Why to These Rocks
By Lisa Alvarez
The Community of Writers (formerly Squaw Valley Writers’ Conference) celebrates fifty years of its annual summer poetry workshop in Olympic Valley, California, with this collection of one hundred and forty poems first composed there. Edited by writers workshop codirector Lisa Alvarez and introduced by longtime poetry director Robert Hass, the book is divided into three sections: poems that evoke the Valley’s physical setting, with its granite-and-pine mountain beauty; poems that peer into the poetic process, filled with inspiration and idiosyncrasy; and poems of all shapes and kinds that owe their origins to the workshop and its productive morning review sessions. Contributors include both workshop staff and participants, among them Lucille Clifton, Sharon Olds, Al Young, Matthew Zapruder, Harryette Mullen, Galway Kinnell, Rita Dove, Cornelius Eady, Robert Hass, and Forrest Gander.
The title of the collection comes from a question posed by original poetry director Galway Kinnell: “Then why to these rocks / Do I keep coming back why.” It speaks to the special community nurtured in this stunning setting, one that has inspired poets worldwide—many of whom developed significant bodies of award-winning work in its creative and generative atmosphere.