The Aspen Writers’ Foundation (AWF) recently hosted a preview party for their upcoming Summer Words and Words Away programs, June 26 to 30, which will revolve around Irish literature. The après-work affair took place in the Library at the historic Hotel Jerome on Tuesday, March 15, from 4-6 p.m.. In accord with the Irish theme, hot tea, pints of Guinness, snifters of whiskey and bite-size sandwiches were served. AWF executive director Lisa Consiglio welcomed guests to the get-together and offered insight into the workshops, seminars and field trip abroad to Ireland that are planned for the summer. She invited all to join AWF with an “open mind and open book.”The foundation cleverly chose to announce their Irish summer programs in conjunction with St. Patrick’s Day.”Through our Summer Words program, we offer everything from fiction to food writing, magazine writing to reading Irish literature,” explained Consiglio. “It is designed for both writers and readers alike.”Aspen Summer Words is a five-day celebration of words and ideas. 2005 marks its 29th season, once again offering an invigorating array of workshops, readings, talks, discussions and social gatherings with a selection of today’s most gifted and engaging authors, editors, agents and publishing insiders.Set in Aspen, Summer Words features two complementary components: an intensive Writing Retreat held in the mornings, and a stimulating Literary Festival in the afternoons and evenings. In 2005, the Festival, presented by the Bedell World Citizenship Fund, will embrace an international focus, concentrating on a new culture annually, and this year shining a spotlight on the vast literary heritage of Ireland.”Hard times make for interesting people,” said Denise O’Kelly in describing Irish literature. A native of Dublin, O’Kelly currently lives in Aspen. As a sneak preview for the upcoming Summer Words, O’Kelly read from Frank McCourt’s famed account, “Angela’s Ashes.” “The art of storytelling is a national trait of the Irish,” she added.Followed by the Summer Words program, the field expedition, Words Away, will take place in Ireland in November. “Words Away has been hosted in Jamaica in the past,” explained Jamie Abbott, AWF’s director of programs. “This year, we chose to change locations and combine it with our Summer Words theme.” (The exact dates have yet to be announced.)Fittingly, the Writers’ Foundation event was followed by a literary party at the home of Barry Smith and Christina Patterson. Several guests from the Hotel Jerome joined Smith for his Tuesday night “Writers’ Salon” for literary exercises, which scribes had the option to read aloud afterward. In lieu of critiques, listeners were only permitted to respond with “thank you” at the end. “Writing is like exercising a muscle,” said Jordan Dann, a scribe at the round table. “This really is not a formal writing group per se since the members always change,” explained Smith. “It’s certainly not a cult either. The salon has yet to make the leap to cult status.”For information on the Aspen Writers’ Foundation, visit http://www.aspenwriters.org. To join Barry Smith for his Tuesday night Writers’ Salon, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.To contact May to send info, insights or invites, e-mail email@example.com
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