Meet Our Volunteers

A long-time love affair with poet Emily Dickinson inspires WH volunteer Susan Shafarzek to connect with other writers. While she admits coming south from Albany, NY for the milder weather, Charlottesville has delivered on its promise in a myriad of other ways. She finds the conversations stimulating, the writing community invigorating, and the WH T-shirt irresistible. Of teachers, friends, and fellow workshop students at WH, she says, "We recognize that we're in it together . . . good for those who are starting out, and good for those of us who have been around awhile."

A six year veteran of NaNoWriMo, lately she concentrates on poetry and has several poems due out this year in lit magazines, one in The Roanoke Review. Currently she serves as one of the editors of the newly revived Streetlight Magazine, and previously as editor-in-chief of the last print issue. Her poetry workshop group has been meeting for a decade. She recently renewed an earlier interest in photography, moving into the digital side. Photos with her new Nikon 3100—"none from summer vacations," she jokes—are displayed at her website, www.shazrek.com . The blog there, 'The Shazrek Letters,' is another ongoing project. "A teeny little homage to Emily Dickinson," she explains.

After receiving a Doctor of Arts Degree in Writing and Teaching Writing from SUNY Albany in 1999, she taught writing in upstate New York and wrote reviews for Library Journal. While she questions whether there is such a thing as a non-writing life for any writer, her son and grandchildren in Albany are defining relationships for her. Bedside table reading includes Bolaño, Bart Ehrman's historical study of the New Testament, a new poet Dean Young, and a mystery thriller or two. Less frequently, and only at the doctor's office, you might catch her reading People magazine.

Volunteer Profile: Nica Waters

Jumping in feet first is how Nica Waters characterizes herself. It certainly fits her enthusiasm for writing, though she doesn’t let enthusiasm get in the way of being a professional. A UVA English major, Waters returned with her husband and fellow UVA grad, Jeremy, to Charlottesville to raise a family. The former admissions director at Tandem Friends, she returned to a childhood love of writing when she and her husband took their children sailing for nine months in 2009. Those regular posts from the ocean (svcalypso.wordpress.com) introduced her writing to a columnist for a national sailing magazine who she met on the trip and who connected her to Chesapeake Bay magazine.

Waters’ piece about her family’s experience featured her characteristic enthusiasm. She wrote of just doing it instead of dreaming about a family sail adventure. The article was published in November, and additional articles have been accepted. With blog headings like ‘swimming pigs,’ ‘levitation,’ and ‘magic,’ landlubbers can’t help but be enticed to read further.

Re-directing a little of that award money, Waters funded her WH membership where she’s also jumped in feet first; volunteering, spearheading this year’s Wine and Words fundraiser, and honing her writing skills. In between running a personal chef business, Tasty Food, and chauffeuring her son and daughter, she’s hard at work on an essay about her grandmother and several short stories. A two year veteran of NaNoWriMo, she admits this year’s novel is about sailing too, but also that it needs serious work. “Before I can call it a presentable draft,” she quips.

Online writing includes her posts for the Fishing Bay Yacht Club in Deltaville, where the Waters family continues to sail summers and weekends. “Charlottesville is woefully far from the water,” she laments. Her secret fetish is collecting dishes, a habit she says she curbs by surrendering her wallet to her husband whenever she’s in the vicinity of Crate and Barrel. Another secret, she loves to gunkhole, but I’ll let her tell you about that.

Volunteer Profile: Polly Lazaron

As soon as Polly Lazaron walked through the door of WriterHouse in 2008, enticed by the sign, she felt a “vibrant energy.”  That autumn, she had relocated from Richmond, VA to the area with an intention to refine her work and to experience a deeper relationship with nature.  She brings a myriad of volunteer experience, professional publications, and her own unique enthusiasm for the creative, intellectual, and community opportunities here. She shares a rural life with her cats who think they are panthers and the neighboring cows. “I had no idea cows had such an extensive vocabulary,” she adds.

In pursuit of her dedication “to live from the center of her life,” she is inspired by “life, experience and the inner spiritual creative impulse the Celts called Imbas.” Lazaron describes herself as eclectic; a renaissance, integrative energy pioneer. Little known talents: she plays the frame drum and is currently working towards certification in aromatherapy.  As outlined on her website and blog, as principal of Energy Arts, LLC she offers “a constellation of services and products for an international clientele of humans and other animals.” Her research spans topics as diverse as ethno-botanical spiritual practices and health practices, whales, bio-intelligence, and Polynesian culture.

A passionate reader of international   non-fiction poetry, including O’Donohue, Whyte, Kzantzakas, Berger, and Neruda, she is currently working on revising a collection of her own poems for a chapbook to incorporate drawings as well. Her most recent publication, September 2011, appears in 100 Thousand Poets for Change, an online anthology of poems by selected writers from 550 cities in 95 countries.

Lazaron is also an award-winning visual artist. Her work hangs in private and business collections on three continents. In a retrospective exhibition of drawings from 2000 to 2010 currently displayed at the WriterHouse Gallery, she shows art that emanates subtle energy  and integrates the scientific, measurable frequencies of color, scents, line, sound and shape within the thematic energy of the drawings. This series reflects an intuitive bridging of visual art, intention and energy with roots in a 1986 trip to Egypt and her exploration of watercolors in the nineties. Lazaron  describes all aspects of her work as   “a spiritual calling.”  The series began with specific intentions and her creating a commissioned painting for a terminally ill patient.  Lazaron had an unusual experience of energy from within and without while using a creative process unlike anything she had engaged with to make the work of art.  This initiated a new creative process, resulted in a completed image unlike anything she had previously made and a dramatic departure her formal training as an artist.

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