SwampFire Retreat for Artists and Writers

 



3rd annual retreat, 26-27 June 2010

Let's begin with a poetic reflection on SwampFire . . .

Sometimes it is Enough to be Silent:
SwampFire 2010

Sometimes it is enough to be silent.
To sit.
To eat.
To think silent thoughts in community.
Sometimes it is enough to be silent.
To wait.
To listen.
And when the time comes, to talk.
But sometimes it is enough to be silent.

Sometimes it is enough to play with a word.
To forget nouns and have to describe them:
That thing, you know, that’s white and soft and you put on a stick and hold
over the fire and then eat.

To re-imagine gravity through dandelions.
To seek not the perfect poem or story or sentence, but only the perfect phrase.
Sometimes it is enough to play with a word.

Sometimes it is enough to carve into clay.
To learn a language of texture and sight.
To slip inside clay furrows again and again and again and again.
Sometimes it is enough to carve into clay.
To smash the final product.
To begin again from scratch.
Sometimes it is enough to carve into clay.

Sometimes it is enough to love the rain.
To tire of sitting inside.
To desire the smell and taste and touch of water.
Sometimes it is enough to love the rain.
To listen to the soft applause of water on leaves.
To hear between claps of thunder the shouts of birds.
Sometimes it is enough to love the rain.

Sometimes it is enough to create through fears.
To discover a great-grandmother through a child’s curls.
To be gentle with pearls in left ventricles.
Sometimes it is enough to create through fears.
To hate the unsteadiness of hands but to use them still.
To risk a hundred photographs to find one happy accident.
Sometimes it is enough to create through fears.

And sometimes it is enough to be silent.
~Dawn Comer

 

In the summer of 2008 Dawn Comer of the English department organized the first SwampFire Retreat for select English majors, creative writing professors, and a visual artist.

In June 2010, under the direction of Comer and Professor Mary Catherine Harper, the Third Annual SwampFire Retreat was expanded to include invited students of the several majors of the Arts & Humanities division as well as the division's faculty wanting to retreat from the everyday world to produce art of various types: visual, musical, written, oral, photographic, videographic, plastic, digital, and even cross-media.

This First Annual Arts & Humanities SwampFire Retreat (or the third annual English Department retreat) included Dawn Comer, and three fellow professors, Geromina Courtney, Mary Catherine Harper, and Steve Smith. Alumna Rachel Baker and Defiance College student Miles Byrne were also in attendance.

After a productive Saturday afternoon, members shared their works (language arts, photography, and visual arts) and responsed around a campfire well into the night. Smith provided clay cups ready for carving by those whose medium is "words," with the cross-media exercise designed to stretch creative approaches and themes. On Sunday the projects continued until mid afternoon, when the group packed up and traveled back home through the squalls of summer thunderstorms.

 

photo
Dawn Comer and Steve Smith carrying wood to the fire


Alumna Rachel Baker returns to SwampFire


Steve Smith and Miles Byrne grilling chicken


Dawn Comer brings kabobs to the fire


Jerri Courtney with her brand new camera


Steve Smith and Jerri Courtney dig in


You want me to write what?


The reading and response about to begin


If you don't take that camera away . . .


Discussing the relationship between writing and working with clay


Watching the fire as he listens


The words I keep hearing in my head . . . Cool!


More camera work as the night deepens


When the reading ends, the texting begins


That was a great story


A full moon rising over the swamp


Fire in the swamp


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