Reading with Maggie Messitt, in conversation with Kristen Young
"You Are Here: Create a Sense of Place on the Page"
Each of these five workshop sessions will include examples from literary masters, a smidge of history and theory, exploration of a particular craft element, and extensive writing exercises completed in situ. Master writers whose work will inspire us include Joan Didion, Annie Dillard, Sam Hamill, Pam Houston, Zora Neale Hurston, Stephen Kuusisto, Gary Copeland Lilley, and Luis Alberto Urrea.
Over five days, we will explore some of Fort Worden’s special places: from buildings, beaches and batteries to aquaria and artworks. Writers working at all levels and in all genres (or between them) are most welcome. Feel free to attend any number of workshops: just one, a few, or all five. An extensive resource list and bibliography will be sent to all participants.
“You Are Here” will meet in a different location at Fort Worden each day. Come dressed for the weather, ready to walk, write, and sit on the ground. Meet on the Schoolhouse steps at 3:30 pm for a group walk to each day's workshop site.
The five workshop sessions:
Sensing Place ~ With stories of the batteries’ “Cistern Chapel” as our backdrop, we’ll explore the role of sensory detail in creating a sense of place. Writing exercises will harness our corporeal senses to the practice of place-making on the page.
Living in Place ~ Inspired by the beach and the Marine Science Center, we will delve into the deep meaning of landscape: How people (re)create place and how place (re)creates people. We’ll use careful observation to develop dialogue and strong characterization.
Place and Memory ~ We will explore the site-specific poetry-sculpture installation “Memory’s Vault.” Then we’ll explore how place makes memory and memory makes place, using a series of writing prompts to unlock memories of long-ago places.
Mapping Your Place ~ Working in a Schoolhouse classroom, we’ll explore maps of Fort Worden old and new, each creating our own map of this place. Whether it’s your first visit to this peninsula we now call “Fort Worden” or your hundredth, come and explore what this place means to you—and what you mean to it. Our writing exercises will be inspired by maps that we create together.
Remaking Place ~ Gathering next to Alexander’s Castle, we’ll delve into the layers of meaning that comprise a place—both the built and natural environments. We’ll explore life at Fort Worden before 1850. Our writing exercises will explore how a place’s history (and meaning) can be revised, rewritten, and re-remembered—and how a sense of history can strengthen our writing, regardless of the topic.
Please see my "teaching" page for information about my upcoming writing workshops.
You can read about past events here.