HPMEC Hosts Writer's Retreat

Thursday, June 14, 2018
Participants and staff in the Summer's Writer's Retreat at the HPMEC, in Piggott, included from left: Front-HPMEC writer-in-residence Kate Osana Simonian and Museum Director Adam Long. Back-Fay Guinn of Jonesboro, Linda Wyss of Piggott, Tayla Tate Boerner of Fayetteville, Beth Walker of Martin, Tenn., Ed Graves of Little Rock, Debbie Archer of Walnut Ridge and Don Gean of Sarasota, Fla.
courtesy photo

The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center, of Piggott, recently held its summer writers’ retreat. Over the course of the week-long effort, eight talented writers from four states came together to hone their skills and to form a community at the site where Ernest Hemingway penned much of his iconic novel A Farewell to Arms.

HPMEC holds regular writers’ retreats, but the writers taking part this summer had a special opportunity. Serving as the mentor for the week was the museum’s first writer-in-residence, Kate Osana Simonian.

Simonian was selected from a group of highly-qualified applicants from across the country to spend the month of June living and working in the community of Piggott. This residency program was made possible by an underwriting sponsorship from Piggott State Bank.

Cody Knight, president and CEO of PSB, noted the bank welcomed the opportunity to sponsor the residency. “This is a great opportunity to bring a talented writer to our community,” he said. “The residents of Piggott and the patrons of the museum will have a wonderful resource for the month, and Kate will be able to share our community with others around the world.”

Simonian is an Armenian-Australian essayist, short story writer and novelist hailing from Sydney, Australia. She is on a Presidential Fellowship at Texas Tech University, where she is completing a Creative Writing PhD. Her work has been published by, or is forthcoming in, Kenyon Review Online, Colorado Review, Ninth Letter, Passages North, Post Road, The Chicago Tribune and Best Australian Stories. She has won various honors, including the Nelson Algren Award, a Truman Capote Fellowship and a Tennessee Williams Scholarship to Sewanee Writer's Conference. Along with acting as an associate editor for Iron Horse, she is the fiction editor for Opossum: A Literary Marsupial, a journal on the intersection of literature and music. Those wanting more information on her career may visit online at www.katesimonian.com

During the retreat the writers began each day with a workshop, looking at samples of writings from Hemingway and his contemporaries as models for their own. They followed the workshop with time set-aside to write on the grounds, including in Hemingway’s Barn-Studio. They enjoyed lunch together at the Educational Center and ended the afternoon with a group meeting to reflect, share and discuss the processes used by each writer.

“The format allowed writers time to focus on their own creative interests, to receive feedback on their work, and to form relationships with other writers,” museum director Adam Long noted.

Writers’ retreats are held twice annually at the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum in Piggott. The next retreat is scheduled for Nov. 9 to 11, with Rob Lamm, of Jonesboro, Arkansas, serving as mentor. Those wanting additional information may contact the museum.

HPMEC is an Arkansas State University Heritage Site at 1021 West Cherry Street in Piggott. Tours are offered on the hour from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1 to 3 p.m. Saturdays, and originate in the museum store. Those wanting additional information may call them at 870 598-3347.

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