Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Opening skyward

On our daily, mid-January now, walks to North Beach, the trees lift long, bare fingers to the sky. All but one cherry blooming early. It brings to mind the artists and writers who gather the courage to send their works out into the world, sometimes a harsh and unwelcoming world. And yet, those works, like these flowers, give the rest of us hope. So thank you to those of you who take the risk and share your art. You can't know who will be inspired by the glimpses of life you share, but please know we are.

Artsmith Residency to Hit the Road

Once a part of Spain, once a part of Mexico, once a part of the Republic of Texas, and now a bilingual and multicultural part of the U.S., Laredo, Texas is a city rich in art, architecture, culinary delights, and remarkably friendly people. Not to mention it is an important spot for migratory birds and the birders who love to see them, especially the birds that don't venture any farther north.

Why mention all this, you ask? Because in December 2015, Artsmith takes its residency program on the road for a 3-day residency for culture & travel writers. Up to five writers (with room for two to bring a partner writer, photographer, or videographer who can share their room) will be selected. Writers and their partners are responsible for their travel expenses to get to Laredo. Once in Laredo, three nights' lodging at the historic La Posada Hotel and most meals will be provided, plus a chance to experience the best of Laredo culture with special, behind-the-scenes access.

We'll attend the CaminArte art walk and Streets of Laredo Artisan Bazaar. Other options, to be determined after the residency fellows are selected,  include border cuisine cooking classes, birding and guided walks with a naturalist in the Rio Grande riparian zone, meetings with Immigration and Border Patrol, Teatro Tejano de la Calle street theater and history tour. Catch a glimpse of some of the possible sights and activities below.

The residency takes place the first weekend of December, 2015, with details to be posted to the Artsmith website soon. So get ready to submit your application this spring for a festive and exciting adventure in December!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Get Help Representing Your Work to Residencies & Publishers


Need help applying to Artist Residencies? Or pitching your book to an agent or publisher? Want to see examples of well-crafted artist statements and query letters? Need help drafting an intriguing description of your work? Sign up for The Art of the Pitch workshop with agent and publicist John Sibley Williams and Artsmith founding director Jill McCabe Johnson on February 7, 2-4 pm, at Daedalus Books in Portland, OR. $30 in advance secures your spot, or apply for one of two scholarships by Feb. 1. Learn more at http://orcasartsmith.org/workshops.html.

While you're there, check out info on the Spring 2015 Writer Island with Ira Sukrungruang and apply for a scholarship for that, too!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Artsmith's 2016 Residency Expands to up to Four Weeks

Wake up in the Steller''s Jay Suite

Time. Perhaps the greatest gift of a residency is time. Time to work on one's art. Time to explore. Time to rest. To sleep. To soak in the hot tub under the stars. To take long walks or stare at the fire. To become lost in thought. To let images and ideas wash over you. Time to yawn. To stretch. Time to come out the other side with fresh insights. Time to incorporate those new ideas, that new you who has morphed and developed and grown, into new works. Time to know. Time not to know. To wonder. To make mistakes. To hate your mistakes. To love them more than anything you've ever done. Time to lose track of yourself and time itself. Time for time.

With this in mind--that understanding that insight is aided by time--Artsmith has decided to expand its residency in 2016 so that applicants can apply for as many as four weeks in residence. From January 3 to January 30 we will host up to five artists, writers, and scholars at a time, each staying anywhere from one to four weeks.

Also in the interest of time, our application period will move to earlier in the year. Applicants can apply between February 1 and April 30. As always, a Peer Review Panel of artists, writers, and scholars will review the applications and select those whose work they believe will benefit most from a residency in this setting. Until then, think about how much time you could use (and can manage with your schedule) and how you would like to spend it in residence in the San Juan Islands.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Your Writer's Writer

People often ask what Orcas Island is like in fall and winter, and we have a hard time describing how some days everything is tinged a foggy blue, like waking to a muted, indigo dream, or how the late afternoon light reflected off the water illuminates everything with a doubly golden glow. But now we don't have to explain. We can tell them to watch the movie "Your Sister's Sister." Filmed on Orcas Island in the fall and winter, it shows how along the shorelines the ambience of majestic trees are silhouetted  by two sources of light: the low-slung sun, and dappled light off the water that shimmer along the undersides of branches. Unless it rains. Then the grasses brighten and dense mosses come to life. The trails are quiet. One is tempted to wrap up in a cozy blanket with a hot mug of goodness and remember what it means to relax so deeply your thoughts run just as deep. The kind of contemplation writers and artists in residence often seek.

Why, you might wonder, are we thinking of fall and winter during these glorious days of summer? Because the application period for the 2015 Artsmith Artist Residency, January 4-11, as well as Writer Island with the incomparable Peggy Shumaker, October 24-26, 2014, are both open. Plus, Doug and Anne Johnson as well as Peggy have both offered scholarships for Writer Island, so the application period is open for that, too! Join us for an escape to our island of creative rejuvenation.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Imnaha Writer's Retreat

Ahh, for a week to write in an inspiring setting in the company of other creatives! I just learned from the good folks at Fishtrap's Imnaha Writers' Retreat that they still have a few spots open for their annual writing retreats in April. Do you know about Imnaha yet? If not, you'll probably want to. Every year, they make a limited number of one-week writing retreats available during the month of April.

The retreat takes place at a remote cabin in Oregon's upper Imnaha River, and by remote, I mean you will walk across a suspended footbridge to get to the cabin (a cart is available so you don't have to carry your bags). Up to five writers luxuriate in the glorious Oregon countryside, respecting a quiet time during the day, and having the option to share work and stimulating conversation in the evening. The pricing uses a voluntary sliding scale, with the lowest fee being only $280 per week, or more if you choose and can afford it.

This year's retreats take place April 6-12, April 13-19, April 20-26, and April 27-May 3. I'm not sure which dates are already filled, but contact Imnaha to find out if the week you'd like is available. You can learn more about the retreat at the Imnaha Writer's Retreat web page.

PS - "Writer" is defined loosely, and includes writers of all kinds, including songwriters.
PPS - They also have a treehouse in addition to the cabin, so definitely ask about that!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Judith Kitchen and Stan Sanvel Rubin Read at Darvill's March 11

Those who know this month’s Artsmith Salon Series featured readers, Judith Kitchen and Stan Sanvel Rubin, know that the past few years have been a time of prolific writing despite the devastating effects of cancer on Judith’s health and both their lives. The cancer is now in remission, and Judith and Stan have recently had published a novella-length essay and a collection of poetry, respectively. Books that aren’t necessarily meant to speak to each other, but when read together (or listened to at a reading) create poignant and moving connections. Can we draw conclusions from how Judith writes of dreams where she tries to convince her late mother to say that her daughter will die while Stan writes a series of poems reminiscent of Neruda's odes, but each set in wartime, as though the essayist is trying to help her loved ones prepare for all eventualities while the poet focuses on the trauma and aftermath of battle? Can we make assumptions about their personal battles, individually and as a couple, with cancer, fear, or even the choice not to approach cancer a "battle?" Can we help but be inspired by and grateful to two masters of their craft who transform the fear of ruin into an appreciation of all our collective moments, ruinous or otherwise?

Judith was recently honored at the annual Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference for her lifetime contributions to literature and being one of the most highly regarded writers and critics in the world today. Stan is also a highly acclaimed poet and critic, whose latest poetry collection, There. Here. from Lost Horse Press, has garnered praise for its silence that "has rarely spoken more clearly than in poems whose whittled-down sounds find war in the hulls of pine nuts and human nature in the folds of an accordion” (Linda Bierds). Among their many other accomplishments, Judith and Stan founded Pacific Lutheran University's low residency MFA in Creative Writing, now celebrating its tenth year.

Judith and Stan will read at Darvill’s Bookstore on Orcas Island Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 6pm. As always, a stimulating Q&A will follow the reading along with hors d’oeuvres and book-signing. For a hint of their writing, and to get a sense of the interplay between their poetry and essays, here are two excerpts. Notice how each draws from past, present, and future—from memory, moment, and metaphor—in ways that reminds us that love is the life well lived.

In The Circus Train, Judith writes:

“There’s something I have to say about the good properties of metastasis. It’s certain. There’s no backing out, so you are forced to accept. It’s a little bit like that column of dust in the old Westerns, far in the distance, but announcing its presence as it takes its interminable time coming closer and closer until, suddenly, there it is with a shape and the horse gallops up hard in your face and stops still, all lathery, and you know you are just about to hear some news of some sort. From then on, it’s all first person. Or sort of.

“Mid-May. The apple trees in the yard behind our house have blossomed so that, waking, I look into a sea of white clouds. I could go back to apple trees, the peculiar branchings that make for good climbing, my mother’s voice calling me down. Instead, I see a young girl alone, crouched on a hot day in early June, sifting the dirt of the strawberry patch. Each runner shoots out its individual white flower. Tiny, tinged with pink. But I am intent on the sifting, the sun a poultice on my neck, warm and filled with silence. Each ray streaks upward toward its source. In front of me, a soft pile of sifted dirt, silken, the texture of talc. My hand smoothes and smoothes it, leaving little trails of fingermarks. My hair pulls loose from my braids and makes a haze of sunlight around my head. The breeze is softer than the dirt, like a finger brushed over the forehead. I do not remember what I was thinking, but that I was thinking. Alone with my thoughts. With the dirt and the breeze and my own sense of self that did not disappear with my mother’s call.”

The Circus Train (Ovenbird Books, 2014)

In There. Here., Stan writes:

Meteor in War Time

We lie on the moonlit deck
long after midnight to watch
the streaking Aurigids
display their dazzle,
rare fireworks seen
just three times
dating from the comet
that broke past the sun
when Julius Caesar
was in charge
of the wars that mattered.

I see nothing, you say,
but a few weak stars.
From an air mattress
we scan the sky
with the intense peripheral wariness
of those whose mission
is to spot bombers
before they reach the city,
and I see one falling
in a swift arc
over our heads.

 There. Here.  (Lost Horse Press, 2013)