Throughout the week, if you walked up to any Tin House participant and asked them if they were enjoying the sometimes brutal schedule, their workshops, or the conference in general, you would most assuredly hear that person say yes and why. How is it that a conference can embody such a feeling of support and excitement and joy that it infects everyone involved?
It begins with the people who run it. People like Emily Bliquez, administrative director of the conference who never stopped offering a gracious and friendly smile from beginning to end; people like Rob Spillman, editor of Tin House magazine who generously offered insights on the journal and who ran the conference with friendly class. In fact, everyone involved with running things looked as though they were thoroughly happy to be there, as though there was no other place on earth they wanted to be than right there, in beautiful Portland Oregon with all of us wild writers and poets.
And how about the Workshop leaders? Could you find any better writers and poets than Dorothy Allison, Steve Almond, Aimee Bender, Ann Cummins, Charles D'Ambrosio, Anthony Doerr, Nick Flynn, Mathea Harvey, Karen Karbo, Lee Montgomery, Lorrie Moore, Antonya Nelson, Michael Ondaatje, D.A. Powell, Elissa Schappell, Jim Shepard, and Anthony Swafford from which to learn?
For me the whole experience was an embodiment of love. Love for one another, love for the act of writing, love for learning. I came away with a sense I am not alone, even though writing is by nature an insular act. Tin House Conference was an invaluable experience, and if you get the chance to take part in it yourself, I'd recommend you do. You won't forget it.
- Originally from Vermont, I now live in North Carolina. My work can be found in recent issues of REAL: Regarding Arts and Letters, The Jabberwock Review, The Emerson Review, Storyglossia, The MacGuffin, Confrontation, Passages North, SmokeLong Quarterly, elimae, wigleaf, and Pank, among others, and forthcoming from Gargoyle #57 and REAL: Regarding Arts and Letters. One of my stories has been translated into Farsi by Asadollah Amraee, and many others by Jalil Jafari, two of which have been published in the Iranian journal, Golestaneh Magazine. For two years I worked as an assistant editor for Narrative Magazine. Currently, I serve as a mentor for Dzanc's Creative Writing Sessions. I'm working on two novels and a short story collection. In May, I was awarded the Carol Houck Smith Contributor Scholarship for the 2011 Bread Loaf Writers' Conference.