Southern Maine Library Launches Writer-in-Residence Program
KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine - The Louis Graves Memorial Library in Kennebunkport is taking applications for its first ever "writer in residence." The person selected will be given a free place at the library to write, in return for doing some kind of program for library patrons.
Josh Bodwell, executive director of the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance says this is the first program of its kind he's aware of in the state. Irwin Gratz sat down at the library with Bodwell and Graves Library Director Mary Lou Boucouvalas to talk about the project.
Mary Lou Boucouvalas: "We have a lot of artists, a lot of writers in the area and we thought that this would be a great thing to have in our community. And, also, to be able to have that person do some workshops with members of our community."
Irwin Gratz: "There's an obvious benefit for the writer in all of this. They're just going to have a space to work that's quiet, for the most part?"
Mary Lou Boucouvalas: "We hope so. We do have a few skunks living over there (laughs) right now. Ah, but, no, it's a very quiet space and there's a beautiful balcony in the back, with a stairwell, a nice garden area, so, in the summer months and fall, it's really quiet back there. And, even to be outside of that room, in the backyard, it's really special. Like a little hidden garden back there."
Irwin Gratz: "So, Josh, what do you think of the idea?"
Josh Bodwell: "I'm absolutely thrilled. As we're talking about - there's always this idea that a writer, the first thing they need is space to clear their head and to just sit down and work. And while I was here on the board, an interesting time period when e-books were starting up and all that was happening, and 2008 in terms of financing was happening. And we spent a lot of time talking about community, and, sort of, return to the roots of the library. This initiative, this project, feels very community driven. That whoever this person is is going to come out - whether here at the library every day or not - they're going to come out of this community and be further a part of this community by working at the library."
Irwin Gratz: "And the idea here is, whoever the writer-in-residence is, will do some programs for the library, but the idea, really is to enable the writer to have his or her own space. It's not like we're going to have library patrons peering through and saying, 'Oh, this is what a writer looks like.' "
Mary Lou Boucouvalas: "Absolutely. For the most part, that person will be there to write. I mean, that's what the program is all about. And, depending on what we decide, what they would like to do in the form of a program back to the library might be a poetry workshop or some kind of memoir workshop, something like that. But, for the most part, they will be there to write."
Irwin Gratz: "What are people going to have to do to apply for this?"
Josh Bodwell: "It's very simple. We tried to make the threshold as easy as possible. So, they're going to turn in a little of their writing, but, I think the key is the author's statement. So, they're going to write 1,000 words about why they want to do this, what the goals are with their own work. What they're going to be working on when they're here. And that's going to mean a lot of different things to different kinds of writers. But it gives us an idea that it's a serious writer that's focused on their craft and that this is going to be a formative experience for them. So we hope it sort of takes off like wildfire with other libraries. Some libraries, space is one of their biggest concerns. Other libraries have this kind of flexibility, where there's a room that's under-utilized or completely un-utilized. And writers don't need much. They need that chair, that desk, a lamp, just a few small things."