Before the memory of the Young Writers conference fades, I want to mention a few of the interesting people I met there, and what they’re up to.
Philip Baruth is a novelist and teacher in Vermont. But he’s also a political blogger, and runs a blog called the Vermont Daily Briefing. Though a lot of what he talks about is Vermont politics, some of it is pretty funny even for outsiders. Try this entry about Senate hopeful Rich Tarrant, who chose Bachman Turner Overdrive’s “Taking Care of Business” for a campaign song. It’s hilarious, sort of in the same way Dan Quayle was hilarious.
Marjorie Ryerson is an astoundingly articulate and energetic woman, who walked away from a tenured faculty position because she felt she had more important things to do with her life. (The fact that these other things didn’t necessarily pay was an annoying side effect.) She’s an author, which is enough for many people, but one of the other things she did was found an organization called Water Music, “an international, non-profit project designed to help the earth’s waters” through the arts and music. Her book, Water Music, is a spectacularly beautiful collection of photographs combined with poems and mini-essays by musicians, who are helping the cause by putting on benefit concerts. She’s working with the UN (UNESCO, if I’m remembering correctly), and in addition to trying to raise awareness among Americans of the importance of protecting our water heritage, she’s working overseas to help provide clean drinking water to populations who (unlike many of us) cannot take it for granted.
Doug Wilhelm has written a young adult novel called The Revealers, which deals with bullying in the middle school years. The book has been so successful in raising consciousness about the issue that it’s being used in many middle schools as a resource for focusing attention on the problem of bullying. Doug recently adapted the novel as a play, and that has been successfully put on in several middle schools. (My family is reading it right now, to see if it might be something our local theater group might be interested in trying.) The other thing you should know about Doug is that he’s about 8 feet tall, and you can pick him out of any crowd. (Okay, okay, 6′ 10″ — close enough.)
Finally, the director of the workshop, Matt Dickerson, is not just a teacher of computer science, but a writer of nonfiction literary analysis—his latest book being From Homer to Harry Potter, with another one coming on the subject of Tolkien and environmentalism—and the author of a historical fantasy novel. He also has a son who’s a budding SF writer. He’s also a hell of a nice guy, and he puts on a whopping good conference.