Director expands scope of Centrum’s writers conference

PORT TOWNSEND — For 30 years, people have come to Fort Worden State Park to disengage from the world and refine their creative spirit at Centrum’s music, art, dance and writing workshops.

Beginning this year, author Rebecca Brown is bringing new spark to one of the oldest Centrum programs, the Port Townsend Writers’ Conference.

“At this point, it’s important to have continuity, but there’s so much interesting writing going on,” Brown said.

“The main thing is to have people who are doing current, vital work in their writing.”

Brown is the new creative director for Centrum’s writing programs, including the Writers’ Conference, held at the state park in July.

A Seattle novelist and short-story writer, she was hired by Centrum director Thatcher Bailey to lead the conference into its fourth decade.

“We chose Rebecca because she had a history here and understands what is best about Centrum,” Bailey said.

Brown succeeds poet Sam Hamill, founder of Copper Canyon Press, who led the Port Townsend Writers’ Conference for seven years.

Hamill, who was notified last June that he was being terminated by Centrum after the July conference, declined to participate in the 2004 conference.

He stepped down from Copper Canyon Press on Jan. 1 to concentrate on other activities, including Poets Against the War, which he founded, as well as serve as a consultant to Copper Canyon.

Past artist-in-residence

Brown has twice been a Centrum artist-in-residence and has taught writing in the United States and Europe, including the Naropa University Summer Writing Program made famous by Jack Kerouac.

One of her goals for the 2005 Port Townsend Writers’ Conference is to make its reputation for prose as strong as poetry by enlarging and diversifying the faculty.

“If you want to do experimental work, there’ll be someone you can work with,” Brown said.

“If you want to do genre fiction, there’ll be someone you can work with.”

THE 2005 PORT TOWNSEND Writers’ Conference will be held July 14-24 at Fort Worden State Park.

Registration is accepted at www. centrum.org.

For more information, call Centrum at 360-385-3102.

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