Words & Waves

Writers showcase highlights sea-inspired writing

Four writers who have found creative inspiration at sea will read from some of their nautical works during “Beyond the Ship’s Log,” a writers’ showcase happening Sunday, Sept. 10, at The Word Barn, an intimate performing arts venue in Exeter.

The Word Barn will host the showcase in partnership with The Boatshop at Strawbery Banke, an offshoot of Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth that offers expanded maritime-related exhibits, demonstrations, workshops and programs.
“Being out on the water is an interesting vehicle for experiencing nature and life, and how do you capture what’s meaningful about those experiences?” said Caroline Piper, program director of the Boatshop, who proposed the idea to The Word Barn owner Sarah Anderson. “For some, it’s taking pictures; for some, it’s drawing or painting, and for others, it’s writing.”
The featured writers include Anderson, a poet and freelance writer; Nicholas Brown, a columnist; Erica Plouffe Lazure, a fiction writer; and Kate Garaffa, a blogger. Each will read from their writing for around 15 minutes and then, if time allows, the audience will have a chance to ask the writers questions.
Anderson said a number of her poems contain images or scenes reminiscent of her summers spent by the water and in boats. She hadn’t realized that her poetry had so many sea-inspired elements until she started looking through it after Piper asked if she’d be interested in reading at the event.
“It seems like certain images keep coming back and recur in my poetry, and [the sea] is one of them,” she said. “The whole poem isn’t necessarily sea-related but there are echoes of it throughout my work.”
The showcase is a prelude to The Boatshop’s workshop, “Beyond the Ship’s Log: Capturing the Spirit of your Adventures with the Written Word,” happening at Strawbery Banke on Sunday, Oct. 22. The day-long workshop will guide participants in writing about their impressions and thoughts about the sea and transforming those notes into memoir. It will include a 90-minute trip aboard the gundalow Piscataqua (weather permitting) as the basis for the workshop exercises.
Piper said the showcase is intended to give people who are interested in taking the workshop a taste of the type of writing they’ll be doing.
“Certainly when you have a memorable experience, the joy is being able to relive it and bring people along with you,” she said, “so we’re hoping this [showcase] will be a chance to travel alongside these four writers, and then be inspired to do it on your own.”
Anderson will instruct the workshop.
“Hopefully when people hear these stories [at the showcase], they’ll realize that they have their own stories they want to tell about their experiences by the water or on a boat,” Anderson said. “It’s exciting to hear new voices and see all of the different ways people can write about this theme.”

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