(including an Eric Rohmann sighting — he’s also seated with Suzanne Bloom, Lindsay Barrett George, Melanie Hall, and Floyd Cooper)
I’m doing something a bit different for 7-Imp today.
This March, I had the pleasure of being a faculty member (well, sorta — I was a Special Guest instructor) at a Highlights Foundation writers’ workshop up in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. The Foundation is changing the way they’re doing things, given the construction of a new facility at their Honesdale site, and wanted folks to help get the word out, and I said I’d be happy to contribute with a short Q & A with Kent Brown, Executive Director of the Highlights Foundation.
(If you’ve ever wondered about the Foundation faculty—for their writers’ workshops, that is—go no further than here and prepare to be impressed.)
So, here’s the deal, dear Imps: The Highlights Foundation has led in the past a week-long writers’ workshop at the Chautauqua Institution in New York state. However, at the Honesdale campus in Pennsylvania, they are happy to have completed work on a brand-new facility. As a result, they decided to focus on what they can provide writers and illustrators using the Honesdale space alone. “We have had many Chautauqua alum (faculty, too) ask us about a ‘substitute’ for Chautauqua,” said Alison Green Myers, who works for the Highlights Foundation. “While there can be no exact replica of Chautauqua, we feel we have come up with three week-long courses to satisfy our Chautauqua patrons, and, hopefully, encourage new writers and illustrators to join in our tradition of congeniality and excellence.”
So, essentially, they’re moving their week-long course from Chautauqua to three week-long courses this summer at their Honesdale campus. (I’ve been there, as I said, and can vouch for how lovely it is.)
At the bottom of this post are descriptions of the three courses, for interested folks.
And, as I said, I briefly chatted with Kent Brown about the changes …
Jules: Can you tell 7-Imp readers a bit more about the new facility and what it has to offer?
Kent: The Barn (as it was informally named) has hosted two dozen workshops since we occupied. We built it inside the old foundation of a huge 19th-century barn that burned 90 years ago. All of the wood you can see comes from my grandparents’ woods; the stone is quarried from nearby, and recycled beams from the early 1800s make the trusses. We have several classrooms-like areas, all homey, and a Great Hall. And a giant kitchen.
But these are not what writers care about. They like the space, the nooks and crannies, the food (always popular with starving writers and artists!), and the outdoor fireplace.
With The Barn added to our farmhouse and 21 cabins (a cabin is pictured top-left), it’s proven to be a great place for writing and receiving craft, critique, and inspiration.
Jules: For those who aren’t familiar with it, can you elaborate on what the “Writing from the Heart” workshop offers?
Kent (pictured right with Ms. Cowley): I almost said: Joy Cowley (who introduced me to the concept of writing from the heart). Joy has been a friend of the Foundation and of writers and illustrators. No ego, plenty of accomplishment.
But, of course, Joy will be joined by a great team of writers and editors and other helpful folks. Focusing on writing emerging and early readers, we will focus on writing with compassion, humor, and child-like wonder. One of my colleagues says its a writer’s journey thorough the heart.
Special guests, one-on-one sessions, and mentoring are part of our tradition. Craft and marketing are important to help you connect with readers.
Jules: You’ve worked with many faculty members over the years. Could you share a favorite Chautauqua memory?
Kent: Early on in our Chautauqua program, Wendy Pye, who founded Sunshine Books in New Zealand and took it around the world, served on our faculty. On the last night, she was telling me what a moving experience it had been for her but that she was not the right person to teach there. “Well, who is?” I asked. “Joy Cowley,” she replied.
And so began a long tenure that has enriched so many authors.
Thanks to Kent for visiting. I’ve met him in person, and he’s a dynamo.
Below are the three courses offered at the Honesdale facility:
Writing from the Heart —
Fiction Writing for Children and Young Adults —
Nonfiction Writing for Children and Young Adults —
All images used with permission of Alison Green Myers / The Highlights Foundation.