The Bennington Writing Seminars is the closest thing I have found to a
literary home. I have been living among writers and students for
decades now, but only at Bennington, among these writers and these
students, have I felt with full intensity how the solitary craft
connects with the larger culture—and how badly that culture needs what
the writer has to offer.
Our founder Liam Rector’s six-word
description (below) is in fact a two-year epic exploration. Writing and
reading are the inner life engaged, on alert; they create like nothing
else the conditions of mattering. The process can be consuming, no
question. But if the inner life crowds up too hard at times, there is
also relief: the mountains to look at in every direction, the paths
going off from the road into the woods. Solitude is one part of the
writing life, and exchange is the other. Bennington is a place of
kindred spirits and close connections. Students work intensively with
designated faculty members, continuing the conversation about the work
through the semester’s correspondence. Justly honored and distinguished,
our faculty writers are in it for the long run—their passion for their
craft informs their passion for teaching.
The strands of the web,
then, are strong, and what they carry is electricity —from instructor
to student, from student to student, and from individual writer to group
in workshops, lectures and readings. The movement of energy creates a
community that perpetuates itself far beyond the 10-day residencies.
Hemingway spoke of his years in Paris as “a moveable feast,” and the
expression fits here, too. The true experiences are the ones that live
in the heart.
—Sven Birkerts, Director