2014, I went to my first writing retreat at VONA. On a whim, a close friend told me that we should apply together. I’m so glad I did. I spent a week at UC Berkeley in Willie Perdomo’s poetry workshop. One has to experience a VONA workshop to know the kind of electricity, conversations, friendships it generates.
Here’s our group picture, “Poets Looking Up at the Sky.”
One afternoon I set out to see the writer Marjorie Kinnan Rawling’s home in rural Florida, two hours from my own hometown. It was a pilgrimage of sorts; I have a fascination with writer abodes. I was in transition at the time, anxious about the future. I found comfort in her sweltering Florida home amongst orange groves.
Rawling lived in Cross Creek from 1928 -’53. A DC native and at first an anthropologist of sorts, she began writing fiction about the “Florida crackers” who were neighbors. She published The Yearling. It was translated in many languages, including Hindi, a copy of which is in display at Cross Creek. I was intrigued by her transformation in Florida, reflected in her home which felt like home. I spent the afternoon there, documenting what I saw. She was a great hostess and writers, such as Robert Frost and Zora Neale Hurston, visited. (Her relationship with Zora Neale Hurston was a complicated one because of the racism of the time.)