2016 Features

In addition to the Saturday workshops at Camp Mariastella, the Wrightwood Literary Festival hosted a series of events in and around Wrightwood. Some events were free and open to the public, others were only available to paid festival registrants. Take a look back at what we did in 2016, below!

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Saturday, June 4th

Keynote Speaker (festival registrants only)

3:45 p.m. @ Camp Mariastella

QuinteroWriting what you know has been some of the most important advice for many writers in order to capture the complexity of what they see. Never is that more true than with writing about one’s hometown. Our key-note speaker, Isabel Quintero, professor, novelist, poet, librarian, activist, and self-proclaimed IE (Inland Empire) representative, will discuss her experiences of writing what she knows and how to take any landscape and make it a multifarious portrait in your writing.

Isabel Quintero is the author of Gabi, A Girl in Pieces (Cinco Puntos Press, 2014), winner of the 2015 Tomás Rivera Book Award, Works for Older Children; the 2015 Paterson Prize for Books for Young People, Grades 7-12; and the William C. Morris Award for YA Debut Novel. Her poetry has appeared in Asus Journal, Badlands, the Pacific Review, and elsewhere.

Poetry Slam (free to the public, $5 to perform)

9 p.m. @ The Yodeler (6046 Park Dr.)

WWLF16_Slam1000wjpgFor the first time this year, we’re bringing the lively spirit of slam poetry up into the mountains! Slam turns art into a competition, with poems olympic-style by volunteers from the audience. These are not your typical quiet poetry readings—the audience is encouraged to react, and the beer will be flowing as swiftly as the lines.

The rules will be traditional: original poems (or prose!) of any style, but no music, props, or costumes; a three minute time-limit per poem, with penalties for going over; and no repeating poems—there will be three rounds, so performers should have three poems ready to perform. The winner at the end of the night will earn $150. Sign up soon, because space is very limited.

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Sunday, June 5th

Editing Advice with Timothy Green (festival registrants only)

GreenThroughout the Day @ The Loft (6020 Park Dr., Suit 5)

At various times throughout the day, Rattle editor Timothy Green will be offering one-on-one publishing advice to paid festival registrants. Sign up for a 10-minute slot, and have any questions answered about your work, or publishing in general. Bring writing samples, or anything else you want to ask about, given the time constraints. Space is limited, so sign up when you check in at Camp Mariastella on Saturday.

Group Hike (free to the public)

8:30 a.m. @ Grassy Hollow Visitor Center (6 miles west on Hwy 2)

cr:Sabrina Denunzio Join other festival participants on an hour-long morning hike through the beauty of the Angeles National Forest. Lead by a knowledgeable forest service guide, the group will enjoy scenic views and fresh air, while hiking through a big pine forest on the Pacific Crest Trail. It’s inspiration for writers, and a great way to start the day! (duration: 1 hour)

Shakti Boogie ($12 at the door)

9:30 a.m. @ Big Pines Movement Arts (1329 Hwy 2)

Celebrate the joy of movement as you connect with your creative power or “Shakti.” This class integrates yoga, breathing, luscious music, and expressive dance to create a moving meditation. It is a powerful heart-opening practice that is both relaxing and energizing. All levels welcome. (duration: 1 hour)

Rattle Reading Series – Ron Koertge & Lynne Thompson (free to the public)

11 a.m. @ Wrigthwood Community Center (1275 Hwy 2)

Normally held at the Flintridge Bookstore in La Canada every second Sunday, the Rattle Reading Series moves to Wrightwood for the festival, featuring two poets from Rattle‘s summer issue, plus special guest appearances by festival workshop leaders.

koertgerRon Koertge is the author of many celebrated novels, including Stoner & Spaz, Strays, and The Brimstone Journals, all American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults; Shakespeare Bats Cleanup, and American Library Association Top Ten Sports Books for Youth Selection; and The Arizona Kid, an American Library Association pick for “one of the ten funniest books of the year.” A two-time winner of the PEN Literary Award for Children’s Literature, Koertge is also author of several books of poetry for adults, most recently The Ogre’s Wife. He lives in South Pasadena, California.

ThompsonLLynne Thompson’s Beg No Pardon won the 2007 Perugia Press First Book Award and 2008 Great Lakes Colleges New Writers Award. Her poetry has appeared in the Indiana Review, Crab Orchard Review, Southeast Review, Poetry International, Margie, Sou’Wester, Ploughshares and Spillway, among other journals. A four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Thompson was commissioned in 2010 by Emory University to write poems in collaboration with choreographer Anna Leo and by Scripps College in collaboration with sculptress Alison Saar. (duration: 1 hour)

Children’s Writing Workshop (free to the public)

1:15 p.m. @ Wrigthwood Community Center (1275 Hwy 2)

coverChildren ages 6 – 12 are invited to attend this free writing workshop, led by teachers Jan Vondra and Mary Lucas Duman. This hands-on haiku and art workshop will encourage children to have fun playing with words, featuring fun and expressive activities such as poetry, painting, movement, storytelling, and music. All children will also receive a free copy of the Rattle Young Poets Anthology. (duration: 2 hours)

Classical Music Concert (free to the public)

1:30 p.m. @ Vivian Null Park (next to the Wrigthwood Community Center)

KeyboardWhile the children are making art, adults can enjoy a classical music concert at the adjacent Vivian Null Park: “Dually Noted,” a play on duets and two types of notes, both musical and literary, performed by Keyboard Art School of Music faculty Jerry Ripley (harp) and Stephanie Santos-Owens (soprano). The seating is grass, so bring a blanket or a folding chair or just sit on the grass! (duration: 90 minutes)

Wine & Watercolors w/Gayle Dowling ($25 at the door)

1:30 p.m. @ The Loft (6020 Park, Suite 5, above The Village Grind)

DowlingLet your creative juices flow! By learning basic drawing & watercolor techniques and including a glass of wine (optional), you will have a finished piece of art at the end of this two-hour session!

Gayle Dowling studied art in high school and college, winning many awards for her work. She later became a teacher and was nominated for the prestigious Bravo award for her art instruction. After retiring from teaching, Gayle founded The Loft, where she displays her watercolors, graphite, and pen and ink works. She also holds art workshops and private lessons for children and adults. (duration: 2 hours)

Open Mic (free to the public)

3:30 p.m. @ The Village Grind (6020 Park Dr.)

OpenMicThe festival will close with an open mic at the Village Grind coffee shop. Hosted by Timothy Green and Gregory Jones, everyone is welcome to take a turn on stage to share their stories, poems, or songs.

Soap-Ku Contest (free to the public)

WholeLifeSoapsBefore you leave, don’t forget to drop off your entry for our haiku contest! Sponsored by Whole Life Soaps, the winning haiku poet will receive $50 and have their haiku printed on a specialty soap that will be available at the soap store for the rest of the year. The winner will also receive a few complimentary bars once they’re ready. The contest is free to enter, and there are no rules, other than that the haiku should relate to either nature or soap. Drop of your entry at any of our events, or at Whole Life Soaps during business ours that weekend.


Workshops are split into two 2-hour sessions, with each workshop offered in both sessions, so that all participants may register for any two of their choice. The workshops are positive and generative—our goal is to inspire you to write and share your stories, whether as poetry, fiction, or memoir. Because this is a small retreat, the breakout groups will be even smaller, with only a handful of participants in each, allowing for a great deal of one-on-one interaction.

Character-Driven Nonfiction

CardinaleBecause nonfiction writers are working with factual stories, sometimes we are focused too keenly on the series of events about which we are writing rather than what motivates and us and others in our lives. Led by Angela Cardinale, this workshop will help writers apply the fiction technique of characterization and character-driven writing to real-life experiences. This will help writers discover new points of narrative interest and conflict, or deepen existing ones.

Haiku Hike

McCandlessKolodjiFormer Yosemite park ranger and Wrightwood resident Joan McCandless will lead a beginner-level hike through the trails of the 200-acre Camp Mariastella property. Learn about the the flora and fauna of the San Gabriel Mountains and breathe-in the pine-scented air. Deborah P Kolodji, a renowned haiku poet and a member of the Haiku Society of America & the California State Poetry Society, will co-lead this hike and haiku workshop. During the walk in the woods, participants will use all the senses to write haiku. Bring a set of sturdy shoes, a notebook, and something to write with.

Mining the Mind – SOLD OUT!

GreenThere’s nothing more paralyzing for a writer than the empty page. Join poet and editor Timothy Green for a workshop on carving meaning out of all that white space. Green has spent more than a decade as editor of one of the largest literary magazines in the country, and published over a hundred poems and short stories. He’ll share his technique for writing virtually all of them, a form of associative writing that turns random prompts into self-discovery by listening to your own deep voice. Participants will write, revise, and share a poem during the workshop. Bring a notebook and a pen, and never suffer writer’s block again.

Nature as Metaphor – SOLD OUT!

ChucNature is a source of inspiration for many writers. How is nature used as a metaphor to express human desires and experience? In this workshop with Teresa Mei Chuc, participants will look at examples of poetry that use nature as a metaphor to express our humanity in microcosm or macrocosm, on a cellular level or on a universal level or somewhere in between. What do we see in ourselves when we look at nature, a dandelion, a mushroom, an oak tree…the mycelium network? Even nature’s colors invoke in us deep emotions. How is the natural consciousness of the Earth connected to our human consciousness? Attendees will write their own poems inspired by the surrounding nature as a metaphor for some aspect of human life and experience, personal or universal.

Performing the Written Word

FrankPublishing your story is only half the battle. Authorship in the 21st century is part performance—and the performance aspect is something authors tend to ignore. From bookstore readings, to radio appearances, to literary festivals, one of your jobs as a writer is to engage a live audience. Wrightwoodian Ronald Frank, a professionally trained Shakespearean method actor, will teach you how to make the most of your own voice as a physical instrument—how to project, engage, enunciate, and, most importantly, how to bring an authentic emotional presentation to the stage. Bring a few of your own writing samples that you would like to perform.

Songwriting for Writers

JonesThis is a hands-on workshop in which participants produce one to four songs (depending on group size) by writing ideas and experiencing a suggested corresponding musical arrangement (chords, melody, rhythm and tempo). The workshop, led by Gregory Jones, approaches the subject of songwriting via the categories of Clarity and Sophistication, suggesting that successful songwriting requires communicating a clear idea while being equally entertaining. In large group, using a simplified SYMLOG type graphic, Jones will assign four types of lyric to four types of chords, tempo, styles of music, etc. In small groups, participants will collaborate one verse which is then matched to its musical counterpart. This back and forth process continues and concludes with a performance of each song.

What If: Conflict Is Plot

TulacroWhether a short-story or a novel, a reader will continue to turn the pages if there is conflict. Conflict, when executed correctly, drives a story forward; conflict is plot. A reader cannot help but to invest in the story because s/he is drawn to the what-if. Readers will put down their phones, forget their responsibilities, and ignore their lives, if and only if, they absolutely have to find out what will happen. Led by Victoria Barras Tulacro, a life-long resident of Wrightwood and professor of English at Chaffey College, this fiction workshop will look at how to create conflict, so that our stories can move forward with purpose and urgency. Workshop participants will be asked to create, write, and share during the workshop with the goal of gaining a better understanding of how to create plot—or rather, put more simply, conflict.




Saturday, June 4th:

(Festival Registrants Only and at Camp Mariastella Unless Noted)

9:00 a.m. – Complimentary Coffee, Tea, Snacks, and Chat

9:30 a.m. – Welcoming Presentation & Ice Breaker

10:00 a.m. – Workshop Session A

12:00 a.m. – Lunch

1:30 p.m. – Workshop Session B

3:45 p.m. – Keynote Presentation by Isabel Quintero

4:30 p.m. – Closing Presentation / Music Open Mic

9:00 p.m. – Poetry Slam @ the Yodeler (free, open to the public)

Sunday, June 5th:

(Free and Open to the Public Unless Noted)

Throughout the Day: One-on-One Editorial Help w/ Timothy Green (festival registrants only)

8:30 a.m. – Group Hike @ Grassy Hollow Visitor’s Center

9:30 a.m. – Shakti-Boogie Yoga @ Big Pines Movement Arts ($12 at the door)

11:00 a.m. – Rattle Reading Series, ft. Ron Koertge & Lynne Thompson @ the Community Center

1:15 p.m. – Children’s Writing Workshop @ the Community Center

1:30 p.m. – Classical Music Concert @ Vivian Null Park (next to the Community Center)

1:30 p.m. – Wine & Watercolor Class w/Gayle Dowling @ The Loft ($25 at the door)

3:30 p.m. – Open Mic @ the Village Grind Coffeeshop