Aspen Words encourages writers, inspires readers, and connects people through the power of stories.


Aspen Words, the nonprofit literary organization known for decades as the Aspen Writers’ Foundation, was founded in Aspen in 1976 as a cutting edge poetry conference and literary magazine. Today Aspen Words (AW) is one of the nation’s leading literary centers and a stage for the world’s most prominent contemporary writers. AW programs employ literature as a tool for provoking thought, broadening perspectives, fostering connections, inspiring creativity, and giving voice. Since 2009, we have partnered with the Aspen Institute, underscoring the highest humanistic ideals of Institute founder Walter Paepcke: to better understand human challenges by cultivating one’s inner life through the exchange of words, stories, and ideas.

Our year-round programs include Summer Words, a writing conference and literary festival; Winter Words, a speaker series presenting the best of contemporary literature; the Aspen Words Literary Prize, a $35,000 annual award for fiction with social impact; as well as a writers-in-the schools program and writing residencies. Recent speakers include Ann Patchett, Adam Gopnik, Azar Nafisi, Juan Felipe Herrera, and Sandra Cisneros.

If you live here in the Roaring Fork Valley or are able to travel to Aspen, we look forward to your presence at our events and conferences. We also welcome all lovers of words online, no matter where you may live or write, and hope you will discover helpful resources and inspiration on our site, our Facebook page, or on Twitter.


Literary Prize: a $35,000 annual award for an influential work of fiction focused on the vital social issues of our time
Summer Words
: one of the top writing conferences and literary festivals in the nation
Winter Words: bringing the most respected contemporary writers to read and speak in Aspen
Writers in Residence: month-long writing retreats for established and emerging writers
Writers in the Schools: reaching and inspiring middle and high school students throughout the Roaring Fork Valley
Aspen Writers’ Network: connecting local writers with visiting authors and each other
The Editing Room: editing services from some of the top professionals in the publishing world
Story Swap: a story-sharing experience that uses creative writing to build empathy and understanding between diverse populations.