This week, Write On, Door County welcomes Kathryn Kysar and Denise Low Weso to the residency program. From Saint Paul, MN, Kate is the author of the poetry collections Pretend the World and Dark Lake and edited the anthology Riding Shotgun: Women Write About Their Mothers. Denise is the former Poet Laureate of Kansas and the author of The Turtle’s Beating Heart: One Family’s Story of Lenape Survival, as well as collections of poetry and other creative work. The two writers will offer Writing The Mother/Daughter Experience on Thursday, July 20, 1 pm, at Write On. The workshop will be followed by a social hour, allowing participants time to share their work and to visit with one another.
Write On: How did the two of you meet?
Denise and Kate: We met in graduate school in Kansas. We kept in touch over the years, even though Kate lives in Saint Paul. We became regular attendees at the Association of Writers and Writing Program (AWP) conference and often roomed together. Eventually, we both served on AWP’s board. We spent a lot of time together and discovered how much we still have to share as friends and as writers.
WODC: How did you decide to do a residency at Write On together?
DLW & KK: Recently, we did a residency together on Mallard Island. We enjoy each other’s company yet can give each other space to work on our writing projects in companionable silence. The Write On residency is a terrific opportunity and we both have been planning to share a residency there since learning about it.
WODC: This will be a repeat residency for both of you. What made you want to return to Write On?
DLW: Location, location, location. There is such a balance of water, woods, sky, flora, and fauna in this setting. Last time I was there, a porcupine fled up a maple tree in the front yard. The views from every window and porch are wonderful. These help me write. The people I have met there have had fascinating stories to tell. They love literature. I feel I am in my own hometown when I meet people involved with Write On.
KK: I came to Write On alone on November a few years ago. I had a marvelous time and thoroughly enjoyed everyone I met, which made me want to return to do more intensive reading and writing. The accommodations are extremely comfortable too. The landscape was beautiful, but it was hunting season when I was last there, so I look forward to exploring the state parks more fully this time.
WODC: What projects will you work on during your time at Write On?
DLW: A lyrical poetry manuscript is near completion, due out from Red Mountain in 2018. It uses forms of nature for structures as much as possible—such as bisymmetry and layering—instead of poetic patterns. And I have a second manuscript started, about a massacre of Lenape and Munsee Delaware people who were Moravian pacifists. The survivors found refuge in the forest, so Door County is a perfect setting.
KK: I will be revising poetry as well as writing a book proposal.
WODC: You’ll be leading a workshop entitled “Writing the Mother/Daughter Experience.” How did you come to choose this focus? What might women who take the workshop expect?
DLW & KK: Kate published the anthology Riding Shotgun: Women Write about Their Mothers, which was re-released in paperback this spring. Denise had an essay in their about her troubled but rich relationship with her mother, who had Lenape and Munsee heritage. That essay led to the larger story of the family’s suppressed Native background and resulted in Denise’s recent memoir Turtle’s Beating Heart: One Family’s Story of Lenape Survival. We hope to inspire participants to explore their own stories, their mother’s influence, and then dig deeper. Participants will explore storytelling and reflection about the stories. The role of voice is important as well, as a guide through a story.
WODC: You’re both taking part in Write On’s collaboration with Midsummer’s Music by creating a poem in response to music to be played at a particular concert. What has that experience been like for you?
DLW: I just finished my poem, and it was an intense and rewarding experience. I have never written in response to music before—formally, that is. I often listen to background music when I write. So making background white noise into foreground was an inversion like standing on my head. It worked out well. I appreciate the chance to do this.
KK: I have not written my poem yet for the August event; I am still listening to the music and brainstorming ideas. I deeply enjoy collaborative creation across the arts: I have had several shows with visual artists, written poems to pre-recorded music, and regularly perform with an improvisational poetry/music group called the Sonoglyph Collective.