Looking Back: 2012

Thanks to all who made Summer Fishtrap 2012 a wonderful experience!

Summer Fishtrap 2012

What sets Summer Fishtrap apart from other writing conferences is our remote mountain lake setting, a focus on a provocative theme related to living and writing in the west, and on the generation of new writing. Participants come away with new skills, new beginnings, and a renewed sense of their own creative potential. Many people report having the best group writing experience of their lives at Summer Fishtrap.

Summer Fishtrap is a week-long gathering of writers held at Wallowa Lake each July. Aspiring and established writers spend time together in a week of writing workshops, panel discussions, evening readings and even find time to relax, write, hike, and fish. Take a look at Wallowa Lake Camp and Retreat Center, longtime host to our flagship summer event.

What people say about Summer Fishtrap:

“What an experience to be surrounded by people who had come to think and reflect and write; it made for a high-powered workshop as well as some great dinner table conversations.”

“I am happy to say I came away with some great
new, concrete writing skills . . . I find myself choosing
words in a wholly new inspired way.”



The 25th Anniversary Summer Fishtrap Gathering of Writers wrapped up on Checking inSunday, with tearful hugs and fond farewells. What a fantastic week of writing workshops, evening readings, and camaraderie.

Here at the Fishtrap House, the staff and interns are recovering from the intense week, wrapping up the loose ends, and enjoying many emails and Facebook posts from happy participants. We especially love seeing your photos – keep posting them on our Facebook page (and let me know if you have a great high-resolution photo that you are willing to share with us. We can always use more). It is an honor to be part of creating such an inspiring and energizing week for participants, workshop instructors, speakers and panelists alike.

Feedback on our morning writing workshops was particularly enthusiastic this year, with the vast majority of participants ranking the workshops as not only meeting but exceeding expectations. Thank you to our outstanding workshop faculty: Hal Con, Jamie Ford, Teresa Jordan, Kirsten Rian, Marjorie Sandor, Kim Stafford, Luci Tapahonso, Luis Alberto Urrea, Jane Vandenburgh, Ellen Waterston, and last but certainly not least, the energetic Myrlin Hepworth and his assistant, Dorian Zimmerman.

On Friday night, David James Duncan also exceeded expectations (and our expectations were plenty high), offering a masterful mix of humor, heartbreak, insight and love in his keynoteFishtrapLive1 3speech, which he rewrote after hearing the youth read at open mic the night before. Jack Shoemaker of Counterpoint Press introduced our three fellowship winners who read from their work: Kim Gratz, Irene Skyriver, and John Walker. Saturday night we enjoyed lively bidding in the silent auction, a fabulous wild salmon dinner and a show, Fishtrap Live, which offered a melange of story and song celebrating 25 years of writing and the West which featured (in order): Rich Wandschneider, Luis Alberto Urrea, Sara Miller, Mike Hale, Pam Royes, Teresa Jordan, Hal Con, and Kim Stafford.  We also were happy to offer engaging afternoon classes with Jack Shoemaker on publishing, Whitney Ferre on the alchemy of art, and Henry Hughes on the literature of fishing

Despite the last minute travel crisis that prevented our panel moderator, Don Snow, from joining us, the two panel discussions still happened and were lively and informative. David James Duncan, Joe McCormack, and Lizzie Grossman discussed Wild Fish and Tame Rivers, moderated by Jim Hepworth. On Sunday Kim Stafford moderated a panel on the future of writing and the West, with High Country News assistant editor, Sarah Gilman and novelist, Luis Alberto Urrea. One memorable quote from that panel came from Kim: “A writer feels the tug of tropism toward the difficult–turning toward deep things the way a leaf turns toward light.”

Patrick 2
Click here for audio

Thanks to many foundations and individual donors, we were able to offer 26 scholarships this summer, many of which went to bring young writers to Summer Fishtrap. Our growing youth program is designed to help young writers discover their creative potential and cultivate a strong writing voice – which our youth workshop participants certainly did. Their open mic was one of the highlights of the week.

A huge thank you to everyone who attended – participants, faculty, performers, and a special thank you to the new camp staff for their wonderful cooking and to Joe McCormack who provided the special wild salmon dinner on Saturday night. A good time was had by all.

At the end of the event, I was pleased to ounce that next year’s Summer Fishtrap Gathering of Writers theme will be Breaking Trail: Off the Beaten Path. Our keynote speaker Cheryl 2will be Portland-based Cheryl Strayed, author of the best-selling memoirWild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, which details her 1,100-mile hike up the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert to northernmost Oregon; as well as the novel, Torch, and Tiny Beautiful Things, a collection of her provocative Dear Sugar columns at the online literary magazine, Rumpus. We are thrilled she will be joining us. We will ounce the full workshop faculty line-up, panel discussion topics and panelists later this fall. Dates are July 8 -14, 2013.