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Wednesday
Apr042012

Just what is Off the Page? 

Off the Page is on stage this Friday night.

But wait, I see that confused look. You wonder: Is it writing group, workshop, event, or blog?

Answer: All of the above.

Off the Page was first a writing group, that turned into a literary event, that spawned a workshop, and also this blog.

A brief history
I was hungry (read: desperate, lonely) for writing companions
when I moved to Oregon in 2004, so I put out a call. That call created a writing group that, for two years, gathered monthly in my home. We'd eat soup, chat, and then dive into writing exercises. We shared our work with each other. In essence, we created and encouraged.

We were a mixed bag. Some of us had never been published and some were professional writers. Some were accomplished professionals -- an actress, a stock broker, an architect. Some were retired.

After we had written together for over a year it seemed time to share our work with a larger audience, and a reading event was born. The first year about 40 people showed up to see us nervous and shaking as we shared our poems and stories. The next year 50 people packed the coffeehouse.

As my circle of colleagues expanded, so, too, did the annual event. After several years we outgrew the cafe and moved to the Overleaf Lodge Event Center, a larger but still intimate venue that holds 80 people. Last year, much to my surprise, it was standing-room only — and to hear largely unknown writers!

What this tells me is that people are eager to support creative expression. And I am beyond grateful for the warmth and encouragement. 

While the initial writing group has long passed — lives change, people move on — the spirit of Off the Page remains. The premise is simple: Writing needs air.

Writing needs air
Over the years, writing has allowed me to wear many professional hats: newspaper reporter, editor, grantwriter, corporate communications, copywriter, and publicist.

I am also a poet who, for years, wrote in the dark, keeping my writing as a deeply personal, never-to-be-revealed part of myself. When I began to take my poetry seriously, I discovered that writing needs air. It needs life. It needs to come out of the cloistered journal and given space. It needs to come off the page and into the world.

And once words lift off the page, they are free to float into ears and soar into hearts.

This is the power of a small start. Just a few words on a page, and then a few more . . .

 

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