Fiction with Brock Clarke

Even the greatest fiction writers sometimes have trouble reaching their readers. The fiction writer Flannery O’Connor admitted as much in her essay “Some Aspects of the Grotesque in Southern Fiction”: “I once received a letter from an old lady in California who informed me that when the tired reader comes home at night, he wishes to read something that will lift up his heart. And it seems her heart had not been lifted up by anything of mine she had read. I think that if her heart had been in the right place, it would have been lifted up.’’

This is a most wanted writerly medical procedure: to be able to move someone else’s heart to the place where you can then lift it up. In this workshop, we will read each other’s stories and novel chapters with an eye toward perfecting exactly this kind of surgery. We will also talk about how to get your work out in the world, into the hands of agents, editors, and readers.

Brock Clarke is the author of six books of fiction, most recently the novels The Happiest People in the World, Exley (which was a Kirkus Book of the Year, a finalist for the Maine Book Award, and a longlist finalist for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award) and An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England (which was a national bestseller, and American Library Associate Notable Book of the Year, a #1 Book Sense Pick, a Borders Original Voices in Fiction selection, and a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice pick). His books have been reprinted in a dozen international editions, and have been awarded the Mary McCarthy Prize for Fiction, the Prairie Schooner Book Series Prize, a National Endowment for Arts Fellowship, and an Ohio Council for the Arts Fellowship, among others. Clarke’s individual stories and essays have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Boston Globe, Virginia Quarterly Review, One Story, The Believer, Georgia Review, New England Review, and Southern Review and have appeared in the annual Pushcart Prize and New Stories from the South anthologies and on NPR’s Selected Shorts. He lives in Portland, Maine, and teaches creative writing at Bowdoin College. VISIT

Memoir with Elizabeth Peavey

“Whether you are knee-deep in your life story or looking for a way to begin,” writes award-winning author Elizabeth Peavey, “this workshop will give you the tools and guidance necessary to move forward.”

Participants will examine the history and nature of memoir and discuss the tricky issue of truth vs. fact. The way in which imagination informs memory will be discussed, how our easiest “truths” are not always our best ones and consider new ways to approach being honest with the reader—and ourselves. From there, attendees get down to the nuts and bolts: how to develop a clear thesis, how to establish voice, where to start and end a narrative and how to make a world come alive for a reader through sharp prose and vivid detail. Finally, participants will examine these things in their own writing through rewarding workshopping sessions. There are always lots of laughs during these sessions, as well as a few tears shed (usually by the instructor).

PLEASE BRING Participants are asked to please bring three copies of one completed essay or a section of their memoir-in-progress (no longer than 1,000 words) for discussion and critique. A description of constructive critiquing techniques will be sent in advance of the workshop so attendees can help create a supportive and nurturing environment.

The Situation and The Story by Vivian Gornick
When We Were the Kennedys by Monica Wood
The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey
Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

Elizabeth Peavey is a Portland-based teacher and writer. For nearly twenty years, she has been teaching her highly popular memoir and personal essay workshops for MWPA. Her one-woman show, My Mother’s Clothes Are Not My Mother, played to sold-out houses across Maine in 2011 and 2012, and went on to win the 2013 Maine Literary Award for Drama. She is the author of Outta My Way: An Odd Life Lived Loudly and of Maine & Me, which was awarded the Maine Literary Award for Best Maine-themed Book. Her writing is frequently featured in Down East magazine, where she has been a contributing editor since 1997. She has taught public speaking at the University of Southern Maine since 1993 and has also taught creative nonfiction at the University of Maine at Farmington. Her latest book, Glorious Slow Going: Maine Stories of Art, Adventure and Friendship, which is a collaboration with the renowned landscape painter Marguerite Robichaux, was published in 2011 and was a finalist for the 2012 Maine Literary Award’s John N. Cole Award for Maine-themed Nonfiction. Her current humor column, “Outta My Yard,” can be found at (Photo by Doug Bruns) VISIT

Poetry with Kerrin McCadden

Award-winning poet Kerrin McCadden is interested in form—but not necessarily received forms, such as sonnets, sestinas, villanelles. While she does admire those forms, she is especially interested in invented forms and structures. McCadden believes writing poems under the influence of a constraint can help a poet generate surprising work. “It is good to have a poetic style,” she says, “but it’s good, too, to be able to challenge whatever style we have developed to keep our work shifting and finding new ground.”

Each morning session at the Black Fly Writers Retreat will begin with a generative writing period, focused on enabling constraints and invented forms. The session will then move in to looking together at the poems participants bring to workshop.

The goal of the retreat is to send attendees back home with a pile of new drafts and an exciting to do list, as well as new ways to look back at their existing work. “There’s vision and re-vision,” says McCadden, “and we will work hard at both.”

Kerrin McCadden is the author of Landscape with Plywood Silhouettes, inaugural winner of the 2015 Vermont Book Award, as well as the 2013 New Issues Poetry Prize, chosen by David St John. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, a Vermont Studio Center Fellowship, and the Sustainable Arts Foundation Writing Award. Her work has also received support from the Vermont Arts Council and the Vermont Arts Endowment Fund. Her poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, The Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day series, Verse Daily, and in such journals as American Poetry Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, The Collagist, Green Mountains Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Hunger Mountain, PANK, Poet Lore, and Rattle. A graduate of The MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, she teaches English and Creative Writing at Montpelier High School. She lives in Montpelier, Vermont. VISIT