Writers from away
Winter is long. As March rolls on, Islanders scramble to find projects and outlets to keep the winter fever away. This month, the West Tisbury library helps to feed our culture-deprived souls with a series of poetry and fiction readings.
On Wednesday nights, the library will welcome award-winning young poets and fiction writers to read their latest work. The writers, who have been residing in Provincetown since October, are all part of the prestigious Fine Arts Work Center, a long-term residency program for emerging artists.
"It's rare to have such a high concentration of people from all over the world, without having to make a huge effort to get them here," said Jennifer Tseng, the library circulation assistant responsible for the partnership.
The winter fellowship program is geared towards artists in the early stage of their careers. The Center provides fellows with living and workspace and a modest monthly stipend from October through May.
Ms. Tseng, who moved to the Island from Los Angles a little over a year ago, is a former fellow herself. "It sounds like a simple thing, but they know how to provide support," she said about the Center. A winter fellow two years in a row, she managed to finish a poetry manuscript the first year and the draft of her first novel the second year.
This year the writers are from the U.S. and Sydney, Australia. They have been published in literary reviews like Glimmer Train and the Western Humanities Review.
Fellows from previous years have gone on to win prestigious awards including the Pulitzer Prize and the Prix de Rome.
After four months on the outermost Cape, the fellows are starting to feel the isolation that Islanders know so well.
"I remember towards the end of the fellowship, certain of the writers and artists getting stir crazy," said Ms. Tseng. "It just gives them a chance to get away, take a break from their work."
A question and answer session and small reception will follow each reading. The writers will then stay overnight at the home of poet Fanny Howe in West Tisbury.
"We'd love to make it into an annual event," said Jennifer. "Both Provincetown and Martha's Vineyard have a long history of being the homes or havens to writers."
Winter Reading Series, March 19 and 26, 5:30 pm, West Tisbury library. Free. 508-693-3366.
Amandine Surier is a contributing writer to The Times.