Saturday, May 17, 2008

Writing workshop with an antiwar slant

Here’s yet another summer writing workshop, this one with an antiwar slant. This invitation comes from Kevin Bowen, director of the William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences, for its 21st annual summer writing workshop June 16-26. Excerpted from the Poets Against War web site:

As we face current world conflicts -- and our own personal writing journeys -- we have a powerful tradition to build on. Our workshop faculty have produced some of the most significant literature to emerge from the Vietnam experience as well as other areas afflicted by war. These
include poets/veterans Bruce Weigl and novelist Larry Heinemann; non-fiction writer Lady Borton (who has lived for 35 years in Vietnam); poet Fred Marchant was discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps as an conscientious objector;
poet/translator Martha Collins, who has been teaching a translation class, which has focused on works in Vietnamese. Novelist Demetria Martinez once faced a potential 25 years in prison for writing about Americans aiding Central American refugees. Poet MacDara Woods brings a perspective to teaching shaped by his experiences of living through "the troubles" in Ireland. One of the high points of the writing workshop is always a visit by Vietnamese writers -- their participation in Martha's class, and in panels. Bruce Weigl, Lady Borton and myself also work on translations as part of the Center's commitment to build bridges with our former "enemies." Last year we had a first-ever panel of veterans of the Gulf War and the Iraq War, moderated by Vietnam veteran Larry Heinemann. As for the 2008 workshop, we very much anticipate participation by poet Afaa Michael Weaver.

The William Joiner Center and our annual workshop are both a hub and a sanctuary for writers coming from all over the
world: people who have fought in wars, protested wars; and all who have survived to bear witness. This letter is an invitation for you to consider being part of the workshop community in 2008. First let me stress that students write about a variety of topics. We do not in any way wish to limit what anyone writes: We are open to the surprises that writing produces, and how that helps us to grow as individuals who, as the late Grace Paley always said, can be "useful" in a troubled world.

To apply, send a letter of interest (the sooner the better) with a writing sample. Include an indication of what genre you wish to work in. Address applications and inquiries about the workshop to T. Michael Sullivan, William Joiner Center, University of Massachusetts. Boston, 100 Morrissey Blvd. Boston, MA 02125-3393. You can contact him at or at 617-287-5850. Last summer we managed, as always, to keep costs relatively low: $400 for two weeks, $220 for one week.

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