By Derek Nikitas, Director, Bluegrass Writers Studio
As the weather turns crisp, it’s again that time of year to think ahead to the holidays. Quality time with family, soul-searching, gifts. And for those of us in the Bluegrass Writers Studio community, there’s that second holiday season to anticipate. A time to gather our creative writing family together from all across the country, to fully engage our craft and its meaning, and to share in the gift of time with our visiting writers.
Our seventh annual Bluegrass Writers Studio Winter Residency.
Since I don’t want to spoil the surprises all at once, I’ll be rolling out information about this year’s Winter Residency over a series of blogs during the next couple weeks. As with previous years, our residency will take place at the Downtown Lexington Hilton, with nightly readings, free and open to the public, every night at 5:30 p.m. It starts on January 2nd and keeps going nonstop till January 11th, 2015.
There are, as always, many added perks to those who are registered as Bluegrass Writers Studio participants (including, now, Eastern Kentucky University students at the undergraduate level). These folks will enjoy intensive workshops, exclusive craft talks from our visiting writers and agents and editors, and lots of quality conversation time spent in an engaging and supportive community of writers.
But who will be our special guests, you’re asking? Get on with it, you’re telling me.
So last year we inaugurated a “common book” for our residency participants—meaning everyone enrolled in our program would read one book together, giving us all a chance to discuss process and craft in great specific detail with a visiting writer. This year, that author is poet Matt Rasmussen, winner of the Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets and a finalist for the 2013 National Book Award.
Such major accolades were submitted in honor of Mr. Rasmussen’s debut collection of poetry, Black Aperture, a book that chronicles, in part, the author’s efforts to come to terms with his brother’s suicide, though never in the maudlin manner that such difficult material might suggest. Black Aperture is the deeply affecting chronicle we’ve chosen as this year’s common book. Here is just a taste, cribbed from Mr. Rasmussen’s official website for the book:
Our answering machine still played your message,
and on the day you died Dad asked me to replace it.
I was chosen to save us the shame of dead you
answering calls. Hello, I have just shot myself.
To leave a message for me, call hell. The clear cassette
lay inside the white machine like a tiny patient
being monitored or a miniature glass briefcase
protecting the scroll of lost voices. Everything barely
mattered and then no longer did. I pressed record
and laid my voice over yours, muting it forever
and even now. I’m sorry we are not here, I began.
Mr. Rasmussen will read from his work at 5:30 pm, Friday, January 9th, 2015 at the Lexington Downtown Hilton (Triple Crown Room). More details to follow soon—and check back here for more announcements about our other 2015 special guests.
Published on October 14, 2014