The 2019 Clockhouse Writers’ Conference & Retreat, our twenty-second on Goddard’s beautiful Plainfield campus, juxtaposed brand-new opportunities and longstanding joys. The MFAW program’s debut Podcast School shared the week with a preview of the forthcoming issue of CLOCKHOUSE literary journal and beloved staples such as Sam Sherman 2005’s long-running workshop offering prompts in the upper garden. A plenary panel organized around the topic of bewilderment– a state of mind whose opportunities have been praised by writers ranging from thirteenth century Sufi mystic Jalaluddin Rumi to twentieth century Zen teacher Robert Aitken to 2018 MFAW Visiting Writer Nick Flynn– featured Chrystal Wing 1995, Carolyn Locke 1996, and Jeff Ihlenfeldt 1996. From Wing’s images of stasis and renewal in the ecosystem of her desk to Locke’s riffs on Where the Wild Things Are to Ihlenfeldt’s meditations on science, change, and loss, the plenary essays launched hearers into five days of thoughtful creativity and companionship, whether retreat or conference-focused.
Alumni attending the MFAW program’s new Podcast School enjoyed four densely informative and engaging sessions in a shared classroom with current students. WGDR’s Jackie Batten led two hands-on workshops on audio editing, and musician-artist-writer-podcaster James T. Green offered a pair of sessions on story structures both classic and alternative. Pulitzer prize-winning poet and MFAW Visiting Writer Vijay Seshadri gave a reading and book-signing as well as a workshop, “Writing As a Self-Conscious Act.” Other workshop sessions included Laurel Radzieski 2014’s demonstration of her Spontaneous Poetry project, in which she wrote over 200 poems on demand at various public venues; Lucy Turner 2000’s “A Purchased Thing: Concepts of Story Ownership in Native Alaskan Culture and Creative Nonfiction;” and Jen Judge Yonkoski 1999’s and Jennifer Puk 2012’s “Croquet, Anyone? A Deep Play Workshop,” which explored connections among play, meditation, and creativity. Works-in-progress discussions, impromptu writing sessions, quiet retreat times, and formal evening readings (including Clockhouse writers’ books for sale!) rounded out the days for the sixteen participants, who ranged from first-timers to founders.
The CWC&R also featured a preview reading and celebration of CLOCKHOUSE Volume Seven, the open-submissions literary journal published by the Clockhouse Writers’ Conference in partnership with Goddard College. Led by Editorial Director Brenda Beardsley 2014 and attended by alumni, current MFAWs, and college president Bernard Bull, the reading allowed editors to feature favorite poems, fiction, and dramatic writing from the volume. (Purchase your copy here.)
Want to know more? Want to get involved with the conference or the CLOCKHOUSE journal? Want to help spread the word about lifelong, engaged learning at Goddard College? Contact me, Lucy Turner, Lead Steward of the Clockhouse Writers’ Conference, at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you!