SLS Kenya

In December 2018, SLS Kenya will offer two workshops/residencies: the first in the Loita Hills territory of the Maasai land, in the Southern Rift Valley, some 25 miles from the world-famous Maasai Mara Natural Reserve; the second on the equatorial island of Lamu, the birthplace of Swahili culture and a UNESCP World Heritage site. There will also be the opportunity to spend a few days in Nairobi.

This will be residency program; rather than manuscript-critiquing workshops, the program will consist of free-writing exercises, one-on-one conferences, discussions on craft, and more. The prospective faculty list consists of Jeffery Renard Allen, Ariana Reines, Josip Novakovich, Maaza Mengiste, Mikhail Iossel, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, Billy Kahora, and other international and local writers.  Participants will have an opportunity to take part in any number of seminars.

Each workshop/retreat will last a week. Participants can choose whether to join us in one, or both, of these remarkable places. See below for more details on each of these options.

Session 1: Loita Hills-Maasai Mara (1 week) + Nairobi (3 days)


Dates: December (TBC)

Capacity: 15–20 people.

Tuition: $1550

We will stay in a retreat centre/bed and breakfast in the Loita Hills of Maasai land in the Southern Rift Valley. Surrounded by sloping scrubland and alive with local wildlife, these lodgings consist of some peaceful and inspiring writing spots.

Participants will be picked up at the airport and taken to the location, which is a four-hour drive from Nairobi.

A full-day Safari will be included in the tuition fee. Our lodgings are situated around 25 miles from the Masai Mara Natural Reserve, one of the world’s most famous and diverse national parks. Think the paradigmatic African savannah of everyone’s dreams and imaginings, the world before time, the sun, the sky, the boundless space, the eternity.

Accommodations: $50 single, $25 shared. Prices include full board (3 meals a day).

Nairobi: We’ll explore this bustling and remarkably interesting and multi-dimensional metropolis, meet with local writers and artists. We’ll provide directions and assistance with booking affordable accommodations. Accommodations tend to be between $40-80 per night.

Session 2: Nairobi (3 days) + Lamu Island (1 week)


Dates: December (TBC)

Capacity: 20–25 people

Tuition: $1550

A 14th-century Arab stone town and Kenya’s oldest living settlement, Lamu is a place of great serenity and equally great excitement. For writers, the island fosters a heightened state of inspiration. It is an absolutely fascinating place. We will have faculty and participants readings and group dinners in the evenings, while going on boat trips and walking tours exploring the island, the city and the area. Accommodations on the island typically are $25-$40 per night. We’ll advise you on booking the best affordable guest houses.

Return flights from Nairobi to Lamu are included in the tuition fee (up to $120 USD).

Nairobi: Exploring the city and meeting with local writers and artists. We’ll provide directions and assistance with booking accommodations. Prices tend to be $40-80 per night.

Tuition for Sessions 1 and 2: $2550

Note that airfare to Nairobi is currently relatively low compared to the past, and the overall cost of living in Kenya is lower than in North America or in Europe. We also have a number of fellowships available. Click here for more information.

About our partner organization: Kwani? is a Kenyan-based literary network dedicated to the growth of creative industry through the publishing and distribution of contemporary African writing. Founded in 2003, it offers training, produce literary events, and establish and maintain global literary networks. Their vision is to create a society that uses its stories to see itself more coherently.

Participants in SLS writing seminars typically include individuals of all ages and all levels of accomplishment — gifted beginners and writers who have already begun publishing; undergraduate and graduate students of creative writing and people turning (or returning) to writing relatively late in life. All are treated with equal respect by our faculty and staff. One does not necessarily have to be an accomplished writer to attend Summer Literary Seminars: an abiding love of literature, intellectual curiosity, openness to new artistic and cultural experiences, and the sincere desire to deepen one’s understanding of the creative process while being immersed in one of the world’s most fascinating locales are the only prerequisites.

We advise you to start planning early, since the number of participants will be strictly limited. Watch this space for updates.

For any questions, or to apply, please contact the program coordinator at