>Sewanee–Day Four

>We started with another full morning: Scholar readings (Julie Funderburk, Rebecca Kanner and Brendan Mathews), Fellow readings (Josh Bell, Michael Hyde and Tim Wendel) follwed by Alice McDermott’s craft lecture, which relied heavily on an essay by Tolstoy. McDermott and Tolstoy together examine the value of teaching the art of writing, and the conclusion–as I understood it–is that you can’t, that the art of writing, which involves creating a world that the reader can “see” depends on individuality, clarity and sincerity, and that it may be that these are virtues that are not learnable. Or something like that.

Rather than sit in on a workshop, I once again used the afternoon to read for my own workshop, but then I attended John Hollander’s reading at 4:15. He’s brilliant and tends to give his listeners the benefit of the doubt (“I’m sure most of you know . . .” and then will quote a poem–in the original French–that we should have learned, apparently); but in any case, his poetry is reasonably accessible and often quite funny.

We had cocktails (scheduled for the “lawn” but because a storm threatened we moved inside), then dinner, then a reading by Margot Livesey from her novel in progress that I found engaging. Something more to look forward to.

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