CARROLLTON, Ky. (November 2003) Steve Smith is excited about
a newly organized writer's workshop in which members meet monthly
at the Carroll County Public Library. As a member of this creative
clique, he embraces the opportunities it will afford him.
by Don Ward
Whitehead leads a writing class.
A former journalist for the Madison Courier and a performing songwriter,
Smith said he viewed his inclusion in this workshop as "an inspiration
to go a littler deeper" in his writing. His goal is to become
a more effective communicator.
From October 2003 until September 2004, members will meet from 6:30
to 8:30 p.m. on the first and third Wednesday of each month at the
library. Library director Jarrett Boyd organized the workshop by writing
and submitting a grant to the Kentucky Department of Libraries and
Archives. The result was a programming grant to help fund the iniative.
Boyd said she believes the library is "a place for more than
just books." The workshop, tentatively labeled, "Writing
With a Purpose," was one alternative method to complement what
the library already has to offer patrons.
Smith is one of 12 participants in this project. Boyd said members
range from all over Carroll County and beyond, and she has noticed
a great "enthusiasm for it."
So much interest was shown in this workshop that Boyd actually had
to turn people away. After several young people answered a notice
she had placed in the local paper, Boyd limited the memoir project
to an older crowd, one that would stick with it.
Boyd, also a participant in the workshop, said she is familiar with
such factual writing examples as grants, business letters and columns.
It was time for her to try her hand at another type of writing.
"I have a lot of good first lines, but not second lines,"
The group's goal is to produce a publishable collection of memoirs
by Kentucky authors. Boyd has enlisted the aid of local poet Ron Whitehead
to instruct the workshop. Whitehead is working out details with Published
in Heaven Productions to move the group closer to its goal. He will
edit, proofread and organize the stories into a coherent text.
In addition to writing poetry, Whitehead has given lectures, readings,
workshops and taught 20th century European and American Literature,
Culture and Writing at numerous colleges, universities and institutions
in Europe and the United States. He was a featured reader at last
year's Kentucky Book Fair.
"Everybody loves a great story," said Smith, a Fairfield,
Ohio, native. At 46, he will contribute bits and pieces of his own
life to create an autobiographical work along with the other writers.
Each participant will be given the chance to read from the finished
product in September 2004 as part of the library's monthly "Wednesdays
at One" series.
Visiting writers, such as Kentucky's own Ed McClanahan, will speak
on the writing process, providing inspiration and resources for the
group. Crystal Wilkinson, an African American writer from Appalachia,
will also serve as a visiting writer. Whitehead said she would provide
a "different prospective on country life" in Kentucky. The
first writer, Michael Pollock, spoke on Oct. 15. A native of Western
Kentucky, Pollock has spent much of his life living in Iceland, his
mother's native land. He is a writer and singer-songwriter.
Smith said Whitehead is an excellent poet whose work has a quality
of depth and sensibility to it. He jumped at the chance to work with
Whitehead and considered this as an excellent way to communicate with
This project is unique in the sense that it is a yearlong workshop,
said Whitehead. Most workshops last only a few days or a week at the
Whitehead said he hopes the participants "find their own voice
as a writer, so they will have the greatest amount of integrity as
writers, by being honest."
In an effort to present participants with this chance, Whitehead is
employing a teaching process he called, "Crossing the River of
Fire: The Alchemy of Writing." Developed though trial and error,
this is Whitehead's own approach to writing. He said, "It is
not taught elsewhere. There is no other process like it. It involves
writing with the complete being."
Whitehead spent the first session having the participants introduce
themselves and presenting an overview of the course. The second session
involved a spirited discussion about writing from the heart by getting
beneath the surface fears many new writers have of getting in touch
with their true emotions.
Participation in the workshop was free to the students, and it is
Whitehead's hope that those who can last the year will realize their
personal goals of becoming better writers, and perhaps even published
For more information on Whitehead and his own publishing
credits, visit his website: www.tappingmyownphone.com.