Sunday 19 October 2014

Iceland Writers Retreat Information

I met with Eliza Reid, Canadian writer and editor based in Reykjavik, Iceland, last Saturday at Block 1912. Here's what I learned about the Iceland Writers Retreat.
There are 10 authors presenting throughout the April 8-12, 2015 retreat, up from last year's 8. The schedule itself is pretty packed, so it's more of a conference than a solitary retreat. Over two days, there are 6 x 90 minute workshops you can attend, and you get to rank your choices from about 10 of them. The goal is to have no more than 15 people in a class so there's more intimacy with the teacher.

The presenting authors (from 5 countries) are a blend of fiction and non-fiction. Apparently poets and playwrights attended and also found the sessions useful. Last year there were 52 participants.
Reyjkjavik itself is a UNESCO city of literature, one of only two in the world. Eliza showed me a picture of a book ad on a milk carton, which flabbergasted me. The Icelandic expression for "find your vocation" is "find your shelf", so you can get a taste of how important and how entrenched literature is in their society. Every Icelander has a book in his stomach.
Although the schedule has not been fixed yet for the 2015 IWR, some notable things that occurred last year include:
  • President of Iceland greeting all workshop attendees.
  • A reception at City Hall with the mayor of Reyjkjavik on the Wednesday arrival
  • A literary walking tour on Friday
  • Golden circle tour on Saturday with a literary spin: visiting the house of Iceland's Nobel-prize winning author. Icelandic authors doing readings throughout the tour.
  • Q&A session on Sunday
  • Optional trip to the Blue Lagoon hot springs (there are apparently lots (10) of outdoor swimming pools in Reyjkjavik, though, so there's lots to choose from).
  • Hotel Natura (4-star hotel) is close to geothermal sandy beaches where geothermal heat is pumped over to make the North Atlantic 20 Degrees Celsius.
I have some pamphlets and handouts both about the retreat and Iceland in general if anyone is interested. The estimated cost (priced in Icelandic currency, which can obviously fluctuate) is about $2,200 and is all-inclusive except for air travel, which costs <$1,000 return through Iceland Air.

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