Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Entrance to the Maverick Writing Studios and new snow.

I’ve been fighting a damn cold since, if you can believe it, the day I left San Francisco.  Its timing was impeccable.  I managed to stave it off with homeopathic syrup and tea infused with garlic, lemon, and ginger, but it’s trying hard to take me under.  I slammed Tylenol PM last night and woke up just in time for lunch today at noon.  I considered my studio afterwards, but decided to head back to bed with a dose of DayQuil and The Best American Short Stories 2013.  I slept all day.

Last night there was a reading at the Red Mill.  Poets, creative nonfiction, and fiction writers who have been here for two weeks read from their work and it was fantastic.  So talented, their work so brave.  There were poems about love and post-partum depression, prose about a mother’s suicide, a lesbian murder mystery, and an ode to VSC.   A few readers thanked the crowd for helping them finish something they hadn’t been able to back home.  I am still contemplating if I will read next week.  Of course, I hear my own advice to our students, “Read!  It’s muscle memory.  Practice!”  I will keep you posted.  

The common area at Kowalsky House.  My painter friend, Esmerelda, and a night cap.

I sat with a wonderful group of women last night at dinner.  My original group from the airport has grown to include another poet and sculptor, one from North Carolina, the other from Pennsylvania.   Have I mentioned the food here is delicious?  I’ve already had to change my eating habits from the first few days because I was definitely coming back home with an extra ten pounds.  The fresh baked bread and hunks of cheese get me every time.  Last night they served a seafood stew with mussels, shrimp, and calamari over rice (my wife would have loved it!), made even better when the new sculptor busted out a bottle of red wine and shared it with the table.  We spoke of home ownership and the trauma of selling and buying, Dutch tulips, homeopathic remedies, Brenda Hillman and Bob Hass, and of course, always, our families and creative work. 

Everyone here has left something behind.  Jobs, school, husbands, wives, pets, children.   Many are current MFA students or recent MFA graduates.  Many are university teachers still grading papers before being able to fully commit to their Vermont experience.  The artists with families really inspire me.  They talk about balancing their artistic lives with their parental duties, about their children and spouses encouraging them to pursue their dreams, about how doing so actually makes them better parents.  I think of my friend Sara and all the other artists with children, young and old, and have so much respect for their dedication.  Couldn’t it all just slip away in the bustle of other commitments? 

Not really. 

These artists are 100% dedicated to their work and it is a magical thing to be in conversation with them, to discuss their artistic goals, to share mine, to believe that I belong here among them.  Here is another gift of being at a residency.  To understand the kind of commitment we all have to our art and the professional level to which it is (or will be) achieved blows me away.  It is this community building I imagine the people who create and support these types of environments want to encourage.  It lifts us up, makes us believe it is all possible, demands that we keep going.  

The Mason House Library

The Mason House Library where the writer's craft talk will be held on Friday.

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