August 21, 2015
River Ribas (center)
DALLAS (SMU) — When SMU creative writing director David Haynes started planning this summer’s Kimbilio Literary Retreat, a weeklong excursion to SMU-in-Taos for African American fiction writers, he knew he’d need a helping hand.
Where to look? He quickly made up his mind to recruit help from his spring intermediate fiction writing class.
“Haynes offered me a work-study position because he needed help with the Kimbilio website and their social media platforms,” says 20-year-old interdisciplinary studies junior River Ribas. “I said, ‘I’m young. I can help you with that.’”
Ribas didn’t realize it then, but the job description would include a lot more than social media duty by the summer’s end.
Ribas travelled with Haynes and a troupe of fiction writers to SMU-in-Taos in July to attend the Kimbilio retreat. She spent the week herding writers from workshop to workshop and even got to polish her own writing skills by participated in a few.
“I’ve had workshops with other college students, but the authors’ perspectives were great because they were older and knew what they were talking about,” Ribas says. “They were trying to be so nice and I was like, ‘No, guys. Give me the hard truth. Let me know what I need to do.’
“Once they were comfortable with me, I was able to hear a lot of feedback I’d pondered, but nobody had put into words,” she adds.
The experience was invaluable and inspiring, says Ribas.
“Writing is typically a much more solitary art form,” she says. “Seeing all those people, ranging from extroverts to introverts, coming together to share something we don’t often get to share really reaffirmed for me the importance of community.”