I am currently, and blissfully, ensconced in my forest studio at the Banff Centre. I am one of eight writers enjoying a residency as part of the Literary Journalism Program. We will be here for a month working on new projects with the aim of having a long magazine piece ready at the end. I am working on turning my experiences in the Saharawi refugee camps into a viable chapter for my book. So far, it has been going well.
Today the group of writers, and our three editors, will gather to discuss my first draft. I am excited to hear what they have to say. These folks are not only excellent writers but close readers as well.
The Banff Centre is a paradise for artists. I am surrounded by ballet dancers and opera singers. The path to my cabin passes a collection of music huts, so the sound of classical cello, violin, and flute welcome me to work each morning. Each of the writers in the program are given a studio to work in while they are here. Mine is called the Hemingway. And although the studio is named after the architect Peter rather than the writer Ernest, seeing the name above the door gives me something to shoot for.
If any of you are within striking distance of Banff this month, the writers in the program will be reading from their work on Monday the 21st at 8pm. In addition to hearing me go on about walls and deserts you will hear from writers working on a number of interesting topics including Palestinian hip-hop, traffic as a metaphor for chaos in Italy, a GoogleEarth-obsessed 80 year-old who grew up in Nazi Germany, and the psychology of whales.
There will be free wine.