Opportunities & Announcements: August 7, 2018

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Podcast: Mud Season Review’s Brett Sigurdson on Creative Nonfiction and Truth

brett-sigurdsonIn the latest BWW podcast, Mud Season Reviews editor of creative nonfiction Brett Sigurdson discusses the nature of truth in nonfiction. He’s a journalist, teacher, father, fan of Jack Kerouac (see Kerouac’s face on Brett’s living room wall?), and, of course, writer.

Download the podcast below, or subscribe for free on iTunes (just open iTunes and search for “Burlington Writers Workshop”).

If you’re interested in sending your creative nonfiction for publication in Mud Season Review, send it via Submittable.

How Many Literary Journals Does The World Need?

litjournalsAt least one more. Since BWW members indicated in the BWW 2014 Survey that we’d like to create one, it’s probably wise to think about the benefits of and reasons for doing so. Here are the top four reasons (there are more, of course, but I’ll keep this short).

Experience. What’s it like to put a literary journal together? What can we learn from the submissions we receive, even if we don’t print them? How can we make use of and improve our editing and graphic design skills? This is a learning opportunity for any writer in Vermont. Isn’t that exciting?

There’s lots of great literature out there looking for a home. I’ve heard of some literary journals receiving hundreds of submissions every month. Clearly not every story/essay/poem can find an audience in the existing stock of journals. This new project will expose more readers to new/different writers.

It’s fun. Maybe this is just a bit of geeking out on my part, but I think this kind of thing is enjoyable.

We’re special. Many print literary journals are attached to universities or small presses. We’re not. Anyone can join this workshop. Thus, anyone can be involved in some aspect of its creation and promotion.

Of course, there is the question of money, so here’s the deal: We need 25 workshop members to set up monthly dues by clicking here. Monthly optional dues are $12/month.

Anyone can make monthly donations or one-time contributions of any amount by clicking here.

Making automatic monthly contributions is better, and here’s why: smaller donations over time will be easier to manage. Also, fundraising research shows that giving monthly ensures continued support. If we want 2015 to be similar to 2014, giving monthly is the way to go.

Of course, giving once helps a lot, too!

Once BWW member funding reaches the 25 contributor mark, I’ll begin looking for corporate support/grant funding for this. Anyone who makes automatic monthly contributions of $12/month or more gets a copy of the journal we print and The Best of the Burlington Writers Workshop 2014, which is coming out in April.

Once we’ve got the funding for this in place, we’ll start to talk about the second priority on our list: finding a permanent location for the BWW Writing Center. But that’s for another day.

Questions? Contact me.

BWW Book Recommendations

It’s a workshop tradition:  we take turns introducing ourselves and answer one question. Last night’s question was: “What book would you recommend?” Here’s what the members in attendance last night recommended.

Songs for the Butcher’s Daughter by Peter Manseau
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Orlando by Virginia Woolf
Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov
Farther Away by Jonathan Franzen
Who Stepped on a Duck? By Jim Dawson
Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco
I Was Thinking of Beauty by Sydnea Lea
A Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
Little Bee by Chris Cleave
A Million Years With You by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard
The Client by John Grisham
The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West
The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene
Tirza by Arnon Grunberg
Alice Munro stories
Salinger by David Salerno
The Nick Adams Stories by Ernest Hemingway

It’s a diverse list: short stories, thriller fiction, highbrow literary works, poetry, biographies, and one book about the history of farting (we were surprised to hear this recommendation, too). It speaks to the diversity of opinions in the average BWW workshop.

What books would you recommend?

For July, It’s 99 Cents!

bww2013coversmallThe whole point of publishing The Best of the Burlington Writers Workshop 2013 is to launch BWW stories, essays, and poems into the world.

To that end, I’ve made it even more accessible by lowering the price of the Amazon ebook to $0.99!

I’ll boost the price again at the end of July, so take advantage of this deal now. In addition to acquiring these powerful pieces of locally-made literature, you’ll also help us produce next year’s edition. All proceeds are put back into The Best of the Burlington Writers Workshop 2014.

Don’t have a Kindle? Fear not! You can download the Kindle app to your desktop computer, iPhone, or Android.

Check it out here. And thanks!

Your Work, On Stage

PrintI’m so excited to tell you about this new opportunity for Burlington Writers Workshop members.

Vermont Stage Company is partnering with the BWW to write stories to serve as the content for this year’s WINTER TALES. Created in 2005, WINTER TALES has become a Vermont Stage holiday tradition. It features fresh stories and songs each year aimed to lighten up the dark days of winter. For this December’s performance, Vermont Stage Company needs five uplifting, possibly funny, heartfelt stories that’ll be perfect for capturing the spirit of the season.

Your work will be featured on stage with some fine Vermont musicians. In the past, WINTER TALES has been joined by the likes of Patti Casey, Pete Sutherland, Greg Brown, Carson Robison, and Moira Smiley.

What we need from you: A short story or personal essay (in the style of a monologue, 2,500 words) that’s about winter or the holidays (religious or otherwise). The piece must be uplifting to the spirit.

I need your submissions by August 1st. Send them to: submissions@burlingtonwritersworkshop.com.

Winter Tales Book in chairSome questions, answered:

August 1st is coming up soon. Do I have time to write this?

Yes! The draft doesn’t have to be perfect. I need something by August 1st. Then I’ll talk with Cristina Alicea, the brilliant and talented Producing Artistic Director of VSC, about the best drafts. From that point, we’ll work with the selected authors on revisions to make the piece the best it can possibly be.

Will I have to read this on stage?

No. A professional actor will work with the director to make this piece come alive on stage. You’ll sit back in the audience and absorb the glory.

Who will own my piece after it’s produced by Vermont Stage Company?

You! It remains yours. If it is published in VSC literature, though, the proceeds from any sale of said literature will go to VSC.

What if I want to write about something sad?

Try it out. Send it to me and we’ll have a conversation about it. Aim for some levity, though, and your piece will be a better fit for this.

Can I read a sample of something from a previous year?

Yes! Click here to read a story by Nicole Dash. WINTER TALES has also featured work by Philip Baruth, Kathryn Blume, Jacqueline Goldfinger, and David Stallings.

Why is the BWW doing this?

This is a wonderful opportunity to have your work featured in a popular public performance. WINTER TALES runs four nights and is viewed by 1000-1200 people every year. VSC is wicked awesome. What more reason do we need?

I’m not a member of the Burlington Writers Workshop. Can I participate?
Yes! It’s easy and free to sign up and participate in the Burlington Writers Workshop. So sign up at meetup.com to become an “official” member. Then we’ll work together!

What if you didn’t answer my question with all this information?
Please do contact me.

Martin Bock Made Me Cry

Martin Bock reading his poem, "braid"

Martin Bock reading his poem, “braid”

Martin Bock made me cry. Here’s how it happened:

The Burlington Writers Workshop took our Best of anthology on tour last week with a stop at the Joslin Memorial Library in Waitsfield. This was thanks to workshop member Al Uris, who lives and practices law across the street from the library.

Four workshop members who are featured in the book shared some of their work. All of the readings were stellar. Al started us off with his story, “Sand in the Shoes.” Shelagh Shapiro followed with an excerpt of her novel. Angela Palm finished the readings with an essay, “Projection,” which is not in the book but did receive BWW feedback last year.

But before Angela came Martin Bock, who read excerpts of “It’s Not So Easy,” an essay about his grandson, Ringo, and the difficult, existential questions grandsons sometimes ask (“How can I not die?”). But the essay didn’t make me cry. The poems Martin read for and about his wife, Melly, moved me. “braid” (no capital letter on the ‘b’) is a poem featured in the book, and you can hear Martin’s reading of it at 28:00 into the audio file. I can’t describe it to you. You’ll have to listen, and I dare you to keep your eyes dry.

Then, Martin threw in his adaptation of the James Henry Leigh Hunt poem, “Jenny Kissed Me,” substituting Melly’s name for Jenny. (37:40 in the audio file.) His voice—and the energy of the room—gave this poem so much life. Of course, such a bold and public declaration of love for one’s wife is rare and worthy of admiration and, for me at least, envy. Who doesn’t want to feel love that deeply? And who doesn’t want to express it in such an artful way?

I point out Martin’s piece only because it forced such an emotional response in me, but I must stress that I was awestruck by all the pieces I heard. Perhaps that’s because it was the first time I’d heard them. I’d read Al’s “Sand in the Shoes” many times, but I’d never heard Al’s voice read it aloud—and Al’s voice seemed perfectly suited for this kind of story. Angela Palm’s “Projection” was something we’d read at home before discussing it, but when I heard her read it, the humor inside this serious piece was more striking and apparent.

We’ve got another reading at the Essex Free Library on July 16th at 6:30, so please do join us for that one. And bring a tissue box, just in case.