Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Bread Loaf Reflections

Bread Loaf was a wonderful experience. Despite the mice in the cabin. And my stubbed toe. The mountain campus is beautiful and I wish I had spent more time than I did just exploring the woods and back roads. I’ll have to go back. Although there is some hierarchy among the participants, and a special “clubhouse” for Faculty and Fellows, my feeling was that there was far more interaction among the “classes” than there was at Sewanee last year. For example, I attended two of the readings by contributors, one in the Barn and one in the Little Theater (both large venues) and at both there were many others present including faculty, fellows and scholars. At Sewanee, the open mic readings attracted zero attention from faculty and fellows. Bread Loaf also offered some outstanding extra craft classes. I had sessions with Steve Almond, Daniel Wallace and others in these small sessions, on top of the regular lectures and readings. But the workshop experience was the real highlight, as it should be, and was somewhat less intensive than the Sewanee workshops. Not that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy working with Charles Baxter, who was very helpful in pointing the way toward needed revisions in my story, but at Sewanee the workshops are team-taught. This meant that not only did I get feedback there from Richard Bausch (on 60 pages of work), but also from Jill McCorkle, Bausch’s workshop participants and McCorkle’s workshop participants (on 30 pages of work). So there was quite a bit more reading and critiquing involved at Sewanee, and many more voices. I think, possibly, the quality of the work in my Sewanee workshop was also somewhat higher than the work in Bread Loaf, but that’s hard to judge with any certainty.

What I am certain of is that the experience was very worthwhile, and I hope to go back.


katrina said...

Thanks again, Cliff, for your useful specific feedback.

JimT said...

I'm really glad you compared Sewanee 2004 and Bread Loaf 2005, Cliff, what your experience was with each. After Sewanee this summer, I want to attend one or the other in 2006, funds willing. I was struck at Sewanee by the range of writing abilities among the 'contributors.' I take it from your comments that the same is true at Bread Loaf, that there's a range of writing levels?

So maybe the choice comes down to specific faculty line-ups for a particular year? What about agent/editor contacts? Does that favor Bread Loaf?

Or maybe I should e-mail my naggy questions?


Cezarija said...

I did not see Steve Almond's name on the list of visiting lecturers. What was his official role?

Clifford Garstang said...

Almond is a former fellow, I think, and was one of the "Guests Teaching Classes." These Guests didn't show up on the website or pre-conference materials--they, and the classes they taught, were a bonus! That group included Almond, Peter Duval, Kristin Henderson, Michael Lowenthal, James Hoch, Tom Paine, Daniel Wallace, and several others.

Anonymous said...

I met Steve at Sewanee. Funny and smart.