Word Works: Writers on Writing

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For those who sit and stare in wonder at a sentence, a turn of phrase, or a particularly great execution of a literary device, marveling at how they could come about, Word Works talks show writers at their most revealing.


These craft talks by novelists, essayists, poets, and memoirists focus on writing as process rather than finished product, examining how language works to inspire and provoke new ideas through live close readings of the writer’s own or others’ work. These talks are designed to apply to writers of all genres as well as illuminate well-known works for avid readers. The talks are followed by an interview with a noted editor, writer, or critic.

Guest writers for the Word Works series often teach a class in conjunction with their talks. These classes require a separate registration. For more information on our classes, visit the class page.

Past Word Works Attendees

  • Min Jin Lee
  • Charles Johnson
  • Kevin Young
  • Maggie Nelson
  • Ruth Ozeki
  • Terrance Hayes
  • Sarah Manguso
  • David Shields
  • Luis Alberto Urrea
  • Lidia Yuknavich
  • Karen Russell
  • Major Jackson
  • Ada Limón
  • Mary Ruefle
  • and others!

  • Don’t miss a single word from these renowned writers by purchasing a series pass, which gives you entry to all Word Works events in the 2019-20 season, reserved seating, and access to a private Meet & Greet reception with the author before each event.


    Series passes are $90 for general admission and $70 for Hugo House members.

    Purchase a Series Pass