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Randolph English professor disconnects as part of alumna-sponsored fellowship

Laura-Gray Street stayed in this cabin during her two-week writing retreat.

Laura-Gray Street stayed in this cabin during her two-week writing retreat.

A two-week creative writing fellowship recently sent a Randolph English professor off the grid.

Laura-Gray Street was recently awarded a Garland Distinguished Fellowship, which allowed her to attend a two-week creative writing retreat at the Hambidge Creative Residency Center in rural Georgia.

Laura-Gray Street

Laura-Gray Street

Street, who is on sabbatical, said the experience helped her find inspiration for her poetry and other creative writing projects while living in a secluded, one-bedroom cabin, and enjoying solitude and the great outdoors. When she wasn’t sitting by a roaring fire composing drafts of Loom, her latest manuscript about textile mills, she met other writers and artists from across the nation during dinner each evening.

Besides occasional writer’s block and being kept awake on a night when rain pounded on the cabin’s metal roof, one of Street’s biggest challenges was adjusting to life without cell or Internet service. However, in some ways, she said being disconnected provided a freeing sensation and helped spark her creativity.

“I tend to be hopping online all the time—even when I’m writing poems, I’m always looking stuff up and researching, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to do,” she said. “But it was an amazing experience having to be face-to-face with myself and my poems, and nothing else.”

Street learned after she was awarded the fellowship that it was funded by Katharene Judy Garland ’66 and her husband, Ed. The Garland Fellowship awards a scholarship to an outstanding residency applicant in any discipline, which provides recipients a $700 stipend and negates residency fees.

“It’s such a great thing for them to do,” Street said. “It would’ve been hard for me to get down there otherwise. It was such an amazing gift, and I am extremely grateful.”

“I felt like I had already accomplished some degree of self-reflection and appreciation for who I am as a writer beforehand, but going to Hambidge really was an intensification of my sabbatical experience,” she added. “I feel like my time at Hambidge was the essence of my sabbatical.”

Street, who has been a member of the College’s faculty since 1997, is also coordinator of Randolph’s Creative Writing Program. At Randolph, Street enjoys being able to share her love for literature with aspiring writers. Thanks to Randolph’s small class sizes, she can facilitate hands-on, intensive exchanges between students.

A look at the interior of Laura-Gray Street's living quarters during the Garland Distinguished Fellowship.

A look at Laura-Gray Street’s work space during the Garland Distinguished Fellowship.

Street will travel to Los Angeles to serve as a panelist at the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) Conference later this month. She also hopes to travel to Greece this summer.

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