Sanibel Island Writers Conference drew 175 people from across the country, as far away as Oregon, and England. Located in Southwest Florida, on Sanibel Island, Florida Gulf Coast University Director, Tom DeMarchi makes this four day conference come alive with writers, songwriters and screenwriters, which included this year’s keynote speaker Richard Russo.
Four time attendee, Matthew Jacobson, a Florida Gulf Coast University Graduate student, stressed, “I like this conference because it’s intimate.”
One of the many reasons that make this conference worthwhile is the intimacy it offers to the attendees. The ability to personally speak with presenters, and having one-on-one workshops with them, creates a personally warm experience for everyone involved. Samuel Collins, a Florida Gulf Coast University student, summed up his experience as “enlightening.”
The energy at the conference spurred my own creativity while listening to the likes of Jen McClung, Richard Russo, Artis Henderson, Megan Stielstra, Jamie Poissant, Gary Louris, Wesley Stace, and so many other artists.
Artis Henderson read from her book, Un-Remarried Widow, with tears welling in her eyes, while piercing my heart with her line, “If I loved him enough I reasoned he would come home.”
Megan Stielstra gave a story performance of her work, Symphony. I left the panel fascinated with her command of story and voice.
Christine Sneed made me feel connected to a fellow writer, whose understanding and appreciation was reciprocated.
Jamie Poissant brilliantly told the story of two personas, poem and prose, and what happened when the two came together.
Jen McClung’s singing took me to a calm place in my mind. Her song, Wildfire, about how a seed needs fire to be released and grow, ignited my own creativity.
Richard Russo and I are both from Upstate New York, and when I told him, “I’m from Rome.” He quipped, “I guess it’s true what they say…all roads lead back to Rome.”
The road of his powerful keynote speech led us into the life of the man, whose small town roots never left him, although he tried to leave the small town man in him behind. It was when he embraced who he was, that he found who he had been, and who he became.
All the people I met in between the workshops and panels, like Alice Karow, and Nancy Stetson, was a wonderful gift. There is nothing better than a meaningful human connection, and I’m very thankful to have experienced Sanibel Island Writers Conference.
My creativity came alive this weekend, and is still with me, and yes, all roads do lead back to Rome.