Around the Writers’ Table: Islanders Write workshops

Planning the writing workshops.


We’re still putting the pieces together for this year’s Islanders Write, which will take place on Monday, August 19, at Featherstone Center for the Arts. And while we don’t have a finalized schedule yet, we do have enough information to let you know about the six free writing workshops that will take place at this year’s event. As soon as the schedule is set, we will post more details and the times for each of these workshops.

We are delighted to announce that Judith Hannan, Elizabeth Benedict, Jennifer Smith Turner, Elisa M. Speranza, and Marcia De Castro Borges will be facilitating workshops. And for the first time at Islanders Write, there will be a writing workshop offered in Portuguese.

Judith Hannan will once again get the day started with her popular “Wake Up and Write!” workshop. Since we’re trying to learn from our errors, this year we’ll be giving Hannan more time for this early morning jolt of inspiration, as we’ve discovered 30 minutes isn’t long enough. Hannan is an essayist, author, and workshop leader who will guide participants in a series of quick writing prompts to encourage free association and the revelation of scenes and stories.

For those of you who have been working on memoirs, or are thinking about doing so, be sure to make time for Elizabeth Benedict’s workshop, “Writing the Memoir: What to Cut, What to Keep, and How to Pull It All Together.” Whether you’re focused on one dramatic event, your eccentric family, or the sprawl of your life, you’re going to be faced with a raft of decisions to make — among them voice, story arc, and style. The workshop will help you clarify those choices, move ahead through uncertainty, and learn to love feedback and revision as essential aspects of the work. Benedict, who is a National Book Award finalist and the author of eight books, including her 2023 page-turner of a memoir, “Rewriting Illness: A View of My Own,” requests that you come to this workshop with the names of two or three favorite memoirs, and why they mean so much to you.

Fiction writers should be sure to check out Jennifer Smith Turner’s workshop, “The Art of Layering for Scene and Character Development.” This workshop is an introduction to the art of layering. to develop three-dimensional characters and intriguing scenes that will hold the reader’s attention and create a thirst for “what’s next.” Just as visual artists use layering as a technique to build their canvas, as writers we can learn to layer our writing so that we build a canvas of words that catches the reader’s interest for the full length of a novel. Smith Turner’s debut novel, “Child Bride.” won several literary awards, including Best E-Book for 2020 by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association and Biblioboard, and 2020 winner of the Sarton Women’s Book Award. She is also the author of two poetry books.

For those of you who are finishing up your book, or maybe you’ve already finished it, make sure to schedule in Elisa M. Speranza’s workshop, “You Finished Writing Your Book — Now What? Planning and Executing Your Book Publicity Strategy.” Whether you have a traditional publisher or are self-publishing, authors are being asked to do more and more to publicize their books. This workshop will help demystify the world of book publicity, and will provide practical advice for developing your book launch and marketing strategy. Speranza is a 30-plus-years marketing and strategic communications veteran. Her first novel, “The Italian Prisoner” was published in 2022, and was a finalist in the Faulkner-Wisdom Creative Writing Competition.

We are excited to welcome Marcia De Castro Borges to Islanders Write. De Castro Borges will be offering a creative writing workshop, “Saudade: Oficina de Escrita Criativa,” in Portuguese. Below is her description of the workshop in Portuguese (English below):

“Saudade Oficina de Escrita Criativa” é uma oportunidade para libertar a imaginação e descobrir o escritor que existe dentro de você, ao mesmo tempo desenvolver suas competências literárias, construir auto-estima e incentivar a criatividade. O workshop busca desenvolver uma prática de escrita que seja exploratória, divertida, e produtiva, acolhendo diferentes estilos e vozes de cada participante. No intuito de integrar a escrita em sua vida, equilibrando inspiração e rotina. Este workshop de escrita criativa tem uma (1) hora, e inclui instrução guiada e tempo de escrita independente.

Márcia De Castro Borges, mulher, Brasileira, escritora, fotógrafa, e educadora residente nos EUA. Investiga as relações entre imagem, história, memória e identidade, com o foco na reflexão sobre questões de gênero, migração, e cultura Brasileira. Publicou no volume contos da “Coletânea Feminista Abraçar e Resistir” (2022), na “Dream Out Loud Anthology,” vol II e III (2020/2021). Co-autora no projeto “Creative-Distant-Resilient” (Princeton University/2020). Atua como intérprete de Português/Inglês em Martha’s Vineyard. Doutora em Comunicação (UFSM).”

“Saudade Creative Writing Workshop” is an opportunity to unleash the imagination and discover the writer within, while developing literacy skills, building self-esteem, and encouraging creativity. The workshop seeks to develop a writing practice that is exploratory, fun, and productive, welcoming different styles and voices of each participant, to integrate writing into your life, balancing inspiration and routine. This one-hour creative writing workshop includes guided instruction and independent writing time. Material: A picture or small object from someone or somewhere you miss a lot.

Márcia De Castro Borges is a writer, photographer, and educator, a Brazilian woman living in the U.S., who investigates the relationships between image, history, memory and Identity, focusing on the issues of gender, migration and Brazilian culture. Published literary works: a short story in the feminist anthology “Abraçar e Resistir” (2022); poems and short stories in “Dream Out Loud Anthology” Vol. II and III (2020/2021). Co-author on the “Creative-Distant- Resilient” project (Princeton University/2020). She works as a Portuguese–English interpreter on Martha’s Vineyard, and holds a Ph.D. in communication (UFSM).

Islanders Write is sponsored by The MV Times. For more information about Islanders Write, email event producer Kate Feiffer at, or visit