The inaugural Festival of Women Writers drew “an incredible well of talent” to the village of Hobart over the weekend, according to editor Leslie Sharpe of Walton.
“The response and turnout were fabulous,” agreed Cheryl Clarke, who organized the event with Breena Clarke. “We are encouraged to do it again.”
The three-day festival of workshops began Friday afternoon and continued Saturday and Sunday. Women writers came from near and far to present workshops and give public readings. Food was catered or made available by organizations such as the Hobart Rotary Club.
The three-day event was a collaborative effort. The Clarkes, who own and operate the Hobart bookstore Blenheim Hill Books, began reaching out to supporters in the spring to build on $10,000 in grants and donations already raised for the event. Among the organizations supporting the event locally are the Greater Stamford Area Trust and the Hobart Community Foundation.
And while the workshops were presented solely by female poets, playwrights, novelists, educators, critics and writers, the festival wasn’t strictly a single-sex event.
“A man attended my workshop,” observed Sharpe, who teaches at Columbia University and presented “The Emerging Voice: For Beginning Writers” at Blenheim Hill Bookstore. “Although women lead, the festival is open to everyone. All boundaries are crossed.”
Amy Morris, owner/manager of Papermoon Book Binding in Hobart Village, offered a workshop for children on how to make an O-wire book.
“I teach how to make a book structure that can be embellished with decoration, and fun to write in,” Morris said.
In the collaborative spirit, bookstore owners offered up space to one another for the programs.
“There was more room in the newly refurbished Liberty Rock Books, so the bigger classes were moved to that site,” Morris noted.
At the International Bookport, poets and performing artists Evie Shockley and Elana Bell led a workshop about writing on the side of advocacy and activism.