The Bennington Writing Seminars is the closest thing I have found to a literary home. I have been living among writers and students for decades now, but only at Bennington, among these writers and these students, have I felt with full intensity how the solitary craft connects with the larger culture—and how badly that culture needs what the writer has to offer.
Our founder Liam Rector’s six-word description—Read one hundred books. Write one.—is in fact a two-year epic exploration. Writing and reading are the inner life engaged, on alert; they create like nothing else the conditions of mattering. The process can be consuming, no question. But if the inner life crowds up too hard at times, there is also relief: the mountains to look at in every direction, the paths going off from the road into the woods. Solitude is one part of the writing life, and exchange is the other. Bennington is a place of kindred spirits and close connections. Students work intensively with designated faculty members, continuing the conversation about the work through the semester’s correspondence. Justly honored and distinguished, our faculty writers are in it for the long run—their passion for their craft informs their passion for teaching.
The strands of the web, then, are strong, and what they carry is electricity —from instructor to student, from student to student, and from individual writer to group in workshops, lectures and readings. The movement of energy creates a community that perpetuates itself far beyond the 10-day residencies. Hemingway spoke of his years in Paris as “a moveable feast,” and the expression fits here, too. The true experiences are the ones that live in the heart.
–Sven Birkerts, Director