All I can say is that the retreat completely exceeded all my expectations–and you really can’t ask for more than that, can you? The students and faculty were fantastic and made my job as program director very easy. The group was small but energized and I know everyone got so much writing done–I managed to crank out about 25 revised pages of work–much more than I had hoped for! One of the students, Aimee LaBrie, http://www.butcallmebetsy.blogspot.com (her blog is fantastic, and she’s posted some really great stuff about the retreat) started a group story that was hilarious and full of the kind of insidery stuff you hope people come away with after a week of intense togetherness. Courtney Bambrick read the piece at the closing supper and I laughed until my face hurt.
Charles Holdefer, one of the fiction faculty, came all the way from Brussels Belgium to teach! I first met Charles in 2001, the first time I went out to the University of Iowa Summer Writer’s Festival. I loved his workshop so much that I went back the next summer and dragged Christine (Weiser) with me. She fell in love with Charles too. CW and I kept in touch with him (I saw him again the next summer but took someone else’s workshop) and when we launched the retreat, he was the first person I asked to come teach, never dreaming that he would want to come, or be able to get away from his job teaching at the University of Poitier in France. Having these kinds of long distance, work related relations can be really interesting, and I have to say, I was so happy to actually be able to hang out with Charles. We talked about politics and books and religion–it was great.
Liz Abrams-Morley taught poetry for us this summer and although she’s on the standing Rosemont faculty I never had her for class–she was wonderful and funny and generous. If you ever have the opportunity to hear her read, you should go–she’s local and fabulous!
Curtis Smith, who taught Creative Non Fiction, was a blast. Curt, who grew up in Ardmore but lives in Hershey, has read for PS on several occasions, but again, it was one of those things were we never really got to socialize. Curt is an amazing reader, and is one of those writers who approach being published like machine–we were all in awe.
And Elise Juska, again, just a really wonderful, gracious person. We kicked off the Writers and Readers series with Elise, and she set the bar high and me at ease. Elise is moving back to the area in the Fall, her boyfriend will be a poet-in-residence at Princeton, so again any chance you get to hear her read, or take one of her workshops–don’t think about it–do it!
We had some fantastic guest authors make it out to campus too: Greg Frost, Anne Kaier, Catherine Stine, Beth Goldner, Christine Weiser, Denise Gess, Liz Corcoran and Marc Schuster. After the closing dinner on Friday, a group of students and faculty headed over to Gulifty’s–a big Villanova hangout–drank some cold beers and then finished the evening sitting on Marc and Kerri Schuster’s porch, petting their pooch Pete and talking.
We’ve already received the go ahead for next year and should have some preliminary information for folks in the fall–so stay tuned.