Let me just say wow. Yep, wow.
ORION and Breadloaf teamed up this year to create a writing conference that filled my little enviro-art heart with joy. Six instructors (Alison Hawthorne Deming, Jane Brox, Maurice Manning, Camille Dungy, Rick Bass, and Alan Weisman), lots of editors and agents and etc., and sixty or so aspiring writers spent the week in beautiful Vermont writing, listening, editing, learning, and just generally remembering what it is that pushes us to want to do this kind of writing, this kind of world-work.
All the instructors gave a craft talk and a reading, held workshops, offered one-on-one advice, and generally made themselves really available to the aspiring writers. It was collegial, serious work with collegial, serious people.
Stuff I loved: Alison Deming’s reading from her forthcoming book ZOOLOGIES, Alan Weisman recounting some of the back story of his book COUNTDOWN, Rick Bass urging us all to get arrested–and the truly useful and complicated and sophisticated conversation that that provoked. Jane Brox’s craft class, Camille Dungy’s revitalizing the role of definitions as a hugely useful element in non-fiction. And Maurice’s poetry reading. How did I not know of his work before? Sad for me, but now a new discovery.
One of the remarkable things that emerged in reading after reading, conversation after conversation, were thoughtful explorations of the way(s) beauty can mediate urgency, give it a shape we can face, help us think through it–maybe even beyond it. The wisdom quotient was high, and the BS quotient low. That hardly ever happens. I don’t know how they orchestrated it, but they nailed it on the first try.