While writers-in-residence might grow close during their time at the Chautauqua Writers’ Center, the writers for Week Six are already close — they’re married.
Nancy Reisman will serve as prose writer-in-residence, and her husband Rick Hilles will serve as poet-in-residence. Both are returnees to the Writers’ Center.
Chautauqua has provided singular experiences for them in the past, Hilles said. He referenced a lecture by Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson, Arun Manilal Gandhi, which he and Reisman attended during one of their previous trips to Chautauqua Institution.
“I keep thinking of that as one of the high points of my life,” Hilles said. “That’s the kind of thing that happens at Chautauqua — a really unexpected, almost once-in-a-lifetime chance to hear someone speak about something extremely important.”
Reisman’s workshop is titled “Telling Detail: How to Catch the Ephemeral,” and Hilles will lead an advanced, two-week poetry workshop called “Invigorated Visions & Revisions.” Both writers will give readings at 3:30 p.m. Sunday on the porch of the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall as well.
Reisman is the author of the recently published Trompe l’Oeil. Reisman said her workshop was inspired by the theme of Week Six — “Vanishing” — and how that relates to the things that are ephemeral in people’s lives, such as images, memories and photographs.
“They’re so fleeting, but they’re also very important to us,” Reisman said.
Reisman and her students will look at those ephemeral moments and find ways to incorporate them into their writing. Reisman also hopes the progress they make will extend beyond just the workshop experience.
“I’m always hoping that people feel they have ways to integrate writing and creative work into their daily lives,” Reisman said.
Hilles is the author of multiple poetry collections, including Brother Salvage. Over the course of his two-week workshop, he and his students will focus on looking at “dynamic and expansive” ways of revising their poetry. Hilles said he’s excited to collaborate with his students and have that inform the structure of the workshop.
“With the workshop model being what it is, one builds on the insights of the other participants,” Hilles said. “So even though I may have pretty clear ideas about what I’m planning on saying to specific writers, I really love it when someone says something that makes me think completely differently about a piece.”
Hilles said he’s excited about the two-week window he has with his students, as it will allow them to see work in progress and revise it in the midst of the workshop.
“There’s just the pure joy of someone seeing the possibility of improving a piece, and helping facilitate that is very thrilling,” he said.
Hilles and Reisman will also give Brown Bag lectures on the porch of the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall throughout the week. Hilles’ Brown Bag, called “What Thou Lovest Well Remains — Or Does It?” will be at 12:15 p.m. Tuesday, and Resiman’s Brown Bag, called “Who Owns This Story? (And Is There Room For Me?)” will be at 12:15 p.m. Friday.