SLS St. Petersburg

I've just gotten back from an extraordinary three weeks in St. Petersburg, where I was on the faculty for the Summer Literary Seminars. I taught a travel writing workshop, gave a reading with the poet Mark Halperin in the gorgeous Nabokov Museum, gave a lecture and a craft talk. And outside the classroom, I was absolutely overwhelmed by the beauty of the city, the intensity of the white nights, the richness of literary culture and cultural history...

Part of it, of course, were the people with whom I shared the experience. Aside from Mark, Tony Swofford was there, Paisley Rekdal and Meg Storey, Daniel Baird and Elizabeth Hodges... And that's just the foreigners. We also got to hang with some of the writers building contemporary Russian literature--Alexandr Skidan, Ekaterina Taratuta, Dmitry Golynko. Just superb.

Like everyone else who's ever been part of the program, I went with James Boobar on his justly famous Dostoevsky walk. Mikhail Iossel and Jeff Parker and Tom Burke have put together a great local staff, and a great program of extracurricular trips. And the city itself...

Forgive this raving, but I just can't recommend the place/time/seminar strongly enough. Many thanks to Dan and Steve at Dzanc for arranging my time there. St. Petersburg will be showing up in my writing for years, I suspect. And I'd write a great deal more about it right here and now, except that it's time for me to leave Beijing, fly to Peru, move to Syracuse, build a year's worth of life there... But if you're interested, go check out the program's webpage, or this promo video that Ken Calhoun put together.

And then go, go, go.

July 6, 2008, 10:02 a.m.Categories: Art, History, Nonfiction, Translation, Travel