A Gathering of Literary Greats
Every summer, Keystone College in La Plume, invites several well-known masters of their craft to participate in The Gathering: A Literature Conference. Anyone who has ever been to The Gathering knows it is as close to a literary commune as you can get in n northeastern Pennsylvania. This year, The Gathering kicks off on July 19 and runs through the weekend, wrapping up on July 22. The theme for this year’s event is “Believing, Unbelieving, and the Moral Compass.”
While The Gathering is full of speakers, lectures, panels, and other inspirational offerings, organizers also have created a series of workshops that promise to be amazing. As a writer, I feed off of being in the company of other writers, but being in the classroom, learning from a more experienced writer can be invaluable. I believe that any writer, regardless of skill level, would do well to take advantage of learning from other writers. Just last week I sat in on a Point of View workshop at Wilkes University and it opened up the flood gates for me, sent me home to my computer, and helped me kick out 4,000 words of my new memoir.
Here are just a few of the workshops being offered at this year’s Gathering:
- Writing as an Erotic Art: Desperate Housewives Meets Don Quixote. This workshop, hosted by Millicent Borges Accardi, an award-winning Portuguese-American poet, will explore erotic poetry from Sappho to Wallace Stevens. Accardi will examine the Erotic Spirit, and work to define what makes something “sexy.” The workshop will run from 3 to 5 p.m. on Friday.
- Promoting Your Writing (and you) through Social Networking & Online Media. Molly McLeod spent two years working in the publicity department at Simon & Schuster and is bringing her expertise to The Gathering. In this workshop, she’ll share the best strategies for reaching your target audience and her unique perspective of being a publishing “insider.” Learn what editors, publishers, agents and authors think about promoting authors and their work. The workshop will run from 3 to 5 p.m. on Saturday.
- Creative Nonfiction. This workshop, led by award-winning journalist, playwright, and essayist Quinn D. Eli, will combine the artistry of fiction with the truth of journalism. Eli will work to show participants how to strike that perfect balance between writing the truth and writing the beauty in life. This workshop will run from 3 to 5 p.m. on Friday.
- The Ones We Love to Hate: Sympathy and (Un)Likeability in Characters. Bill Black, the mastermind behind Scranton’s Pages and Places, will examine what it means to feel sympathy for a character. He’ll also talk about how authors create likeability in even the most unlikeable of characters. This workshop will run from 3 to 5 p.m. on Friday.
- Believing, Unbelieving, and Writing. Gail Carson Levine, best known for her novel Enchanted, leads the charge in tackling this year’s conference theme. Levine is the author of several children’s books and will talk about how books can often end up being the moral compass, not only for children, but for adults as well. She will also help you start your own stories. This workshop will run from 3 to 5 p.m. on Saturday.
There are also a whole host of other workshops with broad appeal: African Dance, Introduction to Screenwriting, and a visual arts workshop, to name a few. These workshops are a great way to immerse yourself in the literary community without the expense of traveling far.
Whether you are a writer or a reader, The Gathering is full of interesting and stimulating events. The highlight of the conference, however, will be listening to Sharon Olds speak. Olds, for those of you who are unfamiliar with her work, is the author of eight poetry collections. She has won several prestigious awards, served as the Poet Laureate for New York State, and writes some of the most beautiful poetry around. She’ll speak on Friday, July 20 at 7:30 p.m.
For tickets to any of these events, plus full day registrations, visit Keystone College’s website at www.gathering.keystone.edu or call 945-8000.
Amye Barrese Archer is a writer and teacher in Scranton. You can read more about her at www.amyearcher.com.