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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.

Meet Larksong Board Member, Lucy Adkins

Amanda Shu

Monday, April 5, 2021

Hello, everyone! This is Larksong’s intern, Amanda Grace Shu, with another blog post! I’m interviewing each talented member of Larksong’s board of directors. This time, I have the pleasure of introducing you to Lucy Adkins, a writer who has accomplished the hat trick of genres—poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.

Lucy had known and admired Karen Shoemaker, the founder of Larksong, for a long time before joining the board of directors. She went to a writers’ retreat run by Karen and Twyla Hansen just before the pandemic struck. This was back when the Larksong’s Kitchen Table Series, which actually took place around a kitchen table, was changed to a Zoom platform because of the pandemic. 

When asked to be on the board, she had no second thoughts.

“I knew it was something I wanted to be involved with,” she said. “What I think is really special about Larksong is that it offers more than a social connection. It allows you to spend some time focusing on improving your writing. It’s an extension of a community that already exists, but it’s also a place to learn.”

Lucy’s experience as a teacher is something she hopes to bring to Larksong, as well as a positive voice and connections to writing communities across the state and beyond. “I believe that for writers, a community is one of the most important things that you can have,” she said. Although the pandemic has impacted their ability to meet in person, Lucy’s writing groups are more important than ever in these stressful times: “It’s kind of a depression, I think. The pandemic just makes you blue. But thankfully I do have my online groups to keep me going, and I’m teaching a class at Larksong.”

I asked Lucy what advice she would give to a young poet. “Read lots and lots and lots of poetry,” she said. “As you continue to read, you will come across certain poets that you feel an affinity for. Consider those people that you admire. They are your peers. You’re working on the same thing, toward the same goal—they’re just a little further down the road.”

More great advice about all kinds of creativity can be found in her forthcoming book of essays, The Fire Inside: A Companion for the Writing Life, co-authored with Becky Breed and set to be released in June. Additionally, Lucy’s first full-length poetry collection, A Crazy Little Thing, is coming out in the fall.

As our interview was wrapping up, I asked Lucy if there was anything else she wanted to add. This is what she said:

“Sometimes you want something, and you want it so bad that it seems like you wait a long time and you don’t think it’s going to happen. Then things start coming together, like a synchronicity, and an opportunity comes up. And that is what Larksong has been to me, as a writer and as a teacher. Sometimes we’re too afraid or too tired to say yes to those opportunities, but I think it’s important to say yes to what excites you. Then your whole world opens up.”

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