Sometimes I daydream about founding an artist's colony in the rural Ozarks where I live. Why would I want to do this? Haven't I chosen a life of seclusion away from the urban landscape? Yes, I have. But sometimes I think it might be nice to have other writers around. People who share my interests. People who might be open to the idea of forming a writer's workshop or just reading each other's works in progress.
Attempts in this direction have always failed. When I suggest to friends that they might like to move here, they invariably answer that they can't. They can't, because they have a job in the big city. Or they're retired, but they want to stay close to their family. Or for medical reasons, they need to stay close to civilization.
I even tried to offer an internship at the Inverted-A Horn, but there were no takers.
However, there are existing artists colonies founded by other people. One of the most famous is Yaddo.
Yaddo -- Application Guidelines
- Yaddo Application Guidelines
Yaddo - A retreat for artists. Founded in 1900 by the financier Spencer Trask and his wife Katrina, herself a poet, Yaddo is an artists' community located on a 400-acre estate in Saratoga Springs, New York. Its mission is to nurture the creative proc
Katrina Trask, a poet, and the wife of financier Spencer Trask, founded Yaddo together with her husband in 1900. It is still a writer's colony today, over a century later. In fact, Yaddo's next application deadline is August 1st. I'm intrigued by the possibility of sending in an application, but deterred by the idea that even if I were accepted, I couldn't actually go.
The name "Yaddo" was a word made up by the Trask children, all four of whom died in childhood. The word is meant to rhyme with "shadow".
The purpose of Yaddo is to give writers the opportunity to get away from it all and concentrate on their writing for the duration of the residency. But the real opportunity, as I see it, is to meet with other writers and artists, to share ideas, experience a sense of community and make lasting friendships.
These are things that we can do here on Hubpages, too, but at Yaddo artists and writers meet in person. There is a selection process. And let's face it: there is a certain amount of prestige associated with these residencies.
Wikipedia article about Yaddo
List of All the Writers who Were Guests at Yaddo
Here is a list of famous writers, artists and composers who have stayed at Yaddo over the years: Milton Avery, James Baldwin, Saul Bellow, Leonard Bernstein, Truman Capote, John Cheever, Aaron Copland, Philip Guston, Patricia Highsmith, Langston Hughes, Ted Hughes, Alfred Kazin, Ulysses Kay, Jacob Lawrence, Sylvia Plath, Katherine Anne Porter, Mario Puzo, Clyfford Still, and Virgil Thomson.
What do some of the guests of Yaddo have in common? Well. collectively they have won 64 Pulitzer Prizes, 25 MacArthur Fellowships, 60 National Book Awards, 23 National Book Circles and one Nobel Prize in Literature.
This is a great track record, and I'm drawn to it. But ... what else do most of them have in common? They're liberals.
Does somebody like me have a chance?
Yaddo has a non-discrimination policy that runs as follows: "Yaddo does not discriminate in its programs and activities against anyone on the basis of race, creed, color, religion, national origin, gender, age, sexual orientation, marital status, ancestry, disability, HIV status, or veteran status."
I would feel more comfortable if they also did not discriminate based on political orientation or financial circumstances.
Here is a quote from Katrrina Trask that I found in the blurb on the Yaddo book put out by Columbia University Press:
"Is it right for one person to own vast property whilst another has nowhere to lay his head? Should the fortunate few possess so much more than the unfortunate many who do the work? The wretched inequality of life staggers me. What right have I to an income that enables me to live a life of ease and luxury, whilst my fellow-men can wrest by their toil only the merest pittance. It is all wrong. The time will come when the distribution of wealth will be very different. In the meantime, however, no one alone can change the established order: we can only go on working and doing our best to make new laws and to help on a new order: and during the waiting for the coming of these economic changes great homes and great houses will still have their place; and our first individual duty is to make, in that waiting time, at least a new spiritual order."—Katrina Trask , 1918
When I read a statement like that, my blood runs cold. It's the sort of thing that when I was younger might have made me turn away from this opportunity in scorn. But there is just one Yaddo. Should those of us who disagree with Katrina Trask's politics count ourselves out of the race?
When was the last time an advocate of the free market won a Nobel Prize in Literature? Isn't it about time?
Yaddo may not be a realistic goal for me right now. After all, they have no accommodations for chimpanzees. But it could be an opportunity for you! I encourage all my literary friends to apply. If you are chosen, and you make it big, all I ask is that you put in a good word for me!
Yaddo- Making American Culture
Excerpt from book: Yaddo
Time Article on Founding of Yaddo
- Books: Yaddo and Substance - TIME
One summer day in 1899, a private banker named Spencer Trask and his wife Katrina were walking through the expensive wildwood of their big country estate, Yaddo, at Saratoga Springs, N. Y....