-Under the Volcano-

“I launched Under the Volcano in 2003 on the model of musical master classes as a way to identify and incubate literary talent and to create an ongoing ccommunity of writers in Tepoztlán, the village in central Mexico where I’ve spent part of every year for most of my adult life.”

Structured as a non-profit that subsidizes more than half its participants and awards prestigious full fellowships to a chosen few, Under the Volcano has blossomed into an international, bilingual program and residency that attracts accomplished poets, novelists, essayists, memoirists, journalists and screenwriters from Mexico, the US and around the world who converge every January in the village.

Our graduates continue to sign book contracts with such prestigious houses as Riverhead, Knopf and Counterpoint in the US, Weidenfeld and Nicolson in the UK and a number of small presses across Mexico.  Our younger writers are regularly accepted into top MFA programs, including Brown, Rutgers, the University of Texas at El Paso, Boston University and the University of East Anglia.

Recent and upcoming faculty include Dev Benegal (India,) David Barstow (US,) Alejandro Chimal (Mexico,) Sandra Cisneros (US/Mexico), Gabriela Damián (Mexico,) Mark Doty (US,) Francisco Cantú (US), Jennifer Clement (Mexico/US,) Álvaro Enrigue (Mexico,) Francisco Goldman (Guatemala/US,) David Huerta (Mexico,) Jonathan Levi (US), Valeria Luiselli (Mexico,) Tim MacGabhann (Ireland) Paul Muldoon (Ireland,) Nelly Rosario (US,) Elizabeth Rosner (US,) Aysegúl Savas (Turkey,) Francisco Segovia (Mexico,) Owen Sheers (Wales,) Ginger Thompson (US,) Luisa Valenzuela (Argentina,) Alejandra Xanic (Mexico) and Alison Wearing (Canada.)

 It is a deep joy to watch the program grow each year and to see the lifelong connections that link our graduates literally and cybernetically across time and space.

Our newest initiative, “Taking the Conversation Home,” is a set of linked public events on the burning issues of our time as they involve the written word.  Readings, dialogues and speculative panels held first in Tepoztlán continue in other parts of the world as our graduates become curators in their home communities. Current and ongoing themes include migration, the fate of the earth and the future of memory.

Teaching at Under the Volcano was an unforgettable experience for me. It offers this exquisite blend of place and talent, all under the expert orchestration of Magda Bogin, and all of it aimed at the hard but essential work of forging better story tellers. I am proud to call myself a member of the Under the Volcano community, a sprawling, growing collection of writers who are now cheering each other on through all the ups and downs that inevitably flow from that endless battle to summon the right words.

David Barstow
Pulitzer Prize Reporter, New York Times
Director, Investivative Reporting Program,
Graduate School of Journalism,
UC Berkeley