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Archive for August, 2012

ImageI love this picture of Irene McKinney enjoying an evening with other writers at the Aurora Project Fall Writers Retreat a few years ago. Irene loved the idea of the Aurora Project—a residency program for artists, where they have time and space to create, free from distractions. She generously donated her own time toward making the Aurora vision a reality, even while she was battling the cancer that took her from us in February of this year.

“I remember going to MacDowell Colony after four hard years of graduate school and teaching in a prison in Salt Lake City, and weeping in gratitude when they brought my lunchbox to my studio door,” she told me in an e-mail message. “I sat there in that quiet place looking out at the pines and feeling: someone thinks what I do is valuable enough to take care of me for a while.”

The Aurora Project Fall Writers Retreat takes place this year November 1-4. If you have attended a past retreat, you know what a wonderful weekend this will be: time to work on your own creative endeavor, fellowship with other writers in the evenings, beautiful surroundings, and wonderful food. Someone taking care of you for a while.

In past years we have invited a well-known writer to join us and give a public reading. Irene was our guest three years ago. Maggie Anderson and Anita Skeen have also been featured. This year we’re devoting that public evening to the poems of Irene McKinney. Everyone who attends the retreat will be invited to share, in a reading open to the general public, one of their favorite Irene McKinney poems.

For more information and a registration form, e-mail info@auroraproject.org.

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It’s the middle of a hot, hot summer in West Virginia, which makes me long for autumn. And I cannot even imagine autumn without a trip to my other favorite place, New Mexico. Again this year, if the fates allow, I will be teaching a weeklong class at Ghost Ranch. The title of the class is “KISS: Keep It Short & Shapely,” and it’s a week of writing short essays, this year from October 7 to 13. We’ll hear some wonderful essays, mine our own beliefs and experiences for inspiration, write amazing essays, and then make them even better by editing them.

Year after year, the quality of writing in this class thrills me. Part of that, I think, has to do with the atmosphere at Ghost Ranch. There’s space and time and a special camaraderie here that encourages one to open up, take risks, and work at a higher level. It’s a gift we give one another and one that can remain long after the class has ended.

So…meet me at Ghost Ranch. Sign up for the class at http://www.ghostranch.org. Quick instructions: Go to the menu for “Courses and Retreats,” choose “Online Catalog,” and then search by my name or the week, October 7-13. (Sorry about the complicated  procedure, but their website won’t allow me to link directly to the page.)

Hope to see you in October!

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