Interlochen Writer’s Retreat

I’m dispatching this week as Artistic Director for the annual Interlochen College of Creative Arts Writer’s Retreat. It’s 5 days on a beautiful campus between two lakes with 4 faculty and about 32 participants. We gather each day in the Writing House for craft lectures on poetry, young adult fiction, short stories, or memoir and then participants move to their separate classrooms for prompts and deeper discussions within their genre. As Artistic Director, most of my work has been done in advance…and if all goes well, this week I get to help “direct traffic,” as they say, and most of all, enjoy the week. I need to troubleshoot and make photo copies and help people find their way from time to time. But at Interlochen, where community is so wedded to who we are and what we create, I also get to check in with people who have been returning for this program for years. I know about their families, their latest submissions of work, their grad school programs or day jobs, etc. In this way, the Writers’ Retreat also feels like a reunion. Curious what we’re up to? Here’s the schedule.

One of my favorite roles at Artistic Director is
getting to introduce authors I most respect. Tonight, I’ll be introducing Patricia Ann McNair (Temple of Air) and Anne-Marie Oomen (An American Map). Of the first, I can tell you that hers is one of the few books of fiction I’ve read more than once–and if that isn’t a testament to the stellar, breathtaking work of this author, I don’t know what is. Hers is truly worthwhile and moving writing. Of Anne-Marie, I can say her prose makes the earth come to life. She evokes the natural world through the senses and she does this so thoroughly, so pervasively, it’s difficult to experience one’s surroundings in the same way afterwards. Especially for those interested in memories of rural childhood, I recommend her work, which spans memoir, essay, poetry, and plays.

But more than anything else, this week I relish the opportunity to live with these 4 faculty members in a lakeside lodge overlooking Duck Lake. The first thing I do upon arrival is thrust open the windows and doors and let that rolling, lake-air fill the house. For the rest of the week, I’m aware of its tempos and moods, ready for my daily dive at any moment. I love living in the mountains–I mean, I love it…and it’s hard to imagine settling down without ridgelines around me. But Lake Country is also something special, and the healing power of living so close to water is something I’ve always felt enamored with. Here’s this morning’s view after a rain cloud burst:

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