Inside Look

The Winter Residency Got Under My Skin: The Lexington Tattoo Project of Kurt Gohde and Kremena Todorova

I never before had a desire for a tattoo. How would I choose an image to have under my skin forever? While I admired the artistry of some tattoos I’d seen, I never had inspiration or reason to get one myself. At the Bluegrass Winter residency, a presentation by visiting Lexington artists Kurt Gohde and Kremena Todorova, a poem by Frank X Walker, and the idea of being part of a global community changed my mind and offered a reason for me to get inked.

Inviting the Epic into the Everyday

Caliope

by Tricia Coscia

“You have epic structuring within you that you can reclaim or retool to suit your poetry.”~ Oliver de la Paz at the Bluegrass Writer’s Studio Winter Residency, January 2016.

As a graduate student, parent, and full time worker, the word “epic” is daunting. I scribble lines on junk mail envelopes in found moments, elbow in a stanza or two on the train, alternate edits with bites of lunch at my desk. Sometimes I have no idea what I wrote on that envelope, and I wonder what my fellow commuters are thinking as I count syllables on my fingers. In lucky moments I feel the muse is with me; other times I wonder if what I credit to her is just another manifestation of my ADHD.

Writing without a Road Map

Writing without a Road Map

by Jen Parks           

Start with this: Four strangers get into a car...

It sounds like the beginning of a joke, doesn’t it? Or, maybe a B movie. What about the beginning of a novel?

Next, consider these words by E. L. Doctorow: “Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

Confused yet? Let me back up and explain.

It’s Friday, January 8th and it’s the next to last day of the Bluegrass Writers Studio Winter Residency. All week, I’d attended workshops, craft talks, and readings. As I settle into my seat and open to a blank page in my notebook, readying myself for Lee Martin’s craft talk, I realize I am still hungry, though not for food like you might think. I am hungry for something else. Hungry for inspiration.

All Bars Are Wally’s Bar

All Bars Are Wally’s Bar

By Doug Brewer

I’ve read that some editors are against stories set in bars, so naturally, I write stories set in bars. I can think several stories and essays I’ve written during my time in the BGWS where I’ve either placed the action or mentioned a bar, and it’s always Wally’s Bar.

Wally’s Bar was a place where I spent a good amount of time and money when I was younger, when I was seriously considering Professional Drinking as a career choice. Wally had good beer, or as good as I could afford, and cheap pool tables in decent condition, and my friends and I made regular pilgrimages over the twenty or so miles to Morrilton, Arkansas for the pleasure. It turned out that Professional Drinking was not a valid career choice, but it was good to know I had the chops to do it.

Journaling to Memoiring

Journaling to Memoiring

 By Kelsey Weber

            For the 2016 Winter Residency, every participant was required to read a book of linked essays called Small Fires by Julie Marie Wade. It’s a wonderful book and if you like to read memoirs then I highly recommend it to you. Even if you don’t like to read memoirs I would recommend this book, since it might just change your mind.

I Know You're in There

by Rebecca Daff, BGWS Student

Attendees of this year’s Bluegrass Writers Studio winter residency were treated to a craft lecture by author Allen Wier. His thoughts on writing, and why writers work even when fame and fortune are far from guaranteed, were compelling. I wrote down as much as I could, but my skills in short-hand are nonexistent, so I eventually put my notebook aside and just enjoyed listening. But before I did, I wrote down something that I continued to think about long after the lecture ended:

“Beginning writers may mistrust the autobiographical impulse, thinking they don’t deserve credit for stories or poems they didn’t make up out of whole cloth.”

Writing What Hurts

Writing that Hurts

By Carissa Stevens, BGWS Student

     As a fiction writer, I have no qualms about putting my characters through the ringer. Death, heartbreak, illness, loss—these have all befallen my characters in different degrees of severity. Perhaps it is sadistic, but I relish the impact traumatic experiences can have on a story.

But, admittedly, when it comes to penning my own misfortunes, I clam up.

On Querying an Agent

By Joey Burke, BGWS Student

An open letter to a friend.

Dear Dr. John,

I found your Literary Agent!

Mackenzie Brady Watson at New Leaf is everything you would want in a literary wife: poise, wit, and intellect.  She is a great partner for you and like a good wife; she nudges you in the right direction.  This is not her first marriage and as such, she brings experience to the relationship. She also represents R. Dean Johnson, author of Delicate Men. You can rejoice at his inclusion in her dowry.  She has great taste in men. I mean writers. Yes, good taste in writers. That is what I mean to say. 

On Querying an Agent

By Joey Burke, BGWS Student

An open letter to a friend.

Dear Dr. John,

I found your Literary Agent!

Mackenzie Brady Watson at New Leaf is everything you would want in a literary wife: poise, wit, and intellect.  She is a great partner for you and like a good wife; she nudges you in the right direction.  This is not her first marriage and as such, she brings experience to the relationship. She also represents R. Dean Johnson, author of Delicate Men. You can rejoice at his inclusion in her dowry.  She has great taste in men. I mean writers. Yes, good taste in writers. That is what I mean to say. 

Hello Semester

By Deri Ross Pryor, Graduate Assistant

Here we are at the beginning of yet another wonderful semester at the Bluegrass Writers Studio. As each new semester approaches, I’m filled with excitement for what it has in store for me, as well as a bone-deep fear that I won’t live up to anyone’s expectations, most of all my own.

I believe that combo of excitement and fear is a normal, even necessary, component anytime you find yourself going after something as important as your dreams. Even more so for anyone in the arts, since tastes are subjective, and deep down we know we cannot please everyone with what we produce, but yet we press on. The excitement keeps you going and taking chances; the fear keeps you humble enough to keep learning and growing. Somewhere in between is where the magic happens.

Open