The Chautauqua Writers’ Center will welcome a bevy of writers and a new director for the 2017 season.
Jill Gerard, co-editor of the Chautauqua literary journal, will head the Writers’ Center as its program director.
Gerard said she considered applying for the job before, but it was “logistically impossible” in the past due to her children and the distance from her home and workplace in North Carolina. When the job was advertised for the 2017 season, Gerard said the timing was perfect.
Gerard and her husband Philip have edited Chautauqua for 10 years. Her experience with the journal gave Gerard some familiarity with the responsibilities of the program director job and with Chautauqua’s general atmosphere.
“We really understand the Chautauqua philosophy, number one, and love it, number two,” Gerard said. “Which I think is important.”
Gerard said she is excited to build upon the work of Clara Silverstein, who served as program director on the grounds starting in 2008 to 2015. A career change prevented Silverstein from being at Chautauqua in 2016 and 2017, but she still programmed both seasons at the Writers’ Center. Fred Zirm filled in as interim director last summer, and now Gerard will oversee this season’s programming. Gerard said she’s already thinking about what the future can bring for the literary arts at Chautauqua and the role the Writers’ Center can play.
“I see this also as a real opportunity — with all the changes that are coming — to open conversation in a different way between the Writers’ Festival, the Writers’ Center and the CLSC,” Gerard said. “We’re all still individual and separate with our own identities, but we can be community-minded with each other. I’d really love to see that happen.”
Laura Maylene Walter and Shara McCallum will start the season at the Writers’ Center.
Walter’s prose workshop, “Getting Weird: Innovative Story Structure,” will help students explore nontraditional ways of setting up a story. McCallum’s poetry workshop, “Writing History, Writing the Self,” will focus on students connecting their experiences to all different types of history and forging poems from that relationship.
Ashley Mace Havird’s “Fiction Workshop: Exploring Home” will get students thinking about how they define the word “home” and the impact it can have on a scene.
David Havird will lead Week Two’s poetry workshop, “The Wonder of Travel.” He and his students will examine how poets incorporate travel writing into their work and make it poetic.
Jonathan Eig’s prose workshop, “Giving Yourself Permission to Write,” will help his students get around writer’s block by identifying important themes or details and creating characters.
Marjorie Maddox and her students will work on precision and perspective in their poems with her poetry workshop, “In Short: Poetry and Other Brief Forms.”
Week Four’s prose workshop, “The Art of Time in Nonfiction,” will focus on memoir and personal essays. Kevin Haworth and his students will look at different ways of conceptualizing time in their work.
Philip Brady will explore time in a different way with his poetry workshop, “Old Traditions, New Poems.” Attendees will think about how looking at old poems can lead to new ones.
John Thompson will teach his students about writing for a different group of readers: children and young adults. His workshop, “Writing Children’s Books for a Wider Audience,” will focus on bridging literature’s generation gap.
Todd Davis will lead the week’s poetry workshop, “Dreaming a Poem.” Davis and his students will consider the tradition of dreaming in poetry and how that can help inspire their poems.
Week Six will offer the regularly-scheduled poetry and prose workshops, as well as two special workshops.
Linda K. Wertheimer will lead the prose workshop, “Writing Provocative Stories about Religion,” where she will discuss how writers can challenge preconceptions about religion with their writing. Mary McLaughlin Slechta will lead the poetry workshop, titled “Letting the Light In.” Attendees will explore how to take interior experiences and widen them with their poetry.
Ken Sherman and Philip Gerard will lead Week Six’s special workshops.
Sherman, a literary agent, will help students face the practical side of writing with his two sessions: “The Business of Writing” and “Facing Rejection Head-On.” Students can also schedule private conferences with Sherman for an additional fee.
Gerard will give two presentations. The first will focus on his new book, The Art of Creative Research. Participants will discuss different ways of getting into research and how it can shape their writing. The second session, “Songwriting and the Creative Process,” will focus on the art and craft of songwriting. Gerard will also host a free concert, featuring songs from his new album in progress, Beautiful City.
Kim Todd will lead Week Seven’s prose workshop, “Nonfiction Laboratory.” In this workshop, students will play with form and look at ways to make different genres of writing intersect.
Julia Spicher Kasdorf will lead the week’s advanced poetry workshop, titled “Fearless Revision,” which will focus on ways to keep the creative spark alive during the sometimes-arduous process of revision.
Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle author William Heyen will also lead two special poetry appreciation sessions during the week, titled “Tell Me a Story” and “Beauty and Atrocity.”
Week Eight’s prose workshop, “The Wellspring of Memory,” will be led by Roy Hoffman. This session will examine the effects that recalling and remembering can have on their work.
Laura Kasischke will lead the week’s poetry workshop, “Revisiting the Image,” diving into the methodology of creating sensory and sensual images in their poems.
Sherrie Flick and David Shumate will close out the 2017 season at the Writers’ Center.
Flick and participants will discuss food writing and new ways to approach it with her workshop “Food and Memory.
Shumate and his students will look at the form of prose poetry in his workshop, “Prose Poetry: More than a Paragraph.” They will think of strategies for approaching the intersection between prose and poetry.