Lake Superior Writers was an outgrowth of the Depot Outreach Program of the mid-1990s. When Depot Outreach lost its funding, area writers worked together and filed to become Lake Superior Writers in 1998.
Approximately 12 people were involved when Lake Superior Writers formed.
We now have approximately 150 members. We have college-age members, elderly and all ages in-between. We have professional writers, though many members work in a variety of other fields. Some, when they join, profess a particular interest in locating a writing group or a mentor—or in becoming a mentor or editor themselves. Thus, they have a particular area of development in mind. Some may join to learn more about writing by networking with other writers and being exposed to more opportunities such as writing groups, workshops, lectures and readings.
We currently offer three established monthly open writing groups. Our memoir group and an open genre group both offer writers the opportunity to bring their writing for critique. Writers’ Square Table discusses issues related to writing. Some recent topics covered by Writers’ Square Table have been: creating a writing schedule, memoir into fiction, National Novel Writing Month, creating a writing space and publishing your writing. A fourth group, just getting started, is “Murderous Ink,” a mystery writers’ group. Writers are encouraged to consider creating new writing groups to suit their interests. LSW will provide guidelines for start-up and facilitation of a new group.
In 2012, we held our second biannual writing conference with more than 50 attendees, on the University of Wisconsin-Superior campus. Eight workshops were offered, plus an opportunity for writers to read their work. An interesting addition to this year’s conference was “The Heart of the Song,” a three-hour songwriting workshop, taught by Tret Fure. Writers in attendance spanned the experience level from novice to published authors, and all instructors generously donated their teaching time.
In addition, since July 2011, LSW has hosted a four-session Literary Essay course; “Truth in Memoir,” by Chad Faries, author of the memoir Drive Me Out of My Mind; “Alternative Publishing,” by Poet Laureate Sheila Packa; and a four-session Short Story workshop was taught by Felicia Schneiderhan.
LSW hosted Valentine’s weekend events in 2010, 2011 and 2012. In 2012, on Sunday February 12, open mic and featured readers presented “Love: Lyrics and Lamentations” at a Valentines-themed reading. About 40 people were in attendance at Beaner’s Central, and the mood was light, despite some serious material. It was a great opportunity for writers of varying skill level to gain experience reading publicly, gather feedback and meet others with similar interests.
In 2010 and 2011, well-attended events were held over the Valentines weekend. Both were catered by New Scenic Café and featured silent auctions. The 2011 event, dubbed “Love Letters Gala,” offered guests the opportunity to commission poems that were then presented and read during the event.
The Duluth Poet Laureate project was initiated in 2005, with Duluth being the first city in Minnesota to have a poet laureate. The Duluth Poet Laureate operated as a board committee of Lake Superior Writers through the summer of 2011, and has now moved off on its own, crowning Deb Cooper Duluth’s fourth Poet Laureate in 2012. This program helps keep the arts accessible by promoting poetic presence via public interaction projects. Jim Perlman and a committee of 12 do a great job with this work. We wish them well.
Our 2012 writing contest, on the theme “Good Times,” was open to poetry (up to three poems), short-short fiction (up to 500 words) and creative non-fiction (up to 1,500 words). New in 2012, LSW created a youth category for writers ages 6-8 and 9-12, on the same theme. For these writers, short-short fiction or up to three poems were considered. The competition attracted 50 entries, approximately double the number the previous year.
“Hard Times” was the theme to the previous year’s contest (2011), with the theme “Good Times” something of a reverse echo. In 2011, a visual cue was provided; entrants were asked to write in response to a photo by artist/photographer Amanda Hansmeyer. Lake Superior Writers has, over the years, published anthologies of winning entries.
Mentoring and editing services
The editor/mentor opportunity can be critical to a writer in helping them move forward. Some writers just need a little push, some encouragement, a jump-start. Others enter into a long term editing or mentoring relationship that might stretch over years, working on a book or otherwise working to accomplish their writing goals. They receive a lot of attention when they enter into a mentor arrangement, and we have some extremely qualified individuals offering these services.
Many community projects have been developed by Lake Superior Writers members. Donna Schilling has offered memoir workshops for years in the community, and LSW has helped to support poetry classes for men & women inmates at the St. Louis County Jail, taught by poets Deborah Cooper & Ann Niedringhaus.
Other benefits offered to members of Lake Superior Writers
Once a month we publish a newsletter and distribute it to our membership via email. The newsletter includes information about upcoming events such as readings and publication launches, news about our members, information about our writing groups, and opportunities for submitting new work. It’s a benefit of membership and it’s a great way to keep in touch with what’s going on in the writing community.
Memberships start at $35/year, and benefits include discounts on LSW workshops and event fees, a discount on purchases at The Bookstore at Fitger’s and our monthly e-newsletter of regional literary happenings.