Celeste Gainey, Madwoman and author of "The Gaffer," at a recent Madwomen of the Attic poetry reading and book signing
The Madwomen in the Attic Writing Workshops are semester-long creative writing workshops that are open to undergraduates and community writers. Taught by working writers, these small, supportive, and intergenerational workshops allow participants to develop and strengthen their creative voices in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.
The Madwomen in the Attic Writing Workshops bridge the gap between community and university. There are currently nine sections of Madwomen classes in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, which are open to undergraduates and community writers. Poet and Carlow professor Jan Beatty directs the workshops, which are taught by working writers which include Jan Beatty, Sarah Williams-Devereux, Joy Katz, Nancy Kirkwood, Nancy Krygowski, Ellen McGrath Smith, Evelyn Pierce, and Anne Rashid.
The Madwomen range in age from early 20s to mid-90s; they range from beginning writers to writers with a number of books to their credit; they are undergraduates, women who have taken care of husbands and families their entire lives and are now “getting to their writing,” women who have never taken a writing class and women who have MFAs in writing from major universities; women who have careers as lawyers, healers, child care workers, visual artists, teachers, therapists. Though the writers are far-ranging in their interests, backgrounds, philosophies, and aesthetics, they always have at least one thing in common—a love of writing.
Students have published their work in places as varied as Quarterly West, 5 AM, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Sojourner, Southern Poetry Review, The Cape Codder, The North American Review, and The Wall Street Journal. Many have published books with national presses such as Autumn House Press, Bottom Dog Press, Finishing Line Press, Main Street Rag, and others.
Voices from the Attic is a publication of the best work from the Madwomen in the Attic writing workshops taught by Jan Beatty and several Carlow English faculty members.
The Madwomen in the Attic Writing Workshops, named after the groundbreaking study by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar on the 19th century women writer, were formed in 1979 by Dr. Ellie Wymard, former Director of the MFA Program at Carlow, and esteemed fiction writer Jane Coleman after a campus visit by the writer, Tillie Olsen. When Olsen was mobbed by women with stories, poems, and questions, it became clear that there was a hunger and a need for a women’s stories to be told. Over the years, visiting writers such as Tess Gallagher, Maggie Anderson, Marita Golden, Naomi Shihab Nye, Judith Vollmer, Maxine Kumin, and Jean Valentine would arrive to feed this hunger.
The workshops were originally taught by Ellie Wymard, then by Jane Coleman, and later the beloved poet Patricia Dobler directed and developed the Madwomen in the Attic Workshops until her death in 2004. Patricia Dobler dedicated many years of her working life to the Madwomen to create an inclusive, vibrant atmosphere where women of varied backgrounds could meet and study the craft of writing. For this the Madwomen will be forever grateful.
For more information or to register, please get in touch with Sarah Williams-Devereux, 412.578.6346, email@example.com or Jan Beatty, 412.578.6081, firstname.lastname@example.org