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Meet Larksong Board Member, Linda Kallhoff

Amanda Shu

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Hi, everyone! This is Amanda Grace Shu, Larksong’s intern, here with another blog post introducing you to our Board of Directors. Today, we’re featuring Linda, the Program Coordinator for Larksong Writer’s Place.

Of all the board members, Linda has known Larksong’s founder, Karen Gettert Shoemaker, for the longest time of all the board members—the two are sisters and remain incredibly close. Linda was “enthralled” by the Write on the River retreats that her sister organized, which reawakened her own impulse to write. She and Karen wondered if there was a way to make these workshops accessible to writers the whole year round—an idea which would evolve into Larksong.

“At the time, I was winding down my professional career as an administrator,” Linda said. “I worked in personnel management, budgets, and marketing. In my last job, I implemented an internship program and set up adult education programs across state for new guardians and conservators. I learned how to create curriculum, schedules, registration system, evaluation system, which was especially helpful during COVID when everything went virtual. Those were all areas that I felt Larksong was going to need to develop to survive—to thrive, really.”

Linda’s vision for Larksong is rooted in her deep belief in the power of the writing process. “Writing can help you see deeper into your own experiences,” she told me. “The deeper you can see, the more wisdom you can walk away with. Sharing that vision with others, expanding that clearer vision of the world, is something that I believe Larksong can foster in writers of all levels.”

Larksong has also helped Linda develop confidence in her writing and sharing it with others. “I always thought I was just writing to my future self and keeping track of lessons learned—sort of like my own memoir,” she said. “Through Larksong, I also learned that writing was a way to clarify even the moment I was living in. When I learned to do that through some of the workshops at Larksong, I actually began to see myself as a real poet, rather than just somebody who writes.”

When I asked if the pandemic had changed her writing habits or process, the answer was yes and no. “Retirement and the pandemic came on the same wings,” she said. “The idea of the pandemic has been reflected in my writing, but whether it changed how I behave as a writer? I can’t really tell you because it was right in the middle of another huge transition in my life.”

That transition, it seems, has been an overwhelmingly positive experience. “I am grateful beyond measure to have ended up where I have in the development of Larksong,” Linda said. “Having the time at this stage of my life to be able to commit to making it happen—I’m pleased and grateful about that.”

Meet Larksong Board Member, Dorothy Ramsey

Amanda Shu

Monday, April 19, 2021

Hello, everyone, and happy spring! Once again, this is intern Amanda Grace Shu, bringing you another introduction to one of Larksong’s Board of Directors. Today, we’re featuring Dorothy E. Ramsey, Larksong’s treasurer and author of YA book Milly for Mayor, released in October 2020.

Dorothy’s journey to Larksong began with a completely unrelated venture. “I had this grand idea that I wanted to go to Greece, but I was afraid to go alone,” she said. “I contacted a travel agency and they said that if I could get a group together, we could fly for a discounted rate.” Her first idea was to organize a retreat for photographers, but she ultimately decided on a writers’ retreat. “With photographers, you’d need to pack cameras and all this equipment,” she said, “but all a writer needs are a pad of paper and a pen.”

She soon ran into a problem, however—she didn’t have the “street cred” in the writing community to promote the retreat to a wide audience. Enter Karen Gettert Shoemaker, founder of Larksong Writers Place, whose reputation as a prominent member of the Nebraska literary scene had reached Dorothy’s ears. She emailed Karen, and Karen responded—much to Dorothy’s surprise. “I’m nobody! I didn’t know her and she didn’t know me!” she recounted with an incredulous chuckle, as if she still couldn’t quite believe it.

Plans for the trip had to be put on hold when the pandemic hit. In the meantime, Dorothy started taking classes at Larksong, connecting with fellow writers, including a group that continues to meet over Zoom every other Saturday. “I’ve made what I hope will be lifelong friendships,” Dorothy said. “That was entirely a Larksong thing. I would never have met this group otherwise. It’s all because of Larksong.”

With such a positive experience, it’s little surprise that when Karen asked Dorothy to be Larksong’s treasurer, there was “no way [she’d] say no.” Dorothy has a particular set of skills that make her a perfect fit for the position—a 30-year career in compensation design, past experience as treasurer for the Lincoln Choral Artists and other small organizations, a keen eye for detail, and an enthusiasm for spreadsheets. “It’s like a puzzle to me. Give me a spreadsheet puzzle to solve!” she said to me. She also drew profound connections between the fields of data analysis and creative writing: “There’s always a story in the data, and it’s my job to figure it out and tell it coherently.”

Dorothy graduated in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in technical and creative writing, but only recently has the creative aspect come into focus. “When I retired, I told myself, ‘This will give me more time to write,’ and it has,” she said, “but not in the way I thought it would.” Accustomed to writing in public places such as Starbucks and Village Inn, the pandemic forced her to write at home, amid all the household distractions. “Can I spend a dedicated hour of writing that’s not at Village Inn and not full of distractions like changing the load of laundry or feeding the cat?” she asked herself.

The answer was yes, thanks to support and encouragement from the community she discovered through Larksong. Currently, Dorothy has six writing projects in various states of drafting, and I for one can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

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Larksong is committed to supporting both the writers who come to us for instruction and the writers who come to us to teach. We keep our class fees low, offer free programming, and pay our instructors. Please consider supporting our mission by making a donation.