Aria Aber (2015 fellow) on Dickinson House

My time at Dickinson House remains unforgettable. I could unwind a mawkish rant about how much I loved that place, and I probably will, hence: beware…

Little did I know about Belgium before, other than it probably looked somewhat like the land I grew up in, Germany––but it’s less about the long, bucolic pastures speckled with cows and strawberry vending machines (yes, they exist), than it is about the cosiness and the intimacy you inevitably create in sharing a house with, at max, four other people.

Although this was my first residency, I know that most writers’ residency houses are crammed with up to approximately two million people. Dickinson House is a game changer: imagine chilling in shabby-chic rooms with wooden desks, wooden floors, cute crocheted throws, even cuter coasters, and homemade meals three times a day, with an unusually luxurious dinner that looks as nice as it tastes (Éireann is not only a writer, but apparently also a gourmet chef and a textile artist). And then, you’re sharing these meals with souls from all around the world, including the brains behind MIEL and her partner. Conversations are interesting, informative, incredibly funny, and will occasionally become heated discussions. And if you feel anti-social, you can go soul-searching while riding your bike to the closest town (and stuff your face with Belgian pralines) or get lost among the vast fields, or read out your poems to the immaculately bored cows. I still have the lavender we picked from Éireann’s garden on my dresser. And it reminds me of the two weeks I spent in a place that doesn’t just feel like a house, but––ok, now it’s getting gooey and sentimental––a home, bearing witness to the love that is put behind Dickinson House.

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Aria Aber writes and lives in London, where she is about to graduate from Goldsmiths College. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in magazines like PBS, Lighthouse Journal, Wasafiri, PANK, decomP and others. She was recently awarded the Wasafiri New Writing Prize in Poetry and works as a poetry reader for The Adroit Journal.

Interested in applying for a 2016 fellowship? Information is here