A fine group of writers gathered for my Triggering Town writing workshop in Astoria this last weekend. We sat socially-distanced outside on a lawn with a magnificent view of Youngs Bay. Sunshine mixed with clouds and gulls drifted overhead. Rain threatened. The writers wrote well, bared their original brave thoughts and dived into Richard Hugo’s mind on the subject of producing good writing that has something worth saying. Thank you participants! These workshops are so invigorating for my soul.
We’ll meet next spring or whenever the time seems right. Perhaps it was unwise during a pandemic to invite people to travel for the purpose of writing. Or perhaps it was the perfect thing to do because I sensed every one present was craving for a little community of this type.
I heard some priceless lines and also learned that one of the writers attended Vortex I about a year after experiencing combat in Vietnam. At the festival, he told me he saw a younger and doubtless more liberal Lars Larson emerge from one of the tepees blowing pot smoke out of his mouth and generally was flying high as a kite. I believe the story. Why not?
So what happened to Lars since 1970? What happened to so many Vortexers who reveled at the festival and then decades later turned into arch conservatives and repudiated their entire youth and idealism. I suppose they would say they grew up. I would say they simply hardened their hearts and minds and called that maturity and wisdom. And then they got angry at change. And bitter.
Update: The person who told me the Larson story now tells me Larson would have been 10 years old had he attended Vortex, so he knows he got it wrong. Oh well, at least he can admit error.