6th Annual Catamaran Writing Conference

August 4 - 8, 2019

Stevenson School, in Pebble Beach

At Catamaran Literary Reader, our artistic themes tap into the rich literary history and beautiful setting of the California Central Coast.  We invite you to transform your own creative work in the scenic location of Pebble Beach, a major source of inspiration for writers from John Steinbeck to Robinson Jeffers.  The conference will be held on the campus of the Robert Louis Stevenson School, and attendees will meet in the elegant Stevenson classrooms, commons, theater, and chapel for workshops, lectures, and presentations. Registration includes four nights lodging at the Robert Louis Stevenson campus on 17-Mile Drive, access to the Stevenson dining commons for 12 meals with your fellow attendees, 4 days of literary workshops in a small group of up to 12 participants.  Also available are optional daily literary themed excursions, daily craft talks, nightly faculty and special guest readings, and student readings


2019 Faculty


Wallace J. Nichols’ book Blue Mind, published in summer 2014 by Little, Brown & Company, quickly became a national bestseller and has been translated to numerous languages and inspired a wave of media and practical application. He has authored more than 200 scientific papers, technical reports, book chapters, and popular publications; lectured in more than 30 countries and nearly all 50 states; and appeared in hundreds of printfilm, radio, and television media outlets including NPR, BBC, PBS, CNN, MSNBC, National Geographic, Animal Planet, Time, Newsweek, GQ, Outside Magazine, USA Today, Elle, Vogue, Fast Company, Surfer Magazine, Scientific American, and New Scientist, among many others.


Dorianne Laux has recently published her sixth poetry collection Only As the Day is Long: New and Selected. Her fifth collection, The Book of Men, was awarded The Paterson Prize. Her fourth book of poems, Facts About the Moon won The Oregon Book Award and was short-listed for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. Laux is also the author of AwakeWhat We Carry, a finalist for the National Book Critic’s Circle Award; Smoke; as well as a fine small press edition, The Book of Women. She is the co-author of the celebrated text The Poet's Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry. Laux teaches poetry in the Program in Creative Writing at North Carolina State University and is a founding faculty member of Pacific University's Low Residency MFA Program. 

Michelle Bitting’s latest collection Broken Kingdom won the 2018 Catamaran Poetry Prize and was listed as a best book of 2018 by Kirkus Reviews. Her third collection is The Couple Who Fell to Earth (C & R Press, 2016), named to Kirkus Reviews' Best Books of 2016. Her book Good Friday Kiss, chosen by Thomas Lux won the DeNovo First Book Award and Notes to the Beloved won the Sacramento Poetry Center Book Award, earned a starred review from Kirkus and was re-visioned by C & R Press in 2018. She has won awards from Glimmer Train and the Beyond Baroque Foundation and been a finalist for the Poet's & Writer's Magazine California Exchange, the Rona Jaffe Foundation, the Julia Peterkin, and Rita Dove poetry awards. Michelle joined the Loyola Marymount University English Department faculty in in the fall of 2018.


Peter Ho Davies’ books include The Fortunes, a New York Times Notable Book, and winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Award and Chautauqua Prize, and The Welsh Girl, long-listed for the Man Booker Prize, and a London Times Best Seller. His short stories have appeared in HarpersThe AtlanticThe Paris Review and Granta and been anthologized in Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards and Best American Short Stories. Born in Britain to Welsh and Chinese parents, he now teaches in the MFA program at the University of Michigan.

Elizabeth McKenzie is the author of three novels, most recently The Portable Veblen, winner of the California Book Award for fiction, long listed for the National Book Award, and finalist for the Baileys Prize. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Best American Nonrequired Reading, the Pushcart Prize Anthology, and elsewhere. She is the senior editor for Chicago Quarterly Review and managing editor of Catamaran.

generative writing retreat

Joan Staffen has served as a facilitator for Julia Cameron's Artist's Way for 15 years, helping her clients recover, visualize, plan, and actualize their dreams. She is the author of The Book of Pendulum Healing, Swimming the Inner Ocean (memoir and story), and Catching You, Catching MeCatching Fire (a book of poetry). She will be your facilitator as you focus your mornings at the conference to work on your individual writing project.

Daily Craft Talks

Enjoy optional daily guest lectures open to all registered participants and Day Pass holders. Topics are related to the craft of creative writing, giving attendees a chance to experience craft topics outside the focus of their small group writing workshops. Craft talks are one hour each, with a a portion of the hour devoted to discussing questions raised by participants. The craft talks will be presented by professional authors, poets, editors, and agents all working in literary field.  

Monday  Tuesday Wednesday

2:00 - Danusha Lameris: Finding your Literary DNA 2:00 - Mark A. Cunningham: Character, Plot, Time 2:00 - Leslie Karst: Finding an Agent and Reinvention 3:00 - David Sullivan: Co-translation and Multi Voices 3:00 - Josie Iselin: Science and Nature Writing 3:00 - Heather Lazare: Working with an Editor 4:00 - Christina Waters: Live Reading - Practice/Feedback 4:00 - Christina Waters: Live Reading - Performance 4:00 - Joan Staffen: Tools for Intuitive Creativity

Evening Guest Lectures and Readings

Each evening join us for a reception at 7:00 followed by an evening presentation at 7:30. The evening series will include prose and poetry readings by our faculty, and a final celebratory student reading. The evening literary presentations are open to all participants and Day Pass holders. The readings will be followed by book signings by the presenters. Books will be available for sale during the reception and after the presentations. 


Wallace J. Nichols


Michelle Bitting, Dorianne Laux


Peter Ho Davies, Elizabeth McKenzie


Student Readings

Literary Themed Excursions

John Steinbeck tour:

Visit Cannery Row and the historically preserved Ricketts Lab on Cannery Row where Ed Ricketts and Steinbeck met to create The Log of the Sea of Cortez. The lab is not open to the public, and a special opportunity for our conference attendees. The tour will be led by docents from the Monterey Bay Aquarium and will include stories and history on John Steinbeck and Doc Ricketts from the 1930's and 40's. There will be a Steinbeck reading in the living room of the Rickett's House after the tour followed by a walking tour of Cannery Row to sites of inspiration for the John Steinbeck novel Cannery Row. The tour bus will depart from Stevenson school on Mon, August 5th at 2:00 and return along the scenic Pacific Grove coast route to campus at 4:00. The tour is open to all registered participants.

Robinson Jeffers tour:

Visit Tor House, the poet’s home and stone tower at Carmel Point.  The tour bus will depart from Stevenson School on Tues, August 6th at 2:00 and return to campus at 4:00. The tour will be led by docents from the Robinson Jeffers Foundation, and will include stories and history about Robinson Jeffers. We will also ask volunteers from our tour group to recite some of Robinson Jeffers poems along the tour. The tour is open to all registered participants. 

Robert Louis Stevenson tour:

Hike the physical site that was the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island at Point Lobos.  Experience the beautiful vistas that inspired writing and art along the central coast.  Choose between a relaxing stroll to the China Cove, or a more rigorous hike up the Bird Island Trail up to Pelican Point. The tour bus will depart from Stevenson school on Wed, August 7th at 2:00 and return to campus at 4:00. 


• Olympic swimming pool

• Fitness Center

• Nature trails through the Del Monte Forest to local beaches. The campus is a 10 minute walk to the beach. 

To get a taste of the Catamaran Writing Conference experience and for a list of past faculty, guest lecturers, and keynote speakers, visit our History page.


Share in the Conference Experience from 2019