San Francisco Creative Writing Institute Presents:

Dispatches from Quarantine

A collection of readings, discussions, and workshops on how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted lives, social movements, and the future of creative writing.


Dispatches from Quarantine

Dispatches from Quarantine is a publishing project developed by our founder and local writer Alexandra Kostoulas, with the support of the California Arts Council. The purpose is to examine how the coronavirus pandemic and its impact have affected creative writing.

This project began as a blog in March 2020. Then, it expanded to include a reading series, public discussions, and writing workshops with genre and background diverse writers. It's scheduled to finish by Summer 2023. Readings and discussions will be published on our YouTube channel. 

Also, we'd love to publish your stories, essays, and poetry related to the COVID-19 pandemic on our blog. We will consider all genres. Send your work to the email:


May 17 | Publishing AT HOME: Books and the Plague Years

Nick Mamatas, Vanessa Vaselka, Max Booth III, and Molly Tanzer

When the world shut down in 2020, many of us were stuck at home. So too were writers, and their books were stuck too.

Most bookstores closed, and even Amazon stopped shipping novels to turn their capacity over to sending millions of sheltering people toilet tissue instead. Hollywood let movies go direct to streaming, but authors had few options.

What was there to do? Publishing AT HOME: Books and the Plague Years brings together four authors to talk about publishing books just as a disease swept the world.

Location: Online
Date: May 17, 2023

Time: 2:00 PM PDT, 5:00 PM EDT

Sign Up

May 24 | First Person Lonesome Online Workshop

Nick Mamatas
How does one write about the experience of COVID? It’s universal–the virus has covered the world, but it is also particular. Some of us were home, others “front line workers.”

Many of them had mild cases, others very severe. And almost all of us spent a lot of time alone, or in cramped conditions with family and cohabitants.

This workshop will tangle with the idea of writing about a worldwide phenomenon without devolving into cliché or empty sentiments, how to build a first-person narrator’s thoughts, feelings, and experiences in a way that is both unique and can connect to a large audience.

Come prepared to write about yourself, or about someone else who might have been a little lonesome when shelter-in-place began.

Location: Online
Date: May 24, 2023
06:30 PM PST, 9:30 PM EST

June 12 | Dispatches from Quarantine: Theater Event

Kristina Wong in conversation with Rebecca Solnit

How has the Coronavirus Pandemic affected a generation of creative writers and the playwrights of our culture?

How will it continue to affect storytelling and drama in the shared reality of our culture for the ages to come?

In this live performance hosted by Pulitzer Prize finalist in drama and Doris Duke Award winner, Kristina Wong in conversation with bestselling author Rebecca Solnit, we will hear insights on how Covid-19 reshaped storytelling as we know it.

Join us in person at the CounterPulse Theatre in San Francisco.

CounterPulse Theatre,
80 Turk Street,
San Francisco, CA 94102

Date: June 12, 2023
06:00 PM PST


Tongo Eisen-Martin

SF Poet Laureate, poet, and activist

Tongo Eisen-Martin is the current poet laureate of San Francisco, California. He is the author of Someone’s Dead Already, which was nominated for a California Book Award. And he wrote Heaven Is All Goodbyes, which received a PEN Oakland Award, 2018 American Book Award, a 2018 California Book Award, was named a 2018 National California Booksellers Association Poetry Book of the Year, and was shortlisted for the 2018 Griffin International Poetry Prize. His 2020 title Blood on the Fog was named a Best Poetry Book of 2021 by Elisa Gabbert of the New York Times.He's also an educator and organizer whose work centers on issues of mass incarceration, extrajudicial killings of Black people, and human rights. He has taught at detention centers around the country and at the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University. He is also the co-founder of Black Freighter Press.

Nick Mamatas

Novelist, short story writer, and editor

Nick Mamatas is the author of several novels, including I Am Providence and The Second Shooter. His short fiction has appeared in Best American Mystery Stories, Asimov's Science Fiction, and many other venues. Much of it was recently collected in The People's Republic of Everything. Nick is also an anthologist; his latest book is Wonder and Glory Forever: Awe-Inspiring Lovecraftian Fiction. 

Kristina Wong

Performance artist, comedian, actor and writer

Kristina Wong is a Doris Duke Artist Award winner, Guggenheim Fellow and a Pulitzer Prize finalist in Drama. She’s a performance artist, comedian, actor and writer who has been presented internationally across North America, the UK, Hong Kong and Africa. Her work has been awarded with support from Creative Capital, The MAP Fund, Center for Cultural Innovation, National Performance Network, a COLA Master Artist Fellowship from the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, nine Los Angeles Artist-in-Residence awards, Center Theatre Group’s Sherwood Award, the Art Matters Foundation, and the Joan D. Firestone Commissioning Fund from En Garde Arts.

Rebecca Solnit

Writer, historian, and activist

Rebecca Solnit is the author of more than twenty books on feminism, western and urban history, popular power, social change and insurrection, wandering and walking, hope and catastrophe. Her most recent publication is the climate anthology co-edited with Thelma Young Lutunatabua titled Not Too Late: Changing the Climate Story from Despair to Possibility. Other books include Orwell’s Roses,Recollections of My NonexistenceHope in the Dark; Men Explain Things to Me; and A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster. A product of the California public education system from kindergarten to graduate school, she writes regularly  for the Guardian and Lithub and serves on the board of the climate group Oil Change International.

Max Booth III

Filmaker, bookstore owner and novelist

Max Booth III is the publisher & owner of Ghoulish Books, the host of the GHOULISH and Dog Ears podcasts, the co-founder of the Ghoulish Book Festival, and the author of several spooky books, including Abnormal Statistics, Maggots Screaming!, Touch the Night, and others. He wrote both the novella and film versions of We Need to Do Something, which was released by IFC Midnight in 2021 and can currently be streamed on Hulu. He was raised in Northwest Indiana and now lives in San Antonio.

Molly Tanzer

Fantasy, horror, and science fiction writer

Molly Tanzer is the award-winning author of five novels, two collections, and many works of short fiction. She lives outside of Boulder, CO with her notorious cat, the Toad. She won the Colorado Book Award for historical fiction, and has been nominated for the Locus Award, British Fantasy Award, and the Wonderland Book Award. She is known for genre-bending fiction that combines horror and fantasy with strong female protagonists, depth of characterization, and realistic interpersonal relationships.

Vanessa Veselka

Writer and author

Vanessa Veselka is the author of The Great Offshore Grounds, which was nominatedfor the 2020 National Book Award, and which won the Oregon Book Award, and the cult classic, Zazen, which was awarded the 2012 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize. Her short fiction appears in Zyzzyva and Tin House Magazine, and her essays in The New York Times, GQ, The Atlantic, Bitch Magazine, The Atavist, and Best American Essays.

Karla Brundage

Author, Editor and Publisher

Karla Brundage is author of two books of poetry, including Swallowing Watermelons, and co-author of Mulatta–Not so Tragic. Her work as editor and publisher for Pacific

 Raven Press has included authors in the Bay Area, Hawaii, Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya in the following anthologies: Sisters Across Oceans, Our Spirits Carry Our Voices , and Black Rootedness: 54 Poets from Africa to America. Media credits include Sister Power on ThinkTech Hawaii, C-SPAN, LitSeen, Wanda's Picks and Chills at Will Podcast. Her poetry, essays and short stories can be found in Konch, Literary Magazine, sPARKLE & bLINK, Write America, Black Fire This Time, Essential Truths, and A Gathering of Tribes: Black Lives Matter

Issue amongst others.  A graduate of Vassar College, Mills College MFA Program, and San Francisco State Clinical Schools Project, Karla is curator for the 2023 LitQuake Poetic Tuesday reading series  and founder of West Oakland to West Africa Poetry Exchange.



"Thank you [SF Creative Writing Institute] for offering this great opportunity to learn, hangout, and live poetry with Tongo Eisen-Martin. My notes are full of Tongo’s joyful and provocative prompts."

- Robin Terra
Multi-Media Artist

"I loved [Nick Mamatas's class] and learned a lot. Made me feel like I had so much craft to learn. And that I want him as an editor. I'd love to be included in any mailing lists [he has] about further classes and recommendations. I am intrigued by the notion of being in the writer's room. Appreciated his class greatly!"

- Jenny Strauss
Aspiring Creative Writer

Contact the Institute

(415) 371-9054