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Pelee Island has an international reputation for birding. With its natural beauty, marina, historic lighthouse, and sunsets over the lake, it is the perfect getaway. It is also, as Dawn Kresan has seen, the ideal location for a writers’ retreat. Kresan, an author herself, and also a freelance graphic designer, turned to crowd-funding to offset the initial costs of starting the retreat. “Donation money will be put into paying the instructors for their workshop time and bringing them to Pelee Island. By bus, train, plane, ferry, or some combination of! There are instructor workshop and reading fees, instructor travel and lodging. Also, catering for both instructors and writers. Three meals a day for a dozen writers over the course of a week means a lot of food, and a lot of coffee.”
A project like this is a massive undertaking. Fortunately, Kresan has the enthusiasm, connections, and experience to make this happen. Having founded and run a small literary press for over a decade, she is an idealist that gets things done. She was also on the founding board of Literary Arts Windsor and Bookfest Windsor. It is beneficial that she knows many writers, one of them being internationally acclaimed author Margaret Atwood. “Atwood was keen to be involved, as she has a personal interest in Pelee Island and the charity she supports – Pelee Island Bird Observatory. PIBO will also be sponsoring some of the workshops and we’ll be collaborating to bring in instructors. When not writing, workshop participants can help out at the bird-banding station. I think it will be fun for everyone involved. And a portion of the proceeds from the PIBO sponsored workshop will go to that organization.”
Kresan’s enthusiasm for this project is contagious, and it should be – she’s been looking at the properties and evolving her plan for a Pelee Island writers’ retreat for several years. “When Atwood got on board, there were no more excuses for delays. Things were coming together, and the timing seemed right. It was now or never!”
The campaign offers many incentives at various donation levels: signed books, discount vouchers for retreats and residencies, and vouchers for activities on the island. With community backing from thePelee Island Heritage Centre, Pelee Island Winery, Explore Pelee, Bookfest Windsor, and local publishers Biblioasis, Black Moss Press, and Palimpsest Press.
Besides Margaret Atwood, future instructors include Steven Heighton, nominated for a Governor General’s Award and Trillium Award, Alissa York, nominated for the Giller Prize, poet Cassidy McFadzean, shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Award, and Iain Reid, who received the Taylor Emerging Writer Award for nonfiction. With talent like this, authors will be clamouring to be involved. Prices are competitively priced, being on par as other Canadian writers’ retreats such as Sage Hill and Banff. The most economical are the self-directed residencies, which has no instruction but still provides authors with the time and space needed to write. And that’s what it’s all about, a quiet space, free of distraction, in community with supportive like-minded individuals. A place to think, read, reflect, and write. The island winery is just an added bonus.
About Project Creator:
Dawn Marie Kresan is an author, editor, and graphic designer, currently working as a poetry editor and the in-house book designer for Palimpsest Press. Her books include the poetry collection Muse (Tightrope Books 2013), and Detours: an anthology of poets from Windsor & Essex County, which she co-edited with Susan Holbrook (Palimpsest Press 2013). The anthology Canadian Ginger (Oolichan Press), and the nonfiction book Derelict (Biblioasis) are forthcoming. She has been an active member of the Windsor/ Essex County community: the founding publisher of Palimpsest Press, previously on the board of Bookfest Windsor, past member of the Literary Press Group and the Canadian Publishers Association, and recently started the Pillette Village Reading Series.
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