Week Six at Writers’ Center focuses on self, sound and self-publishing



The Chautauqua Writers’ Center workshops for Week Six will focus on using music and personal imagery as a means of generating inspiration and on avenues to self-publishing.

Prose writer-in-residence Richard Terrill will lead a workshop called “Writing about Music,” and poet-in-residence Robert Ostrom will lead a workshop called “Personal Landscapes for Poets.” Terrill and Ostrom will also give readings at 3:30 p.m. Sunday on the porch of the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall.

Terrill, author of Fakebook: Improvisations on a Journey Back to Jazz, will work with his students on using music both as a subject matter and source of inspiration for their writing. Terrill plans to use prompts to get students started on what he thinks might be an unfamiliar topic for them.

“It’s an unusual subject for a workshop, but I hope it will answer a need for something,” Terill said. “Especially in Chautauqua. Chautauqua is nothing if not for music lovers. I think it will strike a chord with a lot of them.”

Even though the subject of music may be unfamiliar or unusual for students, Terrill thinks it will give his students a chance to expand their emotional horizons.

“In addition to working on writing skills, I hope this class will give people a chance to write about a subject that’s not limited to their own experiences, but a subject that might be emotionally important to them,” Terrill said.



Terrill said he enjoys doing workshops because it introduces him to new language — and to new people, which he said writing alone can sometimes cramp.

“Writing can mean sitting alone in a room, for hours at a time, and your connections with the reader are sort of just in your mind — imaginary, almost,” Terrill said. “And so there’s no human contact. So for me, it’s primarily a way to stay involved with the world.”

Ostrom, author of The Youngest Butcher in Illinois, will work with his students on mapping and mining their own personal landscapes as a source of inspiration for their poetry.

Ostrom said that this will involve some actual mapping.

“There’s going to be some drawing involved — drawing a place from their past, mapping it out, and they’ll populate that map with language,” Ostrom said. “And we’ll use that language to try and generate poems.”

Ostrom is from Jamestown and grew up around Chautauqua. He said that his workshop was inspired by his return visit.

“I’m thinking about how we can use our inner landscapes, create maps of our inner landscapes and mine these maps for language to use in poems,” Ostrom said.



Ostrom said he wants his students to understand that what they will be writing in class may not not be their best poems, because it’s “a time where they’re experimenting, and therefore, maybe falling flat.”

He hopes they will see the full effect after they leave his workshop, though.

“I hope they feel more like themselves, that they’ve come into their own voice more,” Ostrom said.

Ostrom and Terrill will also give Brown Bag lectures on the porch of the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall during the week. Ostrom’s Brown Bag, called “Mapping the Interior,” will be at 12:15 p.m. Tuesday, and Terrill’s Brown Bag, called “Creating Subtext in Memoir,” will be at 12:15 p.m. Friday.

Author Deb Pines will also lead a special workshop on self-publishing during Week Six. Pines is the author of In the Shadow of Death: A Chautauqua Murder Mystery, which she published herself.

Pines’ workshop, which takes place on Wednesday, will be centered around giving students the advice and tools they need to get their writing published.

This will be Pines’ first time teaching a workshop on self-publishing, which is something she is excited about. Pines said she welcomes people of all skill levels and hopes to show them why self-publishing may be a great route for them.

“Self-publishing is no longer that strange a thing to do,” Pines said.