Cayuga Nature Center sits on 100 acres overlooking the  largest of the Finger Lakes with a lodge built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s as a “preventorium,” a temporary home for families members of tuberculosis patients at the nearby “sanatorium” (near the present Cayuga Medical Center). The lodge, recently renovated, is quiet and comfortable in the winter months. Writing workshops are being offered for the first time in winter 2013 to take advantage of this new coziness in what had formerly been a ‘down time’ for the nature center.

Cayuga Nature Center Lodge

During the month of February three workshops are offered on Saturdays, with lunch included, at Cayuga Nature Center. Descriptions of each are offered below. Pre-registration is required at

Memoir Writing Workshop

 Saturday, February 2, 2013; 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

With Jill Swenson
Swenson Book Development

Jill Swenson(Photo: Gary Hodges)

Jill Swenson

This one-day workshop is intended for those who want to write their own first person account of some of life’s experiences. Whether capturing your memories for future generations of your family, writing short essays for magazines or blog posts, pursuing publication of a book length manuscript or simply interested in going beyond your journal, the workshop offers inspiration, techniques, and best practices in the genre of memoir. The first morning session will focus on the conventions of the memoir genre, the differences and similarities to fiction writing, and a discussion of narrative arc. The second session will involve writing exercises involving setting the parameters of time, identifying primary characters, and the narrator. After a lunch break, the first afternoon session will focus on POV (Point of View), voice, and character development with more writing exercises on dialogue, passive voice, active verbs and pacing. The fourth and final session of the day’s workshop will emphasize storycraft, the hook, creating “moments,” building tension, and denouement. Writing and Selling Your Memoir by Paula Balzer will be included as a supplement to the workshop sessions.

Registration limited to 12. Must register before January 31.

$75 per person.

Poetry Workshop: Building Green Fires in Winter Words

Saturday, February 9, 2013; 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
With Jay Leeming
Author of Miracle Atlas (Big Pencil Press, 2011), Dynamite on a China Plate (Backwaters Press, 2006)

Jay Leeming

Jay Leeming

Poetry offers us an ancient way of relating to the natural world, a song-threaded path into deeper connection with stars and sparrows and rivers speaking wisdom under the stones. This is a class for anyone wishing to plunge into poetry, to explore language and imagination and the joy of reading poems aloud. We’ll read poems from many cultures and write some of our own, warming our imaginations and nourishing our poetic selves in a supportive and creative environment. If weather permits we will also venture outside to bring branches, clouds and whole hillsides into our poems. No previous poetry-writing experience is required; this class is open to all.

Registration limited to 12. Must register by February 7.

$75 per person.

Writing About Nature: Art and Science in the Field

Saturday, February 16, 2013; 10 p.m. – 4 p.m.
With Bill Chaisson
Chair, Cayuga Nature Center board of trustees; arts & entertainment editor, Ithaca Times;

Bill Chaisson

Bill Chaisson

Nature writing comes to us in many forms. It can be heavily coated in sentiment or over-burdened by technical details. Readable writing about natural history usually takes a moderate path between these two tendencies. In this one-day workshop we will spend the morning discussing passages of writers like Gilbert White (The Natural History of Selborne), Charles Darwin (Voyage of the Beagle), John Muir (The Mountains of California), Aldo Leopold (A Sand County Almanac), Peter Matthiessen (The Cloud Forest), Barry Lopez (Wolves & Men) and John McPhee (Coming Into the Country). In the afternoon we will take a walk at the nature center to do some observation, write a brief descriptive passage, read them aloud, and then discuss them.

Purchase This Incomparable Lande: A Book of American Nature Writing (Thomas J. Lyon, editor) and bring to the class.

Registration limited to 12. Must register by February 14.

$75 per person.

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