Literary Events

January to March


award-winning authors in residence

Writers in residence will read from and discuss their work Wednesday evenings from January to March 2022. It’s the perfect mid-week pause to reconnect with meaningful language.

Winter Writers Reading Series events are held Wednesdays, from 7-9 p.m. Engage award-winning authors in conversation!

January 12: Jennifer Fandel
Wisconsin People & Ideas—Poetry

January 26: Owen Aibric
Wisconsin Writers Association
Jade Ring—Fiction

February 9: Allison Uselman
Wisconsin People & Ideas—Fiction

February 16: Kathie Giorgio
Wisconsin Writers Association
Jade Ring—Poetry

February 23: Dasha Kelly Hamilton
Wisconsin Poet Laureate

March MPSD: Lora Hyler
Wisconsin Writers Association
Jade Ring—Nonfiction

Our Winter Writers Reading Series Partners

January to December


sharing books & crucial conversation

To continue the crucial conversations that began during 2020’s NEA Big Read of Claudia Rankine’s award-winning “Citizen: An American Lyric,” Shake Rag Alley is hosting another year of monthly book discussions via Zoom. Meetings start at 6:30 pm and are free, although donations are welcome.

New in 2022, we’ll spend two months per book for a total of six titles:

January 20 & February 17

The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family
by Annette Gordon-Reed

March 17 & April 21

The Souls of Black Folk
by W.E.B. Du Bois

May 19 & June 16

I Am Not Your Negro
by James Baldwin

September 15 & October 20

Halfway Home: Race, Punishment and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration
by Reuben Jonathan Miller

November 17 & December 15

The Yellow House
by Sarah M. Broom

For more information and to register to receive a Zoom link to any (or all!) of these FREE events, use the button below, send an email, or call
(608) 987-3292.

May 20-22, 2022


write alongside other writers

Join us for the 6th annual Writing Retreat at Shake Rag Alley, open to writers of all levels. Enrich your talent and prospects in this charming art community and old mining town. Choose one of three genres taught by either Patricia Ann McNair (Memoir and Personal Narrative; Retreat Artistic Director), Christine Maul Rice (Writing Fiction), or Sheree L. Greer (Digging In: Research and Writing) for an in-depth workshop that will challenge you across the three days. These workshop leaders are award-winning published authors and active, experienced teachers of writing.

Interwoven around these main workshops will be optional and inspiring creative activities, including craft talks, a panel discussion, a Faculty and Local Author Reading, and Open Mics that will make for a retreat jam-packed with opportunities to learn, share, network and write.

Manuscript consultations are available with instructors on a first sign up, first served basis, at a very affordable price.

We are pleased to work in partnership with Hypertext Magazine & Studio, a social justice writing nonprofit organization. 

Workshops in Memoir & Personal Narrative, Fiction, Research & Writing. Individual feedback on manuscripts.

June to October

Select Saturdays

afternoon tea, live music & play reading

Wisconsin playwrights present original plays in progress on our intimate outdoor theatre, Alley Stage. Besides being fun to watch, a staged reading is an important way a playwright can get important feedback from an audience (you!) and determine what their next steps are with the script. You can even get in on the act by signing up to be an actor or musician!

Writing workshops

Second Saturday

2 – 4 pm

workshop poems & deepen your craft

In Person & Virtual!

Driftless Poets meet on the second Saturday of each month at 2 pm on the Shake Rag Alley campus and via Zoom.

New poets are always welcome, but only those who have submitted work in advance will receive feedback and critique. Poets take turns leading the workshops by sharing a poem that demonstrates a form or craft technique and monitoring time.

What to Expect

In a writing workshop, a group of people engage in intensive discussion during a time set aside to focus on and improve one’s craft. Driftless Poets meet monthly to learn from one another by listening carefully to feedback on work submitted to the group.

How to Participate

The Driftless Poets workshops are free. You are welcome to attend in person on the Shake Rag Alley campus or to participate virtually. Please register below to receive submitted poems and the Zoom link:

For more information please call: (608) 987-3292.

Fourth Saturday

2 – 4 pm

workshop prose & deepen your craft

In Person & Virtual!

Writers need readers: ideally from tentative first draft to hopeful last. Looking for a second pair of eyes? Why not six or ten? If you are interested in deepening your writing craft in prose—join us on the 4th Saturday of every month for feedback and support.

  • fiction
    • short story
    • novel
    • young adult
  • nonfiction
    • memoir
    • essay
    • narrative journalism
  • and more!

At least two writers will have submissions of up to 20 pages workshopped each month via written feedback and group discussion.

Prose Workshops are free. October 2022 – April 2023, the group will meet only via Zoom. Please register below to receive submitted materials and the Zoom link.

For more information please call: (608) 987-3292.

Writing Resources

Office Hours

ask for assistance

creative writing library on-site

Several shelves of writing related books are available in the Art Cafe. Most are available for circulation, and include:

  • literary & small press journals
  • poetry, fiction &  nonfiction anthologies
  • craft & marketing guides

Hold Your Own Events at Shake Rag Alley

Choose your favorite historical building, the spacious Lind Pavilion, lush gardens & outdoor spaces, Alley Stage, or the entire campus!

Campus Map: Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts

Coach House
18 Shake Rag Street

1 of 32

Art Café

2 of 32

Ellery House

3 of 32


4 of 32
restrooms 5 of 32

Open Air Parking

6 of 32

Lind Pavilion Parking

7 of 32
Roadside Parking
allowed on Commerce Street 8 of 32

Smejas’ Studio parking

9 of 32

Smejas’ Studio
30 Doty Street

10 of 32
Curbside Parking
as indicated 11 of 32

Accessible Parking
with curb cut

12 of 32

Alley Stage

13 of 32

Cabinet Shop

14 of 32

French Cabin

15 of 32

1830 Log Cabin

16 of 32

Potter’s House

17 of 32

Blacksmith Barn

18 of 32

Federal Spring

19 of 32

Monarch Garden

20 of 32

Lind Pavilion
411 Commerce Street

21 of 32

two blocks to

High Street & Commerce Street
Restaurants, Shops & Galleries

22 of 32
To Grocery Store
Point Foods
622 Dodge Street 23 of 32

Street Parking with Additional Parking behind Smejas’ Studio

24 of 32
The Green
open air park 25 of 32
Stair Steps
Cabinet Shop & Lind Pavilion 26 of 32
Stair Steps
to Alley Stage 27 of 32
Stone Bridge
Federal Spring 28 of 32

Roland’s Loft

223 Commerce St.

29 of 32

The Tuckpoint

223 Commerce St.

30 of 32

The Sardeson Pottery Studio

225 Commerce St.

31 of 32

Weaving & Fiber Arts Studio

Cannery Row Arts Incubator
121 Water St.

32 of 32

ADA compliant buildings: Lind Pavilion, Coach House, Smejas’ Studio