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, 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. 




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


Thank you for your support:

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Louisiana Poet Laureate Jack Bedell's appearance at our 2018 Summer Retreat was made possible by a grant from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.

Our Team

Richard Louth, Founder

Richard Louth is a professor of English at Southeastern Louisiana University, where he teaches 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 WordsCountry Roads, and Louisiana Literature.

Tracy Cunningham, Co-Director

Tracy Cunningham taught high school English and creative writing for over 20 years, and is a 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, the fiction anthology for Saints and Sinners Literary Festival.

Kim Stafford, Guest Writer

Poet and the former director of the Oregon Writing Project, Kim Stafford is the author of more than a dozen books. His poems  can be found in national magazines, and one of his essay collections, Having Everything Right (1996), won a Western States Book Award citation. His books include a memoir of his father, Early Morning (2003) and a handbook about writing, The Muses Among Us:  Eloquent Listening and Other Pleasures of the Writer's Craft (2003). His latest book is 100 Tricks Every Boy Can Do:  How My Brother Disappeared. He was recently named Poet Laureate of Oregon.