BK Loren's Summer Fun List
I'm just recovering from four days at AWP
in Denver. AWP kicks off the summer writing season. You've heard of summer reading lists? Here's your summer writing list, along with a brief description of what I know about the conferences. I heartily invite all of you to add to the list and share your experiences.
I can't list every festival (not even close), but here's a sampling of this summer's fare:
Iowa Summer Writing Festival
. This conference is extremely well-run. It offers something for every level and genre of writer, and takes place in Iowa City, home of the renowned Iowa Writers' Workshop.
Iowa City is alive with writers and writing. You know how Hollywood Boulevard has stars embedded in the streets? Well, Iowa City has bronze tributes to writers embedded along Iowa Ave. It's truly a Mecca of writing. Open admissions; no applications.
Places to eat:
: Get anything, and have some wine from a great list.
's: If you eat meat, get the steak.
: A tapas sort of place.
Linn Street Cafe
A sweet place with great food
: Local fare, organic, and delicious. Also don't miss the lunch places that serve everything from Ethiopian to noodles, and most are waaaaay better than your average quick-fare.
-If you're there over July 4th, check out the the great jazz and culinary festival
-Don't miss the Elevenses
, offered by the faculty of the ISWF. Also, get yourself down to Hickory Hill Park
and how underrated Iowa's beauty is. Visit the black angel
, if you're inclined at all to urban lore.
Taos Summer Writing Conference
: Like the Iowa Festival and the Tin House, the Taos Festival focuses on writing: not on selling or pitching ideas. I, myself, prefer this kind of conference for many reasons. Taos is a powerful, but less traditional gathering place for writers. D.H. Lawrence lived here briefly, and the Conference offers the D. H, Lawrence Fellowship
to one attendee. Since Lawrence's time, Taos has drawn numerous artists and writers to its cozy community. While there, listen for the Taos hum
. (Locals think this "hum" is simply the sound of silence, a rare thing to be sure.)
Places to eat:
The Burrito Wagon. If it's down home food you're looking for, check it out. For under $10, you can stuff your gills with great southwestern fare. A local's fave for decades.
(a collection of restaurants): for fancier fare, try these.
the food here is good; it's not inspired but it's decent.
Don't miss breakfast at Michael's
a local favorite. Things come and go in Taos, and something that stays this long has earned its place. You'll also get a taste of the local scene.
The Farmer's Market on Saturday morning
is fantastic. Music, food, fun.
If you're going in hopes of eating at the Apple Tree
, it's closed forever. A sad loss.
Run the famous Box, a white water rafting trip you won't forget.
Or float through Embudo if you want a quieter river experience
. Even if you don't want to run a river, go to the gorge. It's eye candy of the natural kind.
Finally, if you want to get in your daily Zazen, here's the place.
And if you want to visit a famous church, this,
which you might know from a Georgia O'Keefe painting
, is in Taos.
I lived in Iowa while in the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and I lived in Taos just because; so I know these places better than the others. I'm counting on our She Writes Community, to fill in the blanks for the other conferences. I'll start the list with a few popular favorites:
The Tin House Workshop
: A competitive workshop that always receives shining student reviews. Once you're accepted, you can apply for a mentorship with one of the faculty members, a valuable process. Applications required. Competitive.
Breadloaf Writers Conference
: Home of the famous Bakeless Literary Prizes
which start so many emerging writers on successful paths. Admission is competitive
. (18% of applicants were accepted last year.) It takes place on the beautiful campus of Middlebury college.
Wild Branch Writers' Workshop
: A wonderful workshop specific to place-based writers. The faculty are the best in the field. Entrance is competitive. Set on the gorgeous campus of Sterling College
Saints and Sinner's Literary Festival
: This probably the largest LGBTQ and allies conference in the world. Open doors admission, but it fills fast. They run a number of contests
, too. And of course you arrive with your halo a little crooked: it takes place in New Orleans
That's my fifty cents worth, She Writers. Now it's your turn. We can't learn about the coolest writer's gatherings if we keep our best kept secrets to ourselves. Tell us your favorites. We're listening.