GLWF provides writing workshops

Lakeland members participate in a fiction writing workshop held by Allyson Goldin Loomis.

Marisa Hert and Amanda Smith

The Great Lakes Writers Festival is an annual event hosted by Lakeland College and organized by Karl Elder, Fessler Professor of Creative Writing and Poet in Residence, which includes a variety of events geared towards helping writers improve their craft, whether they have been writing for years or are just getting started.

The festival began with a convocation on Nov. 7 and ended with workshops on Nov. 8. Two notable writers, Nick Lantz and Allyson Goldin Loomis, were the centerpieces of the festival.

Lantz read three poems at the convocation part of the festival on Thursday, including “How to Travel Alone,” “The Last words of Pinchivia” and “Will There be More Than One Questionner?” Lantz earned his master of fine arts (MFA) from UW Madison. He has taught and visited many colleges and universities. Lantz is also a published writer, with two of his recent collections being, “We Don’t Know We Don’t Know” and “The Lightning That Strikes the Neighbors’ House.”

Loomis read an excerpt from one short story called “The Astronomer” at the convocation. She earned her MFA from Montana University and now teaches at UW-Eau Claire. Some of the places that her work has been published in includes “Glimmer Train,” “Pleiades,” “Harper’s Magazine” and the “Nashville Review.”

When asked what sparked his interest in writing, Lantz answered, “I found my way to it through books. When I read some poetry books, I was astonished that it wasn’t all rhyming and liked that a lot. That’s what I wanted to do—it was so cool.”

Loomis’ initiation into the writing life was a bit different. “I used to be in drama class, but I figured out I was no good at remembering my lines…or acting, for that matter, so I began to write my own plays for myself and my friends in drama class. I could remember my own writing,” said Loomis.

The pair was also prepared to offer some key advice to aspiring writers.

“Develop a writing habit. Sit down and write a few times a day for about fifteen to twenty minutes until it is normal for you to do it,” said Loomis. “You might write bad things and others times it will be good, and you just go forward with what you wrote that was good. It gets you into a routine where your mind can flow freely to what you want to write.”

“Read a lot!” said Lantz. “Read things in the field of writing you’re interested in.”

Lantz conducted poetry workshops on Thursday and Friday. In addition, Loomis conducted a fiction workshop on Thursday and a nonfiction one on Friday. These workshops gave aspiring writers a chance to learn more about their craft and to get feedback about some of their own work.

“[Nick] was really approachable and enthusiastic, and he gave us all some great writing advice,” said Katie Amundsen, junior English and writing major.

Students, faculty, and members of the community had a chance to present their work at the reception and open microphone event held in the Pub on Thursday night. Lantz and Loomis also shared more of their work. The Pub event served as a place for writers to mingle and share the details of their craft.

The Great Lakes Writers Festival is not only for college students and adults. On Friday, events are held for high school students that allow them to learn more about writing and to meet the two writers who came to campus.

After the students had a chance to present their work to each other, Lantz and Loomis shared some of their work and answered questions. After lunch, Lantz did a poetry workshop and Loomis had a prose workshop.

The Great Lakes Writers Festival provided writers from all walks of life with an opportunity to learn, share and be inspired.