In the same halls and quiet offices that over two centuries saw Hollywood actors, presidents, and famous writers pass through, many flocking salons and poetry readings – now a group of local wordsmiths reflect on Linden Place’s lineage through a unique residency happening this month. Not all glamorous, the historical home in Bristol also carries a sordid past, built in 1810 by a slave trader.
Devised by local author and editor Leigh Medeiros, the April daytime-only residency invites writers to spend time in the mansion, unpack its often contradictory threads, and create anew.
“I’ve been in the arts for nearly 30 years, so I know from experience that artists, particularly storytellers, have a special place in culture,” says Medeiros. “They make connections between things that most people cannot see. They can communicate new ideas in ways that expand consciousness and promote healing. Linden Place – like America – has a complicated history. I think the residency is a great way to support writers while fostering creative perspectives on that history.”
With Linden Place’s aim of “enhancing the artistic, cultural, and educational life of the community,” eight residents (who are yet to be selected at time of press) will carve out time and space to work amongst the home’s period furniture, sculptures, and archival collections, beginning a new piece that engages with the setting in some capacity. A free residency, writers benefit from a self-guided audio tour, on-site workspace, access to museum professionals for research, a small travel stipend for transportation, and discounted rate at the Bradford-Dimond Norris B&B if they choose to stay nearby.
The tie-in to the place itself is open-ended. “It could be anything from using Linden Place as a setting, or including a person who once lived or worked there, or integrating an object from the collection into their story,” says Medeiros.
From novice to established writer, criterion for choosing residents doesn’t come down to accolades, but rather the merit of their
writing sample. Three judges also seek a diverse range of perspectives and genres. Giving a few examples, Medeiros says, “I think of things like an LGBTQ+ historic romance, or a Hamilton-style anti-racist rock opera that sheds light on the DeWolf enslavers, or a children’s book about visiting the museum, or a classic mystery with Oscar-winning actress Ethel Barrymore [a former Linden Place occupant] at the center of it.”
The residency will culminate in a reading and moderated discussion of works in progress on June 2, inviting the public to listen and engage with the work. LindenPlace.org/Writers-Residency
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