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UndocuWriting Retreat: Scribbles from the Undocumented Subconscious


For some of us, writing has been an outlet to explore these various parts of ourselves and our experiences, yet spaces and opportunities to improve our craft as writers who happen to be undocumented are very limited. We believe the narratives we are building around the migrant experience should be a broad and inclusive one, for we hold in precarious balance many other identities.

This UndocuWriting Retreat is an intensive writing workshop for undocumented writers, powered by the pro-migrant arts organization, CultureStrike. It aims to create a safe space where our migrant experiences – in all their complexity – are acknowledged and celebrated; where the cultural references in our writing, be they direct or discreet, are heard and understood.

While the immigrant rights movement has grown and built tremendous power through grassroots organizing, many of our stories still remain unwritten and unspoken, our voices silenced and excluded from public conversations around what it means to live in the United States.  

Through this series of writing workshops, we seek to:

  • Foster opportunities to dig deeper into ourselves – our identities, our struggles, and our realities – and the various ways being undocumented have shaped us, and subsequently shape our writing.
  • Explore writing outside (but still conscious) of the realm of politics and organizing around immigrant rights; to broaden the perspectives from which we approach our writing and to allow ourselves to be read and recognized in all of our humanity.
  • Build a linked web of spaces of support for undocumented writers across the country, enabling us to share this form of art as a means of survival, self-care, resistance, self-expression and a tool of empowerment with our communities.

Together during this workshop, we will:

  • Be introduced to the literary world, where we learn about different styles of writing, read and dissect works from authors of color, share learned practices, and learn to find (or create) a welcoming writing space in your local area.
  • Gain much-needed access to mentors, skills and resources to grow as writers and to develop our own projects.
  • Work on daily writing assignments, both in groups and during independent studio time. We will also have opportunities to revise and improve current works.
  • Publicly read/perform our writing in a community art event at the conclusion of the workshop, and learn to speak our words into existence.
  • Create an anthology, a living archive of our work from the workshop to be shared between ourselves, future workshop participants, and within our communities.



Ten writers will be selected to participate in the UndocuWriting Retreat.  To be eligible to participate in this workshop, you must:

  • Be an undocumented migrant.
  • Have at least 1-2 pieces of published or unpublished writing  (creative writing, news article, commentary, and more). Pieces can be in any language as long as an English translation is provided.*
  • Be deeply invested in improving your writing craft
  • Be available for the full length of the retreat and be present during the entire workshop.

The retreat is scheduled for August 14-17, 2013, and travel will take place on August 13, 2013. Return travel will take place on August 18, 2013.

* Please note: Workshops will be led in English but writers are encouraged to write in the language they feel most comfortable expressing themselves in.

Your application will be reviewed by a panel of writing experts and artists engaged in social change work. Please note that this is not a writing contest. Your writing samples and application responses will equally be taken into consideration.

Applications are due by midnight PST Friday, July 12, 2013 and finalists will be notified by July 15, 2013.

Travel and lodging will be provided for all workshop participants, and there is no fee to apply. There are 10 available seats for undocumented writers. The retreat will take place at the EastSide Arts Alliance in Oakland, California. Meals are included and have selections in the cafeteria for special diets, such as gluten-free and vegan.

Only completed applications are eligible for review.

<Please reblog, share with undocuwriters you may now, and most importantly, apply!>

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6 Notes

  1. culturestrike reblogged this from undocumenting and added:
    Only 3 days left to apply!
  2. tragafuegos reblogged this from favianna
  3. undocumenting posted this