No Direction Home

This humble blog was started to document our travels around the country during the summer of 2006, We have opted to continue updating it due to the requests from family & friends. Enjoy!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Key West Literary Seminar Session II

January 25, 2013

 photo 092_zpsbfcedacd.jpg Ann Napolitano

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 photo 138_zps423821ad.jpg Michael & Michele

 photo 129_zpsb837f9f4.jpg Caitlin, Effie & Fran

Key West Literary Seminar Session II

The second weekend of this year’s Key West Literary Seminar, “Writers on Writers” kept me almost as busy as weekend one, even though the tension level was somewhat reduced in that the seminar was not completely sold out and somehow the pacing and tempo seemed just slightly more relaxed. It was still a full schedule of events and activities and the same stellar collection of incredible presentations and discussions.

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 photo 077_zps1e2b6f30.jpg Geoff Dyer

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 photo 102_zps218d74ab.jpg Michele, Noa & Kathy

A few of the writers were holdovers from session  one, including Keynote speaker Colm Toibin, Robert Richardson, Geoff Dyer, Edmund White,  Brenda Wineapple and Billy Collins, but most were new additions to the seminar. These writers included, Alexandra Styron, Paul Mariani, Blake Bailey, Ann Napolitano, Brad Gooch, Kate Moses, Paul Alexander, Joyce Johnson, D.T. Max, Jennie Fields, Lyndall Gordon and Clare Harman.

 photo 019_zps35b9e8ef.jpg Colm Toibin

 photo 143_zpsb5606862.jpg Kate Moses, Michele & Paul Alexander

 photo 044_zpscaacdc5c.jpg Blake Bailey

 photo 142_zpsdff4f44f.jpg Martha

For the second session, I replaced my wife Kathy, with my sister Michele as my right hand volunteer. Michele came down from Indianapolis to help me out and to participate in the seminar. It has been far too long since she was able to visit Key West and I cannot recall that she has ever been here on her own, so it was pretty cool to not only have her help, but to be able to hang out and let her see a little bit in to our life here.

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Michele also had a friend of hers here as her friend Hilene, who is an English professor at Butler University in Indianapolis, along with her daughter Susannah were here as part of the scholarship program to attend the seminar. The seminar offers all sorts of scholarships and financial assistance to assist professors, teachers, librarians and young writers to be able to come and attend the seminar.

 photo 134_zpse2303f6a.jpg Hilene, Susannah, & Michele

 photo 144_zps4dad9098.jpg Jack, Christine & Rafael

 photo 005_zps20209333.jpg Susannah & Margit

The second session came off without a hitch and there were once again the requisite dinners, parties and receptions that go along with attending the seminar. They keep us busy and active from early morning until late in the evening and then we often head out on the town with various panelists or attendees who are here for the seminar. It makes for an exhausting week, especially if you take in to account that we just went though it all the previous week as well.

 photo 098_zpsdefcb2a4.jpg Nick & John

 photo 061_zpsf5820269.jpg Kathy & Noa

 photo 140_zpscacae408.jpg Helen & Ben Harrison

It’s so worth it though as the discussions of the panelists and their insights in to their own work and in to the lives of other writers are endlessly fascinating and artistically inspiring. It is rare and special privilege to be so immersed with such an intelligent, literate and interesting group of people, both on the stage and in the crowd. In fact the crowd often features as notable figures as appear on the stage. Key West based writers such as Robert Stone, Alison Lurie, Ann Beattie and Judy Blume could be spotted in the crowd as well as noted film director Bryan DePalma who was here this year.

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 photo 038_zps121c3302.jpg Sue & Michele

In the middle of the weekend, another special event drew us away from the seminar as my friend Fran Ford celebrated her 90th birthday with a party at the Key West Garden Club. Fran and her late husband Bill Ford, have been something of iconic role models for me since I moved to Key West.  She even was one of my volunteers at the seminar on the day of her 90th birthday and that evening, we headed over to celebrate her birthday.

 photo 127_zps60bd89cf.jpg Effie & Fran

 photo 124_zps9790b564.jpg the Ford clan

 photo 115_zps1c9b655f.jpg Fran & Dale

Kathy & I are friends with three generations of the Ford family and it was so awesome to be able to see them all at the party. Even my summer intern and Fran’s granddaughter Effie was here from Florida State to attend the party.  It was a wonderful evening and a milestone well worth celebrating. Congrats to Fran.

 photo 033_zps8532a666.jpg Kathy & Noa

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The seminar is over for this year, but planning is well under way for the 32nd annual Key West Literary Seminar, “The Dark Side, Mystery, Crime and the Literary Thriller”. Already we have a fine line-up of many of the greatest mystery writers alive coming to attend the double session.

 photo 131_zps7b03f624.jpg Alexandra

 photo 105_zpsa835afce.jpg Katie, Effie, Billy Collins, Caitlin

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Writers on Writers

January 15, 2013

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 photo 009_zps12d0bce1.jpg Phyllis Rose

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.

 photo KWLS-WoW-2013-Session-1-1st-Morning-Geoff-Dyer-Mark-Doty-Pico-Iyer-4-of-81_zpsc4f701fe.jpg Pico Iyer

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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.

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 photo 167_zpsc46a1e3d.jpg Elena & Kathy

 photo 158_zps4b0ddab3.jpg 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.

 photo 094_zps4a31c3e5.jpg Colm Toibin

 photo 033_zps81822092.jpg Ashley & Kate

 photo 039_zps80891f35.jpg Mark Doty

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.

 photo 068_zpsd43bfd94.jpg Miles

 photo 052_zps032edff8.jpg Colm & Roz

 photo 047_zpsfadb04e0.jpg 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.

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 photo 034_zps8bdec543.jpg Ian & Alexandra

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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.

 photo 154_zps5b48c3d2.jpg David

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 photo 136_zps60f0469e.jpgRosi, Miles & Margit

 photo 135_zps920131e9.jpgIan & Nick

 photo 025_zpsa0bf59bb.jpg 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.

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