Readings and lectures free and open to the public
MIDDLEBURY, Vt.-Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the oldest writers’ conference in the country, will meet Wednesday, Aug. 17-Saturday, Aug. 27. Held every summer since 1926 on the college’s Bread Loaf campus in Ripton, the conference remains one of America’s most respected literary institutions. Two weeks of workshops, lectures, classes and readings present writers with rigorous practical and theoretical approaches to their craft, and offer a model of literary instruction. A dynamic setting, the mountain campus has attracted many renowned literary figures such as Robert Frost, Carson McCullers, John Irving, Terry Tempest Williams, and Ted Conover.
“Bread Loaf is not a retreat—-not a place to work in solitude. Instead, it provides a voluble congress of diverse voices in which we test our own assumptions regarding literature and seek advice about our progress as writers,” said Michael Collier, author of four books of poems and director of the conference.
This year, 270 writers, students, faculty, literary agents and editors will gather at the 80th session of the conference. The general public, too, is invited to attend a daily schedule of readings and lectures where faculty and guests gather in Bread Loaf’s Little Theatre to talk about writing or to read from their works.
The 2005 session of public events will open on Wednesday, Aug. 17, at 8:15 p.m. with a joint reading by Collier and author Charles Baxter.
Author of “The Clasp and Other Poems,” “The Folded Heart,” “The Neighbor” and “The Ledge,” which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, Collier has received Guggenheim and Thomas Watson fellowships, two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, a “Discovery”/ The Nation Award, the Alice Fay di Castagnola Award from the Poetry Society of America, and a Pushcart Prize. He co-edited “A William Maxwell Portrait” with Baxter and President of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Edward Hirsch. Collier served as poet laureate of Maryland from 2001-2004 and teaches in the creative writing program at the University of Maryland.
Baxter is the author of four novels: “First Light,” “Shadow Play,” “Saul and Patsy” and “The Feast of Love,” which was a finalist for the National Book Award. He has received the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Baxter also has written four books of stories, including “Believers” and “A Relative Stranger;” a book of essays about fiction, “Burning Down the House;” and a volume of poetry, “Imaginary Paintings.” In addition to opening the conference with the Wednesday reading, Baxter will give a lecture on Friday, Aug. 19, at 9 a.m. titled “Creating a Scene.”
Other highlights include a reading at 8:15 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 20, by poet Ellen Bryant Voigt. Voigt, a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, has six books of poetry: “Claiming Kin,” “The Forces of Plenty,” “The Lotus Flowers,” “Two Trees,” National Book Critics Circle Award finalist and Teasdale Prize winner “Kyrie,” and 2002 National Book Award finalist “Shadow of Heaven.” A Guggenheim, Lila Wallace, and National Endowment of the Arts fellow, she was inducted in the Fellowship of Southern Writers, and received the Merrill Fellowship from the Academy of American Poets and the O.B. Hardison Jr. Poetry Prize from the Folger Shakespeare Library.
On Sunday, Aug. 21, at 8:15 p.m. readings will include those by authors Martha Southgate and Percival Everett. Southgate is the author of the novels “The Fall of Rome,” which received a 2003 Alex Award from the American Library Association, and “Another Way to Dance,” which won the Coretta Scott King Award for Best First Novel. Everett is the author of more than 15 books of fiction, including “American Desert,” “Erasure,” “Glyph” and “Damned If I Do.” He received the Academy Award for Literature, the Hurston/Wright LEGACY Award and the Hillsdale Award for Fiction. Southgate and Everett will be joined by poet and author G.C. Waldrep, whose first book of poems, “Goldbeater’s Skin,” won the 2003 Colorado Prize.
Readings on Tuesday, Aug. 23, at 4:15 p.m. will include one by Thomas Mallon, the author of six novels including “Henry and Clara,” “Dewey Defeats Truman,” “Two Moons” and “Bandbox.” He has written also several books of nonfiction: “Stolen Words,” about plagiarism; “A Book of One’s Own,” about diaries; and “Mrs. Paine’s Garage,” about the Kennedy assassination. The recipient of Rockefeller and Guggenheim fellowships, and the National Books Critics Circle Award for reviewing, Mallon is a member of the National Council on the Humanities.
Later on Tuesday at 8:15 p.m., readings will include one by Susan Orlean, whose book “The Orchid Thief” was made into the 2002 movie “Adaptation,” starring Nicholas Cage and Meryl Streep. Orlean’s other books include “My Kind of Place: Travel Stories from a Woman Who’s Been Everywhere,” “The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup: My Encounters with Ordinary People,” “Saturday Night,” “Red Sox and Blue Fish: And Other Things That Make New England New England” and “Throw Me a Bone: 50 Healthy, Canine Taste-Tested Recipes for Snacks, Meals, and Treats.
Jay Parini, renowned poet, novelist and biographer, is the D.E. Axinn Professor of Creative Writing and Professor of English at Middlebury College. He will give a reading at 4:15 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 24. Parini has published six novels including “The Apprentice Lover,” “The Last Station” and “Benjamin’s Crossing.” The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize, Parini has also written four books of poetry including “Anthracite Country,” “House of Days” and the newly published “The Art of Subtraction: New and Selected Poems;” biographies of John Steinbeck, Robert Frost and William Faulkner; and a volume of essays, titled “Some Necessary Angels.”
On Thursday, Aug. 25, at 8:15 p.m. the Vermont Symphony Trio will provide a musical interlude amid the Bread Loaf series of evening readings.
Friday, Aug. 26, Lorraine Adams and Edward Hirsch will give readings at 8:15 p.m. Adams, a Pulitzer Prize winner for investigative reporting, was a staff writer for the Washington Post for 11 years. She is author of the novel “Harbor.” Hirsch has published six books of poems: “For the Sleepwalkers,” “The Night Parade,” “Earthly Measures,” “On Love,” “Lay Back the Darkness,” and “Wild Gratitude,” which won the National Book Critics Circle Award. He also has written three books of prose: the national best-seller “How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry,” “Responsive Reading” and “The Demon and the Angel: Searching for the
Source of Artistic Inspiration.” He is the editor of “Transforming Vision: Writers on Art” and co-editor, with Collier and Baxter, of “A William Maxwell Portrait.” Hirsch, who will also give a lecture titled “The Enigma of the Creative Process” earlier in the Bread Loaf session on Thursday, Aug. 18, at 9 a.m., writes a weekly column for the Washington Post Book World.
Saturday, Aug. 27, will wrap up the 2005 conference with a reading at 8:15 p.m. that will include writer Yusef Komunyakaa. The author of “Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems,
1977-1989,” which won the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for poetry, Komunyakaa is a professor in the
Council of Humanities and creative writing program at Princeton University, and a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. He also wrote “Blue Notes: Essays, Interviews & Commentaries,” “Talking Dirty to the Gods,” “Pleasure Dome: New and Collected Poems, 1975-1999,” “Taboo: The Wishbone Trilogy, Part I” and “Thieves of Paradise,” which was a finalist for the 1999 National Book Critics Circle Award.
All events are subject to change. Members of the public should contact the Middlebury College Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference to confirm days and times. Prior to the first week of the conference, call 802-443-5286; after Aug. 14, call 802-443-2700. For additional information about the conference, its lecturers and authors, see www.middlebury.edu/blwc.
To follow is a list of free conference events open to the public.
Events Listing: 2005 Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference
Lectures and readings are free and open to the public. All events will take place in the Little Theatre, on the Bread Loaf campus on Route 125 in Ripton. Events are subject to change; please call to confirm days and times: 802-443-5286, until Aug. 14; 802-443-2700, after Aug. 14.
Wednesday, Aug. 17
Reading with Charles Baxter and Michael Collier
Thursday, Aug. 18
Lecture with Edward Hirsch, “The Enigma of the Creative Process”
Reading with Louise Glück and Francine Prose
Reading with Catherine Barnett and Lynn Freed
Friday, Aug. 19
Lecture with Charles Baxter, “Creating a Scene”
Reading with William Lychack, Tara Bray Smith and Joshua Weiner
Reading with Doreen Baingana and Claire Messud
Saturday, Aug. 20
Lecture with Patricia Hampl, “First (Literary) Love Revisted: How Katherine Mansfield Messed Me Up Forever”
Lecture with Barry Sanders, “Writing About Race in America”
Reading with Michael Guista, Vyvyane Loh and Ron Slate
Reading with Christopher Castellani, and Ellen Bryant Voigt
Sunday, Aug. 21
Lecture with James Wood, “How to Narrate”
Reading with Vikram Chandra and Amy Hempel
Reading with Martha Southgate, G.C. Waldrep and Percival Everett
Monday, Aug. 22
Reading with Vestal McIntyre and Arthur Sze
Reading with Geri Doran and Lan Samantha Chang
Tuesday, Aug. 23
Lecture with Tom Sleigh, “Some Measure of Insanity”
Reading with Merrill Feitell and Thomas Mallon
Reading with H.G. Carrillo and Susan Orlean
Wednesday, Aug. 24
Lecture with Lynn Freed, “On False Starts and Creative Failure: How Not to Begin a Novel When You Don’t Have One to Write”
Reading with Jay Parini and Tom Sleigh
Reading with Jess Row and Brigit Pegeen Kelly
Thursday, Aug. 25
Lecture with Arthur Sze, “Truth’s Arrow: The Art of Translating Chinese Poetry”
Reading with Andrea Barrett and Gerald Stern
Performance by the Vermont Symphony Trio
Friday, Aug. 26
Lecture with Lan Samantha Chang, “The Breakout Section: Unpredictability and the Novel”
Reading with Rachel Cohen, Kyle Dargan and David Gilbert
Reading with Lorraine Adams and Edward Hirsch
Saturday, Aug. 27
Reading with Brian Blanchfield, Victoria Chang and Samantha Hunt
Reading with Patricia Hampl and Yusef Komunyakaa