Islanders Write will return in August

A packed audience attends the Writing for Laughs panel featuring Nancy Aronie, Fred Barron, Jenny Allen and Arnie Reisman — Bella Bennett

Aspiring writers, published authors, and readers of fiction and nonfiction alike, mark your calendars — Islanders Write is returning to West Tisbury’s Grange Hall in August. As in the past two years, panel discussions exploring different genres and aspects of writing will take place throughout the day. Noepe Center for Literary Arts will be offering writing workshops, and Bunch of Grapes will host author signings.

Islanders Write is a made-on-MV event — call it a gathering of saltwater scribes. The Vineyard has a uniquely vibrant literary culture, and each year at Islanders Write, writers with ties to the Island come together for a day to discuss the work of writing.

“It’s intimate. It’s warm. It’s informal. It’s listening to people who know each other speaking freely in a way that you usually never get at a writer’s festival, because everybody has some history with each other,” Geraldine Brooks, who will be speaking with Junot Diaz, said. Both Brooks and Diaz are Pulitzer prizewinning novelists. Ms. Brooks is a year-round West Tisbury resident, and Mr. Diaz is a longtime visitor to the Island.

This year, we are thrilled to announce a kickoff discussion on “The Media and the Making of a President” with veteran journalist Jeff Greenfield, columnist Walter Shapiro, and novelist and Huffington Post blogger Richard North Patterson, moderated by Charlayne Hunter-Gault. Mr. Greenfield and Mr. Shapiro will have recently returned from covering the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. This event will take place on Sunday, August 7, at 7:30 pm at the Grange Hall. This event, like all Islanders Write events, is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. Seats can be reserved in advance at

There will be panel discussions throughout the day on Monday, August 8, starting at 8:30 am with a discussion called “Revisions, Rejections, and Moving On” with Dr. Peter Kramer, Alexandra Styron, John Hough Jr., and Susan Wilson. And yes, we asked them to kick things off by sharing a rejection letter or story of their own.

Other panels include “Mining History for Story” with Joshua Hammer, Walter Shapiro, Meryl Gordon, and Arnie Reisman (moderator); “The Mystery of Mystery Writing” with

Linda Fairstein, Cynthia Riggs, Avram Ludwig, and Michael Ditchfield (moderator); “Writing About Race” with Bliss Broyard, Misan Sagay, LaShonda Katrice Barnett, and Tony Horwitz (moderator); and a panel that explores the intricacies of Nora Ephron’s much-quoted statement ”Everything Is Copy,” with Nicole Galland, Halley Feiffer, and Lara O’Brien (plus one more writer who isn’t confirmed — so stay tuned).

As in past years, we want to explore different mediums for writers. This year, we will have panel discussions on writing for TV, creating podcasts, and writing personal essays for the radio. For writers in this multiplatform world, it can be helpful to get a deeper understanding of the challenges of writing in a variety of mediums. As longtime NPR contributor Nancy Aronie explained, “I think writing for radio requires really good editing. They used to give me two minutes and I’d start with seven. It was a great lesson in less is more, how to tighten and become your own best editor, what was really urgent, what pushed the narrative forward.” (Halley Feiffer, Misan Sagay, Fred Barron, and Clyde Phillips will share their experiences on the writing for TV panel, and Sean Corcoran, Nancy Aronie, Jay Allison, and Callie Crossley will discuss podcasts and personal essays.)

In addition to the panel discussions and author signings, Noepe Center for Literary Arts founder and director Justen Ahren will lead three writing workshops on “Devotion,” cultivating a daily writing practice with writing prompts and discussion and applying principles such as gratitude, surrender, and doubt to writing. “This workshop offers tools for developing a consistent writing practice,” Mr. Ahren said.

These popular workshops are also free and open to the public.

This year, we invite you to bring a piece of your own writing and stop by the West Tisbury library, where there will be opportunities to read your own work. In addition, Niki Patton, founder of Writers Read, will offer writing prompts and exercises.

Stop by for an hour or spend the entire day. Seating for the panel discussions and workshops is on a first come, first seated basis. The Scottish Bakehouse will sell sandwiches and baked goods, and if you start to flag, not to worry: Chilmark Coffee will be there as well.

Islanders Write is produced and sponsored by The MV Times and MV Arts & Ideas Magazine. Co-sponsors include Noepe Center for Literary Arts, WCAI, and Bunch of Grapes Bookstore.

For more details and a complete schedule, visit