Writers on Writers
January 15, 2013
Writers on Writers
The thirty-first annual Key West Literary Seminar has been one of the major reasons that I was so busy during December and early January. Putting on the seminar which is held each year in January, mostly at the historic San Carlos Institute on Duval Street, is a massive undertaking that involves an all-out effort by the board, staff and a hoard of volunteers who come together each year and present one of the preeminent literary events in the nation.
My role for the past few years as a board member of the seminar has been as volunteer coordinator and involves organizing, training and overseeing the many wonderful volunteers that come out each year to help out. I am blessed with a wonderful group of hard-working, smart and fun volunteers who handle much of the day to day operations once the seminar is underway.
Elena & Kathy
Phyllis Rose & Geoff Dyer
This year we had double the work as the seminar once again featured a double session over two long weekends in January as the demand for entry was greater than a single session could accommodate. The topic this year was Writers on Writers and featured a talented mélange of both fiction writer and biographers (and a couple of poets) who have written about or sought to understand the mystery that is found in other writers.
Ashley & Kate
A subject much broader than possibly indicated by the title, the first session of the seminar featured writers, Phylllis Rose, Geoff Dyer, Mark Doty, Pico Iyer, Julie Salamon, Rosalind Brackenbury, Christopher Lydon, Jay Parini, Colm Toibin, Paul Hendrickson, Robert Richardson, Billy Collins, Judith Thurman, Brenda Wineapple, Michael Mewshaw, James Atlas and, Edmund White.
The seminar is a full schedule of parties, readings, panel discussions and dinners that keep everyone busy from early morning until late at night from Wednesday through Sunday. I was kept exceedingly busy, so much so in fact that I actually hired Kathy to work for me throughout the first weekend of the seminar.
Colm & Roz
Julie Salamon & Pico Iyer
The fun started on Wednesday evening with a kick-off dinner party at the home of board member and program chair Peyton Evans with the board members and panelists who would be participating in the seminar. The next day, we were off and running with registration and then in the evening the keynote speech by Phyllis Rose followed by a reception at the Oldest House.
Ian & Alexandra
The next few days were pretty much non-stop and the seminar kept us jumping; but we were also able to catch a lot of the sessions. They were fantastic and many may be seen on C-Span 2 Book TV from time to time still, as they were filmed for broadcast. The entire weekend went smoothly and the discussions and presentations were excellent. The parties and dinners etc. were fun too. The highlight may have been the annual private party at the roof-top apartment of the iconic Key West figure David Wolkowsky. David’s eclectic party is a hot ticket and the local Key West community shows up en force to mingle with David and the writers who are in town for the seminar.
Rosi, Miles & Margit
Ian & Nick
Nan, Ashley & Mark
One other cool thing that we got to see during the first weekend of the seminar was the annual ride-by of the riders of the wounded warrior project. These brave and inspiring military heroes have all been wounded in battle and yet have recovered enough to be able to ride bikes, many of them specially modified. The wounded warriors rode the length of the Keys and through Key West and down Duval Street to much admiration and excitement from the patriotic crowds lining the streets. It was a cool and moving experience to see these heroic soldiers, many missing limbs and with other handicaps, but still able to complete this amazing ride.