Sam Sherman, a former co-coordinator of the conference and a past member of the Board of Stewards, has designed these sessions for the last several years, and she’s now at work designing a Stations of the Word to delight us in 2016. Here are her thoughts on this beloved CWC&R tradition:
The first year I attended the CWC Conference & Retreat, I didn’t go to the Stations of the Word session. I don’t remember why, but I do remember hearing people talk about it after the fact and feeling as though I had missed out on something interesting. I took part in later years and discovered for myself why it was a CWC tradition. For the past three years I have presented the session, carrying on the tradition, and still feeling that it’s a wonderful way to get into the flow of the conference.
Stations of the Word combines the best elements of our Conference & Retreat: the thoughtfulness of writing, the community of writers and the special setting that is the Goddard campus. The session consists of a series of timed prompts done in silence. The prompt descriptions are set out here and there around the gardens, so each writer moves from one to another—like a honeybee flying from blossom to blossom. The writers are alone with their thoughts yet together in the experience, all surrounded by the beauty of a summer morning at Goddard.
As with any timed prompt, there’s the self-imposed pressure to jump right into the act of writing that forces us to bypass our logical sides and engage right away with our creative sides. As with most things Goddard, sometimes we’re inspired to write something other than what may be suggested by the prompt. Sometimes our ideas are linked from one prompt to another. Or not. Sometimes unexpected words and ideas appear at the tip of the pen. Sometimes it’s just nice to sit and take in the colors, scents and sensations of the surroundings and let the daydreams take over.
Any and all of these things happen, and after time has run out for the pilgrimage through the prompts, we gather to share our experiences and our discoveries. It’s surprising to hear the reactions people have to the prompts, some very similar, some astonishingly different. The discussion unfolds amid oohs and ahhs and laughter as we share selections of our writing and the insights we’ve gained.
Sparks struck during this unique time carry through the week, much like those that arise at the opening Plenary Panel. Ideas for poems and stories, solutions for revisions and topics for conversation come out of the experience of Stations of the Word. Writers draw inspiration from the people, places and events around them, and the CWC Conference & Retreat offers enjoyable opportunities to be inspired.
The 2016 Clockhouse Writers’ Conference & Retreat will take place from June 27 through July 1 on Goddard College’s Plainfield, Vermont, campus. If you’re an alum of Goddard’s MFAW program–from either Plainfield or Port Townsend–please consider joining us! Registration forms are available here.