Writers are everywhere, often hiding in plain sight. They’re under umbrellas in Oregon. They sit in the sweltering Georgia sun. They live across the ocean and in different continents. They are also on the Vineyard, and in greater number from July 15 to 20, thanks to the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing, which is about to begin its third year as a haven for developing writers.
Thanks to writers’ groups, literary magazines and universities, the word is out and adults now come from near and far to enjoy a weeklong stay on Island alongside accomplished writers and editors who teach the craft in addition to giving tips on how to get work published.
“Writing is a solitary practice,” said Alexander Weinstein, the program director and a fiction writing instructor. “Yet writers need community for their work to flourish.”
The Creative Writing institute provides that community and helps establish the networks necessary for success in the field. But it’s not simply a matter of whispering the secrets of the creative life and providing a key to some exclusive writers’ elite.
“We are all writers if we want to be. Writing and publishing just take a lot of time and effort,” said Mr. Weinstein, “It’s a matter of learning the craft and having the support to get work out there.”
Writers attend workshops, seminars and readings throughout the week and collaborate with published writers. Mr. Weinstein is especially excited for this summer’s lineup, which includes award-winning poets Catherine Pierce and Marcus Wicker, and fiction writers Phong Nguyen and Michael Kardos.
For the second year, the program will also offer a high school camp that runs from July 9 through July 13. The High School Writers Collaborative makes the institute accessible to young aspiring writers, most of whom are Island students. The idea came from Mathea Morais, who runs the Writing Lab at the charter school. Student writers needed a space to work and share ideas when school is not in session.
“When you’re starting out as a writer, it’s great to know there are other people out there like you — people who also love writing, love reading and spend their time creating poetry and fiction,” said Mr. Weinstein.
The High School Writers Collaborative also helps the institute get involved directly with the Island community. Mr. Weinstein is currently a professor at Sienna Heights University in Michigan, but his Island roots run deep. He has been a summer kid all his life and his parents now live on the Vineyard full time.
“Working with [high school] students is essential tonurturing artin our community,” said Mr. Weinstein. “These students are the future artists of theworld, and themore Ican do to support and encouragetheir artistic expression, the richerthe world will become.”
Kendra Mills, 15, attended the high school camp last year. She’ll return this year and in the years to come.
“I learned more during the short, intensive period than what most students probably learn in a school year,” she said. “The teachers were amazing and I also learned a lot from other students. There was one boy who knew how to create perfect metaphors, and other students had other specific talents that rubbed off on everyone else around.”
Kendra received a partial scholarship last year and will again this year to help her to stay involved as a student.
“I’m most excited to meet the new teachers and other students,” she said. Until the camp starts, Kendra is working diligently at the West Tisbury Public Library and fishing for inspiration in her favorite nooks around her yard.
Mr. Weinstein said that there’s no better place to fuel creativity than the Island.
“The Vineyard is my favorite place in the world. It’s my home,” he said. “One of my goals in creating the MVICW is to share the beauty and inspiration of the Vineyard with others.”
Registration is still open and scholarships are available for both programs. Full more information regarding registration, scholarships and the teachers, visit mvicw.com.
Of faction, of children, of family,
Weigh heavily across my brow.
While they wander
And dance, in search of oblivion,
I labor ceaselessly.
By whatever name they call me,
And from wherever place they come,
I hear their beseeching cries.
Yet never during the eons
Of my life
Have I ever been greeted warmly.
I bear the weight
Of all my kinsman
At all costs, the honor of my father
When he the king
Plainly refuses his duty.
But always I am there.
I stand in full armor
Proud and ready
As I should
Protecting and teaching
By Kendra Mills 07 10 2011