants will hear from practicing writers in a variety of fields, including fiction, poetry, journalism, and non-fiction. Since participants will have already studied the mechanics of grammar in school, the lecturers will address the practice of writing from their own experience. Lectures will combine theory and practice to give the participants an understanding of what is involved in moving to the next level as a writer.


Each participant will take part in a daily seminar that includes an experienced writing instructor and 9 – 12 students. Seminars are working groups in which participants read from their own work, receive critique and encouragement from the instructor and their peers, and gain instruction in how to improve as a writer. Participants will be introduced to exercises and promptings that enhance writing skills.


Every afternoon the participants will devote time to developing the craft of writing by immediately putting into practice what they have gained from lectures and seminars. Seminar leaders will help students craft the piece they work on during the week.


A critical element that contributes to good writing is a strong appreciation of good writing. Every afternoon, a presentation will be given that deals with an aspect of the writing of Edgar Allan Poe and what makes his writing so effective. Poe is known and appreciated around the world as America’s contribution to world literature. We will explore why his poetry and tales are read avidly in France, Russia, Japan, and around the world.


Writing emerges from the experiences of life. During Poe’s day, the artists and writers of the time gathered regularly in the evenings. Music or drama may have been the focus of their attention as much as writing. Cross-fertilization of artistic and intellectual experiences stimulates creativity. In short, all work and no play makes Jack and Jill painfully dull. Evening activities are meant to be fun while contributing to a frame of reference that will give writers something to say.


Who may apply?

High school students who have completed the ninth grade may apply.

What is a residential program?

A residential program involves living together as a community of writers. A residential approach allows for the creation of an environment that encourages the development of an attitude of writing. Colleagues stimulate one another through conversation, sharing of ideas, reading one another’s work, and sharing a routine designed to gain the maximum benefit from a weeklong experience.

Where will the participants stay?

Participants will live together in a college dormitory. All lectures, small groups, and most special events will take place across the street in the University Commons. Participants will take meals together in the University dining hall across from the Commons.

Are students on their own after class?

Because this is a residential program in which all the pieces are carefully designed to complement one another, there is no free time after class until the entire week is over. Resident assistants who are college students live in the dorms with the conference participants to ensure that everyone respects the purpose of the conference and to be available in case of emergencies. We will have one resident assistant for every ten students.

What are the security provisions in the dorm?

Security guards are on duty twenty-four hours a day at the entrance to the dormitory and make regular inspections of the facility.

What is the cost of the program?

The cost per person is $650.00. This fee includes lodging for six nights, double occupancy, and three meals per day, Monday through Friday. The Sunday meal will only be supper following afternoon arrival, and the Saturday meal will only be breakfast flowed by departure.

Who is the director of the conference?

The director of the conference is Edgar Award-winning author Dr. Harry Lee Poe, a cousin of Edgar Allan Poe and the current president of the Edgar Allan Poe Museum. Dr. Poe has had a distinguished academic career as scholar and administrator. He has written seven books and contributed chapters to over twenty others. He is a published poet and popular speaker.


7:30 – 8:00 Breakfast

8:00 – 8:30 Personal time

8:30 – 9:30 Morning Plenary (lecture)

9:30 – 9:45 Break

9:45 – 10:45 Seminar

10:45 – 11:00 Break

11:00 – 12:00 Seminar (cont.)

12:00 – 1:00 Lunch

1:00 – 4:00 Personal Writing Time

4:00 – 5:00 Focus on Poe

5:00 – 6:00 Free time

6:00 – 7:00 Supper

7:00 – 9:00 Salon (special events)

9:00 – 11:00 Community


We assume that those who apply to the program are serious about writing and want to use their time to develop their skill and make a contribution as a member of a writing community. Failure to comply with the rules will result in expulsion from the program.

Smoking and/or the use of alcohol or other illegal substances is not allowed.

Students are not allowed to have a car with them during the conference.

Students may not leave the campus.

Students may not visit the dorm rooms of members of the opposite sex. Residence life is not a co-ed experience.

Students may not engage in sexual relations.

In order to attend the conference, applicants must sign a statement that they have read the rules and agree to abide by them.


The Edgar Allan Poe Young Writers’ Conference is open to high school students who demonstrate a serious interest in writing and have the maturity to live in an academic community for a week. You will be notified by May 1 of the decision about your application. Those who are accepted into the program will be expected to pay a deposit of $100 by May 30, 2012 to secure their place in the conference. A complete application includes the following:

1. A completed application form.

2. A writing sample of fiction, poetry, journalism, or non-fiction essay of not more than five pages, double-spaced.

3. A completed recommendation form from a teacher familiar with your ability and interest in writing (sent directly to the Poe Museum).

4. A completed recommendation from a teacher or other adult who can attest to your maturity and ability to work within a close-knit community (sent directly to the Poe Museum).

Mail your application by April 1, 2012 to:
Edgar Allan Poe Young Writers’ Conference
Poe Museum
1914 East Main Street
Richmond, Virginia 23223

Have more questions? Call the Poe Museum at 888-21-EAPOE or email us at for more information and an application. You can also download the application here.

Conference Director Dr. Harry Poe with Poe performer Norman George at a previous conference


  • Jennifer Cusack says:

    I believe our son would be interested in this, but it’s too early for his school calendar–he doesn’t finish school up here in Massachusetts until the following week. Just wanted to let you know, in case you can plan it for later going forward.

  • Samantha Hamel says:

    We visited the museum last Tuesday and picked up the information-can’t wait to complete and send in the application. Tks, Sam , Sarasota, Florida