BWSI 2012 Is Coming! Letter to our Readers…

Dear Readers!


The Bahamas Writers Summer Institute, a Caribbean centered creative writing program, will begin its fourth session on July 8th, 2012 at the College of the Bahamas’ campus, Nassau, Bahamas. We are open for applications from beginning, emerging and established writers in the genres of fiction, memoir, playwriting, poetry, and screenwriting. Once again, we invite interested persons from the Bahamas, the Caribbean region and the diapsora to be a part of this rich gathering of emerging and published Caribbean poets, novelists, scholars, memoirists, playwrights and filmmakers!


This year we are thrilled to have as our Visiting Writer Jamaican born, prize winning novelist Patricia Powell. She is the author of Me Dying Trial, A Small Gathering of Bones, The Pagoda, and The Fullness of Everything. Her awards include the Bruce Rossley Literary Award, the Ferro-Grumley Award for Fiction, and the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Writers’ Award. Powell has taught creative writing at MIT, Harvard University, Wellesley College, and the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Currently she teaches at the graduate creative writing program at Mills College in Oakland, California. Powell will give a lecture on this year’s theme, “Coming Home: Migration, Absence, and Presence in the Caribbean Imaginary,” teach two master classes, one in fiction and the other in memoir, and share with us a reading of her works of fiction and her newer work of memoir, due out in 2013. The lecture and reading are free and open to the public; Powell’s master classes are $50 per class for students, and $100 per class, or $150 for both, for the general public. All locations and times will be announced shortly.


In addition to our Visiting Writer Patricia Powell, we are honored to have as our featured Guest Writers in our  Writers in Community Series award-winning writer, muscian, and architect, Patrick Rahming, and award-winning writer, director and filmmaker, Kareem Mortimer. Patrick Rahming is the author most recently of Community Announcements and The Choirmaster; Kareem Mortimer is known for his debut feature film Children of God, and several documentaries, including I Am Not A Dummy. For The Writing Life Series we anticipate lively and informative conversations with writers and publishers about the practicalities and possibilities for writers committed to making a way with words. Both series are free events and are open to the public. Time and place to be announced.


As in past summers, BWSI classes will take place at the College of the Bahamas during evening hours between 6pm and 9pm, with the exception of Patricia Powell’s master classes which will take place on Friday, July 27th, and Saturday, 28th from 10am-1pm. The program opens on Sunday, July 8th, and ends with our Student Reading and After Party on Sunday, July 29th. Tuition is $400 if applications are received by May 15th; $450 if received by June 15th, and $495 thereafter. Limited scholarships are available to applicants whose work is of a high standard.

In addition to our program of five craft workshops taught by published authors, playwrights, and screenwriters, including Asha Lelawatee Manoo Rahming (fiction), Helen Klonaris (memoir), Dr. Ian G. Strachan (playwriting), Marion Bethel (poetry), and Kareem Mortimer (screenwriting), we have designed our literary seminars to allow a focus on our three Writers in Community: Patricia Powell, Patrick Rahming and Kareem Mortimer. Over the course of three 3-hour seminars with literary scholars Dr. Toni Francis, Assistant Professor of English at the College of the Bahamas, Dr. Angelique Nixon, Assistant Professor of English at Susquehanna University, and Dr. Craig Smith, Assistant Professor of English at College of the Bahamas, students will have the opportunity to read and view their works, discuss the prominent themes these works explore, and to prepare themselves and their questions for each writer’s presentation, providing for even more powerfully engaged writer and audience interactions.

And, this year, we have included in our program beach time – outdoor gatherings in between the writing and the reading! All the better to create community in and out of the classroom!


In other Bahamas Writers Institute (BWI) news, we celebrate past participants, poets Sonia Farmer and Philip Armbrister, for their poetic triumphs last year: Sonia won the Small Axe Poetry Competition, and Philip was shortlisted for the prize, making them both stars in our eyes! Congratulations also to Emille Hunt, who has recently been published in the prestigious Harvard literary journal Transition. Also, at the invitation of former BWSI fiction workshop participant, Deborah “Daylight” Thompson, who is Senior Mistress of T.A. Thompson School, BWI has collaborated with T.A. Thompson in facilitating a Junior Writers Club. Dr. Ada McKenzie, Assistant Professor at COB’s School of English Studies, is the project’s first Director, facilitating a memoir and storytelling workshop with 12 enthusiastic youth writers. We are proud of this new development and celebrate all whose efforts brought it into being!

Gratitude goes out to our growing team of fellow scholars and writers dedicated to cultivating and expanding BWI’s mission: Christi Cartwright (presently in the thick of an MFA at Syracuse University), Dr. Craig Smith, Dr. Ada McKenzie, Dr. Keithley Woolward, Assistant Professor of French at COB, and Maelynn Seymour-Major, Lecturer in English at COB. 


Now in its fourth year, BWI promises to continue growing, carving out a space for Bahamian writers to gather, hone our writing skills in the company of one another, experiment, take risks, play, and in doing so, take our writing lives and ourselves seriously, remembering that we are part of a larger and extraordinarily rich writing tradition – a Caribbean literary tradition that is also a vital part of the world’s literary heritage.

We hope you will partake of this opportunity to gather, to hone craft, to talk and explore literature, to hear your own necessary and strong and beautiful voices in the company of other writers. If you know of others who would benefit from this experience, pass the word on. Feel free to post this to your online networks, including Facebook! We look forward to hearing you, seeing you, receiving your applications (see attachment) and learning along with you soon and very soon!


Helen Klonaris and Marion Bethel


Bahamas Writers Institute


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