Think back to your time at Goddard. The moment of arrival on campus, the first glimpse of your friends and fellow writers from previous residencies. Late nights listening to work at Goddard student salons, exchanging ideas about writing, writers, and literature over a few beers, a glass of wine, or a plate of microwaved nachos. Days filled with close study of, and generating writing inspired by, the work of Grace Paley, Italo Calvino, Juliana Spahr, Mary Karr, and others.
But all that ends when you graduate . . . doesn’t it?
Picture all of this and you will have a glimmer of the amazing and inventive inaugural Lighthouse Writers’ Conference & Retreat (LWC&R), held over four days last week on the Goddard campus at Fort Worden in Port Townsend, Washington. Seven Goddard alums came together in a collegial and collaborative community to celebrate our writing and to hear the voices of our fellow writers, to extend our knowledge of craft through close study of literature and generative writing practice, and to rejuvenate our own writing practice.
“Ferocious Prose: Immersion in The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante,” in which we dived into an emotion-charged excerpt of Ferrante’s book and then wrote our own work inspired by the reading;
- “Details, Details: Becoming Better Noticers,” a study of several memoirists’ inventive use of detail to make the work come alive for the reader;
- “On Violence,” visiting writer Cara Hoffman’s workshop on how to craft impact into a scene of violence or intense emotion without exploitation of the characters at hand;
- “Saying the Hard Stuff Aloud: Documentary Poetics,” a hands-on workshop where we crafted our own redactive and documentary poetry;
- “A Close Reading of Grace Paley’s ‘My Father Addresses Me on the Facts of Old Age,'” listening to a podcast of this story read aloud and zeroing in on specific elements of craft illustrated in Paley’s work.
… and those were just the workshops. Add in the readings of our work, impromptu conversations about craft in the living room of House 6W on Officer’s Row, group writing and discussion on “Beginnings” in our opening session that took us through who we were as writers at Goddard and who we are as writers today, and you get an idea of the exciting directions in which this conference took us.
Mix in the opportunity for individual writing on our own projects, enthusiastic support of each person’s voice, and a healthy measure of writing prompts to inspire our work, a celebration of the CWC/Goddard-published CLOCKHOUSE, and you have what we experienced: a grounded re-energizing of ourselves as Goddard writers, as alumni of the Goddard program, and as a vital and supportive writing community.
Mark your calendars for next February so you can join us for the 2017 Lighthouse Writers’ Conference & Retreat!
In the meantime, don’t forget that you have another chance in 2016 to make the Goddard alum writing experience happen! Registration for the 2016 Clockhouse Writers’ Conference & Retreat opened on Feb. 1, 2016 on the Goddard Vermont campus in Plainfield, Vermont. Details can be found at Clockhouse Writers’ Conference.