Writer in the Woods: Drawing on a Sense of Place

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$30 members; $38 non-members
Registration required.
Call 413-584-3009 or register online at massaudubon.org

Bring a lunch and a notebook

Facilitator: Kathryn Petruccelli (poetroar.com)

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…the three of us whirling and singing, the three of us screaming and falling, as if we were dying, as if we could never stop–in 1945– in Pittsburgh, beautiful filthy Pittsburgh, home of the evil Mellons, 5,000 miles away from the other dancing–in Poland and Germany– oh God of mercy, oh wild God.” –Gerald Stern, from “The Dancing” What is the water you swim in?

Despite the years of exile, Isla Negra was always home for Pablo Neruda inspiring a depth of work perhaps unmatched; Georgia O’Keefe tried out New York City, but ultimately had to return to her first love and creative muse, the desert; Terry Tempest Williams is integrally tied to the land of her ancestors, its leaching of toxic chemicals that stole so many family members too early notwithstanding: We have things to say about where we are.

In this dynamic, generative writing workshop series, we will examine how where we are, where we’ve been, and where we wish we could be all inform what gets on the page. We will investigate how we gain a sense of belonging and how that ties to our physical surroundings. We will try to notice what’s become second nature to us and turn it into words. Are you a mountain person? Beach? Forest? Desert? Farm? Urbanite all the way? How many ways can you describe the shades of green around you? Do you come alive in the noise of the city at noon? What about the influence of absence? – Is there a place you miss that feels like home? Or a place your family came from that has colored your life, though you have never been there? How does the personality of a space affect you? How does it speak through you? We will use prompts, freewrites and examples from contemporary stories and poems toward finding a voice for what we discover. There will be ample time for playing with language, creating writing and sharing work in a supportive atmosphere. Participants are welcomed to write in whatever genre they feel most comfortable, or whatever suits their current mood or project.

…This loneliness gripped loose dirt. By bus or car, By the sway of train over a long bridge, We wanted to get out. The years froze As we sat on the bank. Our eyes followed the water, White-tipped but dark underneath, racing out of town.” –Gary Soto from “Saturday at the Canal”

The low sandy beach and the thin scrub pine, The wide reach of bay and the long sky line,— O, I am sick for home!…” — George Santayana from “Cape Cod”

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