September 29-October 2 (Thursday-Sunday)
This retreat will provide a safe and intimate environment for serious dialogue about the craft of writing and the writing life. The daily schedule will emphasize workshops and plenary sessions with ample opportunity for conversation and recreation.
Guests of the Writer’s Retreat are expected to attend ONE of the following workshops. However, due to limited space, workshops will be assigned based on a first come, first serve basis. Following registration (see below), you will receive an email allowing you to rank the top three workshops that you would like to attend. We will do our level best to provide your first choice.
Please direct questions concerning individual workshops to Steven Purcell.
Me, Myself, & God: Spiritual Writing and Memoir in the Light of Faith
Creative Non-Fiction: Gregory Wolfe
Contemporary writers such as Mary Karr and Anne Lamott have produced powerful memoirs that recount their spiritual journeys in a language that is fresh and honest. Their books are both reverent and irreverent, explicit about the authors’ faults and fears and yet aware of God’s healing presence in their lives. How do they pull off this balancing act of writing that is firmly grounded in personal experience and yet not egotistical? What lessons can they teach us apprentice writers about the challenge of generating spiritual writing that is not marred by cliché and sentimentality?
Greg is Writer-in-Residence at Seattle Pacific University, where he teaches English literature and creative writing. He is also the founder and director of the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, the first program of its kind to integrate a studio-writing degree with intensive reflection upon the literary and aesthetic riches of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Additionally, Gregory is the publisher and editor of Image and the Director of the Center for Religious Humanism. He has published over 200 essays, reviews, and articles in numerous journals, including Commonweal and First Things. His essays have been anthologized in collections such as The Best Christian Writing and The Best Catholic Writing. More information is available on his site, at Image.org, and at SPU.
Parable and Play: How to Write Stories Worth Reading More Than Once
Fiction: Jeffrey Overstreet
In this workshop, we’ll study ways in which we can craft stories that are worth reading and re-reading. Examining the openings of great novels, we’ll consider the authors’ decisions about what to “show,” what to “tell,” and what to withhold from the reader. We’ll also consider the nature of Christ’s parables, to see how their truly subversive and disturbing qualities can inspire revisions of our own stories.
Author, blogger, and speaker, Jeffrey is Communication Specialist at Seattle Pacific University, Seattle, Washington. In 1996, he started blogging about movies, music, literature, faith, and culture. That blog would eventually become the site lookingcloser.org. That same year, he began writing what became the first volume of his four-book fantasy series The Auralia Thread, which earned the rare honor of two Christy Award nominations, and was recommended by independent booksellers as a BookSense Notable selection upon its release. Jeffrey’s blog quickly became a hub for discussion about the relationship between faith and art, leading to the publication of his “memoir of dangerous moviegoing”—Through a Screen Darkly—in 2007.
Poetry: Julia Kasdorf
Julia is an associate professor of English and director of the Master of Fine Arts Program at Pennsylvania State University, where she currently teaches creative writing and women’s studies. Born in Lewistown, Pennsylvania, she was educated at Goshen College and New York University. Her books of poetry include Eve’s Striptease and Sleeping Preacher. She is the author of the biography Fixing Tradition: Joseph W. Yoder, Amish American, and The Body and the Book: Writing from a Mennonite Life, 1991-1999, which won the Book of the Year Award from the Modern Language Association’s Conference on Christianity and Literature.
“A work of art is someone’s act of attention, evoking ours,” Hugh Kenner tells us, then adds in an evocative understatement of his own, “There have been great feats of attention.” In this sense, receiving and paying faithful heed to a work of art will involve further feats of attentiveness in the form of story, song, and image-making. All forms, we might say, of engaging someone else’s creative fidelity with our own. In this seminar, we will share our findings with one another (think mix CD’s, notebooks of quotes and ideas, scribblings on napkins and matchbooks, recounting of scenes that move us inexplicably) as a kind of communal intelligence gathering, reasoning together as to how we might deploy our findings in more artful and faithful ways. We seek to answer the call we’ve sensed thus far, an ethical and aesthetic summons to lively attentiveness in all we do.
Songwriting: Jill Phillips & Andy Gullahorn
Due to its subjective nature, songwriting is a difficult area in which to claim expertise. So, we will learn with each other and from each other, covering such topics as: understanding the rules and structure of songwriting well enough to break them, exploring how specificity is the key to expressing universal ideas, and discussing why artists need community and communities need artists. We will also spend much of the time creating and sharing songs with each other.