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Inside Look

So, You’re Going to Lisbon…Getting Around

by Joey Burke and Deri Ross Pryor

Another Q&A between BGWS student Joey Burke and I about Lisbon.

Dear Deri,

So, You’re Going to Lisbon…


by Joey Burke and Deri Ross Pryor

If you are one of the lucky ducks going to Lisbon for the BGWS Summer Residency this year, first of all, I’m jealous. Second of all, if this is your first time going, there are many little things (that can add up to big things) that can catch you off guard. I’m by no means an expert in international travel in general, or Lisbon in particular, but I went last year and thought I would share all the little practical things I learned. Let my mistakes be your learning experiences.

BGWS student Joey Burke is going for the first time this year, and since I don’t fit in her suitcase as her personal guide we cooked up a little collaboration of Q&As to demystify the trip.

Dear Deri,

Fighting the Dragon of Chaos – Part Two

Dragon 2

by Deri Ross Pryor, BGWS Graduate Assistant

In part one, I talked about how our busy lives makes slowing down our brains to write a daunting task, like fighting a dragon while severely underprepared. Multi-tasking has become more than just a buzz word; it is legitimately how most of us navigate life. Many times we feel we are getting a lot done at once. Unfortunately, research is showing that multi-tasking is an oxymoron. It implies we are getting multiple tasks done at once, when in fact we are barely getting anything done at all, and what we do accomplish is often shoddy at best.

Fighting the Dragon of Chaos – Part One


by Deri Ross Pryor, BGWS Graduate Assistant

Writing is a perilous business. Not in any physical way, usually, unless you are absurdly clumsy and tend to fall out of stationary chairs. (slowly raises hand) But it can do a number on your psyche if you aren’t careful.

One thing I’ve noticed among my fellow budding writers is a tendency towards self-flagellation. We think our characters suck, our plots suck, we suck. We also moan to an almost obnoxious level about not being productive enough. Unfortunately, though, there may be some truth to that last one.

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


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.”

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