Cranbrook Writers Guild Disbands,
By Julie Candler
The end of a 39-year era occured Monday, September 15, when Cranbrook Writers’ Guild, recently dissolved, turned its remaining funds over to Springfed Arts, a Michigan non-profit organization, directed by John D. Lamb of Royal Oak.
By agreement from both organizations, the funds will support “The Cranbrook Writers’ Guild Fiction Chair” at the annual Springfed Writers Retreat, held this year October 9-12 at the Birchwood Inn, Harbor Springs.
Corinne Abatt, president of the Cranbrook Writers’
Guild, presented a $15,000 check to Lamb at a reception at the home of
Carolyn Hall, longtime board member of the Cranbrook Writers’ Guild.
“On behalf of Springfed Arts, I am honored to receive this generous endowment from the illustrious Cranbrook Writers’ Guild. In addition, after ten years of producing literary retreats, we are thrilled to carry on the spirit of CWG’s mission by presenting fiction writers who publish and are read by discerning readers,” said Lamb.
The first of the Guild’s annual writers’ conferences was held in 1969, when the Michigan Council for the Arts funded a four-day conference on the grounds at Cranbrook. It was directed by the late Cranbrook School Master in English Carl G. Wonnberger and University of Michigan English Professor Stephen Dunning. The event was so successful that the late Henry Booth, former president of the Cranbrook Foundation, and civic volunteer Ivabel Harlan organized a board of trustees to continue funding the annual conferences.
The Guild provided Michigan college students who submitted promising manuscripts and paid a minimal fee of $100 with a three-day gathering with successful writers. The volunteer board of trustees covered the stipend for the master teachers of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. It also covered administrative costs and the students’ additional expenses for room and board at the facilities on the Cranbrook Educational Community campus.
Among the successful writers who met face-to-face with students at previous conferences are Elmore Leonard, Joyce Carol Oates, Philip Levine and Marge Piercy.
Many former students went on to make a contribution
to the literary world. Their ranks include novelists Jim Daniels and Charles
Baxter, who later became a conference faculty member. .
A professional musician as well as a writer, Lamb annually directs dozens of events for poets, and songwriters as well as the Writers’ Retreat. In addition to the Springfed Writers Retreat in October, Springfed Arts is producing its 14th annual Lamb’s Retreat for Songwriters for two weekends in November. When the writers Voice of YMCA of Detroit dissolved, Lamb joined with their director, poet M.L. Liebler, to create Springfed Arts-Metro Detroit Writers. SA-MDW has 300 members who receive a monthly newsletter informing them of the many readings and workshops offered throughout the Metro Detroit area. The Poetry at the Opera House summer series, Uptown/Downtown Literary Series held at Detroit’s Scarab Club and Birmingham’s Baldwin Public Library, Readings at the Print Gallery of Southfield and the Literary and Music Tent at Detroit Festival of the Arts are all produced by Springfed Arts.