Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Writer Island -- Pinch me, I must be dreaming

I'm sooooo excited! For several years I've wanted to host a writing retreat on Orcas Island, but not just any writing retreat -- one that's all about immersion in nature. My best writing and best ideas come from contemplative time observing nature. I had something in mind like how artists do plaine-aire painting in the great outdoors. The island is perfect for it because we have mountain and shoreline, lakes and trails. It's an escape from freeways, chain stores, fast food -- heck, we don't even have traffic lights. Plus, there's this cool old stone shelter built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s with a fireplace, and it's right next to my favorite hike that circles Mountain Lake. I mean, who wouldn't be inspired to write.

I don't know why I'd never done it. I guess I needed to meet the amazing poet and teacher Martha Silano first. We were talking a few weeks ago, and it turns out we both had a similar vision. Picture sparks flying as we realized we both had the same idea, and more sparks when we decided to pair up to make it happen.

So, I'm very happy to tell you that on the weekend of April 5-7, we'll be hosting Writer Island! A writing retreat immersed in and inspired by nature. It's going to be grand.

The latest research on creativity shows that the most innovative ideas and artwork happen away from the barrage of daily stresses and stimuli, and in settings where there is a good balance of contemplative time, the beauty of nature, and interaction with like-minded people. So we've designed the workshop to be just that. Plus some mighty tasty food.

I hope you can join us. If not, I hope you'll tell your friends about it. It's going to be an amazing weekend to let the wonder of spring infuse our creative work.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Artsmith Artist Spotlight - SCOTT STARBUCK

Over the next few weeks, we will spotlight the 2013 Artsmith Artist Residency Fellows. Today's featured artist is the poet Scott Starbuck. At our request, Scott kindly wrote the following to share a little bit about his work and his time in residence earlier this month...

After my book RiverWalker came out, I wanted to write about my saltwater days as a charterboat captain and commercial fisherman on The Starfisher off the Oregon Coast.  My Artsmith residency allowed me to complete a 24-page poetry chapbook Depoe Bay Poems, meet fine writers, get restful sleep, enjoy stimulating conversation, and hike the scenic beauty of Orcas Island. The hosts, writer Jill McCabe Johnson and her husband Charles Toxey, were always glad to help with anything, and careful to respect residents’ quiet time and privacy.

Mornings were feasts of fruit and just-out-of-the-oven pastry over stories ranging from island history and eccentric characters, to 115-pound rescue dog Campbell, named after mythologist Joseph Campbell and banished from communal areas to protect those with pet allergies.  Afternoons were spent writing poems on mountain trails, beside lakes, under eagles and hawks, or overlooking seascapes of Orcas Island.  Evenings were for sharing with other writers or digging alone into manuscripts-in-process. 

I wrote many new poems including ones about a girl I loved with mermaidian hair, drowned fishermen I had known, a homemade submarine rescued, words of colorful elders, a mythical salmon-beast who forgot his way home and grew so large he devoured coastal villages, and gourmet chef Lee Gray playing his saxophone over Depoe Bay in the tune of a lost ship returning. As I worked on these, I wove in old poems about a boat captain who told fishermen apple-gray crab pot buoys were whale eggs, merging my dreams of salmon and muscles of salmon in aqua light, and what it felt like to be an 18-year-old lusting after a rusted out ‘65 metallic green Mustang in days when I believed I could save something from the relentless teaching of saltwater wind.

In summary, my 2013 Artsmith Residency allowed me to experience writing alone and in community, in a magically wild place where locals performed Brecht’s play The Life of Galilleo, eagles watched over the dump, small spotted deer developed artful patterns in the absence of predators, and friendly wanderers told too many stories to count. If I had to use a simile, Artsmith was like the winter sun I am enjoying in the above photo taken at Doe Bay near the eastern dorsal fin of Orcas Island.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Holly Hughes Reads Tonight at Darvill's Bookstore

Join 2012 Artist Trust Fellowship recipient Holly Hughes in a "Meet the Artist" event reading poetry and prose written during her fellowship year, and answering questions for anyone interested in the Artist Trust program. Hosted by Darvill's Bookstore in Eastsound, WA and the Artsmith Salon Series, the 6:00 pm reading will be followed by a spoken word open mic. The event is free and open to the public. 

Holly is co-author with Brenda Miller of The Pen and The Bell: Mindful Writing in aBusy World (Skinner House Press, 2012), editor of the award-winning anthology, BeyondForgetting: Poetry and Prose about Alzheimer’s Disease (Kent State University Press, 2009) and author of the chapbook Boxing the Compass (Floating Bridge Press, 2007). Nominated for several Pushcart prizes, her poems and essays have appeared in many anthologies.

Artist Trust's Meet the Artist program is an integral component of the annual Artist Trust Fellowship program. Meet the Artist events bridge our artistic community with the diverse communities in Washington State, increasing awareness about the vital roles art and artists play in our culture. Find out more at Artist Trust.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

An Intimate Reading Among Friends (and residency fellows!)

Outside, a blustery winter storm. Inside, a cozy reading and the camaraderie of writers sharing their new works from a week in residence. In order from left to right, top to bottom, Ira Sukragruong, Tiffany Owens, David Rutiezer, Martha Silano, and Scott Starbuck, your words and your ethos are an inspiration. And your company is a lot of fun, too!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Is there a Writer in the House?

The 2013 Artsmith Fellows--all writers this year--are in residence and hard at work. World, get ready for more good writing from...

  • Tiffany Owens
  • David Rutiezer
  • Martha Silano
  • Scott Starbuck
  • Ira Sukragruang

And look forward to features on each writer over the next several days...