A project of Kingdom County Productions
Writers for Recovery provides writing workshops, trainings, and talks to recovery groups, residential treatment facilities, and recovery organizations. We help people discover the power of the written word to process trauma, build self-esteem, and support healthy, sustained recovery. Participants in Writers for Recovery workshops write deeply personal stories of struggle and perseverance, doubt and inspiration, and the slow but steady work of renewal and healing. They share their stories with the public through literary readings, the Writers for Recovery blog, our annual print anthology, One Imagined Word at a Time, and our newest collaborative venture, the Writers for Recovery Podcast on VTDigger.org.
Since 2014, Writers for Recovery has brought workshops, public readings, trainings, and talks to communities from Newport in the Northeast Kingdom to Brattleboro on Vermont’s southern border. We’ve held workshops in state correctional facilities and recovery centers. We’ve done readings in libraries, gallery spaces, and the Vermont State House. We’ve given talks to recovery professionals, educators, and community leaders. And we’ve shared our message in newspapers, TV, radio, and online. Our work has helped people across Vermont gain new perspectives on addiction and recovery. And it’s helped reduce the stigma of addiction by showing that people in recovery can make valuable contributions to their communities and lead rich, fulfilling lives.
In 2016, more than 59,000 Americans died from drug overdose. Addiction has devastated our communities, pushed our healthcare systems to the limit, and torn countless families apart. In such an environment, the need for recovery resources is more important than ever. Our goal as an organization is to expand the work of Writers for Recovery across New England so that we can provide more support to help individuals and communities win the battle against addiction. This means training more workshop leaders, providing more workshops to people in recovery, and increasing our outreach through trainings, talks, and our media channels. To do this, we need the financial support of people like you. If you believe in our mission, please give today.
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When it premiered in September, 2013, Bess O'Brien's documentary film The Hungry Heart immediately changed the conversation about opiate addiction in Vermont.
It helped Vermonters understand the extent to which addiction had ravaged their communities. More importantly, it showed viewers a different picture of people suffering from this disease. Instead of cliched images of addicts on the street, it introduced us to young people from all walks of life, from farm kids to businesspeople, who had gotten caught up in addiction and were working hard to escape it. This humanization of people with addiction helped reduce the stigma and inspired Vermont, under the leadership of Governor Peter Shumlin, to take a new, more compassionate approach toward the opiate epidemic.
In July, 2014, writer and teacher Gary Lee Miller joined Bess in founding Writers for Recovery, a project of Kingdom County Productions. Since then, with the support of generous sponsors and people like you, Writers for Recovery have taken its show on the road, hosting writing workshops, public readings, trainings, and presentations at recovery centers and correctional facilities all across Vermont. Participants work is featured on our blog and in our annual anthology One Imagined Word at a Time. We've met a lot of amazing people, made a lot of friends, and helped people in recovery as they worked to restore their lives. We invite you to support us as we continue on our mission to bring Writers for Recovery to communities across Vermont and beyond.
Bess O’Brien is the director/producer of the documentary films The Hungry Heart, about prescription drug abuse in Vermont, All of Me, about body image and eating disorders, and Ask Us Who We Are, a powerful documentary about foster care in Vermont. She is also the director/producer of the highly acclaimed feature film Shout it Out based on the lives of Vermont teens and the original Voices Project live musical. O’Brien has also produced and directed a number of award-winning documentary films including Journey into Courage about women in the Northern part of Vermont who survived domestic violence and sexual abuse, Where is Stephanie? about the murder of a young girl in Rutland, VT, and Here Today about Vermont families struggling with heroin in their lives. Bess O’Brien co-founded Kingdom County Productions with her husband Jay Craven in 1990. O’Brien co-produced the feature films Where the Rivers Flow North starring Rip Torn, Tantoo Cardinal and Michael J. Fox, and A Stranger in the Kingdom starring Ernie Hudson and Martin Sheen. O’Brien has also been the producer/director of KCP’s Fledgling Films and The Vermont Arts Institute, a three week intensive camp for teens from across the country to learn about film and theatre.
Gary Lee Miller
Creative Director Gary Lee Miller learned to tell stories in his tiny home town of Eldred, Pennsylvania and at Vermont College of Fine Arts, where he earned his MFA. His short story collection Museum of the Americas was a finalist for the 2015 Vermont Book Award. Gary has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize in fiction, and has been named a finalist in the James Jones Novel Fellowship Contest. His nonfiction writing includes music journalism for Seven Days and State of Mind. Gary has co-produced two documentary films, and been nominated for two New England Emmy Awards for documentary scriptwriting. He also won a Best Educational Product Award from the Massachusetts Interactive Multimedia Council. Gary's background also includes years of work in human services, where he worked as a developmental specialist and a crisis counselor in residential treatment. When he’s not writing, you can find Gary fly fishing on the rivers of Vermont or singing and playing guitar in The Trailerblazers, a strictly hillbilly outfit.
JESSICA HENDRY NELSON, Instructor
Jessica Hendry Nelson is the author of the memoir-in-essays If Only You People Could Follow Directions (Counterpoint Press), which was selected as a best debut book by the Indies Introduce New Voices program, the Indies Next List by the American Booksellers' Association, named a Best Book of the Year by Kirkus Review, received starred reviews in Kirkus and Publisher's Weekly, and reviewed nationally in print and on NPR. She teaches in the MFA Program in Writing and Publishing at Vermont College of Fine Arts, the MFA Program at the University of Nebraska in Omaha, Champlain College, and serves as the Managing & Nonfiction editor of Green Mountains Review.
KATE SENECAL, Instructor
Kate Senecal received an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is the co-director of Words Are Power: An Empowerment Writing Workshop for Girls. She is also the director of Evolve Tutoring in Western Massachusetts. Kat’s fiction has been published in The Laurel Review, The Foundling Review, and in Storychord.com, where she is the fiction editor.
DEB FLEISCHMAN, Instructor, Web Designer
Deb Fleischman is a writer, teacher, and aspiring stand-up comic. She is the co-founder of Write Mondays, an after-school writing program for high school students in Montpelier, VT. She worked in newspaper, magazine, and book publishing, including Time-Life Books, Create Arts Books, Family Money, Health, and Narrative Magazine. Deb holds a B.S. in political science from M.I.T. and an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her latest work appears in Little Fiction/Big Truths, 1966 Journal, Newfound Journal, and Green Mountain Review.
Tillie Quattrone, Intern
Tillie Quattrone is currently studying business at the Community College of Vermont. She was senior editor of Central Vermont U-32 High School’s print and web magazine, and acts semi-professionally.
Writers for Recovery is generously supported by the following individuals and organizations:
The Vermont Department of Corrections
The Rona Jaffe Foundation
The Vermont Association of Mental Health and Addiction Recovery/ PEAR-VT
Bari and Peter Dreissigacker
The Vermont Arts Council
Nat and Martha Winthrop
Arts, Voice, Action (AVA) was established by Kingdom County Productions to create dynamic productions that inspire action steps towards change. Arts, Voice, Action uses the power of the arts to transform and to raise consciousness around social issues. AVA looks forward to partnering with other organizations to create powerful and moving artistic projects that reflect the lives and the stories of Vermonters. Its director is Bess O'Brien.