On Saturday, August 13, from 10:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., my friend and writer-colleague Blair Runion and I hosted a writers conference.
Named the Writers and Scribblers Literary Retreat, after the authors group I organize here in Durango, Colorado — Writers and Scribblers — this writers conference filled every hope I’d had for a successful event, and well beyond.
Held in two gorgeous historical buildings in Silverton, Colorado — the Silverton Town Hall and the Silverton Public Library — this event drew attendees from all over the Four Corners region, and my only regret is that I didn’t take any photographs of the day.
My sister Laura took a picture though — and shared it on Facebook. Here is an image of Blair and I at the front of the room in Town Hall, speaking to everyone right before lunch —
Here is a picture Blair took of local author Tekla Miller, who presented an afternoon workshop on writing memoir inside the library —
And here is another picture of all the people who attended Tekla’s session —
And here are the words from an email I received the day after the conference from the poet Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, who was not only one of our featured speakers, but also conducted a poetry workshop as well —
And here are the words of another email I received the day after the conference from author Tekla Miller —
“You should be extremely proud of the outcome of the Writers’ Retreat. It was well planned, wonderful venue, great presenters and well attended. Thank you so much for including me.”
Blair and I could never have pulled off this event alone — we received so much help from Blair’s mother, Deborah, and people who stepped in to help when we most needed an extra pair of hands, like my sister. This writers conference had the look and feel of a professional event, hosted by an organization of people, when really, it was just Blair and I and a tiny network of our supporters who pulled off this spectacular, amazing, beautiful and moving literary retreat.
I’m only sharing the words of two of our presenters here, because I had them in email format and it’s easy to copy and paste from an email — but I heard feedback all day long from the people who attended the conference, who enjoyed the lunch we prepared and served, and felt deeply touched by the words of the speakers that day — all the poets and writers who spent a day in Silverton to share their passion for literature — both the spoken word of art, and those recorded on paper and stone, pixels, pop radio hits, bathroom walls, wherever.
This entire event was Blair’s idea — she gets all the blame for making this happen. I just came along for the ride, the back wheel on the bicycle that went for a spin down the road.
The physical labor involved was no small thing. My body was sleep-deprived and my muscles still ache today from setting up, running, and cleaning up after this conference. Much like other big events I’ve organized and run, this one required a huge amount of elbow grease, on top of the mental stamina of thinking through each tiny detail, such as whether to include oxford commas or not on the two-page folded program everyone received at the door. (Answer: YES, Blair and I both believed in using the oxford comma in the program.)
Blair has reserved the Town Hall for our second Literary Retreat in Silverton next year — so if you’d like to join us, mark your calendars for Saturday, August 26, 2017. Our keynote speaker this year, the poet Art Goodtimes, is enthusiastic about hosting a two-hour session on participatory poetry next year. I already can’t wait to experience this, and it’s a full year away!
I have received in abundance many gifts from the universe, and participating in this Literary Retreat was my way of saying thanks — to the world at large and to all those who have helped me — as well as spreading the joy I find in words. In the dense web of networks that compose any one single life, we all throw out sparks in strange and unknowable ways — the Writers and Scribblers Literary Retreat was one such spark.
Thank you to everyone who came, both in physical body as well as in spirit — and to everyone waiting to hear how this event went. It was spectacular. And such a great success that we’re planning to do it again!