With Pine in Hand

Although the Writer's Voice is a great option for aspiring writers who are Valley-bound, if writing's your thing and getting out of town your plan, Prescott's Hassayampa Institute for Creative Writing will be the place to do both from Monday, July 26, through Saturday, July 31. This is the fifth year for the institute, which attracts scribblers from all over the region and as far away as the sweltering Midwest and East.

The six-day program features workshops and schmoozing with 10 writers from academic, magazine and book circles. This year's roster includes Arizonans Leslie Marmon Silko, Mary Sojourner, Melissa Pritchard, Simon Ortiz and Charles Bowden. The imported talents are Ruth Sojourner, John Nichols, Rodney Jones, Thomas Fleischner and Brady Hall.

They cover the range of poetry, fiction and nonfiction. They'll be doing it this year to the academese theme "Writing the Natural World: The Ecology of Community," which boils down to nature writing and related topics. The program offers workshops in the mornings, panel discussions in the afternoons and free public readings in the evenings. There's plenty of down time for teacher/student gab. Beyond thematics, that usually includes hand-wringing about the state of publishing, and inside talk about editors, agents and the neuroses and pains of living the creative life.

The institute started small, mostly as an event for 30 to 40 locals. It has grown into one of the region's better and better-known writing camps. Yet the institute emphasizes intimacy. Despite their increased popularity, the classes have been kept small--enrollment is limited to 15. That helps to give them the informal feel of a summer gathering, rather than a school program. And with downtown Prescott as a backdrop for some of the events, you can almost begin to imagine the town of retirees as a writer's colony.

--Edward Lebow

Hassayampa Institute for Creative Writing classes and events are held at Yavapai College, the Sharlot Hall Museum and the Prescott public library. Attendees can arrange to stay at the Yavapai College dorms, but there's plenty of other lodging not far off. Registration for all the workshops, panels and readings is $300. Call 1-520-776-2276 for additional information.

 
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