Chris Cleave, award-winning British novelist, was a faculty member at the fourth Iceland Writers Retreat. In his typical self-deprecating yet good-natured humour, he led a workshop on criticism: how to get it, how to seek it out, and what to do with it once you have it.
The fourth Iceland Writers Retreat has just come to an end. While we sift through the photos and memories (a detailed post will be coming soon!), check out this column by our faculty member David Lebovitz, who led small-group workshops on putting personality into food writing and on how to write a cookbook.
During our recent trip to Washington D.C. to attend the annual AWP (Association of Writers & Writing Programs) we had the pleasure of attending an event at the legendary Politics & Prose bookstore hosted by Iceland Writers Retreat alum Dr Nicole Miller. The wonderful evening of memoir and discussion featured readings from Phillip Lopate, Richard Hoffman, Brandel France de Bravo, Dorian Fox and Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich. Although they were all great, we have to say that our favourite was delivered by Nicole herself who entertained us with her colourful and humorous account of her experience at the Iceland Writers Retreat. Thank you, Nicole, for a terrific evening. We had a fabulous time!
An interview with Claudia Casper, IWR 2017 faculty
Claudia Casper is a Canadian author and IWR alumna, and her book The Mercy Journals has recently been shortlisted for the Philip K. Dick Award. She spent some time with me to talk about her experience with Iceland and the Iceland Writers Retreat as a participant, as well as what she is looking forward to about being a faculty member for IWR 2017.
Claudia attended the first Retreat, which was held in April 2014. She and Anne Giardini, fellow Canadian writer and friend, attended the Retreat together as a fun adventure for literary friends. They did some exploring of Iceland before the Retreat began, including a guided snowmobile tour of some glaciers. Claudia described the experience as “beautiful and exhilarating,” yet also terrifying because she and Anne had to keep up with the guide so as to not fall into a crevice. Despite the element of danger, being immersed in the landscape made the beauty of it even more exceptional.
During her experience as a participant at the Retreat, she appreciated the intimacy of the workshops and social gatherings. She recalled spending time with the Canadian Ambassador, and that she was “shoulder to shoulder with writers at the top of their field, local politicians, historians, and artists.” She also noted the incredible history tour given by Eliza’s husband, who is now President of Iceland. Throughout her time in Iceland, she was amazed how the description of Iceland as an “island of storytellers” is completely true.
Claudia will be leading two workshops at the Retreat in April. They are entitled “Research—The most fun part of writing” and “Process—Keeping the engine stoked in the day to day of writing.” When I asked how she decided what topics she wanted to cover for her workshops, she explained that it was important for her to focus on her personal interests while complementing the other workshops and thinking about what the participants would be interested in. Although she is giving workshops on different aspects of the writing process, she is particularly interested in how each person can go through similar writing stages but somehow create a unique piece of writing in the end.
In a final comment, Claudia said that she is looking forward to both “refilling the reservoir of inspiration, talking about building story, and expanding one’s sense of possibilities,” as well as “raising a glass with everyone in April.”
“I write because I love writing, and I am glad to have made it to the Iceland Writers Retreat…I am looking forward to interacting with writers all over the world,” says Peter Ngila, one of the Iceland Writers Retreat Alumni Award recipients who was recently featured, together with Nadifa Mohamed – one of the Iceland Writers Retreat 2017 faculty members – on the James Murua blog. James, who is one of the Africa’s most prominent literary bloggers, provides news and reviews about African writers and the African literature scene. Read more about their feature here!
Anita Arneitz is a writer from Austria who participated in 2016 Iceland Writers Retreat. An avid blogger, Anita recently wrote a blog post reflecting on her time at the Retreat. The blog also has several pictures and a video of readings that were given. In addition to detailing the extraordinary aspects of the Iceland Writers Retreat’s writing workshops, including the advice given by successful writers and insights into the workshops, Anita describes the vibrant literary traditions of Iceland. The traditions, like the landscape, are captivating and inspirational. She articulates that “Like a geyser, [ideas] bubble on the inside and are just about to burst out”. Anita’s blog most poignantly illustrates the camaraderie among the participants and faculty, novices and literary veterans alike. So much diversity inevitably leads to interesting story-sharing, but these interactions take place on common ground. Everyone is there to learn and create, escape and explore.
To read the blog, click here.
“The diversity of opinions, genres high-profile names at the Iceland Writers Retreat is overwhelming; just like the powerful landscape of the island.” – Anita Arneitz
Anne Giardini recently penned a great piece for Literary Hub featuring an interview with Iceland Writers Retreat co-founder Eliza Reid. Read the full article here.
The economy dive hit me hard. I’m a writer by trade, but not the fun kind, which left me little time to work on my own creative projects, let alone remember what they were. Going to a writing retreat was out of the question — who had the time or money? So when Eliza called to tell me I’d been granted an award to travel to Iceland and study with renowned authors, I nearly dropped to the floor.
Kathryn Rishoff attended the Iceland Writers Retreat in 2015. This is her story.
I open my inbox to see an announcement from The Iceland Writers Retreat for the 2017 retreat and I smiled, thinking back to my 2015 experience. It was one of the best experiences of my life, and that is quite the adulation — I have had many wonderful experiences.