When I graduated from the Port Townsend campus in July 2014, I knew what I would miss the most about the Goddard MFAW program was the semi-annual convergence of word people that constitutes residencies at Fort Worden. Though I was aware that our MFAW alumni association offered a conference and retreat in Vermont, the landmark Clockhouse Writers’ Conference & Retreat (CWC&R), I knew that the cost of air travel would be prohibitive. I also wondered if I would experience the same energy on a campus I wasn’t familiar with. I know I’ll make it to Vermont someday, but I’m thrilled there is now an opportunity for those East Coast alumni to experience the West Coast campus, too.
A West Coast iteration of the CWC&R has been in the works for over a year now. I am so excited to share our vision for the Lighthouse Writers’ Conference and Retreat (LWC&R) with the entire MFAW community. Sarah Kishpaugh, Theresa Barker and I have worked tirelessly with our alumni association Clockhouse Writers’ Conference (CWC) and the college to establish formal parameters for this event. Now that the groundwork is laid, it’s time to shape it into something we will all benefit from.
This three-day conference and retreat overlaps with the first weekend of the Winter Residency in Port Townsend, February 12-15. I intend to arrive Thursday night and watch the sun rise over Mt. Baker Friday morning. Friday will involve connecting with new students, returning students, and faculty and making time to write. On Saturday, alumni attendees will come together for discussion of assigned literature or some workshopping. Sunday we will celebrate our Winter 2016 graduates, then make time for more programing or independent writing. Monday will look similar.
The game plan may sound dry or repetitive, but I prefer to think of it as fluid. We have about five weeks to formulate the topics and activities we’d like to come together around. I’m looking forward to planning these sessions with Sarah and Theresa, and with any other alumna/us who plans to attend and wants to submit a program proposal.
Know that the true impetus of the event is the convergence itself. It’s about welcoming alumni back to the Fort Worden campus with intention and structure. This is a new opportunity to strengthen the connections between current students and alumni. We hope to act as a resource for new and returning students while recharging our writer brains with like-minded people in the indisputably magical place that is the Fort.
Registration for LWC&R closes February 1 and it is open to Goddard MFAW alums from either program site. Do not hesitate to contact Sarah, Theresa, or me, Alison, if you have questions or comments about absolutely anything. Though loosely fashioned off an existing, successful model of convergence (the five-day mid-week CWC&R is in its nineteenth year of operation), we are forging a fresh path through the woods on the lip of Puget Sound. Your input and inquiries are vital to shaping an event we can come to rely on as an opportunity for all MFAW alumni to converge in the Pacific Northwest. I can’t wait to hear your voices!