The Mount, Edith Wharton’s Home and Straw Dog Writers Guild 2022 Writers Residency
The Selection Committee of the Edith Wharton-Straw Dog Writers Guild Writers-in-Residence Program is pleased to announce its nine residents for 2022: Yasmine Ameli, Jody Callahan, Elyse Durham, Cheryl Isaac, Ella Jacobson, Liana Mack, Jessica Provenz, Sarah Wang, D?shaun Washington. Congratulations! For more information on this program and these 9 writers, visit The Mount.
Submissions were reviewed anonymously and ranked based on the following criteria: quality of writing, originality of voice, the potential for growth as a writer, and strength of the statement of purpose. Residencies are a week long and include lodging at Seven Hills Inn in Lenox, a workspace at The Mount, breakfast, lunch, and a $500 stipend. The residencies run weekly from March 6 – March 26. Read about their experiences HERE in a March 2022 article in The Berkshire Eagle.
This will be the eighth year The Mount has offered writers an opportunity to create at The Mount and its first year partnering with Straw Dog Writers Guild. The revamped residency now focuses on writers who are developing their craft. There is no prerequisite for being published. “We had an opportunity to reevaluate our goals for this program,” said Susan Wissler, The Mount’s executive director. “By removing the barrier of being published we hope to draw an eclectic pool of applicants across many genres.” “Cultivating emerging voices is central to the mission and future of Straw Dog Writers Guild,” said Christopher J. Sparks, author and president of SDWG. “I cannot imagine a more fitting frame than The Mount for that first or second passage of crafting self from truth.”
The Mount, Edith Wharton’s Home is a National Historic Landmark and cultural center dedicated to the intellectual, artistic, and humanitarian legacy of Edith Wharton (1862-1937), one of America’s greatest authors. Wharton wrote over 40 books in 40 years, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Age of Innocence.
The Mount presents Wharton’s life and achievements through tours of her house and gardens, and programming. The Mount is the literary hub of the Berkshires and hosts lectures and panels by national authors and scholars both on-site and online. Seasonal cultural offerings on property include an annual outdoor sculpture show, music, and dance.
“The Mount was conceived as a private retreat by a writer on the verge of her literary ascent; in the 21st century, what better way to share Edith Wharton’s home and legacy than with an organization of writers devoted to supporting emerging voices,” says Patricia Pin, public program director at The Mount.
The Mount is located at 2 Plunkett Street in Lenox, Mass. For more information, visit EdithWharton.org
About Straw Dog Writers Guild:
The mission of Straw Dog Writers Guild is to unite and inspire writers throughout their diverse communities. A membership organization set in Western Massachusetts, it is open to writers of all genres and levels of expertise, no matter where they reside. Straw Dog Writers Guild supports writers virtually and in-person through craft workshops, open mics, on-line writing opportunities, social gatherings, authors’ showcases, networking, writing residencies, high school scholarships, an Emerging Writers Fellowship, and more. All are welcome.
“For five days, I woke not to the alarm on my phone, but to sun pouring into my room at dawn accompanied by the musical conversation of birds in a gingko tree outside. For five days, I drank tea, read essays, practiced yoga, and took leisurely hikes through frozen woods. For five days, I slept when I was tired, ate when I was hungry, and spoke to almost no one. For five days, I worked on a manuscript that has been a major focus for nearly five years. It wasn’t all bliss, but it was the most beautiful solitary confinement imaginable. …” – by Anne Pinkerton read more here
“I finished my retreat on Friday and I wanted you to know how much it meant to me. . . . I finally saw the arc of my story. My process had been blind up to this last week and it was a breakthrough couple of days. . . . These 5 nights were such a gift! . . . I am not using hyperbole when I say that this retreat is a highlight of my life. The work poured out of me and it was thrilling. . . . Please thank the anonymous member who gave the $$ for my stay.” – Lisa Cain
“I had no idea how inspirational six days of sustained silence could be – especially when nestled in a rustic, yet elegant, mountaintop home surrounded by nature. This temporary escape from the distractions of day-to-day life showed me how easily the world can hijack this writer from that special but elusive place that exists beneath (and beyond) surface consciousness. It was a silence that allowed me to focus on the “simplest” sights and sounds so often lost in my noisy world back home. From my second floor cocoon aptly named “Eagles Nest,” I heard autumn leaves rustling, an acorn pinging on the rooftop, and the call of an unfamiliar creature in the surrounding darkness outside my window. And, yes, somewhere in the distance, I could hear chimes – which at one point made me wonder if they were real or imaginary. To reference a song title from Simon & Garfunkel, these truly were the sounds of silence…” (excerpt from the blog, The Sound of Silence by Bernadette Duncan Harrison, read more here)
“I am feeling so deeply grateful for the opportunity gifted to me at the SD/Patchwork Farm writing retreat this past week. What an amazing experience I had during my 6 days–the ability and time to truly focus, make choices undisturbed by day-to-day activities, walk daily on land that recalls my history and service.
This special quiet time on a vast and penetrating expanse of long-spirited woodlands inspired an inner fire for completing a work-in-progress. It renewed my faith, allowed me to concentrate on a chosen manuscript that has been sitting for a looong time awaiting this opportunity. The clear block of designated time held a structure that assisted me to the finishing touches and the finish-line. And the residency as a whole offered me the unbridled privacy and freedom on the horse of writing, editing, getting it right!” – Ziji Beth Goren (excerpt from Blog, Reflections on Writing Residency, read more here)
“My 5-day retreat here at Eagle’s Nest has been a one-of-a-kind experience I will never forget. The opportunity to free myself from all outside distractions (except the amazing wildlife outside my windows and the natural beauty of these woods) and focus so intentionally on my writing projects energized and inspired me from the moment I arrived and set up my writing desk.
To find myself in such a comfortable, appealing and accommodating setting is a luxury I have wholeheartedly embraced. My heart is filled with gratitude for Patricia’s gracious hospitality and the anonymous donor who made my stay possible. I am also extremely appreciative of those who read my writing submission samples and deemed them worthy of acceptance for this winter residency” – Stephanie B. Shafran March 2018
My week in Aery was not only productive for me as a writer, but it was also restorative, inspiring, and magical. I can’t begin to thank you enough.I have never before had the opportunity to let life fall away, have time stretch out, and focus singularly on writing. It was amazing. I was able to take long walks in the morning, read, write, and quiet myself so some ideas could surface without the press of a hectic schedule forcing them. I also managed to nap and eat well while there!Again thank you, and please pass this note of gratitude on to anyone I am missing that made this writing residency happen. Patchwork Farm truly has an amazing energy that nurtured me creatively and otherwise. I am so lucky to have experienced it!Sincerely, – Jay Sefton
“I want to thank Straw Dog Writers and Patchwork Farm for arranging and providing my recent retreat, a very productive week. Holed up in the Owls Burrow, I had everything I needed to focus on writing. Besides the accommodations, I enjoyed the serenity of the trails, taking in quiet sunrises with a cup of hot coffee, and witnessing a deer bounding across crusted snow. One mid-week evening while I worked on a piece, three hours passed before I noticed the time. Finding myself in that zone was a memorable experience.” – Ed Orzechowski
“I am thrilled to report that I was able to accomplish a great deal of writing while at Patchwork Farm and wound up with 21 poems that I have begun editing for submission to literary publications and inclusion in the poetry book I am assembling.” – Lanette Sweeney
The residency provided exactly what I’d hoped for, and how many times in life can you say that? Thank you to the anonymous donor, whose vision provided the means. This is a true and brilliant gift. Thank you to every person at Straw Dog Writers who takes time from their own writing to provide, with such accuracy, the community and practical support that all of us need. It was a perfect gift at the perfect time. I started the residency with a review of comments from six first readers, and am now two-thirds of the way through the final edit of Believe the Bird. The next and even more daunting task will be sending letters to agents. Without those five days apart, I doubt I would have made the progress I have, then and since. With deep gratitude and love, Deborah
What sound does an owl make in the dark
I wonder hiding in the burrow
On a soft bed with the windows wide open.
The night noises of insects and whispering leaves surround me
While busy thoughts rage in my mind
Racing to be purged in the quiet of no audible voice.
Nature giving me rest and contemplation in self-imposed solitude
Slowly working to ease a frantic body that struggles to sit still
and allow the gift of silence to release the tension and the words.
In my mind I hear
Who am I?
I listen for the owl’s call, the answer, the signal that I am
Funding the Residency Program
Our generous anonymous donor, who funded our previous Patchwork Farm residencies, has committed to supporting this new collaboration with The Mount for the next three years. You too can be part of this new initiative by underwriting the residencies. Please donate HERE.