New direction for Antioch Writers’ Workshop

The Antioch Writers’ Workshop recently announced that it’s entered into a new partnership with University of Dayton, maintaining an office in the university’s Department of English, and holding its spring and summer programs on the residential campus. While the workshop remains a fiscally independent 501(c)3, the university provides generous in-kind space; both organizations and their constituents will benefit from the partnership.

As readers of this column likely know, I wear several literary hats — columnist, teacher, writer and Executive Director of the Antioch Writers’ Workshop.

Details about the partnership can be found on the workshop's website, www.antiochwritersworkshop.com, which includes a link to University of Dayton's announcement.

So, I won’t repeat the details here. I do want to briefly share that I’m excited by this new partnership, which was thoroughly researched, vetted and voted upon by the full workshop board. As a staff member, I provided input on what, from a logistical perspective, such a change might mean to the workshop’s future.

To thoughtfully do so, I spent a great deal of time considering the heart of the workshop.

For me, the workshop has grown to represent so much more than a great opportunity to attend a wide variety of programs to learn about the craft and business of creative writing (though it certainly offers those, and I hope interested writers will review our offerings and consider attending.)

Over time, I’ve observed large gatherings of writers come together to make a temporary community at those programs. Each time, I find myself thinking that these gatherings represent the best of community: a respectful place where its members nurture and encourage diverse voices to speak and share with passion, courage, and clarity about experiences — sometimes directly in essays, sometimes filtered through fiction and poetry — that are at once personal and yet universal. I find that it is impossible not to feel both inspired and moved by spending time with people who, like you, want to share their words in a way that moves, encourages, surprises and challenges others. It is impossible not to feel empathy.

But what happens after these gatherings are over? Ah, in a way that’s the best part of my job: witnessing time and again small groups of writers form and bond from these larger events. These groups form organically and intuitively. They, too, represent to me the best of community, the very meaning of that word: coming together to commune.

I wasn’t around for the founding of the Antioch Writers’ Workshop as an organization 33 or so years ago, so I don’t know if the word “community” was spoken by the initial creators of the venture. But I believe community— not just a physical place but the ideal — was at the heart of the workshop’s creation. I think that is why the workshop has not only lasted but grown and thrived over the past 30 years in its various locations in Yellow Springs, and I think that is why it will for many years to come in its new home and partnership at University of Dayton.

Young Writers’ Festival for area students grades 6-12

On Saturday March 4, Sinclair Community College will host its fifth annual Jack Bennett Young Writers’ Festival. The festival is named for the immediate past chair of the college’s Department of English.

According to a statement from Dr. Lisa Mahle-Grisez, current chair of the English Department, “The festival is designed to empower the spoken and written word of Dayton’s young people and welcomes area students in grades 6-12.”

The event, including lunch, is free. It will take place in Building 8, with registration starting at 9:30 a.m. at the Stage Area.

Students will be grouped by grades 6-8 and grades 9-12; students in each group may choose to explore spoken word, poetry writing or fiction writing, with an additional college applications option for students in grades 9-12.

Instructors include members of the spoken word group Metaphorically Speaking! and Sinclair English faculty who publish in the areas of poetry and fiction: Jamey Dunham, Tim Waggoner, Chuck Freeland and Becky Morean.

The event will close with a performance by Metaphorically Speaking! and an open mic reading.

For more information, contact Dr. Mahle-Grisez at 937-512-3078 or email lisa.mahle-grisez@sinclair.edu.

Other Upcoming Literary Events

Sunday, Feb. 26, 6:30 p.m., Caryl D. Philips Creativity Center, 116 N. Jefferson St., Dayton — the Ohio Playwrights Circle (www.ohioplaywrightscircle.wordpress.com), in association with The Human Race Theatre Company, will present a new script reading of The Lesser Light by local playwright Brett Shane Cooley. Doors open at 6 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are welcome to cover production expenses. Seating is very limited. Audiences are invited to stay after the readings for refreshments and a post-performance discussion with the playwright.

Friday, March 3, 7 p.m., Books & Co. at The Greene — Western Ohio Writers Association (WOWA) presents its Beatnik Café, with members performing original work of poetry and short stories.