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Amtrak writer's residencies

Feb 20, 2014
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Amtrak writer’s residencies

Here’s what went down: in his PEN Ten interview, @AlexanderChee was asked where he best liked to write:

I still like a train best for this kind of thing. I wish Amtrak had residencies for writers.

That’s it. Two sentences. And then this happened:

And here’s Jessica Gross on writing on the Amtrak during her test residency:

[There is] a sense of safety, borne of boundaries. I’ve always been a claustrophile, and I think that explains some of the appeal—the train is bounded, compartmentalized, and cozily small, like a carrel in a college library. Everything has its place. The towel goes on the ledge beneath the mirror; the sink goes into its hole in the wall; during the day, the bed, which slides down from overhead, slides up into a high pocket of space. There is comfort in the certainty of these arrangements. The journey is bounded, too: I know when it will end. Train time is found time. My main job is to be transported; any reading or writing is extracurricular. The looming pressure of expectation dissolves. And the movement of a train conjures the ultimate sense of protection—being a baby, rocked in a bassinet.

As John Cleese put it, the artist needs “boundaries of time and boundaries of space.”

What a great story. And PR dream for Amtrak. Well done, y’all.

271 notes

  1. honourarycanadian reblogged this from whimbrelwaterbird
  2. whimbrelwaterbird reblogged this from shutthedord
  3. condalmo reblogged this from austinkleon
  4. revengeofthepinkpony reblogged this from austinkleon
  5. blueghostghost reblogged this from austinkleon and added:
    Awesome! I love this.
  6. whaticantfind reblogged this from austinkleon and added:
    Amtrak has created a residency program for writers.
  7. sharea reblogged this from nadia-love
  8. nadia-love reblogged this from austinkleon
  9. bradleywarshauer reblogged this from austinkleon
  10. deannafanafofana reblogged this from austinkleon and added:
    This is extraordinary. Click through. On the train is one of my most favorite places to be. As Jessica Gross and many...
  11. thisisevenharderthannamingablog reblogged this from austinkleon
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