The group consolidated quickly. Everyone’s work is full of surprises. Memoirs and fiction narratives are being born as we go.
Today we explored islands and their meaning. Geographical islands and psychological ones. Islands as setting, protagonist, myth, and metaphor. The enormous gap between the popular image of islands as places of pleasure, escape, the natural life, and utopia and the bleaker,cruder reality they often are. We talked about “islomania” and insularity and what these things have meant in our lives and work.
This theme blended well with the short story I read at the open reading, “Mal d’isola” set in the Aeolian islands off Sicily, where the naïveté of the vacationing protagonist collides with the sublime essence of Alicudi, the last and most forlorn of the seven Aeolian sisters. Amazingly, in the audience, there was an English painter, Thomas Watson, now living in Greece who had actually been to Alicudi ( this in itself was a remarkable coincidence) and who had also lived in Nisyros, which he described as Alicudi’s Greek twin. Chatting after the reading, Tom talked about the challenges of island living for artists and creatives, emphasizing that people who choose to live on remote islands are a little bit odd, and how challenging it can be for such people to integrate into a community, often necessary for their survival on an island.
Today’s assignment was to write about an island or islands in our lives, interpreting island from any point of view we wished OR to write about an “island creature ” which could be approached from many angles. An island creature might be real or mythical,might belong to different domains or even be edible.
Perhaps the latter was inspired by the exquisite grilled octopus we were served our first night at dinner at the incomparable Andros Holiday Hotel.
Work becomes more intense as we hit the mid point of the workshop. Sunday, the day of the spirit opens with the topic of writing and sacred space. Writers focus on a difficult but rewarding exercise — the Transition Exercise from The Soul of Place – A Creative Writing Workbook — in which you try to identify an action occurring in a physical place representing a transition between two opposite or binary phases or situations in your life — self and other, before and after, fat and thin were among the polarities which inspired intriguing writings.
Our assignment : write about an object that transports you to another time or place.
The evening ended with a reading on one of the private terraces of the hotel, with a stunning view of islands and a waxing moon sliding over the promontory.
Posted in: Guest Writers