Wellspring House, a writing retreat

This summer (2012) I did my first writing retreat. I decided to avoid huge travel costs and stay in-state at Wellspring House in Ashfield, MA. For very little in rent ($220 per week, and it gets cheaper if you stay there off-season), I had a private bedroom, shared bath, shared kitchen and living areas, a gorgeous outdoor patio and lawn, wireless Internet, set in the cutest town you can ever imagine, and tucked in the hills and mountains of western Massachusetts.

I dutifully trucked up my manuscript(s), imagining that I would spread out pages and pages in my bedroom and re-organize, toss some poems, edit some lines. I have to tell you that instead I was swept up in new writing – twelve new poems for the five days I stayed (additional travel cut my week short). And not just twelve crummy poems – at least eight of these are total keepers, maybe more.

I’ll explain Wellspring. It’s run by the most darling southern-born gentleman, Preston Browning, as a retreat for writers and artists. He’s now 83, and if you are of the mind, he will happily talk literature with you. The house is stacked in books and literary journals. There’s a sun porch for the artists. Six bedrooms. While I was there, Wellspring housed a fiction writer, a food writer, a writer of historical fiction, a painter, the mother of a visiting actor, and a poet (me). The mornings were quiet and seemed to be devoted to our creative endeavors. By the afternoon, some of us had burned ourselves out and we’d find other things to do – hiking, shopping, hitting up all the local farmer’s markets. At night we drifted in and out of the kitchen, talking or not. Everyone was lovely. Preston has his own apartment in the house, so I saw him some but not daily.

I just got an email from him saying that although the summer was packed, he doesn’t have many reservations on the books for fall & winter. Ah, I’d go back if I weren’t teaching! Alas. But I will try to spread the word to other writers and artists about this amazing place. He’s extending the less expensive winter rate to the fall, too: only $200 per week or $50 per night starting now.

Oh! I haven’t put a link to the Wellspring website up yet. Here ’tis: Wellspring House. Heck, I love this place so much I’ll put the link up twice: Wellspring House. That should do it.

While you’re there, I recommend visits to Shelburne Falls, Greenfield, Colrain… any of the little hilltowns are fabulous when you need a break from the huge amount of writing you will surely do.

As I tell my students: Write on!

Picking cover art for Frost in the Low Areas

One of the tasks I’ve been given by Zone 3 Press is to come up with some cover art ideas. I’ve read other people’s blogs and interviews on cover art for their first books of poetry, and so many people seem to have had some art already picked out, sometimes by a friend who’s an artist. I do have friends that are artists and have considered this, but I haven’t landed on anything specific. So I’ve been cruising the Internet. The name of the manuscript is Frost in the Low Areas, bringing to mind… well… cold stuff. Here are some links to fabulous images of cold stuff, or getting-to-be-but-not-yet cold stuff.

Photography by Dan Brown 

I especially like the last two images by Dan Brown on the page – the one in blue, and the one that looks like a palm tree or pressed fern.

And here are a bunch of images by photographer Lars van de Goor of the Netherlands.

Image 1   Image 2   Image 3   Image 4   Image 5
Image 6   Image 7

Nice photos. I especially like the images with people in them, though I worry that most of those are too wintry and monochrome.

Here’s one that caught my eye early on, by photographer Robert Fulton of the UK. It’s the first image on the page.

Robert Fulton’s photo

I found the fractals by Matt Walford interesting. My favorite is the blue one – that image doesn’t seem to load directly, so you’ll need to click on the thumbnail at the bottom of the page.

Fractal

…and that’s it so far. This is a lot harder than I thought it would be. I have some Zone 3 books on my nightstand right now, and they’re gorgeous – and the covers seem so perfect. Here are links to a couple of Zone 3 books that I own.

John Pursley’s If You Have Ghosts 
Amanda Auchter’s The Glass Crib 

Nice covers, eh?

New poem in Used Furniture Review, & more

New poem out in Used Furniture Review. My friends on Facebook have been having fun passing it around because, well, it’s so trashy. Truly trashy. Here’s the link:

“Disposal”

What did you think I meant by “trashy”? 

Other news: I just got a letter from the Hudson Valley Writer’s Project (Slapering Hol Press) that my chapbook manuscript “A Whole Set of Words Not To Use Around Children” was a finalist for their contest. Nice! This week, at least, I don’t mind being the bridesmaid. 

Zone 3 First Book Award (alternate title: I won! I won! I won!)

It’s been a sleepless week. On Monday (six days ago as I write this) I got a call from Blas Falconer at Zone 3 Press out of Austin Peay State University, letting me know I won the First Book Award in Poetry for my manuscript Frost in the Low Areas. So I jumped up and down for a while, sent a thumbs up to my hubby in the next room, tried to shush my two small kids (who were not impressed by my recent good luck), spoke incoherently on the phone to Blas, and wondered if this could be an elaborate hoax. Well, I hope not, ’cause I’ve been telling everyone and I’ll feel silly if I have to take it back.

Zone 3 has been marvelous – so kind and reassuring. The final judge, Nancy Eimers, sent me an incredible note and suggested I not make too many changes to the manuscript before it goes into book form. That’s pretty amazing, considering her name will always be on it.

I’ll have a book. A book! I’ll get to hold that little sucker in my hands.

Here’s the press release.

Publication is set for fall 2013. Now to think of some cover art…