Special feature from The Writer magazine
An exercise from Linda Lappin's new creative writing book, "The Genius Loci: A Writer's Guide to Capturing the Soul of Place"
Click here to download Soul of Place
"Linda’s Lappin's Spirit of Place Creative Writing exercises lead the writer to locate the heart of memory." Virginia Ripley, writer, Los Angeles, participant in the 2006 Kenyon Review Creative Writing Workshop in Italy
"The Spirit of Place exercises allowed me to tap into the mystery of the Etruscan landscape and culture. > Patricia Mendenhal, New York City
Linda Lappin organizes writing workshops and retreats in Italy and elsewhere. In July 2017 she will be teaching for the Aegean Arts Circle Workshops in Andros Greece. Updates will be available soon.
All writers have their secret spiritual geographies. Through Linda Lappin's original creative writing exercises now collected in the SOUL OF PLACE -- A CREATIVE WRITING WORKBOOK, writers and poets can retrace those inner itineraries and attempt to unlock the voices and impressions hidden in places of the past.
Linda Lappin with writers from the Christian Albrecht University @ Kiel, Germany
In October 2014, Linda Lappin led a place-writing workshop with students from the English Department of Christian Albrecht University in Kiel Germany.
BIO: Linda Lappin, prize-winning poet, novelist, essayist, and travel writer is the author of The Soul of Place-A Creative Writing Workbook: Ideas and Exercises for Conjuring the Genius Loci (Travelers’ Tales 2015). She has published three novels:The Etruscan (2004, 2010, runner up in fiction at the New York Book Festival 2010), Katherine’s Wish ( 2008 Gold medal Ippy Awards in historical fiction, finalist for the Foreword Book of the Year), Signatures in Stone (2013, Overall Winner, Daphne Du Maurier Award). Her essays have been published in The Kenyon Review, the Literary Review, Prairie Schooner, Rain Taxi, Writers’ Chronicle, anthologized by Seal Press, awarded the Travelers Tales/ Solas House Bronze Medal for travel writing, the Hugh J. Luke award for the essay, and nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Her poetry has appeared in Agni, kayak, and the Seneca Review. She has held workshops at the following venues: the USAC Study Abroad Consortium in Italy, the Centro Pokkoli in Italy also in coordination with the Kenyon Review Italy Program and the Converse College Creative Writing Program, Rome Feltrinelli International, Paris Women’s Writing Workshop, and the English Department of Christian Albrecht University in Kiel Germany. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Iowa.
Pokkoli writer Jennifer Troester describes her experiences in Linda Lappin's creative writing workshop
TESTIMONIALS for LINDA LAPPIN'S WORKSHOPS
A Ph.D. clinical psychologist for the past 30 years, and former psychology professor who had minored in English as an undergraduate, I signed up for a writing course from Linda Lappin at USAC. It was a fabulous experience. Getting us to take risks presenting our writing to the class, she showed an acute sensitivity in dealing with the self-consciousness of novice writers. Though I started out reluctant, and insecure about my writing, I ended up feeling that not only could I write somewhat decently, but I enjoyed writing, hearing what others had written, and presenting my own bits. My latent creative writing juices were unleashed! I continue my writing and am working on a title for my collection, which someday I'll give to my daughter. I salute Linda Lappin for her creativity, skill and dedication as a teacher.
---Roberta Fergusson, Reno
"Linda Lappin's "Soul of Place" workshop encouraged me to climb into the attic of memory to discover writing riches. Her prompts evoked
details of rooms and places, friends and relatives, sights and scents which poured onto the page. This workshop has given me a wealth of new ideas for story writing,"
Anna Duke Reach, Kenyon Review Program Assistant
by Virginia Ripley, recent participant in the Soul of Place Creative Writing Workshops
As the bus turned onto the main highway leading us away from Vitorchiano and back towards Rome, I knew the experience there had somehow opened a doorway in my mind and cleared a passageway through which memories of a new clarity could travel. Writers are rememberers. It’s part of the craft. Linda Lappin’s Soul of Place Workshop leads the writer to locate the heart of memory, where one is able to mine her own soul for material. As the landscape I experienced in person, as well as through Linda’s novel, The Etruscan, slipped away, I began to recall the first part of Linda’s Spirit of Place Workshop.
Linda sent us all out into her neighborhood, the oldest part of Vitorchiano, the walled village, with the mission of silently seeking out the corners that spoke to us. I stepped into a courtyard of potted geraniums, lichen covered walls, and a single pillar set into a corner. I allowed the landscape, a collage of different eras, the past as constant as the present, to speak to me. Linda provides the writer with a lens through which to view the porous stone walls, the thick block window ledges, the sagging staircases, and the layers of reality reveal themselves. You wander further into the small streets and turn a corner that opens out to the gorge, a valley of infinite shades of green. When we reconvened in the Centro Pokolli we each returned with stories, all different, since we had each seen through our own unique eyes. An endless number of stories can sprout from one corner of the world. We share the physical world, but what we each bring to it creates the difference. It is the sharpening of this ability to use our senses that will enrich our descriptions and understandings of place.
Linda discussed character as a “function of the landscape,” and my mind was instantly brought to the mysterious count in her novel The Etruscan. Count Federigo del Re’s stout, olive toned body seems to have risen out of the landscape; he is part of Vitorchiano, body and soul. To eat the porcino mushrooms and to walk among the overgrown brush, watching out for vipers is to get to know Federigo del Rey. The characters we write must give our readers this desire to return to the landscape of our writing, to drink in the very air the characters breathed. How our characters interact with the environment can mirror their inner-beings. As writers, the more conscious we are of how our characters experience their surroundings, the more real our characters become. The Spirit of Place workshop provides the space and the tools for writers to explore their own ways of perceiving and connecting with our surroundings.
During our second workshop we focused on the richness of our own memories. As we sat around the table each writer seemed a vessel for an entire universe, an abundance of memory in need of a method of making its way to the page. Linda gently draws her workshop members into a place where they attempt to capture memory as not just a flat, visual thing but a three dimensional, multi-sensory experience. Steeped in memory, the writer can render both places far away and directly in front of her. I left the session feeling full of possibility and connected to other writers who also seek meaning in the world.