Our lives are made up of encounters. Most are the everyday, unremarkable interactions making up a life. Other encounters are momentous, life-changing.
Regional writers will share encounters large and small in the ninth annual Writers Read, this year’s theme being Encounters. At 7 p.m Friday, January 25 in the Alvord Theater, 17 writers will read their original poems and stories (fiction and non-fiction) aloud.
This year readers take us with them as they meet animals, celebrities, lovers and even their deeper selves.
Writers Read started as a collaboration between Washburn’s Julie Buckles, author of Paddling to Winter, and artist Ros Nelson of Mellen, who curated the book Love Stories of the Bay. Since that first energizing winter night of reading stories aloud in a Bayfield coffee shop, Writers Read has grown, moved its location several times, and featured stories on topics such as food, weather, travel, transformation, and darkness.
One of this year’s new readers is Sue Schreiner of Washburn, who shares an intensely personal — and very funny — non-fiction story about the people she encounters while undergoing treatment for breast cancer.
Schreiner said she was inspired to write her own story after hearing past Writers Read stories on Wisconsin Public Radio.
“I have always felt that writing is the way I can best express myself,” she said. “As a somewhat introverted person, I usually end up listening to others rather than telling my own stories. I’m also a person who wants to live without regrets about not trying something. When I checked out the topic on the Writers Read website … and saw it had to do with Encounters, I knew I had to do it. With my life experience, the story just wrote itself.”
Buckles—who will read a piece of her own, as will organizer Gina Kirsten—said this year’s Writers Read actually produced an encounter for her when she realized that one of the readers was her neighbor, and now the two have met in person for the first time.
Northland College is sponsoring the event again this year, along with Wisconsin Public Radio, which is taping the event to be broadcast at a later date. The event will be emceed by Northland College Professor of English and WritersRead poetry judge Cynthia Belmont.
Belmont said she was more impressed than ever by the quality of the poetry she received.
“This theme brought out a new intensity in the poetry,” she said.
There were over 60 submissions this year from writers throughout northern Wisconsin and Minnesota, which meant less than one-third of the entries were accepted.
Claire Duquette is one of the event organizers.
Tara Wisnewski Janisch