Meacham Writers’ Workshop is a series of readings and workshops which operate each semester, the most recent of which took place last Thursday, October 23 through Saturday, October 30.
Katie Christie, Meacham student coordinator and Memphis senior, said of the workshop that “It is the best opportunity that people in Chattanooga and in the surrounding area have to meet published authors and people who have already achieved something that they are working towards.”
Workshop director, Dr. Richard Jackson of the English department, spoke of Meacham’s impact as a whole. He said “What any literature does is change the normal way you think about things—it’s not necessarily the themes, but just the ways of thinking. This is the big humanizing thing about literature or any painting.”
Jackson uses examples of some of the visiting writers to explain. “A writer like Keith Flynn who is so music based with the way the reads as well as gospel song along with it—you see that this is a guy who thinks not so much in terms of big ideas but in terms of the music. And you look at someone like William Gay and you see a guy that is thinking about your average, everyday person, but pulling out of that something that is really interesting.”
Barbara Carlson, a visiting writer and translator who teaches at Thayer Academy in Mass., has been to Meacham twice. She said “It was great—I had never been to a conference where it was intimate. It seemed like everyone just shared this passion for writing.”
Christie felt similarly and said “Meacham does a great job of making everybody level and even and more approachable. And also it’s free; it’s the only conference I know of that’s free.”
Halley Corapi, a Knoxville junior, said “There were a couple of people who seemed like they had met each other before, but the new people seemed to fit right in. And they didn’t treat us like children. The writers were readily admitting that their stuff isn’t always great on the first try.”
Carlson said of her translation workshop that “Translation is so important for writers and I was a little bit surprised that it hadn’t been an integral part of the process all along. I was really happy about it because I felt like I filled in a place that I felt should be part of the program.”
Jackson also spoke of Meacham’s diversity, saying “There seemed to be even more interaction,” of the most recent workshop. He said “It varies each time. It’s always a good deal, but I think part of that is when you get people who are diverse enough to interact.”
Christie said that that interaction is her favorite part of the workshop. She said “I always try to go to lunch with an author.” She said “You don’t have to be a writer to enjoy the conference, but at the same time if you put more than one writer in a room, you’re going to talk about writing.”
Information about Meacham Writers’ Workshops can be found at www.meachamwriters.org.