Home' South Florida Gay News : SFGN 120915 Contents 28 • 12.9.2015
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Lambda Literary has announced their
new faculty for their queer writer
retreat, bringing back another chance for
LGBT writers to strengthen their skills, build
connections and get published.
The retreat this year, which will run from July
24 to July 31, will feature authors like Andrew
Holleran, who wrote "Dancer from the Dance,"
and Robert O'Hara who won the NAACP Best
Director Award. It will be another chance for
eager writers of all ages to practice their skills
with the best.
Tony Valenzuela, the executive director of
Lambda Literary, said two of the biggest changes
in the event, other than the new faculty, are the
increased number of applicants and increased
number of workshops.
The organization now offers five faculty led
workshops in fiction, nonfiction, genre fiction
(this year, "young adult fiction"), poetry and
playwriting. Valenzuela said that originally only
fiction, nonfiction and poetry workshops were
"We also get many more applications
(hundreds) as the Retreat has grown in
popularity and prestige," he said. "It's become
The Retreat has also been opened up to
the past students who can return as "Writers
in Residence" and work on a project without
faculty led workshops. Valenzuela said usually
three to four writers in residence attend each
Bryan Borland attended the event in 2015,
and he said he'd do it again, if he weren't so busy
because of the opportunity last year's event
"While at my retreat, I met Fellow Marcos L.
Martinez who is the editor for Stillhouse Press,"
he explained. "He convinced me to send my
manuscript-in-progress, DIG, to him after the
retreat, and it was accepted by Stillhouse for
publication in September, 2016."
With the new book recently published, he
said he will be spending his free time on a book
tour. He said the event changed his life, but it
also presented a teaching moment.
"It was like being in an alternate, wonderful
reality," he said. "It also taught me about the
diversity of our own community and how I can
be more inclusive of that diversity both as a
writer and publisher."
The retreat, Valenzuela shared, is actually the
only queer writers' residency in the country, and
it's open to people of all ages and backgrounds.
"At Lambda's retreat, the faculty and students
are queer, and the writers spend less time
'explaining' queerness, which happens far too
often in other workshops," he said.
Borland said this helped him a lot.
"It's worth attending just to see how your
creative side reacts, what ideas appear, what
happens when your defenses are down when
all of your peers have shared a little bit of your
own experience," he said, "when there's no
need to 'come out,' when there's no need for
The new staff, Andrew Holleran (fiction),
Joy Ladin (poetry), Robert O'Hara (playwriting),
Benjamin Alire Saenz (young adult fiction)
and Sarah Schulman (nonfiction) will help the
"The students are mentored by successful,
leading LGBT authors," Valenzuela said.
He said the retreat is also a place where
writers find community, leaving the week with
about sixty new friends, many of whom they
can count on for support throughout their
Borland said this was true for him.
"With every new poem I write, I hear the
voices of my workshop group in my head," he
said. "I hear Paul Tran saying, 'We've got to be
careful with our metaphors.' I hear Kazim Ali
saying, 'All poems are performance poems.' I
walked out of that workshop with twelve new
perspectives. And I apply those perspectives to
everything I write."
WRITERS RETREAT OFFERS
Applications due January 16
Applications for the retreat are open until Jan. 16, 2016. You can
apply at the Lambda Literacy website. Scholarships are also offered.
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