VCCA Fellowship (note)


For the first two weeks of November, I attended my first artists’ residency, at the amazing Virginia Center for Creative Arts, where I enjoyed true fellowship with a wonderful group of writers, composers, and visual artists. There’s no doubt that – like a group of people stranded on a desert island after their ship has sunk – in sharing the night of the 2016 election, we all became closer than we might have otherwise.

One of the Fellows was photographer Martirene Alcantara, and I’m honoured to be part of her ‘artists’ series. I’m also grateful to composer Steve Landis for encouraging me to bust out of my more formal poetry style into a Beat-improv(ish) evening…video to follow…watch this space.

Hope in the Dark

Rebecca Solnit has offered a free ebook version of her inspiring text:

“It’s important to say what hope is not: it is not the belief that everything was, is, or will be fine. The evidence is all around us of tremendous suffering and tremendous destruction. The hope I’m interested in is about broad perspectives with specific possibilities, ones that invite or demand that we act. It’s also not a sunny everything-is-getting-better narrative, though it may be a counter to the everything-is-getting-worse narrative. You could call it an account of complexities and uncertainties, with openings. “Critical thinking without hope is cynicism, but hope without critical thinking is naïvete,” the Bulgarian writer Maria Popova recently remarked.”

Excerpt From: Rebecca Solnit. “Hope in the Dark.” iBooks.

Fellowship at Virginia Center for Creative Arts

img_0427I have the great fortune to be a Fellow at the VCCA for twelve days at the beginning of November. This is only 14 miles from Randolph College, my alma mater, but I’ve never been to the VCCA. So, I’m particularly happy to be back in Virginia, surrounded by amazing autumn foliage, expressly for dedicated writing time.

Perhaps it is because I laid the foundations of my writing career in this very setting – the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains – but it is both familiar and sweet to be sitting out in the morning sunlight with my laptop (fortunately, not the same laptop,) breathing fresh mountain air and the smells of dry, sun-baked grass.

The colours here astonish me. I’ve just come from Bath, that oat-biscuit-coloured city of seamless beauty. But to drive through fall leaves in every colour of the spice cupboard – paprika, saffron, cumin, turmeric, nutmeg, cinnamon – brilliant reds, yellows, and oranges – makes me feel at home. Even the birds are bright: when I first drove up the winding road towards the VCCA, the flash of a red cardinal, and, moments later, a clamorous blue jay, startled me. Everything is bright, even the browns, so it is fitting that I’m here to work on a writing project that has to do with colours.