Poetry as Practice, Poetry as Witness with Holly Hughes
In the “Four Quartets,” T.S. Eliot wrote, “We shall not cease from exploration/and the end of all our exploring/will be to arrive where we started/ and know the place for the first time.” The close attention that poetry asks is a form of practice that moves us more deeply both into our own lives and into the world. Together, we’ll look at poems that reveal this close attentiveness, then write our own poems, applying the principles of the Buddhist mindfulness practice to our writing practice. We’ll also look at poems that serve as witness, discuss specific strategies we can use to avoid the pitfalls of political poems, and write poems on whichever issue we care deeply about. The focus will be on generating and sharing work in a supportive environment. Along the way, we’ll look at issues of craft, including the effective use of specific detail, metaphor and word choices that create an authentic voice.Holly J. Hughes is co-author of The Pen and The Bell: Mindful Writing in a Busy World (Skinner House Press, 2012), editor of the award-winning anthology, Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose about Alzheimer’s Disease (Kent State University Press, 2009) and author of the prize-winning chapbook Boxing the Compass (Floating Bridge Press, 2007). A recipient of an Artist Trust Fellowship, her poems and essays have appeared in a variety of anthologies and literary magazines and have been nominated for a Pushcart prize. In addition to teaching writing at Edmonds Community College, where she co-directs the Sustainability Initiative, she also teaches writing workshops at Edmonds Write on the Sound Conference, the North Cascades Institute and Field’s End. She has spent over thirty summers working on the water in Alaska in a variety of roles, including commercial fishing for salmon, skippering a 65-foot schooner, and most recently, working as a naturalist on ships.
The Journey Home with Annick Smith
This memoir-writing workshop will help students to use their journeys in the physical world as a way to discover the essential stories at memory’s core. Students will be asked to break trail into the connections and recognitions that travel triggers in all of us. Writing exercises centered on travel will use free association, accounts of meetings with strangers, and depictions of sights, sounds, and smells along the trail as avenues that can take writers and readers home to their most vivid memories and a consequent understanding of self. This is a technique vividly expressed by Richard Hugo in The Triggering Town, and one that the teacher has used in her work in progress—Crossing the Plains with Bruno.Annick Smith is a writer and filmmaker who has lived in Montana’s Blackfoot River Valley for forty years. She was born in Paris, grew up in Chicago, and has travelled across the West from Arizona to Alaska, and in Europe and South America. Her books include a memoir–Homestead, a collection of essays—In This We Are Native; and an exploration of tall grass prairies, Big Bluestem, A Journey into the Tallgrass. She was co-editor with William Kittredge of the Montana anthology, The Last Best Place and co-editor with Susan O’Connor of The Wide Open— prose, poetry, and photographs about the northern plains. Her film credits include being a co-producer of A River Runs Through It, executive producer of Heartland, and director/producer of Kicking the Loose Gravel Home, a portrait of Richard Hugo.
Nonfiction Essay: Finding Your Own True Path with Judy Blunt
Memoir and personal essay writing easily overlap, but they are very distinct forms. Memoir explores a world unique to the writer, an intimate form that takes place in a private room inside a house with no one else there. It is always set in the past and draws on the imaginative faculty of memory. An essay, in contrast, has the quality of a reflective conversation that might develop on a porch with passers-by. Essay reflects on an aspect of the world we share and has the feeling of being in the present even if it draws on some past experience. Working in these two forms helps writers learn to tap their interior lives for writing riches. We will explore the fine line that separates the two forms, reading examples and generating short pieces in both. Both writers of personal essay and writers of memoir are welcomed.Judy Blunt spent more than thirty years on wheat and cattle ranches in north central Montana, before leaving in 1986 to attend the University of Montana. Her poems and essays have appeared in numerous anthologies and journals, with recent short pieces appearing in Oprah magazine, New York Times, Big Sky Journal and others. Her bestselling memoir, Breaking Clean, won the 1997 PEN/Jerard Fund Award for a work in progress, as well as a 2001 Whiting Writers’ Award, the 2003 Mountains and Plains Book Award and the 2003 Willa Award for memoir/nonfiction. The memoir was also listed as a New York Times Notable Book. In 2004 Blunt received a National Endowment for the Arts award for nonfiction works in progress. In 2006 she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to write essays about Montana ranch life. She is an Associate Professor of nonfiction writing and Director of Creative Writing at the University of Montana, Missoula.
Storytelling with William Kittredge
Nobody can teach you to write. Teachers can only try to help you teach yourself how to write. These are my thoughts on what we might do at Fishtrap. In Aspects of the Novel E. M. Forster wrote “The medium we work in is the reader’s imagination.” We’ll talk about the ways our writing can lead readers to re-imagine their own lives. We’ll talk about narratives as gifts, from writer to reader, and about language, but the emphasis will be on organizing narratives in ways that lead readers toward vivid and compelling recognitions, and useful moments of insight.William Kittredge grew up on the MC Ranch in southeastern Oregon, farmed until he was 35, gave that up, studied in the Writer’s Workshop at the University of Iowa, and was lucky enough to get a job at the University of Montana. He taught there for 29 years, retiring as Regents Professor of English and Creative Writing in the spring of 1997. He’s also taught at Arizona State University, UC Davis, UC Irvine and Breadloaf (four times). Kittredge has held a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford (1973-74), received two Writing Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (1974, 1982), and two Pacific Northwest Bookseller’s Awards for Excellence (1984, 1987). He is the author of numerous books, including his memoir Hole In the Sky and the collections Owning It All andThe Next Rodeo: New and Selected Essays.
Kicking Down Fences: The Borderlands of Literary and Genre Fiction with Ben Percy
So many writers, though they are able to construct exquisite sentences and believable characters and rich settings, struggle with active, propulsive storytelling. In this workshop, much of the discussion will revolve around suspense and momentum. Using examples from literature and film—from Flannery O’Connor to Fight Club—we will cover a range of topics, such as compellingly structuring stories (and chapters), balancing internal urgency with external struggle, the uses of white space, the manipulation of physical and emotional beats, the tricks and pitfalls of backstory, lower order versus higher order goals, and the borderlands of genre and literary fiction. There will be daily writing prompts to work on and share during our meetings.Benjamin Percy is the author of two novels, Red Moon (Grand Central/ Hachette, 2013) and The Wilding, as well as two books of short stories, Refresh, Refresh and The Language of Elk. His fiction and nonfiction have been published in Esquire (where he is a contributing editor), GQ, Time, Men’s Journal, Outside, the Wall Street Journal, Tin House and the Paris Review. His honors include an NEA fellowship, the Whiting Writer’s Award, the Plimpton Prize, the Pushcart Prize and inclusion in Best American Short Stories and Best American Comics. He is currently adapting The Wilding in to a screenplay for filmmaker Guillermo Arriaga and working on a novel, The Dead Lands, forthcoming in 2014. He is the writer-in-residence at St. Olaf College and teaches at the low-residency MFA program at Pacific University.
Explorations in Storytelling with Minton Sparks
Break into your story in a new and deeper way through this experiential workshop with international storyteller and performance poet, Minton Sparks. When we connect to the land and people of our lives, we discover the ways our stories own us and unearth empowering new ways we can own them. We will examine the classic mythological format of the hero’s journey and explore applying that format to our own stories. We will write deep down into the stories that are closest to home, experience ourselves as both writers and performers, in an experiential workshop format that includes improvisation, the generation of new work, spoken word performance, and plenty of fun. Minton Sparks is a wildly original poet, performance artist, novelist, teacher, and essayist born in a Tennessee college town and raised among her Southern family in and around Arkansas. She earned degrees from the University of the South and Vanderbilt University. Her appearances range from the prestigious Jonesborough National Storytelling Festival all the way to the American Songbook Series at Lincoln Center in New York City. Sparks fuses music, poetry and her gift for storytelling to paint word pictures of the rural South that put you square in the middle of the people and the places she knows like the back of her hand.
Following the Dog with Tarn Wilson
You have probably taken a dog for a walk, but have you ever let a dog walk you? With the dog in the lead, you sniff, run, pause, and lurch. You zigzag, spring, dart. You follow a peculiar sound, you follow your nose. In writing, when we follow the dog, we pay attention to the odd thought at the edge of our consciousness and pursue it. We break new creative trails. In this workshop, we will focus on writing as play. We will learn to write more quickly, access our creativity more reliably, and express ourselves in innovative ways. We will experiment with memoir, fiction, and hybrid forms. We will experience the joy of writing together—and of making new friends by sharing our histories, stories, passions, and imaginations.Tarn Wilson earned her MA in education from Stanford and her MFA in creative writing from the Rainier Writing Workshop. She has taught journaling and memoir courses at retreats all over the United States and is currently a high school creative writing teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area. Recently, her essays have appeared in the journals Airplane Reading, Brevity, Harvard Divinity Bulletin, Gulf Stream, Inertia, Inlands, Life Writing, A River and Sound Review, Ruminate, and The Sun.
Spoken Word with Myrlin Hepworth
Step out of your comfort zone. Strike the pen on the page like a match. Show love to get love. Be brave. Collaborate. These are the guidelines for the Spoken Word and Poetry Slam workshop. These guidelines create a foundation for this year’s workshop where students will be triggered to write and perform in individual and collaborative performance pieces based in the elements of hip hop theatre. By cultivating honest, creative, and clear narratives students will employ elements of the blues, movement, and rhythm in an effort create dynamic portraits of personal journeys that break free from traditional conventions in an effort to build organic, vivid, and intriguing compositions.Myrlin Hepworth has written and performed his poetry across the United States. In 2009, the Arizona Commission on the Arts selected him for its roster of Teaching Artists. In addition to visiting nearly thirty high schools each year, Hepworth makes a living with his art by performing at universities, youth centers, group homes, museums and theaters. He competed on three National Poetry Slam teams and co-founded and coached the Phoenix youth team to consecutive appearances at the Brave New Voices International Poetry Slam.
Giving Voice to Earth: The Outpost with Scott Russell Sanders
During our five-day retreat, inspired by writing invitations and by direct encounters with the land, we will strive to evoke, in vivid and precise language, the place where we’ve gathered—its contours, creatures, weathers, moods, and patterns. In our workshop meetings, we will discuss the writing generated at Outpost with attention to its strengths, and its promise for further development. We will also discuss published writing that conveys a vivid sense of place, and that helps us imagine how to inhabit the land with deep awareness, ecological insight, and ethical responsibility. Please bring a few brief examples of powerful writing about place that you’ve discovered in your reading. And come ready to write, with your doors of perception wide open.Scott Russell Sanders is the author of twenty books of fiction and nonfiction, including A Private History of Awe and A Conservationist Manifesto. The best of his essays from the past thirty years, plus nine new essays, are collected in Earth Works, published in 2012 by Indiana University Press. Among his honors are the Lannan Literary Award, the John Burroughs Essay Award, the Mark Twain Award, the Cecil Woods Award for Nonfiction, the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2012 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English at Indiana University, where he taught from 1971 to 2009. He and his wife, Ruth, a biochemist, have reared two children in their hometown of Bloomington, in the hardwood hill country of Indiana’s White River Valley.
Fishtrap’s Outpost workshop promotes writing in and about the natural environment of Wallowa County and northeastern Oregon. It was created to inspire writers by placing them in nature, surrounded by the sound of crickets, the sight of azure lupine, and the feel of a warm wind rolling across the prairie. Outpost’s intimate gathering of writers and remote location work together to paint a complex, beautiful landscape on the page: true writing of place. The 2013 Outpost will take place on The Nature Conservancy’s Zumwalt Prairie Preserve, a rolling grassland that stretches from the Wallowa Mountains to Hells Canyon and the Snake River. In the midst of the prairie, The Nature Conservancy has a small “Summer Camp” facility, consisting of three small ranch houses with kitchens and meeting spaces downstairs and sparse unkrooms upstairs. There is room for about 8 people to sleep inside, although most participants choose to sleep out in tents under the remarkable stars. The dates for Outpost 2013 are Sunday July 7 through Friday July 12. We encourage participants to also sign up for the weekend at Summer Fishtrap, which runs July 12-14 and includes the keynote by Cheryl Strayed, panel discussions and the always-entertaining “Fishtrap Live” show on Saturday night. Find more information on the Outpost page.
Jane Vandenburgh is herself a prizewinning novelist and memoirist: her recent book on structuring the booklength narrative, The Architecture of the Novel: A Writer’s Handbook, is quickly becoming the standard of the industry. Why? Because she’s broken what might seem the too-ambitious journey into a series of rewarding steps.
Kim Stafford—poet, essayist, photographer— is the founding director of the Northwest Writing Institute, a zone for exploratory writing at Lewis & Clark College.
Tues, Wed, Thur – 1:30-3:30 pm daily
Songwriting with Kate Power and Steve Einhorn
What is it about a song that makes you want to hear it again and again? Have you ever observed or said something that made you think, “THAT would make a great song!” Write and co-write songs with Northwest artists,Kate Power& Steve Einhorn as your musical guides. Longtime collaborators, Kate & Steve offer class participants an inside view of writing from a musical perspective. They will provide some of the universal tools and techniques it takes to write, arrange and perform songs in any genre. Kate & Steve are available to accompany your song on guitar, banjo and ukulele. Kate’s song, “Travis John”—written while teaching songwriting at Summer Fishtrap—was granted the Grand Prize at the Kerrville Folk Festival (2006) by an iconic panel of judges for the Public Domain Foundation and Noel “Paul” Stookey of Peter, Paul & Mary. Kate & Steve have been guests of Garrison Keillor on A Prairie Home Companion and shared the stage with folk luminaries, Pete Seeger and Tom Paxton, to name a few. No musical experience is needed to participate. Listen to Kate & Steve songs at www.qualityfolk.com.
WILD WRITING: KEYNOTE ADDRESS
Cheryl Strayed’s keynote address will focus on all the ways we must break new trail as writers by taking emotional risks, experimenting with form, trusting the work to lead us to the unexpected, daring to push beyond the comfort zone, and writing deeply and complexly. She will speak personally and use examples from her own work, with relevance to poets and writers of all stripes.
Cheryl Strayed is the author of #1 New York Times bestseller Wild, the New York Times bestseller Tiny Beautiful Things, and the novel Torch. Wild was chosen by Oprah Winfrey as her first selection for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0. Strayed’s debut novel, TORCH was a finalist for the Great Lakes Book Award and was selected by The Oregonian as one of the top ten books of the year by writers from the Pacific Northwest. Strayed has written the “Dear Sugar” column on TheRumpus.net since March 2010. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post Magazine, Vogue, Allure, Self, The Missouri Review, Brain, Child, Creative Nonfiction, The Sun and elsewhere. The winner of a Pushcart Prize as well as fellowships to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, her essays and stories have been published in The Best American Essays, The Best New American Voices, and other anthologies. She holds an MFA in fiction writing from Syracuse University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota. Strayed lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, the filmmaker Brian Lindstrom, and their two children.
When is it time to break away from the lifestyle patterns and livelihoods that you inherited? When is it time to return to them? Join this discussion of departures from the status quo, from a rural Montana ranch, to a southern Oregon rangeland empire, and circling home to a re-engagement with working people and working land in Wallowa County. We’ll hear from authors Judy Blunt and William Kittredge, joined by Nils Christoffersen, executive director of Wallowa Resources.Don Snow, senior lecturer of Environmental Humanities at Whitman College and past director of the Northern Lights Institute will moderate this discussion. Snow was born in the coal mining camp of Hiawatha, Utah, and has worked as a farm laborer, quarryman, tobacconist, writer and editor. His unique background of environmental writing and interest in land stewardship should make this a lively conversation.
Different stories place different demands on the writer. Some push us into new realms, others take us deeper into the particularities of craft. Join two seasoned writers of fiction and nonfiction in a discussion about genre, craft, and the human place in the world, both real and imagined. Jennifer Sahn is editor of Orion. Articles she has edited have won the John Burroughs Essay Award, the Pushcart Prize, and have been reprinted in Best American Science and Nature Writing, Best Creative Nonfiction, Best Spiritual Writing, and Best Nonrequired Reading. She has been a member of the Orion editorial staff for twenty years, and has been on the faculty of the Wildbranch Writing Workshop at Sterling College for the past seven years.
Tales of Breaking Trail
Saturday 7:00 pm
From skiers triggering avalanches in remote basins, to sheepherders wintering in the Imnaha Canyonlands, to songwriters breaking into the mainstream, we’ll head of trails broken, and be tantalized by trails yet to be blazed. We’ll follow a rafter down a remote canyon, and climb to the top of snowy peaks. With stories and songs of past and present, together we’ll launch Fishtrap into another quarter century of helping writers and thinkers do the best work that they can do.
Come prepared not only for an entertaining show, but also for a lively auction featuring the unique work of local artists, autographed books, and other treats to enhance your writing life. Fishtrap Live is included in the full-week and weekend programs, but individual tickets are also available under the registration tab.