Authors David Shumate and Sherrie Flick will wrap up the 2017 season at the Chautauqua Writers’ Center.
It’s a summer that’s seen 19 other poets, prose writers and literary agents lead workshops and special sessions at the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall.
Shumate is the poet-in-residence for Week Nine, and Sherrie Flick will serve as prose writer-in-residence. Both Shumate and Flick will give readings from their work at 3:30 p.m. Sunday on the porch of the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall.
This will be Shumate’s first time leading a workshop at the Writers’ Center. He is the author of three books of prose poetry, including his most recent collection, Kimonos in the Closet. He is Marian University’s poet-in-residence emeritus and lectures in Butler University’s MFA program.
Shumate will use his experience writing prose poetry in his workshop, “Prose Poetry: More than a Paragraph.” He said he has some plans made for the week, but he’s open to adapting them once he meets his students.
“I have a basic order for the progression, but I usually find that my plans dissolve rather quickly, and I begin to teach according to the present need rather than from my pre-configured outline,” Shumate said.
Prose poetry lies on the “little frontier” between the two forms and has a lot to offer, Shumate said. He wants to help his students become more comfortable as they try to navigate that frontier.
“I hope they take away a general sense of confidence and competence when it comes to converting their lived experiences into the stuff of poetry,” Shumate said.
Shumate brings about 15 years of experience from working with prose poetry to his workshop, but he said anyone who has taught for a long time realizes that teaching is a “two-way street.” He said he can’t wait to see what he learns from his students.
Flick is returning to Chautauqua for the second time this summer: She served as co-director of the Chautauqua Writers’ Festival during the pre-season with Lori Jakiela and Philip Terman.
She’s author of three books: a novel, Reconsidering Happiness, a flash fiction chapbook, I Call This Flirting, and a short story collection, Whiskey, Etc.
Flick teaches in Chatham University’s food studies and MFA programs and is a veteran of the Writers’ Center. She said it’s been few years since she last taught at the Writers’ Center, and she’s excited to return.
“I’ve always just had a great time meeting the students and guiding them in a new direction — they’re already ready to go there, so I just facilitate,” Flick said.
She took inspiration for her workshop, titled “Food and Memory,” from Week Nine’s theme of “At the Table: Our Changing Relationship with Food” and her own work as a food writer.
“What I’m planning on looking at is the connection we have to food and the way we remember our lived lives,” Flick said. “For instance, if you’re walking down the street and you smell tomato sauce bubbling on a stove, you’ll be transported back to your grandmother’s kitchen.”
Everybody eats, Flick said, so people can’t claim they don’t have any experiences with food to write about. She said she’d like for her students to see the many different avenues food writing can offer.
“Some people think it’s just a restaurant review, but it’s so much more complex than that,” Flick said. “I find that because we all eat and because we all have such different histories with food and different experiences, it’s such a great avenue to explore in your own life and through writing.”
Flick said she hopes her workshop will help her students gain some new insights into how food connects them to the world.
“They’ll be able to see how our eating experiences connect us to community and larger ideas,” Flick said. “Ideally, I’d like for that window to open up a little bit so they can see the world differently.”
Shumate and Flick will also give Brown Bag lectures on the porch of Alumni Hall during Week Nine. Shumate’s Brown Bag, called “Exploring the Grey Area of Literature,” will be at 12:15 p.m. Tuesday, and Flick’s Brown Bag, called “Contagious Empathy: Embracing Risk as an Everyday Practice,” will be at 12:15 p.m. Friday.