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Letters 02-02-2015

History Lesson  “The days of cheap oil and easy acquisition are over. “ -- President Obama, June 2010

A Study In Mudslinging In the January 12 issue of Northern Express, Grant Parsons wrote a piece that touched on behind-the-scenes campaign financing. Mr. Parsons referenced attack ads he received in the mail prior to the November elections.

Sad Story I read with sadness in the Detroit Free Press of 24-year-old Angela Marie Alexie, who abandoned her just born baby boy in an unheated Eastpoint, Michigan garage to die alone in the cold, and who had also previously lost 3 children to foster care, the youngest of which, a girl, suffered withdrawal symptoms because of Alexie’s drug use during pregnancy.

Balance On The Page Having looked through the Northern Express for years, I have finally found something worth reading besides News of the Weird and the Advice Goddess!

An Eye On Congress The U.S. Senate on January 21 voted 98 for and 1 against to adopt a non-binding resolution stating, “It is the sense of the Senate that climate change is real and not a hoax.”

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Writers recharge at Springfed Retreat

Glen Young - September 28th, 2009
Writers Recharge at
Springfed Retreat

By Glen Young 9/28/09

John Lamb believes his writers’ conference is unlike other such events. Lamb, director of the Springfed Writers’ Retreat has worked for 11 years to create a comfortable atmosphere for those who attend the mid-October gathering.
“The retreat started out as a semi-irreverent affair,” he says, but the wealth of writing talent he’s been able to use to staff the event has turned it into one of the premiere seminars in the state, if not the country. Indeed, his staff is made up of some of the most notable writers of poetry and fiction found anywhere.
A singer-songwriter from Royal Oak who also organizes songwriting workshops in Northern Michigan, Lamb’s objective is to offer a worthwhile experience to those attending, while making each year different. “I’m careful about not repeating subjects,” he says.
He’s also quick to point that all in attendance are equals. “It’s a retreat, not a class. It’s like a summit where people can recharge, and share ideas.”
“Most of these conferences are essentially MFA students trying to meet famous writers,” says M.L. Liebler of the typical writers’ event. A Detroit area performer and poet who has long assisted Lamb with the writers’ retreat, Liebler believes that Springfed draws students who are more interested in improving their writing.
And while Lamb and Liebler annually assemble famous writers, the atmosphere at Springfed is more relaxed. Liebler is convinced it is homier than other writers’ conferences. “This isn’t like other writers retreats, its much more friendly, much more comfortable. There’s more of a family feel to it than a typical writers conference.”

NO AGENDA
I didn’t want it to be academic in nature,” says Lamb, who doesn’t have any sort of agenda for each year’s event. “I’m getting better every year about making people feel better about their writing.”
After nine years at Camp Michigania on Walloon Lake, Lamb moved the retreat to the Birchwood Inn outside Harbor Springs last
year. Birchwood, he says, is every bit as inspiring, while the amenities are more comfortable. He’s also moved the date back two weeks to avoid competing with the big-drawing Dodge Poetry Festival in New Jersey.
Joining the staff again this year at Springfed will be poet Dorianne Laux, who teaches at North Carolina State University. Laux also considers Springfed special. “What makes it wonderful for students is they get to come together with some master poets and writers and get it going.” she says of the students’ inspiration and motivation.
“There’s a lot of hilarity,” Laux explains. “It really is not a stuffy conference, it’s much more process driven.”
A new staff member who can relate to the goals and expectations of students at Springfed is Irina Reyn, who teaches at the University of Pittsburgh. Reyn, author of the critically acclaimed novel What Happened To Anna K, is a former student at the retreat. This year she returns as the Cranbrook Fiction Chair.
“So often discouragement comes from so many different directions,” Reyn says. “A conference like this is so encouraging.” She says that as an MFA student at Bennington, she had ready access to important writers. She prefers the relaxed mood of Springfed, which she recalls appreciatively. “I found it an extremely warm, friendly atmosphere, something not found at all conferences of this sort.”

OFFERING ENCOURAGEMENT
Reyn, who is at work on a new novel, hopes to give her students an experience similar to her own. “I hope to be able to offer that same encouragement, as well as the constructive critiques I had when I was there.”
Liebler, who serves as the host of the weekend’s open microphone night, says Lamb has the right approach to putting together his staff. “He ends up getting people who are really good with others and who are able to work with and workshop with people. But they’re also famous,” he adds.
Lamb says students cannot get enough poetry. “It’s the poets that really draw. The poets are kind of like stars in their own right,” he says.
This year’s staff also includes poets Marie Howe and Robert Fanning, as well as fiction writer Margo Lagattuta.

This year’s Springfed Writers’ Retreat is scheduled for October 8-11 at the Birchwood Inn, Harbor Springs. For more information or to register, check out their website at
www.springfed.org

 
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