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Chloe MadisonMark Leidner led my workshop and it was great. He really challenged me to push myself completely out of my comfort zone. He stressed the importance of imagery and helped me to solidify my abstractions with concrete images. I was also in the craft sessions “[mis]Understanding and [mis]Translation” with Nat Otting and Ben Kopel, and “Expanding Your Imagination” with Mark. Nat and Ben introduced me to a whole new world of interpretation and blew my universe. Mark threw me out of my comfort zone and expanded my view of myself and my voice. Nat and Ben also introduced me to the sound of life and poetry as more than words and images—it could be a symphony.

Bookmaking was my studio course and I loved it. I loved the feeling of not just my writing, but a physical book in my hands, something I had created to feel proud of. The course gave me yet another way to express and present myself.

The evening readings were enchanting. Being exposed to so many new styles and voices kick-started me any time my inspiration seemed lacking. Each writer left a fingerprint on me, some more numerous than others, but fingerprints all the same. Each one seemed so fearless and confident, especially when tackling “taboo” subjects.

Being part of a writing community like this was INTENSE. The schedule was so full but it was beyond words to have every day dedicated to writing, reading and creating. Even during free time writing was going down. Having so many writers around made it so much easier to write. There was no explaining carrying a notebook to supper or stopping to jot notes. Workshops were never cruel, always constructive—everyone came to get better, but to help make others better too.

Juniper has cemented ink in my blood. The environment, the setting, the courses, the people, everything has helped mold my writing into something more than a dream—a reality. Thank you so much for watering this little seed from the desert. One week is not nearly enough time. I can’t tell you how much this whole experience has opened not just my eyes, but my pen cap as well.

—Chloe Madison, ’10 participant
Victorville, CA