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About LVW

About LVW

Changes Proposed

The board of directors of the League of Vermont Writers proposes the following revisions to the
bylaws. The amended bylaws will be presented to the membership at the annual business
meeting at the Jan. 23, 2016 League of Vermont Writers meeting. A vote of two-thirds (2/3) of
the members present will be required to amend and accept these bylaws.

[See full text of proposed changes HERE]

In 1929, luminaries Dorothy Canfield Fisher and Helen Hartness Flanders helped establish what would become the League of Vermont Writers. In the 21st Century the League's membership includes such well-known names as Chris Bojahlian, Joe Citro, David Huddle, and Ellen Bryant Voight. Early speakers such as Frances Parkinson Keyes, Robert Frost, and Dorothy Thompson, were eminent figures in their day. These days our speakers include nationally known authors Archer Mayor, Tim Brookes, and Katherine Paterson.

Continuity amid change is a hallmark of Vermont's oldest state-wide writers' organization. While the League continues to adapt to changes in the publishing industry and advances in technology, as Karen Lorentz wrote in her history of the League's first 75 years, “one thing has remained steady: the desire to promote education and networking among members so as to inspire writing and expand opportunities for publication." The League of Vermont Writers invites you to join an organization that has been working with and for writers in the Green Mountain State for nearly 80 years.

by Alyssa Berthiaume

September 1931: President Walter John Coates, in a typewritten letter to the executive committee, asks them to review the enclosed agenda for the upcoming winter meeting. He signs off with, “For the good of the cause.”

Eight decades later, we prepare as they did for our January annual meeting. But 2014 is no ordinary year; we are coming up on the League's 85th birthday. Feeling compelled to highlight this milestone, I took it upon myself to make a trip to UVM's Bailey/Howe Library to paw through the League’s archive. I imagined taking a Saturday, to wile- away the hours in the belly of the library with a notepad and pencil, gingerly exploring tattered pages of our guild's yester years for some undiscovered treasure I could grace our membership with having found.

A romantic notion.

The library, unlike most other establishments, is not open on the weekends and is also not conducive to my work hours, leaving me with only one available option: go on my lunch break. Doable, I thought. I work downtown Burlington and could just zip up the street. An hour would certainly give me time to conjure some spirits from the past.

Alas, I am a dreamer.

The day I allocated to go to the library, it took me thirty-five minutes to find visitor parking and the library, and then to read through, sign, and promise to abide by every rule requisite of being permitted in Special Collections. By the time I actually sat down to a table with the first three boxes of League history to wade into, I had only fifteen minutes—and even then, it was inevitable I would be late getting back to work. But I had already gone that far and there was no turning back.

And I am happy that I didn’t. I discovered so much in such a short amount of time it was well worth the whirlwind excursion to the library.

As referenced in the beginning of this article, I read a letter from President Coates regarding the upcoming winter program, followed by correspondence with a Miss Dorothy Walters of Lyndonville, a member of the executive committee, whom he would be happy to have "pen-print labels for guests to wear." I smiled to myself at the thought of Dorothy, whoever she may be, bent over labels on some winter morning in 1931, penning league member names as they arrived. I am happy to think that 85 years later, we are still using labels and still occasionally writing them by hand on the very morning of the event.

From here, I uncovered the original by-laws complete with pen marks, margin notes, and lines with strikes through them. And then, with only moments left, taped to a fading white page, a jaundiced article from the Rutland Herald, September 5, 1931.

And if there be any conclusion I can make from these four artifacts, it is this: not much has changed in 85 years.

The League’s approach toward keeping things informal, accepting all writers regardless of background and accomplishment, has been in place since the beginning. Our membership remains as diverse and loyal as it did all those years ago. L.M. A. writes in the article that “those who have poor equipment of technique…but [have] beautiful thoughts sing their way into expression” are accepted among those with more established skill sets, concluding, “There are no hard and fast rules of membership.“ Though we would never be so brash, the underlying message is the same: all are welcomed in the League who makes writing a part of their lives. The warmth and welcoming nature of the League makes our principles attainable.

In fact, our mission, though more fluffy in its language in 1931, still drives at the same thing. Then, the object of the League was to “encourage the appreciation and achievement of literature” with an emphasis on native Vermont, but with an acceptance of all forms and kinds of self-expression. Today, our mission is to help writers develop their skills; promote responsible and ethical writing and writing practice; increase communication between writing professionals; and lastly and most importantly, promote an enduring appreciation for the power of the word.

The formal winter meetings still includes a “fixed educational program, with group discussion, lectures, criticisms, and other features.” We still aim to invite writers well-known to us locally (or otherwise) whose contributions and presence among us as speakers enriches our knowledge and skills of writing. In that same article there is reference to two women being among those in attendance at a summer program whose presence helped to facilitate the conversation and the naming of our beloved League: Anne Bosworth Greene (essayist and travel writer) and Zephrine Humphrey Fahnestock (fiction writer and essayist). Perhaps they came on their own accord. Or, perhaps they were invited because of their pre-established credibility as writers, just as we seek out writers whose accomplishments encourage us to invite them as speakers.

If there is anything that I can find that seems to be a glaring difference, it is by the nature of how our programs have changed. In the earliest days of the League, the meetings were “kept in the nature of social gatherings, pure and simple, at which contacts, friendships, camaraderie’s, group solidarity predominate.” It does not appear that any other meeting aside from the winter one included an educational component. The current League’s quarterly programs always center on an “educational” component of the craft.

(Let me also note here that we no longer have young women at our programs “who contribute to the entertainment with excellent music, and others who [see] that everyone [has] had enough to eat.” This may have been a sign of the times, but let’s be thankful that some things have changed in eight decades…I digress.)

Even if the nature of our programs is the distinction between League 1931 and League 2014, our fundamental principles have remained intact. If nothing else, this proves how much our founders got right from the outset. Their original thoughts, their original guidance has led us now for 85 years. To me this is an incredible feat—to unknowingly lead a group of devoted writers 85 years forward into time, the challenges of every new era never pilfering the foundation of our existence as a writing organization.

I am awestruck by their leadership.

So in 2014, I will return to the archives. I will endeavor to go back in time to remember and to explore this league’s history, to draw from it inspiration and pride that we are members of such an enduring organization with such a steadfast membership. To recognize that we now are the leaders of this group we love for the next generation of its members. And that we may someday be looked back upon as integral forces in keeping this League’s history rich and unyielding.

For the good of the cause.

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The League has grown from its beginnings in 1929, when 130 writers set the annual membership fee at $1. While numbers have fluctuated through the years, now, in 2010, the League has more than 200 members, and an annual membership fee of $30. A 502(c)3 non-profit, the League remains an all-volunteer organizaton. Members serve on the board, organize conferences, meetings, and workshops, and assist with operations in a variety of capacities.

League Membership Benefits

Writers actively enrolled in the League of Vermont Writers are entitled to:

  • Discounted fees for:
    • Quarterly meetings, held at various locations throughout Vermont and featuring presentations by established professionals. The League's newsletter, League Lines includes recaps of our presentations.
    • Workshops led by respected professionals in a range of writing and writing-related fields
    • Publishing conferences hosted by the League of Vermont Writers
  • A subscription to the League's quarterly newsletter, League Lines
  • Access to the members-only Manuscript Critique Service.
  • All that, plus career-enhancing networking opportunities, for an annual membership fee of:
    • $30.00 for individuals
    • $40.00 for families (two people sharing the same mailing address)

Special Student Rate - (contact membership chair directly to arrange)

    • Half-price individual memberships
    • Further reduction in fees for regular meetings
    • Submit a photocopy of current valid student id with membership application
    • (Student membership limit: 6 years --may be nonconsecutive)

 

To join the League today, click on the "Sign Up Today" box on this page to pay by credit card, OR send your name, address, and contact information -- including email -- with a check payable to League of Vermont Writers, to the following address:

Tommy Walz, LVW Membership
157 Camp Street
Barre, VT 05641

For additional information, please contact the Membership Director Tommy Walz at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Meetings, conferences, and workshops have always been the heart of League activity, offering members a break from the solitude of the writing life, as well as an opportunity to develop their professional skills and make professional contacts.

The League's meeting schedule has evolved from a single annual meeting held in various locations around the state. In the 1950s, to increase the all-time low membership, a second meeting was added. The third meeting and fourth meetings evolved in the 1970s, with an informal discussion and potluck lunch filling the vacancy left when the Summer Institutes (see below) ended. The fourth meeting is a fall retreat, held first at Gove Hill and, since 2002, at the Bishop Booth Conference Center in Burlington.

In 1980 the League adopted the practice of holding quarterly meetings on the fourth Saturdays in January, April, July, and September. The January meeting is the official annual meeting, at which reports are presented to the membership and officers and directors-at-large are elected. The tradition of holding meetings around the state has evolved into a pattern: the January meeting is held in the Burlington area, the April meeting near Rutland. The July meeting alternates between northern and southern Vermont, and includes a potluck picnic with one or two speakers. The September meeting is a retreat. Details about upcoming meetings are posted on the Events page.

The League's first conference was held in 1944, when UVM was the location for the Summer Institute. Featuring workshops by respected professional writers, editors, and publishers, the Summer Institute lasted until about 1970. It would be 1990 before the League sponsored another conference. The three-day Dorothy Canfield Fischer Conference was held under the League's auspices from 1990 to1993, spun off into a private endeavor, and ended in 1997.

In 2008, the League held a "sold-out" Writers Meet Agents event in July, launching a new conference era for the group. The 2010, the "Timeless Craft, Timely Skills" Conference hits the boards in July, with Vermont author Chris Bohjalian as keynote speaker, sharing the bill with agents, editors, and presenters from around New England and the mid-Atlantic seaboard.

An addition to hosting seasonal meetings and conferences, the League has a history of supporting members who want to organize workshops on specific aspects of writing and publishing. Past topics have included writing fiction, non-fiction book proposals, building characters, writing for the sports market, writing for children, and giving readings. Like all League events, these workshops are open to the public.

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Join us for these exciting events!

  • Saturday, January 21, 2017: Annual Meeting and Winter Program
      Thanks to all who came out for the League's 2017 Annual Meeting and Winter Program held on Saturday, January 21, 2017 at the DoubleTree Hotel on Williston Road in South Burlington Speakers and presenttions for the day were excellent! John and Jennifer...
    Pat Goudey OBrien
    18 November 2016

THE VERMONT TRADITION grapples energetically with the basic problem of human conduct...how to reconcile the needs of the group, of which every man or woman is a member,..with the craving for individual freedom to be what he really is.

—Dorothy Canfield Fisher, 1953