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, January 25, 2019

Workshop Days

January 17, 2019

John Dufesne, Kevin Young and Shayne 

Hemingway House

Workshop Days

The completion of the Key West Literary Seminar is not the end of the work for the board and staff, as the week following the seminar hosts ten literary workshops and another week of evening events that are unique to the workshop crowd. The week kicks off with a welcome dinner for all the workshop participants at the Hemingway House.

This dinner features a cocktail hour and then a dinner in which the workshop participants are paired with their instructor and get to meet their fellow students. This year’s workshop program once again featured a stellar line-up of faculty teaching all manner of literary forms from Flash Fiction to Comic Writing to Poetry to Short Stories and Novels. Among the writers here this year were John Dufresne, Dan Menaker, Gregory Pardio,Emily Raboteau, Richard Russo, Dara Wier, Joy Williams and Kevin Young. 

Richard Russo, Joy Williams and John Dufresne

The Hemingway House is beautiful at night and this was yet another perfect weather evening. It was great to mingle with the workshop participants, who come from across the country to attend the week-long workshops. I think they really enjoy the opportunity to enjoy one of Key West’s literary treasures, where Hemingway lived and wrote some of his most famous work. They also seemed to enjoy the many six-toed cats, which I do as well as they run around the grounds without fear of the crowd.

The same night as the opening dinner, was the kick-off of the other wonderful literary gems that is available each season in Key West, the Friends of the Key West Library lecture series, which features 10 weeks of Monday evening readings or lectures, held this year at the Old City Hall. I have a soft spot on this wonderful series as I previously was the organizer of the series when I was on the Friends of the Library board. It is now in the capable hands of my friend Mark Hedden.



The opening lecture, co-sponsored by the Literary Seminar, featured one of the writers that was in town for the seminar, Madeline Miller who presented on her amazing novel “Circe”. The lectures are free, but space is limited to the available seating and every single seat was full for Miller’s talk. It was a great way to start this season’s series which will continue each Monday evening for the next nine weeks.

Madeline Miller


The next evening was another busy one for me, as Kathy and I started the evening at the pre-meeting rally at City Hall hosted by Reef Relief prior to the City Commission Meeting. A couple of hundred were on hand rallying in support of banning certain kinds of sunscreens that contain chemicals that have been shown in some scientific studies to be terribly detrimental to Reef health.


It was the first Reef Relief sponsored event that I have attended in many years, since I stopped working there in 2005. I have not paid a lot of attention to what they have been up to, other than to know that they have run the very successful Coral Camp program for kids. They seemed to have lacked a definitive direction and been hesitant to get involved in direct action. I was especially disappointed that they did not play a larger role in the Gulf Oil spill when the Deepwater Horizon tragedy happened.



Lately though, they seem to have a renewed interest in getting more politically active, first with their ban the plastic straw initiative and now with this advocacy to stop these chemicals from hurting the reef. It was like old times and I saw many familiar activist faces from the old days. Their work seemed initially successful as well as the commission voted 7-0 in their favor. It was only the first reading but still a great start and outcome for our community.

After the rally and an hour or so of listening to public comment at the commission meeting, Kathy and I headed over to the Studios of Key West where the Literary Seminar workshop program was hosting an evening of “Craft Talks” featuring the writers who were on hand as workshop faculty. John Dufresne, Kevin Young, Gregory Pardlo, Kate Tuttle and Emily Raboteau all gave presentations on the craft of writing in an event that was open to the public in addition to the workshop students.


Kate Tuttle and Emily Raboteau

Freya and Katrin

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

“A word after a word after a word is power.” ― Margaret Atwood

January 14, 2019

Geraldine Brooks 

Margit and Shayne

“A word after a word after a word is power.”
Margaret Atwood

Sadly, all good things must come to an end and the conclusion of the 2019 Key West Literary Seminar seemed to come up way to fast. I can always tell when it has been a good seminar by my readiness for things to wrap up and this year, in spite of multiple 14 hour days in a row, I could have kept going and was really sad for the seminar to end.


Joeseph Cassara

Madeline Miller

Everything came together like clockwork and it went off smoothly from both a logistical perspective, which is always my primary concern, but also from a content perspective. The topic, writers involved, conversation and even the crowd seemed more engaged than usual and the weather was pretty much perfect, which helped make the social gatherings, receptions and dinners perfect as well.


Michael and Doug

I have to thank the amazing staff and volunteer crew who each year work to make the seminar something special. I was blessed to inherit an amazing crew of volunteers ten years ago when I took over the position of volunteer coordinator. Many of that group still show up year after year and the additions that we have made to the volunteer crew since have been able to blend in like pros. It is especially gratifying to see the reviews that are filled out by our attendees each year that consistently rate the volunteers and staff with the highest ranking of any aspect of the seminar.

Dexter Palmer

Valerie Martin 

These people that I work with year after year are not just co-workers, but have become good friends, so it is sort of bittersweet each year at the end of the seminar, because many come from out of town to work and this may be the only time of the year that I see them. Of course the work is exhausting as well, I feel both physical and mental exhaustion by the time the closing night parties roll around. This year the closing night party was hosted at my fellow board member Peyton’s lovely home and the board, authors, staff and other guests gathered to celebrate the completion of another excellent seminar.


Shayne and Kate

To illustrate just how exhausted I felt, at one point of the party I sat down on a small, but comfy looking couch near the pool. There were five of us sitting around a small table having a wonderful conversation, myself, fellow board member and friend Hilary and her husband and the iconic writer Margaret Atwood and her companion. All I wanted to do was go home and go to bed, yet I knew that this was truly a unique and special opportunity that many literary fans would give their right arms to experience so I forced myself to stay.

Margaret Atwood

It was one of the most fascinating, enjoyable and eye-opening experiences that I have had in twenty-three years of attending the seminar. Atwood is one of the smartest, most-witty, charming and interesting people you could ever engage with and there I was having a ninety minute intimate conversation with one of the most impressive writers of this generation. I sometimes have to ask myself, what the heck am I doing here? And this was one of those times.

Still I was too tired after that to attend the after-after party at our friend Nan and Mark’s house that they host each year, the late night party is where the crew and often writers, really cut loose and celebrate and again this year I missed it which I always regret the next day, but could not physically have made it that night. All in all the seminar was a wonderful success and an amazingly good time. I feel so fortunate to be involved with such a wonderful group of people and to be able to experience it each year.


Danille Paige

Now it is time to look ahead to the 2020 Key West Literary Seminar, “Reading between the lines: Sports and Literature”, which I have been selected to be the chairperson of the committee to select the writers that we will be inviting. It is a daunting yet exciting prospect and we will have big shoes to fill based on the amazing seminar just completed.


Protesting cosmetics shops next to San Carlos