Opportunities and Announcements: Week of February 1, 2016

BWW March ScheduleOur March schedule is now posted on Meetup.com. We’re offering workshops in poetry, creative nonfiction, songwriting, and oral storytelling as well as open-genre workshops and chapter-length workshops. RSVP now to save your spot >


Call for readers

Mud Season Review is looking for more readers to join the staff. If interested, please contact Rebecca Starks, editor-in-chief, at editor@mudseasonreview.com.

Upcoming workshops

Daytime Poetry Workshop: Monday, February 8th, 10:30 am in Burlington. RSVP now >

The Monday Workshop: Monday, February 8th, 6:30 pm in Burlington. RSVP now >

Middlebury Workshop: Wednesday, February 10th, 6:30 pm in Middlebury. RSVP now >

Craft Session—The love story: Saturday, February 13th, 11:00 am in Burlington: Join Peter Biello for a workshop on creating believable romantic relationships on the page. RSVP now >

Upcoming special events

Thursday, February 18th at 5:30 pm: Join the BWW and RETN for StoryCraft: A Way With Words, a conversation about the work, art, and practice of writing with Vermont writers Jensen Beach and Kerrin McCadden.

The event will be held at The Media Factory at RETN/VCAM, located at 208 Flynn Avenue in Burlington. Admission is free, though donations are much appreciated. Register now >


End-of-year tax letters

End-of-year tax letters are ready! If you donated to the Burlington Writers Workshop between June 31, 2015 [when we officially transitioned to collecting donations directly as a 501(c)3] and December 31, 2015, we have your letter. You should have received an email asking for your address to send the letter. If you did not receive the email, please contact us to provide your address.

Flynn Center blog

Burlington Writers Workshop members recently wrote the following for the Flynn Center blog:

Kelly Hedglin Bowen wrote this review of “Once.”

Josh MacDonald wrote this review of “Ragtime: The Musical.”

Cynthia Close wrote this review of Billy Childs’ “Reimagining Laura Nyro.”

Congrats and thanks

Congratulations to Cynthia Close for two recent publications. Cynthia’s essay, “Becoming a Vermonter,” was published in New England Memories and her latest column was featured in Documentary Magazine.

Congratulations to Elizabeth Gaucher, whose essay, “The Whole Lot,” was published in Pithead Chapel: An online journal of gutsy narratives.

Thanks to all of our new members who came out to the new member informational meeting last night. Hope to see you all at a workshop soon!

Opportunities and Announcements: Week of January 25, 2016

Mud Season Review Issue #16

Issue #16 is live at www.mudseasonreview.com

If you haven’t read it yet, I encourage you to check out Mud Season Review’s Issue #16, which was published just this past week. The issue features art by LiQin Tan, fiction by Rebecca Fishow, poetry by Luisa A. Igloria, and nonfiction by Arthur Plotnik.

Congrats to the MSR staff on yet another stellar issue. And, if you’re not on the staff but think you might like to be, you should know that MSR is looking for fiction readers! Read this invitation from JD Fox, MSR‘s co-editor of fiction, to learn more >

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Perchance to Read

JD Fox, Mud Season Review editor

JD Fox, co-editor of fiction and consulting poetry editor for Mud Season Review

Most likely, anyone coming to this site has the writing bug, either actively writing (yay!) or thinking about doing so (yay to you, too!). After all, the site is called the Burlington Writers Workshop.

But there is a hidden word in its title. One that should go without saying. So, of course, I’m going to say it and talk about it. Though before I do, can you guess what it is?

Actually it’s two words, to be all Strunk-and-White proper. However, the other one is “and,” which is a great word, but isn’t the one I’m looking for.

Did you guess it now?

This organization could be called Burlington Writers (and Readers) Workshop.

Writers, in general, tend to be voracious readers. Which is a good thing. Not only does reading improve your own writingit also makes other writers happy. Especially when reading leads to publication, which leads to their work being read by a larger audience than, say, just the staff at Mud Season Review.

As fiction co-editor at MSR, I read a lot of submissions. Not all of them, of course, get published. But did you know that not all of the ones I like get published either?

So how do we decide?

Lots of readers, lots of discussion, and lots of coin tossing.

Just kidding about the coin tossing.

But nothing gets rejected based on only one set of eyes. And by the time something makes it all the way to publication, it has had a great number of eyes upon it and has been read and reread. There is often story advocacy involved and more than a little persuasion.

After all, we’re human. Maybe I didn’t get the symbolism of the rocking chair during my read and need to have it pointed out. Or maybe I need to make the case that a story isn’t scant, but brilliantly minimalistic.

We all have our biases, thoughts of what makes a good story, and reasons for liking or disliking something. I know for myself, dialogue is one of the more important elements. I have a lot of flaws as a writer, but I tend to write strong dialogue. So when it isn’t done well, it’s difficult for me to take a work seriously, even one with otherwise cool rocking chair symbolism.

The diversity of our fiction team helps us ensure that what ends up on our site is the best that we can find. We are currently looking for more readers to join our staff. If you are a Burlington Writers Workshop member and you’re interested in reading for us, please send an e-mail to editor@mudseasonreview.com.

—JD Fox, co-editor of fiction and consulting poetry editor, Mud Season Review

Opportunities and Announcements: Week of January 19, 2016

What does it take to craft a great story?

StoryCraft logo

6 nights of conversations about the art, work, and practice of telling stories

Join us on Thursday, February 18th to find out.

The BWW will be partnering with  Vermont’s Regional Educational Television Network (RETN) to host A Way with Words: Conversations on the Work, Art & Practice of Writing, featuring award-winning authors and guest BWW workshop facilitators, Jensen Beach and Kerrin McCadden. Jensen and Kerrin will share their thoughts on how they organize their ideas, edit their work, create habits and practices, and find inspiration. The conversation will be hosted by Gin Ferrara, founder of the BWW’s oral storytelling workshop.

This event is the first in RETN’s StoryCraft series, a new 6-month series of conversations about the art, work, and practice of telling stories.

Thursday, February 18, 2016
The Media Factory at RETN/VCAM
208 Flynn Avenue in Burlington
Doors open at 5:30 pm | Conversation begins at 6 pm

This event is free, though donations are much appreciated.

Register now >
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Opportunities and Announcements: Week of January 11, 2016

We’ve got another great workshop with a guest published author coming up soon! On Monday, January 18th, Julia Shipley will lead a poetry workshop at our Burlington space.

Julia Shipley with the Burlington Writers Workshop

Julia Shipley will lead a Burlington Writers Workshop poetry session in January

Julia Shipley is the author of a full-length poetry collection, The Academy of Hay, (Bona Fide Books, 2015) winner of the Melissa Lanitis Gregory Poetry Prize, and a long-form lyric essay, Adam’s Mark, (Plowboy Press, 2014), which was selected as a Boston Globe Best New England Books of 2014. She is also the author of four poetry chapbooks including the limited edition, letterpress printed One Ton Crumb (CC&B, 2014), First Do No Harm (Honeybee Press, 2014), Herd (2010), winner of the Sheltering Pines Press Chapbook Award and Planet Jr. (2012) winner of the Hazel Lipa Environmental Chapbook Award from Flyway Journal of Writing and Environment. Winner of the Ralph Nading Hill Award, and finalist for the Curt Johnson Prose Award in Creative Nonfiction and the Teachers and Writers Bechtel Award, she’s also received grants from the Vermont Community Foundation and the Vermont Arts Council (Featured grantee 8/4 /2011), and received fellowships to The Frost Place (NH), The Center for Book Arts (NYC) and The Studios of Key West (FL).

Learn more about Julia Shipley.

There are still a few spots left! Sign up now >
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Opportunities and Announcements: Week of January 4, 2016

Partridge Boswell with the Burlington Writers Workshop

Award-winning poet Partridge Boswell will lead a January 11th Burlington Writers Workshop poetry workshop

Happy New Year!

A sincere thank you to everyone who donated in any amount to our December 2015 Fundraiser. We surpassed our $5,000 goal, with a total of $6,255 raised! Your support is truly appreciated and we’re looking forward to bringing you a year full of opportunities to improve your craft, connect with your fellow writers, gain hands-on editing and publishing experience, and get your work out into the world.

To kick things off for 2016, we’re offering multiple opportunities to join a workshop led by a published author this January. The first of these workshops, led by Partridge Boswell, will be held on Monday, January 11, 2016 at 6:30 pm in Burlington.

Partridge Boswell’s first book of poems, Some Far Country, received the 2013 Grolier Discovery Award. His work has recently appeared in Smartish PaceThe American Poetry ReviewHayden’s Ferry ReviewPassages North and Poetry East, and on Vermont Public Radio. An editor for Harbor Mountain Press and co-founder of Bookstock literary festival and the poetry/music group Los Lorcas Trio, he lives with his family in Woodstock, Vermont. Hear an interview with Partridge Boswell.

There are still spots left in this workshop. Sign up now >

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Make Don DeLillo’s White Noise a Highlight of Your Winter

Burlington Writers Workshop member Anna Carey reflects on her experiences in the BWW’s Literature Reading Series and invites you to join. The series kicked off this summer with ‘Infinite Summer,’ an extension of a Burlington area reading group of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest hosted by Patrick Brownson and Rick Rowan, and has continued on throughout the fall and winter with a new book, chosen by BWW member vote, each season.

White Noise by Don DeLillo

The BWW’s 2016 Winter Literature Reading Group will tackle White Noise by Don DeLillo

What’s up with those book titles regularly drumming ‘read me’ from your shelves—for years really?

Last spring, while visiting my son, we both noted that bold chartreuse print—INFINITE JEST—on recognizable shades of blue pulsating like a neon sign.  Who can resist that two-word title, a perfect invitation to search for meaning and delight? Upon arrival home, the Burlington Writers Workshop serendipitously announced the ‘Infinite Summer’ literature reading group—an opportunity to actually hoist from the shelf and complete David Foster Wallace’s extraordinary novel.

This past summer, a group of us gathered weekly around a large table for 15 sessions. Encouraged by the respect and insight modeled by workshop leaders Patrick and Rick, our group combined the most erudite American lit discussions, hordes of cultural references to other books, movies, TV, music…and genuine jest. If David Foster Wallace didn’t have enough perspectives on our random universe, our group provided rich perspectives on style, interpretation and meaning—no small feat.

Expanding on the success of Infinite Summer, this fall a similar group of diverse folks read Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend, which follows two women’s friendship from preschool into very early adulthood. One group member’s Little Italy childhood in Boston enriched our understanding of the novel. And again, Patrick’s enthusiasm and honesty enriched the atmosphere for a vibrant conversational volley that explored class, friendship, and creativity imagined astutely as the narrator herself transforms from girl to woman.

So why not consider a seasonal approach to your book collection crying for attention? Starting Tuesday, January 5, 2016, 6:30-8:00 pm, the BWW’s 2016 Winter Literature Reading Group will take on Don DeLillo’s White Noise. Especially inviting is that you can experience a warm winter activity that is free, social, and invigorating.  I know absolutely nothing about the upcoming book (admittedly learned new term ‘eco-lit’ upon ordering) and yet still feel assured that reading and discussing White Noise will be a highlight of this winter.

There are still a few spots left. Sign up now >

—Anna Carey, BWW member

Podcast: The Right First Steps to Getting Published

William Notte, featured speaker at the BWW 2015 auction

William Notte, featured speaker at the BWW 2015 auction

In this podcast, we hear from William Notte. Notte spent seven years as the acquisitions editor for a publishing house. During this time he reviewed (and rejected) thousands of book proposals. His presentation will walk you through the process of pitching your book (fiction or nonfiction) and point out common mistakes even experienced writers make that could lead to a book’s rejection. You’ll learn why you shouldn’t get too excited about your idea for your book’s cover, what words you should avoid in your pitch letter, and how self-publishing primes you for traditional publishing.

Enjoy, and remember, you can subscribe to the BWW podcast with iTunes. Just search for “Burlington Writers Workshop” and you’ll see that familiar old green logo.

A Trustworthy, Supportive Group

Walt Mahany, BWW board member

Walt Mahany, BWW board member

Like many, I was little intimidated by preconceptions of the process that takes place in a writing workshop. I was defensive and reluctant to participate in the discussions. When I eventually ratcheted up enough courage to submit my work, I was terrified. I envisioned an experience similar to dropping a piece of fresh meat into a pool of piranha. The visions were macabre. What would they do to my poor story, or to me for that matter? Such was the paralyzing nature of a fear, which is not all that uncommon among new writers.

What I discovered, however, was that I had become a part of a trustworthy, supportive group whose sole desires were to help improve the quality of my writing while at the same time honing their craft skills.

I didn’t think it could get any better than that, except that it does because it’s free.  To my way of thinking Burlington Writers Workshop is worth my time, energy, and contributions because of what they do to promote the development of writers.

I’ve made a contribution. Will you be a contributing member, too?

—Walt Mahany, BWW board member

A Talented and Diverse Group of Individuals

Cynthia Close, BWW board member and art editor, Mud Season Review

Cynthia Close, BWW board member and art editor, Mud Season Review

I wasn’t sure what I was looking for when I joined the Burlington Writers Workshop. What I found was a talented and diverse group of individuals, all working together with the common goal of helping its members become better writers, whatever their ability or background. The open yet professional atmosphere has fostered close friendships and provided a haven for many folks seeking a sense of community within the larger social and cultural fabric of the City of Burlington.

The BWW is infused with the energy of its all-volunteer staff, reflecting an active, growing organization that has expanded beyond Burlington to foster groups in Montpelier and Middlebury. I have taken advantage of many opportunities offered to members: the retreats, the special events, the chance to publish in the annual anthology, and the Flynn Center’s blogging program.

As an active board member and art editor of Mud Season Review, our newly established art and literary journal, I’ve been able to give back a small portion of the benefits I have received as a member of the group.

I also contribute financially to the BWW, and I hope you will, too. The BWW needs donations to help pay the rent for the meeting space we all use. Your donations also cover the costs of our forays in publishing. Consider what these benefits are worth to you and make a contribution in any amount, either as a one-time gift, or as a sustaining member. (Just click the ‘Make this recurring (monthly)’ checkbox on the donation form to give that amount automatically each month as a sustaining member).

Cynthia Close, BWW board member and art editor, Mud Season Review

P.S. We’ve currently raised $3,735.00 of our $5,000 goal for this December Fundraiser. Thank you to everyone who has donated! 

Opportunities and Announcements: Week of December 21, 2015

For today’s Opportunities and Announcements, I’d like to share with you the results of the 2016 BWW Member Survey. Thank you to everyone who took the time to take this survey. Your answers are helping to shape our 2016 budget, which we’ll be sharing in the new year. And your feedback and suggestions are critical to helping us continue to grow and improve.

In order to help us provide the free workshops, expert panel discussions, writing retreats, and other programming that you’re most interested in, we hope you’ll consider making a donation today. Together, we’ve raised $3,735.00 donated so farand with your help we’ll get to our $5,000 goal. Thank you again to everyone who has donated!

Here’s a recap of what you said in the survey:

As a writer, how important are each of the following to you? Please rate each of the choices below on a scale of 1 to 5 (with 1 being not at all important and 5 being extremely important):


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Workshops Make the Difference

Rebecca Starks, Mud Season Review editor-in-chief, leads the BWW's 2015 Free Poetry Retreat

Rebecca Starks, Mud Season Review editor, leads the BWW’s 2015 Free Poetry Retreat

In the last year and a half, as I’ve put my energies into Mud Season Review, I’ve seen the difference between the work of those who have workshopped their writing and those still working in solitude. Without exception, when we accept a piece from an emerging writer, we learn that it’s already had a number of eyes on it. It makes the difference.The Burlington Writers Workshop provides much of what many writers pursue MFAs for: valuable feedback on one’s writing; a supportive creative community (that doesn’t end after a couple years); opportunities to publish, give readings, and learn from established authors; and the chance to work on a literary journal that connects with writers and artists around the world.

And the difference between an MFA and the BWW is that an MFA costs tens of thousands of dollars. I give to the BWW because I believe in making these opportunities available to everyone, regardless of ability to pay; and because I’m grateful to the members who give so much of their time and energy, as well as donations, toward making it succeed.

I hope you’ll consider donating, and that it inspires you to take full advantage of all the BWW offers.

Rebecca Starks, editor, Mud Season Review, and BWW board member

Opportunities and Announcements: Week of December 14, 2015

Deena Frankel, BWW oral storytelling workshop leader, shares a holiday-themed stories at Hotel Vermont

Deena Frankel, BWW oral storytelling workshop leader, shares a holiday-themed story at Hotel Vermont.

Thank you, BWW members! I’m happy to report that, together, we’ve raised a total of $2,918 toward our $5,000 goal for our December Fundraiser. Your support is deeply appreciated as we continue to work to offer free learning opportunities to all Vermont writers.

Opportunities like this coming Saturday’s “It Happened One December: Stories by the Fire” at Hotel Vermont. Through the BWW’s oral storytelling workshop, writers in our BWW community have learned the nuances of translating their written work into an oral story (told without a script or notes) and have been working diligently to prepare for the event. This Saturday, December 19, 2015 at 5:30 pm, they’ll share the spotlight with other well-known area storytellers to spin winter-themed tales by the fire. If you’re in town, stop by Hotel Vermont to enjoy the stories, the fire, and the free hot chocolate and popcorn.

Thank you for your continued support—whether it’s supporting our programs with a donation or supporting our members with your presence at events like this one. Continue reading

Why I Give to the BWW

Wendy Anderson, BWW board member and creative nonfiction workshop leader

Wendy Anderson, BWW board member and creative nonfiction workshop leader

Because I want your opinion – and yours – and yours – of my writing. Because I want to read what you’re writing, think about what you’re trying to accomplish, and talk with others about ways to achieve that. Because I want to learn how to string words together so they make you laugh, make you cry, make you wonder.

That’s why I give to the BWW.

Its challenging and supportive workshops. The community of writers who quilt a larger world – more opinions, experiences, and knowledge – than the microcosm in my skull alone.

That’s why I give to BWW.

The generous and deeply thoughtful professional writers who come to sit at our table and share their thoughts about the craft of writing, and the art. Writers who inspire us. The retreats that eject us out of our routines and totally immerse us in a writing world for a day.

Because it gives so much to me. That’s why I give to the Burlington Writers Workshop.

—Wendy Andersen

If you feel the BWW gives a lot to you, please consider making a donation today.

Opportunities and Announcements: Week of December 7, 2015

Burlington Writers Workshop reading at Barnes and Noble

BWW member Nina Gaby reads at The Best Of The Burlington Writers Workshop book tour stop at Barnes and Noble

What a fun and inspiring weekend for the Burlington Writers Workshop! On Saturday night, the lobby of Hotel Vermont was packed both with those who came to hear the oral storytellers in our first “Stories by the Fire” event—and those who stopped for a moment to check it out and quickly sat down to stay. Sunday afternoon brought us to Barnes and Noble, where 7 of our writers from The Best of the Burlington Writers Workshop 2015 read their work, offered their advice on writing, and inspired new writers in yet another packed audience.

It’s free and open events like these that help the BWW bring much-deserved exposure to the creative work of our members while also contributing to Vermont’s creative community. That’s why we’re asking you—as part of our December fundraiser—to help us build the funds we need to continue.

We’re off to a great start, raising $2,072 so far. And with your help, we’ll get to our $5,000 goal. Today, an anonymous has offered a challenge. This donor will give the BWW $100 if you make your $100 contribution today. So please give to support the BWW and take advantage of this dollar-for-dollar match! We’ll update this post when this challenge is met, so if you don’t see an update, we’re still looking for a match. **UPDATE: Well, that was fast! We have our match. Thank you to our matching donor—and we hope you’ll still consider making a donation today to help support the BWW. Donate now >

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