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Writer's Workshop: May 17-20, 2012

Writer's Workshop: May 17-20, 2012

Willa Cather in the early to mid 1920s
Mary K. Stillwell
Wednesday, October 26, 2011

When Willa Cather received the advice to write about the part of the world she knew best, she turned for inspiration to the Nebraska prairie that affected her youth. Each year, the Willa Cather Foundation is pleased to host a Prairie Writers' Workshop for beginning, aspiring, or experienced writers. The four-day event is held in Red Cloud, Nebraska, where Willa Cather spent her formative years. In addition to direct instruction from a professional writer, the workshop incorporates tours of seven local historic sites relating to Cather's life and work; visits to the 608-acre Willa Cather Memorial Prairie with time for on-site nature writing; and a reception that provides participants with the opportunity to share their work with the public.

The 5th annual Prairie Writers' Workshop

A Poetry-writing Workshop: Exploring Your "Gift of Song"

with Mary K. Stillwell, artist in residence

May 17-20, 2012

Red Cloud, Nebraska

This 4-day workshop offers 12 hours of poetry-writing classes under the instruction of Mary K. Stillwell, artist in residence. The workshop will take place in Red Cloud, Nebraska; the childhood home of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Willa Cather. Guided tours of Cather's childhood home and other historic sites relating to her life and writing, including the Willa Cather Memorial Prairie, will be available to workshop participants.

An early reviewer of Willa Cather's collection of poems, April Twilights, described its author as having "the gift of song," with the "true poet's eye for the concrete and the true novelist's interest in men and women." In this writing workshop, we will focus on identifying the themes and motifs that may already appear in our own writing, discovering our inspiration, capturing significant detail, practicing forms with which we are comfortable, and experimenting with new methods of expression.


Thursday, May 17
4:00-5:00 p.m.
Participant check-in
6:00-9:00 p.m. Writing workshop. Your Song: Where are we now? What's important to us and to our lives? Where to begin? Where do we want to go? Who do we want to speak to? Bring your favorite poem (one you've written or the work of another).

Friday, May 18
9:30 & 11:00 a.m. or 1:30 & 3:00 p.m.
Town tour of Cather historic sites
6:00-9:00 p.m. Writing workshop. Finding your "home pasture": Writing about our place, our stories, our lives. Drawing inspiration from reading, viewing, and listening to other works of art.

Saturday, May 19
10:00-11:45 a.m. Tour of the Cather Prairie/on-site nature writing
1:00-5:00 p.m. Writing workshop. The Poet's Backpack: Experimenting with sound and meter. Metaphor, simile, and conceits. Finding the right word. The gift of revision.

Sunday, May 20
1:00-3:00 p.m.
Sharing our work with each other. How to get the most out of writing groups. Is publication for you? If so, how to go about it. How might readings benefit your work.
3:00-4:30 p.m. Public reception and reading.

4-day Workshop Price

General Registration: $65.00

Student Registration: $40.00

Late Registration (after May 7): $90.00

About the Artist

Mary K. Stillwell, a native of Omaha, has studied writing in New York and on the Plains. Her poetry has been published in a variety of journals, including The Paris Review, Prairie Schooner, The Massachusetts Review, Confrontation, and The Little Magazine. Moving to Malibu, her first collection of poems, was published by Sandhills Press. She served as co-editor of Nebraska Presence: An Anthology of Poetry, a collection of contemporary poems by Nebraskans, published in 2007 by Backwaters Press. Her book-length study, The Life and Poetry of Ted Kooser: "Bright Yellow Leaves Flying Behind," will be published by the University of Nebraska Press.

Stillwell studied poetry with William Packard, Erica Jong, and Stephen Dobyns in New York and with Ted Kooser, former U.S. poet laureate, and Hilda Raz, editor of the Prairie Schooner, here in Nebraska. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Complete List of All Prairie Writers' Workshops

4th annual Prairie Writers' Workshop with Angela L. Glover, artist in residence

Place-Based Identity: A creative-nonfiction workshop focused on connections between self and place

June 2-5, 2011

3rd annual Prairie Writers' Workshop with John T. Price, artist in residence

The Nature of Home: A creative nonfiction workshop focused on the power of place

May 20-23, 2010

2nd annual Prairie Writers' Workshop with Timothy Schaffert, artist in residence
"Fiction and Art": A fiction-writing workshop, with a careful look at art and design in Nebraska narratives
July 13-17, 2009

Prairie Writers' Workshop with Lorraine Duggin, artist in residence
June 23-27, 2008