CNF Workshop 2020 Summer Summary

Workshop leaders Dennis Bouldin and Karen Kish provide a “Summer Summary” of their Creative Non-fiction Workshops (CNF).

In June, July, and August, CNF held 8 sessions that 22 of us attended at least once with 13 having submitted at least once.  Yes, we miss the camaraderie and repartee of our in-person sessions. But Zoom has allowed new voices to be heard ranging from southern Vermont to Maryland and all the way to San Diego. And, it has allowed us to stay in touch with fellow writers who’ve moved from the area but still want to retain the literary bond we’ve had over the years.

With all of us living under travel restrictions, it is no coincidence that in addition to pieces rich with our Vermont environment and encompassing other parts of the USA, submissions described experiences at a remarkable number of places all over the world. Here are some excerpts from those summer submissions:

Jumping through the rainbow mists of a waterfall in the Chilean Andes:

“I thought I will never have this opportunity again…  To build courage, I stood on the ledge, imagined I was inhaling the rainbows with each breath, imagined the rainbows as cushioning my fall, imagined how my spirit would expand by jumping into a world of rainbows and… I jumped… I was in Kairos-deep time, the eternal Now.” – Karen E

Burlington Writers Workshop leader Dennis Bouldin meets Albert Einstein in Bern, Switzerland

Meeting Albert Einstein (in Bern, Switzerland): 

“I finally got my chance to meet Albert Einstein.  It was on the third of September 2019.  My wife and I were walking in a park by the river Aare in Bern, Switzerland, and there he was, sitting on a bench… During our time together, I did most of the talking.  Actually, more thinking than talking – as a foreigner visiting Switzerland, I wasn’t sure how passersby would respond to a man talking out loud to a metal statue…” – Dennis B

A newlywed couple looks to buy a mattress late in the evening in Mumbai:

“As I was looking around, I noticed a small mattress shop on our way to the main road. I pulled on Sou’s hand and he said, ‘but it is closed.’

“There is a man standing outside. Maybe he is the owner,” I told my hubby, and pulled his hand towards the store.

“He is busy on the phone.”

As we approached, he looked at us. He told the person on the other end to wait and moved the phone away to speak to us.

But I spoke first. “Are you the owner?”

“No, but do you want to buy a mattress?”

We nodded in unison.

“I can take you to him…” – Sunny P

An American and Hungarian-American teaching couple at a dinner party in Budapest on a meaningful day:

Hungary, November 4, 1956

As the only non-Hungarian at the table, I study these elite intellectuals, and wonder what memories they have of the ’56 revolution, of forty years of life under the Soviet regime of the Iron Curtain, of restrictions, lies, betrayals, and everyday terrors… And then, with goblets lifted for a dessert  Egészsegedre!, Gabor poses the inevitable question.

“What do you remember about 4 November 1956?” 

The ‘to your health’ toast is silenced. Everyone instantly pensive about that day of infamy – and the preceding twelve days of battle…

“Yes, I remember that euphoria. Just five days. And then, in 1991, when the last Russian tanks finally left Hungary, there was relief — but no euphoria. By then, too much had transpired” – Karen K.

Not that one has to be overseas for life’s significant experiences –young love in southern Ohio:

Upon exiting the Shriver Student Center, I notice a guy with long dark hair and a neatly trimmed beard perched on a red-brick wall next to the cement walkway.

“How was the movie?” he says, his eyes following me as I walk by.

“I went to a concert,” I say, wondering why he doesn’t know that a classical guitar concert was featured at the student center that night.

“Where are you headed?”

“Back to my dorm,” I say without slowing my pace.

“Mind if I walk with you?” he says, jumping down from the wall.  I slow down, waiting for him to catch up. Turning to face him, I am instantly captivated by his warm brown eyes and endearing smile. He’s a junior majoring in math and lives in Arrowhead Apartments, a big complex on Chestnut Street, about a mile from my dorm.

Keep walking, I think. Don’t let this guy get away. – Carol C.

CNF workshops are routinely held one Tuesday morning and one Wednesday evening per month, with additional sessions as needed.

For more information, please Meetup message CNF workshop co-leaders Dennis Bouldin or Karen Kish.

Submitted by Dennis and Karen