Those of you who’ve been around this blog for at least 7 months know of the Hemingway-Pfeifer Museum and Education Center and the awesome writers retreats. I’ve just come away from another week of retreating writers in the small town of Piggott, Arkansas, where Hemingway penned portions of his famous Farewell to Arms.
While I’ve known about the Pfeifer home and the museum for some time now, I wasn’t aware of the writers retreat until the summer of 2007 when the contacted me to do a story for the paper where I was editor. They fed me lunch, I listened for a bit, and did a story on it for the paper only to find out it was the first time the paper had ever even been there (I wasn’t editor there for the other retreats!). Needless to say, that shocked me, but one of the goals I had as editor was to make it more of a local paper, something it hadn’t really done before then.
The next summer, 2008, I’d already moved on from the paper but kept in contact with a lot of the people there, and the kind folks at HPMEC contacted me about being one of the Writing Mentors there. I jumped on the opportunity. It must have gone well, because they invited me back to be the sole Mentor in 2009 partly because Dr. Rob Lamm, the regular summer Mentor, couldn’t make it that year. Interest in the retreat had been growing and they were looking for ways to enhance the experience for writers, so the now annual Fall Retreat was created and I became the Mentor for that. This past April they put on the first (and abbreviated) Spring retreat. As I’ve said before, writers should consider doing something like this—if not the HPMEC retreat.
There were 14 writers in attendance this time, 10 of whom were first timers! Pictured are: front row, l-r: Brinda Gore, Dorothy Johnson, Cristy Phillips, Monica Moore, Teresa Lee, Kayla Dean; back row, l-r: Freeda Nichols, Elizabeth Foster, Richard Collum, Linda Wyss, Shannon Richards, Sue Whitmire, Barbara Collier, me, Evelyn Clark, Diana Sanders-HPMEC Assistant Director.
As usual, the writers came from all over and had a wide variety of interests. It is the first time, however, that I’ve ever had one bring part of a working dissertation for comments!
As usual, the writers left both full exhausted from the long week of writing and fully energized at the same time. Teresa Lee was so much so that she began her very own blog the very following Sunday. Check it out here: Close To Home
I am beginning to wonder, though… Two years ago Deana Dismukes, who was coordinating the retreats and putting together the anthologies, retired to many tearful writers and joyful grandchildren. At this retreat, Diana Sanders let us know she was about to retire and spend time with her grandchildren. A retirement party was thrown in her honor and her presence will be greatly missed.