This weekend I was incredibly blessed to be a part of the first (and hopefully not the only) Bedlam Farm Writers and Poets Workshop reading at Battenkill Books in Cambridge, New York. I have been a member of the group for about three years now, and it is a place where I have found tremendous creativity, community, and acceptance.
The weather was lovely for February. Bright and sunny, the room at the bookstore had been cleared to make space for a podium and rows of chairs. As we gathered to start the reading, more and more people came in and took a seat.
I was pleased to look up from talking with classmates to find the rows of chairs filled. So many people had come to hear us read, none of us nearly as established as writers as our teacher, Jon. They were going to give us a chance, taking his word on all of our talents.
I credit the group and Jon with helping me find my way back to writing again. Real writing, not just journaling (my usual habit of scribbling in notebooks). Writing for the intention of sharing my own voice with others for pretty much the first time in my life. I hold the group as a sacred space, and value my classmates’ talents and opinions very highly.
We are all very lucky to have found each other, I think.
It is a wonderful thing to find real community with others. I have found it with close friends and family, of course. But to find a kind of shared passion with a group of fellow travelers– other people who love language, words, and the sound of them being read aloud– now that is something truly amazing for me to experience.
We write together about our deepest, darkest fears, our joys, our sorrows, our struggles. We share our stories both fiction and not. We read and respond to each other, both emotionally and practically, offering counsel on the technicalities, as well as comfort in the overwhelming moments when the line blurs and we can’t separate the writer from the words.
For me, it has created a bond like no other.
So to be a part of the reading alongside my classmates – a courageous few of whom had never before read their work aloud or to anyone else but our group – was a very moving experience. We are all working on our different projects, and approaching them in our own ways with Jon’s help and guidance. I’m really looking forward to what’s to come for us as individuals, as well as what we will all accomplish together.