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Summer Writing Marathon Retreat

Monday, June 24 - Wednesday, June 26, 2024




Hear the RADIO SHOWS featuring our summer retreat participants on KSLU's website.

Check out this recent article by Richard Louth in the Summer 2022  issue of Phi Kappa Phi Forum.

The article begins on page 18.

Our Story

In the book, Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg introduced the idea of timed writing sessions, each followed by a “read-around” where participants, one by one, shared their work aloud without any response (comments or criticism) from the group. 

Inspired by this format, Dr. Richard Louth, former Director of the Southeastern Louisiana Writing Project, took a more daring approach in 1994, releasing his writers into the streets:

“I combined Goldberg's idea with Hemingway's concept of moving about a city while writing in cafes, integrating food and drink and talk in the process, and allowing each location to 'transplant' the writer to other times and places,” Louth explained. 

What began as an experimental workshop at a conference in Louth’s beloved New Orleans has since become a signature event for writers nationwide. The New Orleans Writing Marathon provides both the structure and the freedom for its participants to attain an unparalleled level of concentration as they immerse themselves in the writing process and also their surroundings. 

Want more details about how the New Orleans Writing Marathon works its magic? CLICK HERE for a sample NOWM handout.

Our Team

Richard Louth, Founder and Director

Richard Louth, Ph.D, was professor of English at Southeastern Louisiana University from 1978 - 2023, where he taught courses in Living Writers, Louisiana Literature, and Creative Writing and received the university’s award for Teaching Excellence. As founding director of the Southeastern Louisiana Writing Project, he created the New Orleans Writing Marathon and edited The Writing Marathon: In Good Company Revealed. He has published in Louisiana in Words, Country Roads, and Louisiana Literature. In 2017, the LA Endowment for the Humanities presented him with the Light Up for Literacy Award for his longtime commitment to teaching and promoting writing.


Tracy Cunningham, Co-Director

Tracy Cunningham taught high school English and creative writing for over 20 years, and was a longtime co-director of the Southeastern Louisiana Writing Project. After retiring from teaching, she became an event planner and is now Managing Director of the Tennessee Williams & New Orleans Literary Festival. Her writing has appeared in Louisiana Literature and in various anthologies and radio shows from the New Orleans Writing Marathon. She is co-editor (with Paul J. Willis) of New Fiction from the Festival 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023, the fiction anthologies for Saints and Sinners Literary Festival. She is the 2022 Light Up for Literacy Award Winner given by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities for commitment to teaching and promoting writing. 


Susan Martens, Marathon Leader

Susan Martens, Ph.D, is Associate Professor of English at Missouri Western State University, where she is director of the Prairie Lands Writing Project. Since 2006, she has done extensive research on the Writing Marathon, including her dissertation, and has led, taught, and researched the effects of the Writing Marathon. Her creative nonfiction work has appeared in Louisiana Literature, and her academic work has been published in College Composition and Communication, Writing and Pedagogy, and English Journal. 

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