Opportunities and Announcements: Week of September 15, 2014

Thank you to everyone who came to “Community Night” at Bluebird BBQ. We raised a total of $260 for the BWW, which is awesome and greatly needed.

If you couldn’t make it but would still like to help us pay for BWW expenses, please make a donation here. We need your support. Thanks!

There are quite a few opportunities and announcements for you this week, so here they are.

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A Free Writing Retreat for Women

photo 1Tayna Lyn Willard, a member of the BWW, has offered to lead a free writing retreat for women on October 25th. The retreat will take place at HOWL (Huntington Open Women’s Land trust). There is a house, a barn and 50 acres of land including fields, streams and hiking trails.

This is a nature retreat for both poetry and prose writers. Poetry-focused time will be from 9 a.m. – noon and prose-focused time will be from 1-4 p.m. This is meant to be only a lightly guided retreat with much time and space allowed for writing and creating during the retreat.

There is an option to camp overnight in the field by the pond. HOWL has a full kitchen and shower available for the use of anyone who would like to camp that night. Camping participants should plan to bring their own food or eat in a neighboring town. Participants should also bring anything they need to sleep, such as a sleeping bag and tent. Tanya will also be leading a hike once the sessions are over for anyone interested in staying active. HOWL is only about a five minute drive from Camel’s Hump if anyone is interested in hiking that afterwards. Continue reading

Opportunities and Announcements: Week of September 8, 2014

If you’re a member of the Burlington Writers Workshop, it’s likely that you measure yourself using two yardsticks: (1) The quality of your writing and (2) the quality of the feedback you give to your fellow writers.

In both cases, the word “quality” is a matter of opinion. What makes a piece of writing good is up for debate. Ditto for feedback.

However, there are techniques you can use to help move your writing along, and there are steps you can take to becoming a better provider of feedback. I’ve outlined some steps that I hope you’ll consider. We ought to give each other the best possible response at every single workshop, and reading this, IMHO, is a good way to start.

Okay. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get on to this week’s opportunities and announcements.

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Recommendation: Peter Roy Clark’s WRITING TOOLS

writingtoolsPeter Roy Clark’s book Writing Tools answers writing questions I never thought to ask. When should I list just one item versus two, three, or more? When is passive voice useful? What’s the most powerful placement in a sentence or paragraph for a given word?

Starting with the smallest details and expanding to ever broader ideas, Clark’s fifty writing tools struck me in the head like an unexpected apple from a very insightful tree. Opening with “Begin sentences with subjects and verbs” and wrapping up with “Own the tools of your craft,” Writing Tools offers unambiguous, concise, practical recommendations for all varieties of writing, starting each of of its fifty sections with an explanation of the point, then driving it home with illuminating examples.

Clark uses these tools as he explains them. For example, in summarizing “Tool 20: Choose the number of elements with the purpose in mind,” Clark says

  • Use one for power.
  • Use two for comparison, contrast.
  • Use three for completeness, wholeness, roundness.
  • Use four or more to list, inventory, compile, and expand.

Along with pointing out ways to optimize writing, Clark trots out metaphors that show effective ways to accomplish key writing tasks, like keeping the reader happy (with gold coins left here and there in your piece) and explaining difficult concepts (by climbing up and down the Ladder of Abstraction).

Many of the good habits Clark describes can gradually develop without ever registering as specific techniques, as when an untrained but skilled singer uses vibrato and grace notes to add more feeling to a song. Certainly some of Clark’s points felt validating to me because I had already figured them out intuitively. Even then, though, Clark often sheds new light. Writing Tools adds, clarifies, and completes what we already understand about writing.

You may not agree with every one of Clark’s suggested techniques, and some of them may not be entirely applicable to your writing, but regardless of who you are or how long and well you’ve been writing, I’d be amazed if you didn’t come away from reading Writing Tools without at least a few insights that will be worth many times the price of the book.

Note: For a little more discussion of the “gold coins” tool, see my blog post.

Opportunities and Announcements: Week of August 11, 2014

The most important thing we do for each other is provide honest, thoughtful responses for our friends and fellow writers. I’ve written an essay that offers six strategies for providing this feedback. I hope you’ll take a moment to read it and use these strategies next time you respond to someone’s work.

Here are the opportunities and announcements for this week. Continue reading

A Poem for Galway Kinnell

Galway Kinnell. Photo by Richard Brown.

Galway Kinnell. Photo by Richard Brown.

Galway Kinnell was honored today fat the Statehouse in Montpelier, Vermont for his accomplishments as a poet. Vermont Poet Gary Margolis wrote this as a tribute to Kinnell.

Coming to the Statehouse to Honor Galway Kinnell
by Gary Margolis

Under Washington, his portrait,
in this chamber, the well
of the House, we’ve come
to honor one of ours.

Word-neighbor. Poem-maker.
Among other things, champion
of using is three times rightly
and consecutively in a verse’s

line. Here, where our state’s once
chief executive welcomes us and asks
what our state would be, if
we, wall-to-wall, poets were voted in

to caste our votes. We’re sitting
at their desks with the aye and nay
switch close at hand. And listening
to his words read back to him.

By our country’s best representatives.
I mean his writing, singing heirs.
Who, as Frost said, say his poems
into our listening air. Our poet, sitting

among us, holding his hand to his ear,
speaker-like. Although you can be sure
he can read their lips, for a scent
of bear, love-moaning from a bedroom.

a field’s lipstick of blueberries.
As well as the pause between words.
Where he lives, too. Here in our fortunate
Vermont. We can fill a well with the songs

of Galway Kinnell. Who we can’t do without.
Who’s not here to sit for his portrait.
Who still speaks in and out.
Who rises to our long standing applause.

Learn more about Gary Margolis.

Opportunities and Announcements: Week of August 4, 2014

We have a few milestones to mention. First, Mud Season Review closed the submission period for the first issue, which will launch on Saturday, September 20th at Hotel Vermont. More than 600 submissions (yes, 600) came through, so we’re bound to launch a terrific debut on 9/20. Second, we’ve closed submissions for the third Hotel Vermont book. Third, we’ve closed submissions for the reading at the Burlington Book Festival. We have, however, extended one deadline, and that’s part of this week’s opportunities and announcements for Vermont writers.  Continue reading

Flynn Center Seeks Bloggers!

flynncenterThe Flynn Center is once again offering bloggers the chance to write about shows for the Flynn Center Blog in exchange for a pair of tickets to select performances for the 2014/2015 season. It’s a wonderful opportunity to exercise your creative writing skills and see some cultural icons and, yes, superstars.

Here’s how it works: You pick one show and an alternate from the list below and send a note to our Flynn Center liaison, Pat Goudey O’Brien, using the form below. One blogger (and one guest) per show. If you’re assigned a show, you’ll be expected to write a blog post about it and send it to Pat no more than two weeks before the show. Do this, and tickets will be waiting for you at will call. Then, after the show, you’ll write a post-show blog entry within a day or two and send it to Pat. Pat will help you edit these if necessary. Continue reading

Opportunities and Announcements: Week of July 28, 2014

Writing opportunities abound this week. That’s the good news. The bad news: some of these opportunities expire on August 1st. I hope you’ve got work ready to submit! But if not, that’s fine—one of the worst things a writer can do is submit work that’s not ready for prime time. Take your time—but work steadily!

Here are the opportunities and announcements for this week.  Continue reading