The Magic Continues for The Writers Hotel
The Writers Hotel marked its 6-year anniversary this year, hosting the largest group yet. More than 80 writers convened in Midtown, New York City, eager to read and eager to write. On the first night at Kinokuniya Bookstore, hearing the faculty read, I kept thinking over and over: It was so good to be back.
I attended in 2017, and it was transcendent for me, astounding in its magic. Being in Shanna McNair’s workshop became the best workshop experience of my life, and I’d been to other writing conferences and held an MFA. Being in Shanna’s workshop, I felt not only that I was seen but that my work was seen. My fellow workshoppers didn’t press what they felt the work should be, but instead saw where I wanted the work to go. They helped me get there. I felt nurtured; My work felt nurtured. To this day, we still stay in touch. They’ve brought me back when I felt low about my writing. From all over the world, they nurture me. They are my family, all of them.
This year had its own sparkling, crackling magic. It was an absolute honor to TA for Elizabeth Hand, who brought us close and held us together. This workshop group was deeply imaginative, warm, and so freaking talented. A different magic from 2017, but magic all the same. We were expansive, from all walks of life. From ages 30 to 70, hailing from Edinburgh, Portugal, Ireland, Hawaii, Chicago, the list goes on. We talked excitedly over each piece, as if each of our books were already out in the world, eager and hungry at its potential. My piece was blown wide open, and the day after the conference ended, I went back to the story, writing and editing more than 2,000 words. Fevered writing, and that is often the best kind. One of my fellow workshoppers dubbed us the Kindly Oval as opposed to the Viscious Circle that met in the Algonquin Hotel (where we workshopped) many years ago. It is an apt name. It is a perfect name. We’ve already written dozens of emails to each other. We plan to meet again soon. They, too, have become my family.
The Writers Hotel is one of the younger writing conferences out there, but it has already left a lasting imprint on hundreds of lives, launching writing careers and placing others at the ready for success. The directors, Shanna McNair and Scott Wolven, are writers themselves. They are dreamers, warriors, and protectors of the craft. They see all the work, they see all the writers, and in turn urge them all onward. Pure authenticity: That is what The Writers Hotel is.
And so the magic goes on...
Lyndsie Manusos' (Fiction) fiction has appeared in Midwestern Gothic, Apex Magazine, PANK, A Cappella Zoo and other notable publications. Her work of flash fiction, "Clean Team" won 2017 Write to Publish Contest by Ooligan Press in partnership with The Masters Review. She was a shortlist finalist for the 2014 Ploughshares Emerging Writers contest and a finalist in the 2017 River Styx Schlafly Beer Micro-Brew Micro-Fiction contest. Lyndsie holds an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her present work in progress is a collection short stories titled Encyclopedia of the Unexplained. Lyndsie lives and works in Chicago and serves as web producer for The Poetry Foundation.
This is a short post, but I wanted to pop on here and share a little story about a gardener I’ve been observing for a while now.
A couple of weeks ago, the street I live on had four tornadoes come through in one day (my house was shaking, and in between worrying that my roof was going to fly off, I did idly wonder if this was finally my chance to meet the wicked witch of the west). Luckily, there wasn’t that much damage, except to one house. It was a house I never paid much attention to, given the fact that it’s almost entirely concealed by trees. It’s a nice house; as I understand it, it was built over 50 years ago, and during the storms, it seemed that all those trees were thrown on the house at once, putting two holes in the roof and a crack down the side. The trees were almost immediately removed, and this was how I discovered that a gardener had been hiding in plain sight. The woman who lives there has a small greenhouse attached to the side of her house, and an area just outside the trees is planted with a bunch of annuals. I don’t know what else she has planted around the property (I have no doubt that she planted all those trees), but I’ve been observing her on my walks for the last couple of weeks. Every day, she’s out there working in her yard. I’ve been told that she’s at least 83, and every day I walk by her house she’s been outside, raking leaves and clearing away branches (on the bright side, she has plenty of room to plant now that the sun can reach her front yard!). I can tell that this will be me when I’m that old, because there is always something to do in the garden (it’s one of the many good things about the hobby). Our work is never done; there’s always something to be planted, pruned or harvested. I look forward to seeing what she plants in the new space!
Jarad is the co-administrator and writer for Sacred Chickens, attends college at MTSU, loves tea and coffee, and tries to spend every spare second reading. He recently developed an interest (some might say obsession) with gardening. Jarad is an English major with a concentration in literature. Bless his heart! Let's all light a candle for him and send him happy thoughts!
Today Jarad is sharing his thoughts on the literary canon. Let us know your thoughts as well!
I went through a phase in 8th or 9th grade, where it was my mission to read all the “classic” books, something I later came to know as the literary canon. I got through quite a few- Charles Dickens, Alexandre Dumas, Salinger, Harper Lee, Mark Twain, I read them all. Was this a good or bad thing for me to do? I enjoyed some of them. I learned something. I was free to read other things while my classmates slogged through their assignments, at least when one of the ones I’d read showed up on the syllabus. But sometimes now I question why I did it.
Johannes Cabal, the Detective
Written by Jonathan L. Howard
Review by Jarad Johnson
I reviewed and loved the first book in this series – check it out here. The protagonist, for whom these books are named is a man named Johannes Cabal, a necromancer and antihero. He’s diabolical in an endearing way, he’s sarcastic, and has a general dislike of people (I wonder why I like him so much?). He describes himself as a scientist on a mission to abolish death.
Meet two poets,collectively known as Saint Flashlight, who are dedicated to releasing poetry to run free among us, . Molly Gross and Drew Pisarra, longtime friends, bring people on the street face to face with poetry. Before they even know what's happened to them...they are suddenly confronted with free poems. And people love it. Even some people who didn't know they liked poetry. Read our interview with these partners in verse. (And then call to listen to a lost poem. Trust me.)
There has been a torrential flood of rain lately, which is good for Julie and Jarad because they are not obligated to water their plants on rainy days (Uncle Morty is, of course, blithely indifferent). Let's just say we appreciate the break. Julie is ruminating on all this wetness today.
I hate a dry garden. We had a few weeks without rain here in Atlanta and it makes me sad for the plants. The seedlings sit quietly, curling up into themselves, no more leaping upwards. Every breeze that shakes the tree leaves in the heat seems like a choking prayer for rain. The birds flutter out against their better judgment to get a quick drink when I water the seed beds. Relentless sun, in the south, feels like a slow, creeping death. It’s hard to breathe.
Friends of the Chickens, Jeff Weddle is sharing his eight rules of writing today!
1. Write the truths known only to you.
2. Find your voice but know that your voice is legion.
3. Don't neglect your reading.
The Writer's Hotel is happening very soon, and since Julie had a great time last year, Sacred Chickens wanted to remind and encourage anyone in the area to go to the readings. Each year, writers and poets hit the literary hot spots in New York to read their works. What better way to support other writers than to chill out, have a drink and listen to the words come alive. Here's a group of posters with times dates and the names of the writers. Take advantage if you're in the area.
Here are some of our favorite classic books!
Of Human Bondage- W. Somerset Maugham
I read this book some time ago, but it remains one of my favorites, mostly for the gorgeous writing. The plot itself is good, but nothing revolutionary. The writing, however, is what sets it apart. Because of that, it's a book you can easily lose yourself in.
Giant Cat Eating Monsters or Useful Neighbors?
At my last house, in Fayetteville, I had a nest of red-tailed hawks in a tree at the top of the back pasture. They’d built their home, with what must have been a remarkable 360 degree view, overlooking the rolling green hills and grassy meadows of our little valley. Presumably, they could see the verdant landscape dotted with cows, horses, and even some fluffy sheep. They were probably more interested in the multitude of rabbits they could see from their vantage point and, of course, the chickens. They had chosen to build directly overlooking my chicken coop so they watch their lunch scratching around just underneath the tree. Clever.
I’ve always been told they would only take prey in a dive. The chicken yard was laced over with tree branches. There was no way they could dive in. Unfortunately, no one had ever told the hawks that they were limited in that way. I heard the chickens carrying on with great drama one morning, and when I went running out, I realized that the one of the hawks had simply hopped in and was killing a large red hen in a ground fight. Her friends were watching it play out like a horror film. They were highly agitated to say the least. Once my daughter, Evangeline, and I were sitting in the kitchen trying to have a relaxing cup of coffee when we saw one jump down through the branches and kill a screaming squirrel. So much for only killing prey in a dive. I’m glad that I’m not terribly portable. Sheesh.
Anyway, I thought since I’d moved to Atlanta, in the middle of a subdivision that I would leave the hawks behind. Guess what? I have a nest of red-tailed hawks living even closer to my house here, and I’m pretty sure it’s full of babies. Now I have to be concerned about the cats walking outside and being carried off. Actually, not carried off some distance…but eaten right outside the window of the upstairs bedroom. Sigh. We will have to be careful with neighbors like that.
Nevertheless, I don’t begrudge the hawks their living. I haven’t lost a single plant or bulb to squirrels or rabbits; I bet I don’t have poisonous snakes or rats outside. I guess they have as much right to scratch out a life here as I do. And they’re beautiful birds. Hopefully, we can be peaceful neighbors.