Awarded the inaugural Clearman Cottage Writer’s Residency―established by the Kelly Writers House and American Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Buzz Bissinger, C’76, and his wife, Lisa Smith―Alina Grabowski, C’16, will spend Penn’s spring break honing her craft in the Pacific Northwest.
Alina will spend March 7-15, 2015, working on a significant writing project in Bissinger and Smith’s five-acre waterfront guest cottage on the Long Beach Peninsula in the southwest corner of Washington.
Located minutes from the Pacific Ocean on Willapa Bay, the cottage has a kitchen, room to write, a Wi-Fi connection, and other amenities. Bissinger and Smith, who is a writer and producer, will be available for informal discussions of the creative process, and as part of the residency, domestic round-trip airfare, ground transportation, lodging, and a stipend for meals will also be provided. The residency, open to currently matriculated Penn undergraduates, will be offered annually.
Bissinger is the author of numerous books, including Friday Night Lights and A Prayer for the City, and was a 2014 Kelly Writers House Fellow. Smith has spent most of her career in public-interest communications, including writing and producing for public television and public radio.
“When Buzz visited as a Fellow last spring,” said Kelly Writers House Faculty Director Al Filreis, “he demonstrated once again what an intensely generous mentor of young writers he is. Now he and Lisa are taking the next generous step, and we are very grateful to them.”
Alina will spend the residency working on a collection of “linked stories that revolve around a central event that takes place in a coastal town in Massachusetts”―a piece she’d ultimately like to publish, she said.
“I’ve known that I wanted to be a writer since I was 12,” said Alina. “But it’s different to say in college that you want to be a writer. There’s no trajectory to follow for becoming a writer, it’s not like you can go through On-Campus Recruiting. Writing as a career is so abstract. Writing is a solitary act, and you never have any idea when you’re doing it if what you’re writing is any good. Being chosen for the residency is reassurance that I'm on the right path, even if I'm not sure ultimately where that path will lead me.
“I’m looking forward to having one week where my only job is to write, there’s literally nothing else for me to worry about. I’ve never had that opportunity before.”