No. 2

Iron Words

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Ten writers share poetry and prose written during a two-day retreat at Lee Kelly's woodland studio and sculpture garden.

A dozen or so people gather at Lee Kelly’s beautiful handmade forest and sculpture garden—the sky slightly overcast—June gloom?—two or three of us trying to get warm under blankets, everyone sitting on Lee’s porch drinking hot coffee and waiting to see what will happen. Something will happen; something always happens. Twelve people can make anything happen. Kim nudges us into the morning with a few of those Stafford one-liners, disarmingly brilliant: “I don’t know how to write, but I enjoy writing”; “I don’t know how to teach, but I enjoy learning”; “I don’t know what’s going to happen this weekend, but we have some beginning points.” As if those lines did not grab us sufficiently, Kim adds: “As a seeker, I am very interested in little things, little ideas. Writing is an adjacent wilderness area.” Lee Kelly recalls a favorite line from the thirteenth-century Persian poet, Rumi, “If trees could walk, they would never need to meet the ax,” and adds his own bit of wit: “…then only trees without hope would ever meet the logger.”

For two days, we talk, then write, then read our work out loud; and then we read and write and sound our poems and prose pieces out loud some more. We do not tire. We eat together and get to know each other in sudden and startling ways. We just do not tire. In fact, we regret when the weekend comes to a close.

Here, we get to know intimately the spirit of place. Here, we learn to speak to each other honestly and openly and listen carefully. People speak their secrets, narrate their lives. This is what some wise people call conviviality. How refreshing! How utterly welcome!

—Barry Sanders

Read excerpts from the writings of ten writer’s workshop participants:

Becca Biggs

Jeana Edelman

Randy Higgins

Kassandra Kelly

Lee Kelly

Tom Manley

Barry Sanders

Grace Sanders

Mary Slowik

Kim Stafford

by Barry Sanders

— Posted on 07/06 at 12:52 PM

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