Friday, August 27, 2010

Sitka Writing Workshop

I had the opportunity to attend a workshop at the Sitka Center for Arts and Ecology on Monday.  It is a tranquil and inspirational spot to learn, share and create.  The Sitka Center is located at Cascade Head on the Oregon Coast.  From several places set about in the stunning  landscape you can see the ocean.  It is surrounded by protected lands that include a  nature conservacy preserve, the cascase experimental forest, the salmon river estuary, a united nations biosphere reserve, and the only scenic research area in the world.  (

My workshop was  Writing for Kids: A Sense of Place presented by Kim T. Griswell, a senior editor for Boyds Mills Press and the Highlights Foundation. The eight of us in the class were sent out into the forest to lose ourselves in the senses of the place, and to write about it.   The spot I picked was on a carved bench at a high point in the forest where I could see a pie shaped sliver of the ocean in the distance.  There was a sculpture in my view that was a six sided wheel with a hole in its center, sitting atop a tall stone pillar.

Sitka Senses

A carved bench
Unforgiving in its hardness
Is worn smooth
By countless poets and bards

The eye of the wheel
Frames a picture beyond
Of the magnificent ocean
Horizon's edge hazy, gone

Tranquility and light
Sets my mind to calm
Warm smells of green forest
Fills my soul with its balm

The breath of the wind
Stroking my face
It's ebb and flow strength
Mirrors ocean waves in space

Sitting atop the world
Enveloped in sounds of trees
Storing memories of this place
That will never leave


  1. What a splendid experience you must have had on Monday! I'm glad you had the opportunity to attend the workshop.

    I like the way you described the place you chose for yourself. I'm glad you weren't cooped up inside when there was so much to write about so high on the carved bench.

    Was your workshop a one day event?

  2. What a terrific poema and how cool that you could attend a workshop at such a beautiful place! And right up your alley, writing for kids. Good for you!

  3. Yes, it was a one day workshop and we had the opportunity to write and share a number of times. One of the things I appreciated the most was that Kim brought along many examples of books and read from them to make her point about a sense of place. Then she gave us a bibliography of her sources. Small group, beautiful setting, great experience. I used what I learned to help write Nolan's story.

  4. What a great experience. Your poem is beautiful! I felt the tranquility as if I were sitting right there in the forest, looking at the ocean and smelling those wonderful woodsy scents.

  5. Thanks Jana. It my first writing workshop and I was a bit intimidated by the presenter and that we had to write THEN AND THERE and SHARE! But it turned out to be fantastic. I am happy with the poem (altho I did do some revision when I got home)!

  6. Oh, this sounds like such a wonderful experience! And your poem captures the spirit of the setting so well.

  7. Thank you Natasha! Was wishing we could have all been there together to experience the tranquility.

  8. What a great opportunity. I wish I had a chance to do things like this. I'm such a non-joiner, even if I did, I probably wouldn't go. :(
    I glad you got something out of it. Lovely poem.

  9. Thanks Dayner. Hope you are doing well - miss your posts! It was a spur of the moment thing - I just decided to DO IT!