From July 23–29, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Mass., will host the inaugural Youth Lit Week to coincide with Provincetown’s Family Week, the world’s largest annual gathering of LGBTQ families. Curated by Newbery Honor and Stonewall Award-winning author Kyle Lukoff, the week will offer writing courses for adults seeking opportunities to learn from acclaimed authors.

“Provincetown is one of the seminal places for arts and culture in American history,” said Sharon Polli, executive director of the Fine Arts Work Center. “It’s about offering writers a couple of weeks to work with their artistic heroes and also a moment for people to delve into questions about their own creative practice.”

Founded in 1968, the Fine Arts Work Center has been a place for artists and writers seeking solace and a chance to explore their craft. The summer workshops were designed to inspire and be accessible to writers of various skill levels. “We present up to 11 weeks of classes each summer, which is about 60 to 80 workshops total,” Polli said. “The courses challenge anyone from beginners looking to fulfill a lifelong ambition to seasoned artists and writers seeking to take their craft to the next level.” The program begins June 4 and continues throughout the summer, concluding on August 19.

Youth Lit Week includes workshops on picture book illustration with Mike Curato, author of Flamer, which was tied for the ALA’s most banned book of 2022; a workshop exploring the power of nonfiction writing with author Brandy Colbert, whose book Black Birds in the Sky: The Story and Legacy of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre also ended up on banned books lists; a workshop on YA writing with Aaron H. Aceves, author of This Is Why They Hate Us; and a workshop on the ins and outs of writing picture books, led by Lukoff.

The lineup runs the gamut of genres and mediums, according to Lukoff. “I love Provincetown and I’ve been going to events at the Fine Arts Work Center for years,” he said of the impetus for Youth Lit Week. “I reached out to David Simpson, programs director at the Fine Arts Work Center, via email about how we might collaborate and he got back to me within an hour or two.”

Both Lukoff and the Fine Arts Work Center had been thinking of a similar idea, to diversify the program. “I was asked if I’d curate it,” he said. When asked how he went about putting together the program, he explained, “I tried to choose authors who have a diversity within their own body of work, so that they can extend that diversity in their workshops.”

The current crisis regarding book censorship is at the forefront of many readers’ and writers’ minds. Although many of the authors taking part in Youth Lit Week have had their own work contested and banned across the country, Lukoff explained that book bans weren’t on his mind when he set about curating the program.

“Personally, I would have been insulted to be included in something like that,” Lukoff said. “I think a lot of the work we have to do as marginalized authors is to get people to take us seriously as artists and writers and not just representatives of our communities.”

“The purpose is to bring in experts in our field and to teach in our areas of experience, not just to defend who we are and who we choose to write about,” Lukoff said. “It’s a little frustrating that some of us are doing the best work [in our field] and getting pushback and only get to talk about our work as symbols.”

Polli reported that the organizers have been “so energized” by the response they have seen to the inaugural week’s lineup. “We hope to continue doing programming like this in the future.”