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Spotlight June 2014

posted Jun 3, 2014, 6:10 AM by Susan Conley   [ updated Jun 3, 2014, 7:36 AM ]

Writing in the Land of Robert Frost

GHS junior Meagan Currie and sophomore Claire Nicholson recently attended the prestigious Bread Loaf New England Young Writers’ Conference set in the Green Mountain National Forest near Middlebury, Vermont, on grounds where the poet Robert Frost worked, wrote, walked, and taught for many years.

Currie, a junior enrolled in the IB Diploma program, participated in a workshop group focused on poetry writing. Nicholson, a sophomore, participated in a fiction-writing group (although she also writes poetry and has three poems published in the 2014 edition of Inkwell). Currie and Nicholson were among a group of about 150 students from around New England and the rest of the country who gathered at Bread Loaf from May 15-18 to work closely with other serious young writers and to study with published writers and teachers.

“Having the opportunity to work with professional writers and the intense concentrated atmosphere of working with other writing students and getting everyone’s feedback was really exciting and stimulating,” said Currie. “It felt like a college seminar and broadened my perspective as a writer about different ideas and topics and the different techniques that I saw in other students writing.”

The annual four-day conference is overseen by Middlebury College and takes place on the college’s Bread Loaf campus, which sits several thousand feet up in the Green Mountain National Forest. The campus is set on part of a former farm and features a number of handsome wood-frame buildings, many from the early 20th century. It was converted into a summer graduate school for English in the 1920s by a group that included Robert Frost, who lived for many years and summers in a cabin just down the road. Every August, the campus also hosts the two-week Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, the oldest and most prestigious writers’ conference in the country.

Each May, the New England Young Writers Conference offers student writers from New England (and now the rest of the country) a rich experience of writing and workshopping with other student writers. Currie and Nicholson participated in several daily workshops with their groups where they read original writing, shared feedback with other students, and closely studied techniques and matters of style.

“I had a wonderful time,” said Nicholson. “It was awesome to be surrounded by people excited about words, poetry, fiction. It was a great atmosphere and the workshop sessions where we read and other people commented on our work was really helpful. It was awesome to get comments and criticism at the same time.”

In addition to the daily workshops, student writers could also sign up for shorter sessions each day about specific writing topics and skills outside their declared genre workshops.

As part of the conference experience, there are also regular nightly open-mic readings in the historic wood-framed Burgess Meredith Theater as well as social events and activities like a square dance, an open music jam, nature walks, and just hanging out in the many beautiful open spaces and meadows. Student writers stay in the various Bread Loaf Campus lodgings and eat their meals in the classic old dining room in the main Bread Loaf Inn.

The application process for the 2015 Bread Loaf Young Writers’ Conference will be announced in GHS freshman, sophomore, and junior English classes next fall.