Friday, February 18, 2005

To Renew, or Not to Renew?

I'm referring to my subscription to Poets & Writers. I guess I will renew, since it does provide updates to markets, but sometimes I get so annoyed...

This month's big feature was "A Room With a View," a look at writers' retreats that they put together every year. I don't know, all I could think of was, who the heck are these writers who can afford to go to these writers' retreats all the time? I've never quite gotten that.

Of course, it reminded me of the hilarious story "Auden's Toothbrush," by Lucinda Ebersole, in one of the issues of Gargoyle I read over recent months.

Anyway, writers' retreats always strike me as something very "old school," where a bunch of people who have money to burn go to be pretentious and name drop and network and get their egos stroked. Or they're all part of the old-school network and so they're kind of preaching to the choir or something. I don't know, maybe I'm wrong. Also, I'm betting there's big money in writers' retreats, but again, I don't know who these people are who have all this money, not to mention time, for retreats.

The issue was fairly lackluster, the best article being "Imperative: An Argument for Writers Taking Charge," by Johnny Temple. I guess the biggest reason I liked this article about indie publishers is because this guy was local, and started Akashic Books with Mark and Bobby Sullivan, both of whom I am familiar with because when I was a teenager, I used to go see their bands, like Kingface and Soulside, play. If you like punk or emocore, you'd best try to get some Kingface and Soulside, those were great bands and part of the D.C. Dischord scene. But anyway, the article was interesting and like I said, really the only thing I enjoyed about the entire issue.

Thanks for reading,



Blogger Hebdomeros said...

I've gone to a couple of summer conferences, but haven't ventured into the world of retreats.I think it's mostly the academics who really take advantage of them. They teach during the year, and then trek off somewhere during the summer to write. A lot are very expensive, but some like the Virginia Center for the Arts do a pay-what-you-can thing (I'm actually thinking of going there for a week this summer).

The more high-profile ones like Breadloaf have a reputation for drunken parties, at least according to the people I know who've done them. One of my profs in grad school said it was a good place to hook up, but a horrible place to write.

5:43 PM  
Blogger LadyLitBlitzin said...

See, that whole "drunken parties," "great place to hook up, horrible place to write" thing is exactly what would concern me... If I paid up money to go to one of those I'd damn well better be writing, like, The Opus... sigh.

I think you're right about the academics... they would definitely have the time and in some cases, the money. I guess I am just so far removed from that world at this point (and it was never a world I felt comfortable in, oddly enough), and the academics likely still have the corner on the market of writing anyway...

And I'm sure what you take into these things is what you put in, I'm sure the Virginia Center for the Arts one would be good (and, sounds like, wouldn't break the bank)...

8:48 AM  
Blogger Hebdomeros said...

Yeah, I've heard it's one of the better ones to go to if you actually want to write. Another one in the Blue Ridge Mts somewhere is supposed to be good, too.

I can vouch for writer's conventions, though. I had good experiences at both Imagination in Cleveland (my first exposure to Samuel Delany) and Sewanee. But it's a different environment, with workshops, readings, exchanging work and private conferences with established folks. Not cheap either, though.

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