The writers represented here seem to take a mild sort of perverse pride in having no particular group name or identity. They are the current attendees at what has been, over some ten years of fluid and shifting membership, usually referred to as "workshop." As in "Are you going to workshop tonight? Want a ride?" Such coherence as they will admit to is largely geographic, centered loosely around Washington Township, Connecticut, although they have attracted attendance, consistent or sporadic, from such surrounding towns as Roxbury, Southbury, Woodbury, Bethlehem, Litchfield, Kent, and as far away as Sharon or Torrington. In early days, people gathered in what was then the used-book annex of the Hickory Stick Bookshop in Washington Depot, which at that time offered a comfortable sofa and a few chairs for browsers and after hours, occasionally, for writers. In more recent years the workshop has met in a Town Hall, committee room, in the lobby of a real estate office, and in various people's houses. The most consistent hosts lately have been Marc Erdrich and Ruth Boerger, of Hobo Jungle. It should be noted that Marc has been the instigator, designer, editor, and publisher of this collection. His contribution in both labor and hospitality is beyond measure. People ask, "But what do you actually do? How do you account for this workshop's longevity?" To answer the first question, we meet twice a month on Wednesday evenings at seven-thirty, and we read to each other. And we listen. And comment, if we feel like it, and ask questions. People who want something to drink, wine or mineral water or whatever, generally bring it with them. Occasionally someone supplies a snack. As for the longevity question, who knows? Is it the consistent informality and lack of structure? the openness to whatever and whoever turns up? the frequency of the meetings? the insistence on being comfortable rather than business-like? One thing has seemed to be true of the group no matter who has been attending at any given moment: honest and personal perceptual responses have been preferred to critical rigor. This has meant that everyone has been free to bring rough drafts, experiments, explorations, and undefinable pieces of writing as well as more or less finished work in prose or verse. For anyone who has ever received interesting answers to the question "Can anyone tell me what I've done here?" no other explanation is needed for why the workshop has lasted, even while individual people have moved away, drifted away, found a group closer to home, or started one of their own. Every single one of them has contributed something, has given something, and, we believe, has gained something. So the book is dedicated to all the people who have ever come to workshop on a Wednesday night and allowed us to make use of their eyes and ears and voices, their writing, their attention, and their good will.
Ed. note. This is the original introduction written in 1995