Meet Chautauqua Writers’ Center First Poet, Author in Residence

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Philip Terman, a poet and Clarion University professor, will have his latest book highlighted Wednesday (6/17/15), on poet Garrison Keillor's NPR show.
Philip Terman, a poet and Clarion University professor, will have his latest book highlighted Wednesday (6/17/15), on poet Garrison Keillor’s NPR show.

Week One at the Chautauqua Writers’ Center will be a tale of two Philips.

Philip Gerard will serve as the prose writer-in-residence, and Philip Terman will serve as the poet-in-residence for the first writing workshops of the season. Both Gerard and Terman are regulars of the Chautauqua writing scene: Gerard is the co-editor of the Chautauqua literary journal, and Terman is a coordinator of the preseason Chautauqua Writers’ Festival.

Gerard’s workshop series is titled “Turning Fact Into Story” and Terman’s workshop is called “Writing Where We Are at Chautauqua.” In addition to their workshops, both writers will give readings at 3:30 p.m. Sunday on the porch of the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall.

Gerard is the author of four novels and five works of nonfiction. His most recent work is the thriller novel The Dark of the Island. His workshop is broken up into five one-day sessions, and students can sign up for one session, multiple sessions or the whole week. Monday is “Declaring Your Story,” Tuesday is “Words & Music,” Wednesday is “Writing Your First Book,” Thursday is “The Art of Creative Research” and Friday is “The Writer’s Life.”

Gerard said by breaking up the workshop into daily topics, he wants to reach writers on a lot of different levels. That might include concentrating on one piece of work from each person in the workshop for the week. He also wants his students to come away from the workshop reinvigorated by their work.

Phillip Gerard.
Phillip Gerard.

“I’d like them to feel the joy of writing, and feel a little more confident in approaching their projects,” Gerard said. “I want them to go away from it really inspired to go back to their writing table and whatever writing they’re doing.”

Gerard said he always enjoys writing and teaching at Chautauqua, because the people who come are unlike any other, something he attributes to their curiosity. For Gerard, this leads to a “high-powered” experience unlike a normal writing workshop.

Terman is the author of eight poetry collections, his most recent being Our Portion: New and Selected Poems. He said he is looking forward to leading his poetry workshop and kicking off the season, when people are reacquainting themselves with “the Chautauqua state of mind.”

Terman’s workshop will look at the notion of place in writing.

“We’re all coming from somewhere, we’re all living somewhere, we all have states of mind,” Terman said. “So I thought that might be an interesting focus. I’ve wanted to do this for a while, because there are so many interesting spaces at Chautauqua that perhaps we could use as writing prompts or jump-off points for writing.”

An important element Terman wants to emphasize in his workshop is that place is not just external — it can be internal. He said there are spiritual spaces, dream spaces and imagined spaces that are worth exploring through writing.

Terman said he hopes his students will come away from his workshop with a greater awareness of their surroundings and with their “antennas up.” He said he also comes away feeling enlightened by the teaching process.

“Every time I teach, it’s so overwhelmingly transformative,” Terman said. “Whenever we share our work, we’re that much more attuned to new worlds, new places, new states of mind. That will, in turn, inspire us.”

Terman and Gerard will also give Brown Bag lectures on the porch of the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall during the week. Terman’s Brown Bag, called “Oh, the Places Our Writing Will Go!” is 12:15 p.m. Tuesday, and Gerard’s Brown Bag, called “Words & Music: Making a Record” is 12:15 p.m. Friday.


The author Ryan Pait

Ryan Pait gets a different haircut every summer to keep the people of Chautauqua guessing. This is his fourth summer at The Chautauquan Daily, so if you’re tired of him, that’s OK. He recently graduated with his master’s degree in literature from Western Kentucky University. Don’t ask him about what he’s doing after this summer, but do ask him about the Nicole Kidman renaissance, the return of “Game of Thrones” and what he’s reading.