poetry retreat offers
unique opportunity to hone talent
provides forum for
developing, established writers
Helen E. McKinney
(December 2008) For Barbara McMakin, poetry
cuts to the heart of the matter. McMakin attended a poetry retreat
in November with a diverse group of writers and was elated about the
opportunities this retreat provided for her personally and professionally.
McMakin, a Crestwood, Ky., resident, is a member of the Green River
Writers Inc., a non-profit organization that seeks to encourage a fellowship
of writers of all genres. The input from other writers on her own works
and the opportunity to hear what others are penning is invaluable to
McMakins creative expression. As an added plus, the camaraderie
is great, she said.
the writers group in 1984.
The Green River Writers Inc. was founded in 1984 by Mary
ODell and her late husband, James ODell, when ODell
felt she was an isolated writer living in Hodgenville, Ky. I did
not have a lot of contact with other writers.
There are now approximately 200 members, many from the local area and
some from out of state. Under ODells leadership, the Green
River Writers Inc. has held numerous summer retreats, Novels-In-Progress
Workshops and poetry retreats. The organization plays host to monthly
reading-critiquing sessions and related activities.
Poetry meetings are held the first Saturday night of the month and prose
meetings the second Sunday of each month. These meetings provide members
the chance to read their works and have it critiqued by their peers,
who offer support and encouragement.
McMakin was one of 18 to 25 writers attending the Poetry Retreat held
Nov. 6-9 at Kavanaugh Life Enrichment Center in Crestwood. The retreat
featured readings, critiquing sessions and free writing sessions to
generate writing ideas.
There are no instructors, said Louisville resident ODell.
We just come together to help one another. This is due to
the fact that once the group realized how much talent and natural teaching
ability was spread among the members, they decided there would be enough
knowledge shared from peer critiquing.
The guiding premise of our group, said ODell, is writers
helping writers. Literary works are critiqued without expressing
personal value judgments as to content or language choice.
We look at each piece individually on its own, said ODell,
73. We want to make it the best it can be.
McMakin, who primarily writes poetry, joined the group four years ago.
She has won several poetry contests and had a poem published in the
November issue of Kentucky Monthlys special publication of Literary
Poetry says a lot in a few words, said McMakin, who practices
her craft part-time. Being made aware of such opportunities through
the group has greatly aided McMakin in her efforts to become a published
poet. This group is for all levels of writers, she said.
Membership in Green River Writers Inc. is open to any age, from high
school and above, and includes a mixture of published and non-published
writers. Were open to newcomers to the area, or to writing
itself, said ODell.
Additional writing assistance is provided in the form of a newsletter
and special sessions are held for members to study market guides and
the fundamentals of becoming published. A nationally advertised writing
contest is sponsored by the organization with prize monies awarded.
said the annual Poetry Retreat brings together
a diverse group of
writers. The Green
River Writers Inc., is
for all levels of writers.
Three retreats are held per year by the Green River Writers
Inc. in January, July and November. A Novels-In-Progress Workshop is
held in March on the campus of Spaulding University, bringing together
publishers, novelists, editors, agents and aspiring authors.
Shelbyville, Ky., poet Gail Chandler also attended the Poetry Retreat.
Before joining the group, Chandler said she had never thought about
writing poetry. She has since found poetry to be one of my strong
Chandler will have a book of poetry available in May 2009 from Finishing
She compares writing poetry to shinning a diamond. Poetry enables
you to take a group of images, polish the images and polish the vocabulary,
she said. The Green River Writers Inc. has made me a better poet.
Since retiring from a position with the State of Kentucky in 2003, Chandler
said the group has become my community of people. Also a
member of the Clear Creek Writers, Chandler said writing is my
There are so many good poets out there, said Green River
Writers Inc. member Victoria Rose, who attended the poetry retreat as
well. The group tells you how much better you could be-thats
where you learn.
Crestwood resident Rose joined the group five years ago and said her
writing is as good now as its ever been, thanks to the guidance
of the Green River Writers Inc. She called the retreat a great opportunity
to get together with other writers and share different styles of poetry.
Members are there for the learning.
A Poetry Focus group meets for discussion with ODell from 10 a.m.
to noon every Thursday at Frascellis Deli in Crestwood Station.
ODell firmly believes what she has heard many members say about
the poetry retreat, This is one of the most important things they
can do in a year.
For more information on the Green River
Writers Inc. contact Mary ODell at (502) 245-4902 or visit: www.greenriverwriters.org.
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