From Dawn Davies, 2016 Visiting Writer:
As the first ARGS Writers in Residence (2015-1026), I would encourage all writers to apply for the 2016-2017 residency. My experience with ARGS was exceptional from start to finish. The Alumni House is beautiful -- a large, historic house decorated with professional-quality student art. As a Floridian who has experienced very few two-story houses, climbing the big staircase and choosing my bedroom felt like a scene from a fairy tale. There is work-space, think-space, yoga-space, and nap space...exactly what I needed to relax and enjoy the luxury of simply writing without any impediments.
The faculty and staff are attentive, and know when to check on you, when to leave you alone to work, and exactly when to invite you out for a bite to eat in historic Petersburg. The residency also coincided with several end-of-year student evening performances which I attended and enjoyed.
I was able to design two workshops of my own choosing that I thought would benefit the students, and when workshop time came, I was blown away by the quality of the students' work, and with their interest in my workshop material. The students are hard-working, knowledgeable, committed, fun-loving, yet extremely serious about their writing, and that alone was enough to make this trip one of my favorite experiences.
During the residency, I set up shop downtown Demolition Coffee for a few hours nearly every day, and they made me feel so welcome I was actually sad to go home. I got a lot of writing done there. I also took a tour of Old Petersburg, where they were filming a television series, and was able to spend a few days in Richmond, one of my favorite cities. The writer vibe is alive in this area!
I encourage people to apply to this residency. I am so grateful to have been chosen, and so grateful to have worked with such a talented group of students. It was a wonderful residency, and I left having met what I expect will be lifelong friends.
I loved my stay at the ARGS Alumni House! The house itself was warm and welcoming, elegantly serene. Though I mostly camped out in my writing area, I often strolled the quiet rooms as a break, letting my mind wander and make connections in the fiction I was working on. I completed a series of flash fiction, started and finished a short story, and pondered my novel-in-progress, writing some chapters, and coming to a difficult but crucial realization about it. I also read five books, including a craft book that changed my writing life! Did I mention I was in residence for only a week? THAT'S the kind of place this place is.
As for my interactions with the students and the ARGS faculty, I couldn't be more pleased. The students were sharp and focused, eager to explore their writing through my exercises and conversation. I was lucky to be in residence during the production of the annual One Act play-writing festival where I saw their writing, acting, and directing talent showcased on stage; I also loved witnessing the supportive community who came out on a Friday night to cheer wildly. (I was so charmed that I purchased an ARGS theatre T-shirt!)
My faculty contact was a dream--generous with her time and protective of mine; sharing her knowledge of and expertise in navigating historic Petersburg. And this is something I really appreciate when I'm away from home: she was also very organized! There was not a single logistical hitch to tear me away from my writing. It was a dream of a week, and I dream of one day returning.
From Leslie Pietrzyk, 2017 Visiting Writer:
From Piyali Battacharya, 2018 Visiting Writer :
My time at ARGS was so full of light in so many ways. I remember mornings with mugs of tea at a gorgeous wooden desk with sun streaming in through large windows in a house that is just meant to be written in. I remember the citric brightness of the advanced creative writing students of a school, a classroom, a teacher that inspired them to believe in their own voices. Holding a workshop with them, and then writing in their space, was gift.
From Sydney Tammarine, 2019 Visiting Writer:
I strongly recommend the ARGS Residency to any writer in need of time to write—or to anyone in need of inspiration from the company of brilliant students and faculty. I stayed in the Alumni House in spring of 2019, and I cannot say enough about how welcomed and supported I felt during my time there.
Other Visiting Writers have already mentioned the beautiful Alumni House, but I have to echo how wonderful it was to have a room for writing, editing, brainstorming, reading, thinking, napping—and none of those the same! It had everything I needed to focus as well as unwind: good light, plenty of writing desks, and walls full of art made by ARGS students. Historic Petersburg is charming as well; when I needed a break from writing, I visited Demolition for locally-roasted coffee or the library a few blocks away for free yoga classes.
The time to write in such a place was a gift, of course. But even more wonderful was the afternoon I spent with the ARGS students and teachers. The faculty at ARGS are doing the seemingly impossible: teaching, publishing, and making time for their own creative work—and they’re bringing that energy and passion into the classroom, where it is reflected in their students. When I arrived a few minutes early for my afternoon workshop, the advanced fiction class eagerly showed me their collaborative projects with the visual art students down the hall: covers for novels (full novels!) that they had written as senior capstone projects. Their questions, insights, and first drafts in our poetry translation workshop were as creative and thoughtful as any I have encountered—some with such an eye for detail and ear for language that I wanted to steal them.
The house, school, teachers and students: this truly is a place unlike any other, and the writing I did reflects the gratitude and inspiration I felt during my time at ARGS.