Writers on writing



BLUE HILL — Word, the literary arts festival slated for downtown Blue Hill Oct. 24-27, has opened registration for its paid workshops including “Getting Unstuck” with Cynthia Thayer, memoir writing with Katherine Koch, fan fiction with Elizabeth Minkel, “Songcrafting” with Noel Paul Stookey and George Emlen as well a master class in poetry with Richard Blanco.

The workshops are fully described at wordfestival.org, along with a registration link. Enrollment is limited, so timely registration is suggested. Workshop fees run $35 except for “Songcrafting,” which is an all-day affair set at $65. The Richard Blanco master class costs $50.

No reservations are required for three free workshops for children and adults Saturday morning and early afternoon: “Catch an Idea” with Charlotte Agell, “Lightning Round for Writers Young and Old” with Ellen Booraem and bookmaking with Mia Bogyo.

Stookey and Emlen’s “Songcrafting” workshop will meet Saturday from 9 to 11 a.m., break for two hours of individual writing, then reconvene for song completion from 1 to 3 p.m. Longtime friends and collaborators, the two will offer songwriting techniques and perspectives to aspiring songwriters of all levels and genres, both in a group setting and one-on-one.

Best known as “Paul” of Peter, Paul & Mary and for writing and performing “The Wedding Song,” Stookey has been a singer and songwriter since the 1960s. As an independent musician living in Blue Hill, his newest compositions address major issues from climate change to gun control.

Emlen, also of Blue Hill, is a conductor, composer, arranger, song-leader and music educator in Maine and Massachusetts. For 32 years, he was music director of Revels, the Boston-based, national organization behind the annual Christmas Revels.

“Getting Unstuck” with Thayer will run from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday. Whether they write fiction or nonfiction, “all writers have times when they feel ‘stuck,’” she says. Her workshop will offer exercises and discussions to help participants move forward, regardless of where they are in the process. An organic farmer in Gouldsboro, Thayer is the founder of Schoodic Arts for All and the author of three published novels as well as essays and short stories. She teaches for Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance.

Also running from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Katherine Koch’s memoir workshop will be broad-based, appropriate even for those who don’t have a lot of prose-writing experience.

“We’ll discuss inspiration, process, points of view, dealing with resistance, using all the senses in writing, using research,” she says. A visual artist and frequent panelist on the topic of memoir, Koch’s forthcoming book about growing up among New York School poets and artists has been excerpted widely in poetry and arts journals.

Fan fiction, crafting original stories using other people’s published characters, attracts writers of all skill levels and backgrounds. Working with regular “fanfic” writers or those who’ve never done it before, Elizabeth Minkel will “dig into the craft of fic, and how it can improve your skills as a storyteller overall.”

Minkel is a journalist, literary critic, and editor who has written about fan culture for The Guardian, New Statesman, The New Yorker, The Verge, The Millions, and more. Her workshop will be held from 1-4 p.m. on Saturday.

The fifth inaugural poet in U.S. history, Richard Blanco is the youngest and the first Latino, immigrant and gay person to serve in that role. Born in Spain to Cuban exile parents, he was raised in Miami. He has published four poetry collections: “City of a Hundred Fires,” “Directions to The Beach of the Dead,” “Looking for The Gulf Motel” and the latest, “How to Love a Country.” His memoir “The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood” won a Lambda Literary Award. “One Today,” his inaugural poem, was published as a children’s book.

Blanco’s master class, “Diving Deeper into Show Don’t Tell,” is scheduled for Sunday, 12:30-2:30 p.m. The class will examine how and why “show don’t tell” actually works, seeking “a more purposeful command of it.” Participants will start poems grounded in time and place, thinking about what a tangible landscape conveys about the emotional landscape at the poem’s heart.

Check Word’s website for a full schedule of free conversations, readings and performances, including Sunday afternoon’s collaborative words-and-music piece by Blanco and composer Paul Sullivan.

Poetry Crawl Returns to Word

Word’s Poetry Crawl once again will wind along Main Street in downtown Blue Hill on Saturday, Oct. 26. One of the festival’s most popular features, the crawl will feature six noted Maine poets including former Maine Poet Laureate Betsy Sholl and fellow poets Sonja Johanson, Mark Statman, Kifah Abdullah, Marie Epply and Elizabeth Garber. Readings will take place sequentially at venues throughout downtown. Audience members may start at the beginning or jump in at any point.

Elizabeth Garber begins the crawl at 1 p.m. at Blue Hill Books, followed by Mark Statman, 1:50 p.m., at Thurston’s; Sonja Johanson, 2:40 p.m. at Shaw Institute, and Marie Epply, 3:30 p.m. at Harbor House Tea Room. The crawl will conclude at Blue Hill Congregational Church, where Kifah Abdulla will read at 4:20 p.m. and Betsy Sholl at 5 p.m.

The readings will be followed by the festival supper downstairs in the church’s Jonathan Fisher Hall at 6 p.m. (Suggested donation is $10.) Festival-goers will return upstairs at 7 for readings and conversation featuring novelists Joe Hill and Elizabeth Hand, interviewed by Laura Miller, books and culture columnist for Slate.

For more info, call 374-5632 and visit wordfestival.org.

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