Field Trip!

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Airborne & Special Operations Museum – Fayetteville, NC

November 10-11 Peed Dee Literary Festival, Francis Marion University in Florence, SC.  FREE!


Patricia Smith, award winning poet

Michael Chitwood, short story author, poet and essayist

Daniel Woodrell, novelist, author of Winter’s Bone

Amy Bloom, award winning novelist

for more information go to Francis Marion University and look under Events

November 16 – Open House at 2nd Chance, 2nd Glance

Come see the newly-remodeled 2nd Glance, 2nd Chance! Author signing from 4:00 – 5:30. More information to follow, but mark your calendars and come support our local literacy agency.

Saturday, September 24th – 100 Thousand Global Poets for Change

What a cool idea! Poets around the globe will offer workshops, participate in flash readings and distribute poetry with the idea of change.  Change can be personal, environmental, political . . .

The poetry group I belong to will be holding a reading at Earth Fare on Cherry Rd., Rock Hill from 10 -12.  Stop by and listen.  If you can’t stop by, grab a book of poetry and join us in spirit.  And maybe check out the website 100 Thousand Global Poets for Change.

Thursday, September 29 – Saturday, October 1  7th Annual Blues and Jazz Festival

Hubby and I attended the Old Town Crawl last year – no, this is not an old people’s dance.  We had drinks in one restaurant and listened to musicians, then wandered to another restaurant for dinner and a different group, dessert at a third . . .  We popped into one venue and just listened.  Eight venues, eight different sounds.  For 4 hours music floated out into the street.  It felt a little like walking in New Orleans.  For information, check out the York County Arts.

Saturday, October 15  Storytelling in the Park -Andrew Jackson State Park

Carolinas Literacy Network and Andrew Jackson State Park will present Storytelling in the Park featuring national, regional and local storytellers.  Bring a chair or a blanket and plan to spend the day enjoying the natural beauty of the park and the humorous stories, tall tales and music.

Performers: Kim Weitkamp, Andy Offutt Irwin, Ed ‘Moose’ Duke and Kitty Wilson-Evans.

Vendors will provide food, drinks and original handcrafted works of art.  Ghost stories begin at 7:00.   Carolinas Literacy Network

Friday, October 21 – Sunday, October 23 The South Carolina Writers’ Workshop 21st Annual Writers’ Conference

It’s not too late to join us in beautiful Myrtle Beach and you don’t have to be a SC resident to attend.  SCWW


I’m going on a field trip next week – for the full week.  I’m going to Wildacres.  The name has caused a few friends to raise their eyebrows, snicker, wink and ask if hubby is going along.  He’s not.

Wildacres is a week-long writers’ workshop, “for those serious about their writing”, in Little Switzerland, NC. near the Blue Ridge Parkway.  I have two friends who’ve attended and they say it’s an amazing week and it made a difference in their writing.

Wildacres faculty is impressive and I look forward to meeting two in particular – Carrie Brown, my instructor for the week, and Ron Rash a favorite poet and author.  I had Carrie’s, Rose’s Garden, On the Bookshelf  in a February post.

So I’m excited about going but I feel a little like James Earl Jones’ character, Terence Mann, in Field of Dreams.

Remember when Mann is invited into the corn and he sticks his hand in, then pulls it out?  He looks back to John Kinsella, Costner’s character, and laughs nervously?  That’s how I’m feeling this week as I get ready.  I’m reading the other attendees’ manuscripts and even bought some new clothes – and for those of you who know me well, you know that says a lot.  But I’m not sure what I’m going into, despite the assurances of my friends.  I’m not sure how this workshop will challenge me to step up my writing life when I return home.

Before Terence slips between the rows, he promises to write everything down for John.  Then he separates some stalks and strides in.  By Saturday I’ll be ready to stride in and get down to business.  And when I get home, I’ll give you a glimpse inside Wildacres.

Second Glance, Second Chance – revisited

From the outside, Second Glance, Second Chance looks like any other free-standing (not in a mall), non-big-box (you know who they are) bookstore.  The large windows are painted with the come-on, ‘BOOKS!’  How could one resist?

Inside, Second Glance, Second Chance looks like any other homey, welcoming bookshop.  Shelves line the walls with books in groupings of romance, mystery/thriller/suspense and general fiction.  Other shelves hold titles for inspirational, DIY and how-to.  There’s a table and chairs for adults and smaller chairs for a child or two.

But that’s where the similarities to any other independent bookshop ends.  Second Glance, Second Chance is operated  and manned by the Lancaster Area Literacy Cooperative, an organization whose mission is to raise the literacy rate in our community.

What started out for me as a brief pop-in visit to check out a store ‘giving away books!!’ turned into a 45 minute visit with two women who obviously believe in and love what they do, and learning about this very special organization and place.  Second Glance, Second Chance is more than an independent bookshop, it’s a valuable community resource.

“The shop opened in November 2009,” said LALC Executive Director, Kathy Wilds.  “We asked the community to donate books and they responded by donating 7000.  And we’re still receiving donations.”

Danelle Faulkenberry, Technology/Client Services Coordinator added, “We take magazines, too.  And we have educational materials for teachers and parents.”

Located at 105 W. Dunlap St., in the shadow of our new courthouse in Lancaster, Second Glance, Second Chance is open Monday – Friday, 9-5.  And it’s open to everyone, not just those needing help with their reading skills.

“Some of our most regular visitors are retired dentists and doctors,” said Kathy.

“All the books are in our data-base so if someone comes in requesting a specific book, we can look to see if we have it,” Danelle told me as she showed me a room stocked with the hardbacks.

I also learned the story behind ‘Livi’s Library.’  The small white bookcase and books are donated by the parents as a tribute to a Lancaster child, an avid reader, who passed away.  The child-sized bookshelf invites young ones to comb through the selections to find their special book, or books, to take home.

All the books are donated.  Children’s books are especially needed.  So if you have books collecting dust – I know I do and hubby is thrilled I’ll be getting rid of some of them – you can be sure they will find a good home here.  Kathy and Danelle will of course take new books, too.

The books really are given away.  They really are free.

Wonder why giving away books isn’t a crazy idea?  Visit A Writer’s Window to read how literacy affects a community and about the importance of an organization like the Lancaster Area Literacy Cooperative.

The shop fulfills part of the mission of the Lancaster Area Literacy Cooperative – to encourage people to read.

There are some big changes in the works for Second Glance, Second Chance.  I’m excited about them and will post about them as they happen.

Second Glance,  Second Chance

“Did you know there’s a bookstore in town that’s giving away books?”

The oddity of the idea trumped hubby’s fear of letting me know that, one – there was a bookstore in town, and two – the book were free!  Of course I had to check it out.

I had this mental image of a dusty, used bookstore, complete with boxes of old books shoved in every corner, a musty smell permeating from the stacks.  Either an elderly man or a spinster woman, who enjoyed books as much as I did, would hover while I hunted.

Boy was I wrong!

Second Glance, Second Chance is tucked into a store in the shadow of our new, massive courthouse.  A large multi-paned window across the front is blazoned with BOOKS! BOOKS! BOOKS! in bright colors. What an invitation.

Inside I was greeted by Crystal Witherspoon, a young, perky woman who made me feel welcome and encouraged me to look around and make myself at home.  It was easy to do.  While she went  to get the two women who run the shop, I roamed around the cozy, brightly lit room.

There were books of every genre neatly filling the shelves.  A small wrought-iron table and chairs were in front of the window.  I pictured myself sipping tea and reading.  A white bookcase with children’s books was tucked in the corner, ‘Livie’s Library’ was painted on the top.

I intend to post about independent bookstores, but this is definitely not in the same category.  I met with Kathy Wilds and Danelle Faulkenberry and we talked for almost an hour.  Second Glance, Second Chance is no ordinary bookstore; it’s a community bookstore with some very special attributes.  My next post will tell you about them and I’ll have pictures.

South Carolina Writers’ Workshop – Rock Hill Chapter Writers’ Intensive

If you’re in the area and you’re interested in writing, then mark your calendar for June 11th and join us for a FREE, day-long Writers’ Intensive – Bridge the Mind and the Heart to the Page: Write Your Story.

If you don’t write but you like to read, our presenters are bound to interest you.

Judy Goldman is a poet and novelist.  She is currently working on a memoir, Unreliable Hearts: A Sister’s Memoir.  She’s the author of two published novels and two books of poetry.

Her latest novel, Early Leaving, was called ‘masterfully written and fast-paced – highly recommended’  by Library Journal.

Her first novel, The Slow Way Back, won the Sir Walter Raleigh Fiction Award, Mary Ruffin Poole First Fiction Award, and was a finalist for the Southeast Booksellers Association’s Novel of the Year.

Her work is forthcoming in Real Simple magazine and has appeared in The Washington Post, The Charlotte Observer, The Writer, Southern Review, Gettysburg Review, Ohio Review, Prairie Schooner, Shenandoah, and Kenyon Review.

A long-time teacher, Judy received the Fortner Writer and Community Award for ‘outstanding generosity to other writers and the larger community’ and the Hobson Award for Arts and Letters.

Rick Rothacker, author of Banktown: The Rise and Struggles of Charlotte’s Big Banks, has been a reporter with the Charlotte Observer since 2001.  He received the Gerald Loeb Award for beat writing in June 2009 for his coverage of Wachovia and has also won awards from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers and the North Carolina Press Association.

In the two-week period when Wachovia was being sold, the Charlotte Observer stories written by Rothacker and his colleagues received more than a million hits on the paper’s website.  He has now expanded his Observer coverage into his book.

A native of Pennsylvania, Rothacker holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism.

Prior to the Observer, Rothacker worked for the Legi-Slate News Source in Washington, D.C., where he covered Congress and the Pentagon.  He also interned at the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The Writers’ Intensive is from 9-5 on June 11th at Grace Lutheran Church in Rock Hill.  Lunch is included.  If you want to come, drop me a note at


My prospects for the SCBookFest greatly improved after I received an email from fellow SCWW Chapter member Martha saying ‘Kim- Betty, Grace and I are interested in going to BookFest with you.  Will that work?’

Heck yeah!

What a great day! . . . well, once we actually found the right street 😉  One would think that after spending as much time in Columbia as I have, I’d know where Lincoln St. is.  Unfortunately I know enough to know, ‘it’s over there in those blocks somewhere’ but not enough to drive straight to it.

We stopped and I walked to the corner Starbuck’s to ask for directions.  A guy was sitting outside with what was obviously a manuscript. I’d found a writer!  Not only was he a writer, he was one of the presenters at the BookFest.  Talk about a blessing.  And we were only a block away.  Had I turned right instead of left, we’d have been there.  But I wouldn’t have met Laban Carrick Hill.  And I wouldn’t have switched my choice for the first session to attend.

Laban Carrick Hill wrote a beautiful children’s book, Dave the Potter, a true story about a South Carolina slave who made pots and wrote poetry on them.  The pots are now in museums all over and the book won a Caldecott Award and a Coretta Scott King Award.  In addition to Laban, both the illustrator and the model the illustrator used for his drawings were part of the speaker panel.

The next panel I attended were debut novelists.  Mary Eady~The Oaks of McCord, Anna Jean Mayhew~The Dry Grass of August, Matt Matthews~Mercy Creek  All are good southern novels.  Each author had a different journey to publication but all gave hope to those of us still walking our own path.

The last panel was Issue-Driven Writing and the authors were Marjory Wentworth~Taking a Stand, The Evolution of Civil Rights, Candace Chellew-Hodge~Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio, Carl Elliott~White Coat, Black Hat: Adventures on the Dark Side of Medicine.  What an eye-opener!  Great panel and I can’t wait to read the books.

My friends went to other panels and some of their favorites were the Southern Humor Women~Lisa Patton, Cathy Pickens and Celia Rivenbark.  Poets Lisa Kerr, Erin Mullikin, John Pursley III, Randolph Spencer, Amanda Rachelle Warren.  These are new poets, but keep an eye open for them.

Marshall Chapman was a hoot, said one.

Martha enjoyed the day so much, she went back on Sunday . . . and almost drove right to the right street.


The SCBookFest is this weekend, May 14th and 15th at the Columbia Convention Center.  It’s a two-day celebration of authors and books.   There will be author panels discussing different genres ranging from thrillers and Southern women writers to Christian writing and Southern gardening.  There will be sessions on the business side of writing and book selling and an impressive slate of keynote speakers.  And it’s FREE!

In addition to the speakers, the exhibit hall will be filled with authors, small press representatives, book collectors and appraisers, and the book store and much more.

So if you write or read, the SCBookFest would be a great place to visit.  Visit on-line at SCBookFest.

Jackson’s Java

“To have great poets there must be great audiences, too.” Walt Whitman

KB-H: Jonathan, tell us a little bit about the Open Mics at Jackson’s Java.  How long have you been hosting them?  What prompted you to start them?  Why did you choose Jackson’s Java?  What makes it the perfect place for a poetry open mic?  What do you find the most fun?

JR: Okay, when I’m asked about the Open Mics, my answer is usually, “I never know what to expect.”  I have had standing-room-only crowds with as many as 20+ readers, and I’ve had a crowd of less than 20 with 4 or 5 readers.  Sometimes it’s the weather, the time of year, what else is going on.  And I never know who’s going to be there.   We have a core group of regulars that show up but I always love  it when new faces appear.  It’s always fun.  It’s always a joy.

I have heard all kinds of poetry (and non-poetry) at the Mic.  I say that because at times I really have to police the mic.  That may sound strange.  I don’t censor people, but I don’t do stand-up comedy, music or just plain ranting.  We all come there for poetry, and that’s what we do. 

The reading can last between one and two hours, and again that depends on how many readers we have.  I ask people to sign up before hand, and I ask them to read no more than 2 or 3 poems. 

I didn’t exactly choose Jackson’s Java.  It just sort of fell into my lap.  A month or so before I started this series, my friend Barbara Lawing had a reading there and asked if I would be a featured reader for her.  I was there with Grace Ocasio, and we had a great time.  Afterward I went to Sabrina Jackson – she and her husband Mike Jackson own the cafe – and asked her if she liked what we did that night, and could I host another reading there as an Open Mic.  She loved the idea, and embraced it.  I’ve been doing it ever since.  Mike and Sabrina have been fantastic and very supportive throughout these years. 

What do I find most fun about these evenings?  Simply bringing together a group of poets and whoever will listen for the express purpose of sharing our work with one another and our audience…simply connecting with one another.  I derive great pleasure from making this happen, and I’ve met and made some of the best friends this way.

KB-H: Please describe the atmosphere during an open mic.  Have you noticed any changes in the poets or the kinds of poetry over the years?  What types of poetry are read?

JR: The atmosphere is basically your college cafe kind of atmosphere.  It is located very close to UNCC, so there are always students in there studying, or on their computers, as well as regulars, some who teach at the university as well. 

I haven’t noticed any significant changes in the kind of work I hear at the mic, although I do think the quality of work has improved quite a bit over the years.  Most poets and writers grow as they write, and they become more serious, so their work improves as they work at the craft of writing, and that’s what I see happening. 

I still hear work that I will ask to use in a forthcoming issue of Iodine.  I hear all kinds of poetry – from the erotic to the inspirational, from form poetry to the experimental and performance.  I’ve heard it all.

KB-H: Are the readers mostly regulars or do you have some brave new souls as well?  Is there a mix of published and non-published?

JR: Yes, I do get a mix of published and unpublished poets.  I do like the mix, and I especially like the new voice of an emerging poet in that mix.

Thanks for this opportunity!

KB-H:  Thanks you!  Jonathan’s Jackson’s Java are usually held the 2nd Tuesday of the month at Jackson’s Java.   Jonathan would love to see you there!

Martha Robinson’s Field Trips

Martha’s writing success comes from her hard work and willingness to continue learning the craft. Here are some of the trips she takes to do just that.

KB-H: What conferences have you attended? How do you choose which conference(s) to attend?  Any favorites?

MR: I have attended the following conferences:

South Carolina Writers’ Workshop, Myrtle Beach

Southeastern Writers’ Conference, St. Simon’s Island

Hub City ‘Write in Place‘, Spartanburg

Foothills Writers’ Guild, Anderson

Upstate Christian Fiction Writers, Anderson

and several others in Charlotte at the Jewish Temple.  My favorites are the Hub City, because I can select a genre I want to concentrate on and before the weekend is over I will have the opportunity to write in that genre; the conference at St. Simon’s Island, because of the beautiful setting and the close-knit feelings that develop during the week between the instructors and the attendees; and the SCWW, because of the wonderful opportunities to network with other writers, agents and editors.

When considering attending a conference, I consider the costs, and who the presenters will be.  I am more likely to attend if I know or have read the work of at least one of the presenters.  Sometimes I’m more interested in the fiction presenters; sometimes I’m more interested in the poets.  I also have to consider when the conference is held and compare that to the school calendar.  And it always makes it better for me, if someone else is attending from our local group.  I prefer not to attend a conference by myself, but if I am really interested in the topic, I can make the trip by myself.

KB-H: How do you approach a conference – preparation beforehand, expectations, entering contests, etc?  What are one or two best pieces of advice you’ve ever received?  What piece of advice would you give to a first-time attendee to any writers’ conference?

MR: I always check out who the presenters will be and what the topics of the sessions will be.  If there are contests, I also make sure I submit work for those.  At  St. Simon’s, I believe there are 14 different contests which gives  each attendee several opportunities to have their work read and rewarded. I’ve attended two times and won prizes both times.

My best piece of advice would be: Be willing to listen and learn.  Sometimes you will hear information you have heard before with a slightly different twist and it will make more sense.  I would also suggest that the attendee be willing to ask questions and to meet as many people as possible.

KB-H: Is there a conference you’ve not attended you’d like to? What are the reasons/advantages of attending writers’ conferences?

MR: Killer Nashville sounds like a really good conference to attend, but I have no idea how much that would cost.  There’s a Christian writers conference at Blue Ridge that I have thought about attending, but it is usually during the month of May and it conflicts with the end of the school year.  I normally have a lot of meetings, etc. that have to be held at that time and would not be able to attend that while I’m teaching.  But maybe next year!

KB-H: Thanks, Martha.  I hope you make it to that workshop next year.

“The essentials of poetry are rhythm, dance and the human voice.” Earle Birney

In other words, poetry is supposed to be heard, people! 😉  While I enjoy reading poetry, hearing it – especially be the poet – is amazing.  Hubby and I took the opportunity to do just that this past Friday evening at

BacInTyme Open Mic

What a fun night! BacInTyme Coffee Cafe is in Ft. Mill, South Carolina, in a lovely older home filled with art, inspiration and delicious food.  And every Friday night from 7:00-9:00 filled with music and readings by your average, everyday, closet musician and poet.  There’s also plenty of laughter and camaraderie.

There were 20-25 of us and the atmosphere couldn’t have been more supportive and welcoming.  The ages ranged from a newborn in his mother’s sling to those I call ‘gray-beards.’

Joe Collins, guitarist extraordinaire, is the organizer and host for the evenings. He kept things moving and made everyone feel at home.

There were three poets Friday night.  Angel made the hairs on my arms stand on end with her soulful and rapid-fire delivery.  I admire those who recite with such power and conviction.

The second poet was Pauline.  She is Joe’s counterpart for the poetry side of the open mics.  Her poems covered serious topics but her smile, humor and presentation had us all chuckling.

Emily was the reluctant poet.  With Joe’s gentle nudging and everyone’s encouragement she finally read.  She did well with her love poems, but during her ‘God poem’ her emotions took over and she had to stop.  Her words had brought us all to tears.  We willed our support and whispered encouragement.  She continued and finished strong.

Interspersed between the readings were guitarists.  Joe’s list included ‘the Johns’, as he called them – Cash and Denver, Mellencamp? – as well as Dylan, some original pieces, gospel and hippie music.

Guitarist Doug had ‘something reptilian growing’ in his throat which lent a raspy, edgy vocal to his sets.  For his final turn he played a game of ‘Guess the Theme Song’ and relied on instrumentals.  He handed out odd little prizes that had us all laughing.  I look forward to hearing him again, after the reptile dies.

The final guitarist was a young guy, high school or college?  He played a song he’d just learned the week before.  Another brave soul.  He did great.

I encourage all of you in the area to stop by BacInTyme some Friday evening, not because there’s nothing else to do, but because this is the field trip.  Not from around here?  Then look for an open mic in your area and support some creative, brave souls.

Grace’s Conference Advice and Favorite Conferences

Writer’s Window guest, Grace Looper, recently spent a weekend in Asheville, North Carolina at the Carolina Christian Writers’ Workshop, one of several conferences she’s attended.

Kim: I know you’ve attended this conference before.  Why do you specifically enjoy this one?

Grace: I like this conference because it isn’t too far away and the faculty has been good.

Kim: What is the one piece of advice or tidbit you took away from the weekend?   Does it apply only to your inspirational work?  Or can it apply to everything you write?

Grace: I got a lot of good information on editing and some great handouts on making your writing less wordy.  The information doesn’t just apply to inspirational writing, but all types of writing.  It just so happened that I got just the information I needed to begin editing my work on my completed murder mystery/romance.  I began it at once.

Kim: I know you’ve attended several conferences and workshops.  Which ones have you attended?

Grace: My favorite is the Southeastern Writers’ Conference, but I’ve also attended –

South Carolina Writers’ Workshop October 21-23, 2011

Sandhills Writers Conference, now the Sandhills Writers Series

Southeastern Writers Conference June 19-24, 2011

Carolina Christian Writers

Killer Nashville August 25-28, 2011

Hub City Writers July 15-17, 2011

Kim: How do you choose which ones to attend?  Do you have a plan of action before you arrive?

Grace: I try to space them out during the year, putting my favorites first.  I enter contests that are part of the conference, send in manuscripts to be critiqued, choose sessions I most want to attend, do any homework if included.

Kim: What advice would you give someone attending any conference or workshop for the first time?

Grace:Choose a conference that focuses on the genre you write, study the brochure or information on-line,take advantage of any offerings – contests, critiques, etc.

The Divine Art of Survival

Caroline Lewis-Jones is one of the artistic directors for UNBOUND Dance Company.  Here she tells us how words of survivors transformed into dancers’ movements.

KB-H – Thanks, Caroline for sharing with us part of your process.  First, how did you choose which essays to use?

CL-J – We had people submit their stories to our UNBOUND Website and from there chose the stories that we felt could really tell a great story on stage.  Some submissions were similar to others and we were looking for a variety of stories.

KB-H – Besides the essays and spending time with the authors, what else did you do to gather their emotions/movements so they could be transformed into dance?

CL-J – From personal experience and losing my mother to a 17 year battle with metastic breast cancer, I felt that many of my personal emotions came out in my choreography.  I feel like I could relate to basically every story we spoke about.  Loss is loss; it doesn’t matter how it happens, when it happens, or to whom it happens to.

For my solo, it was based upon my great friend growing up.  Her name is Amy Hardy, she is 29, and has Stage 4 breast Cancer.  When I choreographed the piece, Amy was in the room with me.  She didn’t say much, but just having her body and energy in the room,made all of the difference.  Sounds strange, but I really wanted to get into her head.  I would make a movement, and then we would talk about it.  I would ask if it felt right to her, or even ask what she was feeling at that point in the piece.  Those were 2 really inspiring, and hard days of dancing.  Lots of crying; but also lots of smiling and laughs.

In regards to Ginny’s piece, myself and the three girls in the trio spent a lot of time with Ginny.  I took the girls to her home to watch her gestures, her movements, her speech, and her beautiful smile. 😉  Ginny’s was the toughest piece I have ever choreographed.  How do you choreograph a dance about someone who can’t walk well, and obviously cannot do many of the elements that a dancer can do.  It actually came out of my body quicker than I thought.  The girls in the piece did a wonderful job.  I truly think meeting Ginny and understanding her day to day trials and tribulations was most beneficial.  They saw that although she has many physical limitations, there is not ONE weak aspect of Ginny.  She is one of the strongest individuals I have ever met.  She is bold, confident, caring, beautiful, and fragile all wrapped up into one body.  She is a remarkable woman.

For the abuse duet, Susan Dabney Hancock and Christopher Robbins, both personally knew who the story was about,  They grew up knowing both of these people and could really relate to what the piece had to be.  Once the piece was choreographed, we actually had the woman,(whom the story was about), come in and watch.  She gave us all insight to how she felt and endured.  That was a huge help to both Susan and Chris.  They were really able to dive into the story and what it had to have.

My good friend Justin Giles, co-choreographed the piece about losing my mother with me.  Before he came to South Carolina to do it, I wrote to him my story and those last moments with my mom.  He sent some music and what he visioned for the piece.  Together we came up with the concept and the visuals for the piece.

For the piece about Alzheimer’s, the 5 individuals I picked were all very familiar with this disease.  This was a huge help to me, because I had never had a loved one or friend fight something of this caliber.  It is such a diferent disease than any other one I have had to deal with.  Getting to talk with the family of Jackie (the woman who passed away from the illness), was enormous.  They gave me picture after picture (Ginny did the same, by the way), and I felt I actually knew who Jackie was after seeing her and getting to know her family.  This piece brought at least one crying session every rehearsal.  Oh yeah, I also met Jackie’s family at the Alzheimer’s Midlands Chapter.  They gave me a lot of insight on the illness and some great details that ended up being very helpful.  The dancers though really did the piece justice.  They made it come alive.

I think talking and really getting to know these individuals was the key for me.  I’m a big communicator and feel this is how I choreograph best.  I love intent when I move; so speaking and getting to know these people was vital for me to do it right.  I knew I had a difficult task ahead of me, but we have such wonderful, mature dancers.  There was a lot of crying in the studio at times.  Strange to say, but as difficult of subjects they were, I think I can say that this was such a healing process for many of us.  I think we all felt very accomplished after the show was over.  Much awareness was brought forth to our audience and ourselves.  It was very healing to my heart.

KB-H – How long, on average, did it take to choreograph a dance?

CL-J – I would say I spent about a week on each piece.  For the solos, and smaller pieces I would say 2 to 4 rehearsals.  A rehearsal can last from 3 hours to 6.

KB-H – What was the most challenging part of the process?

CJ-L – Trusting myself – I would say was the most challenging.  I was really nervous starting each piece.  Once I got into it though, I was fine.  I felt like I had this individual and their families in the palm of my hand and I wanted, well had to do their story justice.  I know for Billy Smith, [Jackie’s husband], and his family they were very nervous about us telling their story on stage.  His daughter is the one that submitted their story, but Billy was pretty nervous about it once we wanted to create a piece about it.  I promised him I would give Jackie the utmost respect and I think he really ended up loving what we did.

KB-H – The music was lovely and I know some of it was scored by The Upton Trio.  Which came first, the music or the dance?

CJ-L – The stories came first and then it was deciding on the music.  I met with Mary Lee Taylor Kinosian – concert master for the Philharmonic – and she gave me some music to listen to.  I ended up using some of their original scores, along with some other instrumental music that Mary Lee re-composed and learned.  The Upton Trio is phenomenal.  They are very close to my heart and this was our second project we have worked on together.  The first was my one woman show called Finding My Way.  It was in honor of my mother, Joan Hightower Lewis.

The piece Widows was made by my good friend Jack Kelehear and his sidekick Aaron Robertson.  They are so very talented and we sat in a room for about 4 hours and made this piece on his computer, in his sound booth and on his keyboard.  Pretty neat process.  I’ll never forget it because I was dog sick laying on his floor saying ‘YES,’ ‘No,’  “love it . . .don’t like it…”  It was a fun experience and hope to create more with him.

Thank you Caroline.  The Divine Art of Survival was a truly beautiful presentation.  I can’t wait to see what UNBOUND has planned for this spring.  And for those of you in my area – all of SC and NC – I hope to see you at an UNBOUND Dance Company performance.  It’s worth the field trip.

Do you remember those adventures from school?  Where I grew up, that meant a trip to Mohican State Park or COSI for science. Once we went to the movies for literature.  If one was lucky a trip to DC was part of social studies.  I was never that lucky.

The teachers billed these as educational – and they were – but what we kids knew, ‘we’re getting out of school!’ It didn’t matter that we were still expected to learn something, the fun of being with our friends on the bus or on the walk temporarily pushed that expectation out of our minds.  Once we arrived we did learn, but what we remembered was the experience.  And we got out of school.

I don’t think we ever outgrow the need for a good field trip.

On this page I’ll encourage you to ‘get out of school.’  This may come in the form of writers’ conferences or workshops, independent booksellers, author signings, book or literary festivals . . .  The events will be educational or informative, but we’ll all know it will really be about spending time with friends and getting out of your routine.

13 Responses to Field Trip!

  1. Oh, that’s what I thought this human life was–a field trip.

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