Warm weather and yet another world-class potluck graced the weekend of the Nebraska Writing Project’s Third Annual Platte River Writing Retreat and Marathon on September 10-12 at Platte River State Park. Seventeen people participated in Saturday’s writing marathon, with many of them staying overnight in park cabins and a few intrepid day-trippers coming in join various activities during the three-day retreat. Highlights included
- The participation of two brand-new TCs from the Summer Institute
- An impressive contingent of Western Nebraskans coming from Kearney, Henderson, Aurora, and even Valentine!
- The first-ever NeWP Quilt Show
- Evening fireside chats hosted by the Angry Cardinal Clan
- A return of last year’s popular “Write About Found Stuff Thing”
- A Book Talk/Swap
- Way too much food
- Amazing, inspired writing in great surroundings and in the company of great friends (see three examples below)
Many thanks to retreat organizers Anne Walden and Jeff Grinvalds!
Mark your calendars for the next writing marathon: January 22 in downtown Lincoln!
Watch this space and the NeWP listserv for updates about upcoming retreats and especially for the much-anticipated North-Central Nebraska Writing Marathon coming this spring!
Platte River Falls square foot observation
By Chris Lund
A fat acorn, gray and russet, wearing a tightly woven brown tam with a pom on top, nestles in the midst of a curled collection of twisted tan.
Lacy, bug-eaten leaves spiral around the stem of a hapless plant that is still determined to bloom.
The plant’s bottom-most leaves are spindle-bare, like an umbrella stripped of its rain cover.
The edges of the leaves at the mid-point of the stem disappear in a patternless lace as the invader cuts interlocking commas into the green fabric.
Near the top of the plant, the white meanderings of the predator read like a map of an interstate exchange. A tiny, brown spider drifts along a tow rope tethered to another, unblemished plant nearby.
At the still growing tip, small, triumphant new leaves surround the tuft of buds just beginning to flower.
A puddle of moss at the base creates an amphitheater of star-shaped, furry soft, mottled dark pine and fresh neon green observers. Slender grasses bend above, engineered to enhance the soundless acoustics of this plant’s final aria.
Conversations in Fall
By Jan Knispel
“Well, here are the real falls!”
So, what is this cascading font?
Just the pretender? The watery Ophelia
to another falls Hamlet? “Get thee to Niagara?”
The cubic feet of water or lack of such
dictates the fall of the falls.
I’ve seen higher falls, wider falls,
taller, shorter, smaller falls.
The falls that fell
from one granite
shelf to another.
The falls that
no longer fall.
But a child appreciates falls:
“Here they are! Hold me, Dad,
I don’t want to fall. “
A Day of Writing…And Remembrance: September 11, 2010
By Sharon Bishop
It is the annual NeWP Fall Writing Marathon at Platte River State Park and Nebraska has given us the gift of an exquisitely beautiful day: no wind, a blue sky, and warm sunshine. The peace and beauty of this place and this day settle over my soul. But the historic significance of this day nags at the fringes of my mind. Listening to NPR on the drive this morning brought the sounds of a bell tolling in New York City to honor the victims of the 9-11 attack. With each peal of the bell, a name is spoken out loud.
Nine years ago 9-11 took place on a Tuesday, a school day. My classroom student aide and I were working in my room when a colleague stuck her head in my room and said a plane had struck the Towers in New York City. We immediately turned on the TV and the rest of the day, the rest of the week, I, with the rest of the nation, was consumed and numbed by the tragedies in New York City and Washington D.C.
But the Monday before the attack, on September 10, I and other members of NeWP had met in Lincoln to attend the funeral of a friend, Carol MacDaniel. We met to mourn with her two children this unhappy result of an 18-month struggle with cancer. Her daughter Becky read one of the poems that Carol wrote daily to her. Carol was a writer. Her parents and son cried silently in the front row. Carol was a daughter. Carol was a mother. Robert Brooke, Carol’s longtime friend and colleague, paid homage to her life and her dedication to the Nebraska Writing Project. We sat in sorrow at the loss of this friend.
The news of the next morning subsumed this private grief as the numbers of the dead were revealed and the nation prepared for a kind of war we did not really understand.
Today, on this ninth anniversary, life in Nebraska is peaceful. In the concessions building, a radio broadcasts the Huskers Football game. The warm winds dry the corn and soybeans for the coming harvest. We, members of the NeWP, meet and laugh and walk and then sit and write â?? and share our words, just as I had done so many times with Carol: in Nebraska, in California, in New Mexico, in Michigan. How she would have enjoyed this day.
For me the events of September 10 and 11, 2001, will forever be entwined. So, today, as a bell peals at Ground Zero, I call out Carol’s name into the Nebraska sunshine.
Photos by Kate Brooke and Jeff Grinvalds