New Cuba travel essay out

May 2, 2019 § 2 Comments

41-0VuAsR0L._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_Pleased to report the appearance of a new travel essay, “Cuba After Fidel,” out in Wanderlust: The Best of 2019 Anthology. 

Here’s the opening paragraph:

“At dusk on the evening of November 29, 2016, three days after the announcement of Fidel Castro’s death, I set off on foot with a small group of friends to Havana’s Plaza de la Revolución for a memorial rally attended by perhaps half a million people. It was not good planning but simple dumb luck that I’d booked a flight to Havana a few days after the revolutionary leader’s death, just as the official mourning period was getting underway. I was determined to take advantage. As a frequent visitor to Cuba since the late nineties, and in light of the diametrically conflicting narratives surrounding the revolutionary leader’s life, I’ve struggled to come to a satisfactory conclusion about Fidel Castro. This trip seemed to present an excellent opportunity to find out how the Cubans themselves felt about him—not the exiles celebrating in the streets of Miami, whose feelings were clear enough, but those Cubans who’d spent most or all of their lives in the society he’d presided over and shaped.”

If you’re a fan of travel writing and/or want to read on, you can buy the anthology here.

Audiobook release, new Cuba dates & other news

October 2, 2018 § 2 Comments

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

A quick update on books and travel, and wishing you all a happy fall!

AFieldGuideAudioCDcoverFor anyone who likes to listen as you drive, work, or relax, I’m pleased to inform you that A Field Guide to Murder & Fly Fishing is now available as an audiobook on AudibleAmazon, and iTunes.

Everything you might want to know about the collection can be found here; I include a quick summary and some review highlights pasted at the bottom of this post. (It’s been wonderful to see how well the book has been received out in the world, by the way. It seems to have found some “legs” of its own, and I’m most grateful to all of you who’ve purchased, read, reviewed, and/or recommended it.)

IMG_2553New Cuba dates! I’m thrilled to announce an exciting new cultural trip, offered in cooperation with the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center, timed to coincide with the renowned Havana Art Biennial, April 15 – 23, 2019. This will be a well planned but flexible and culturally rich program, so if you’ve been looking for an excuse to go (or return) to Cuba, here it is!

For the writers and aspiring writers out there, consider coming on the fourth annual Cuba Writers Program, May 2- 10, 2019. We have a great time on this program; it’s a wonderful way to experience the vibrant culture of Cuba while honing or kick-starting your writing.

IMG_8953If you have 3-10 friends or family members looking to go to Cuba on your own, I can help you plan a custom, small-group trip that’s fully compliant with U.S. Treasury Department legal requirements. My Havana ground operation and I have organized quite a few of these in the last several years, and we’ve got it down to a fine art. Happy to plan creative custom programs in other parts of the world as well.

Finally, here’s my frequently updated list of upcoming talks, programs, and classes, including events offered in various locations through Grub Street, the Newport MFA in Creative Writing, National Geographic Expeditions, Vermont Humanities Council, various writing conferences, and elsewhere. I hope our paths may cross!

Wishing you all the best,

Tim

AFieldGuideAudioCDcoverA high altitude lake is the point of departure for these stories of dark adventure, in which fishing guides, amateur sportsmen, teenage misfits, scientists, mountaineers, and expatriates embark on disquieting journeys of self-discovery in far-flung places. A Field Guide to Murder & Fly Fishing made the 2018 Eric Hoffer Book Awards Grand Prize Short List and was a finalist in the short story category for both the 2018 American Fiction Awards and the 2017 International Book Awards

 

“From the mountain lakes of the Colorado Rockies to cobbled streets of Spain, this fascinating collection of short stories never disappoints. A Field Guide to Murder and Fly Fishing is a collection you’ll be happy to get lost in.” — Ploughshares.

“Provocative and memorable, this collection strikes all the right chords.” — Main Street Rag

“I found myself consuming [these] thirteen tightly wound tales with addictive delight.” — Fiction Writers Review

“Weed’s short stories draw us away from the blue light of device screens. Under the blue skies and dark waters of A Field Guide to Murder & Fly Fishing, readers can feel pain, empathy, and purpose bubbling out from the sharp-detailed mental images.” — Pleiades

“Tim Weed proves himself a skilled creator of a sense of place . . . each story deposits one definitively into a geography, of mind and map.” — The Boston Globe

“Weed’s stories . . . are colored by his long experience as a travel and adventure writer . . . His characters are fishermen, mountaineers, and teenagers all on a quest for self-discovery. From the title page to the last page, this is a book of gems.” — Big Sky Journal

 “These stories bristle with energy and immediacy. The writing is spare and meticulous and packs a hefty emotional punch. I am not exaggerating when I say this collection kept me up at nights. I just couldn’t stop reading.” — Addison Independent

Order the paperback, ebook, or (new!) audiobook at your favorite independent bookstore or IndieBoundAmazonBarnes & Noble, iTunes, or Audible. (A limited number of first-edition hardcovers still available here.)

Paperback release, Douro River, Eastern Cuba, and other news

April 24, 2018 § Leave a comment

Dear friends,

9780997452877-JacketGrayAFG2.inddIt’s been a year since the release of A Field Guide to Murder & Fly Fishing in hardcover. This is just a quick post to let you know that the paperback launches today! It’s a nice little book I think, and I’m pleased to report that since the hardcover release there’s been plenty of good news. It’s been shortlisted for two international book awards (one of which is still in process—please keep your fingers crossed), has resulted in a lot of good press including interviews on both Vermont and New Hampshire Public radio (links to both podcasts here), and has continued to garner favorable reviews.

Another bit of news that I’m thrilled to share is that I’ll be starting a job this June on the core faculty of a new low-residency graduate writing program: the “Newport MFA in Creative Writing,” based at Salve Regina College in Newport, Rhode Island (and Havana!). This is the brainchild of my friend, the brilliant Ann Hood, and it’s an exciting new venture in the writing world. If any of you’ve been contemplating a writing MFA, I highly recommend that you check it out!

IMG_3138The coming year is also shaping up to be exciting in terms of travel: I’ll be the National Geographic featured lecturer on a new Douro River cruise navigating from Porto, Portugal, to Salamanca, Spain and back (Sept 23 – Oct 3). I’ll be leading a new off-the-beaten-track program in Eastern Cuba in collaboration with my publisher, Green Writers Press (Nov 5 – 12). And in May, 2019, we’ll be offering the fourth annual Cuba Writers Program in Havana and one other Cuban destination (TBA).

If you’re interested in any of these and/or in other adventures in the months and years to come, you can find details and keep track of evolving dates here. Maybe we’ll see you out in the world! (And don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like explore ways to organize an affordable custom trip to Cuba.)

IMG_3215Here’s a photo I just took of the new paperbacks.  If you want to get your hands on a copy, now’s an auspicious time to buy one! A wave of purchases around the release date can trigger algorithms that can make books more visible to the public, which is of course extremely helpful for ambitious and little-known authors such as yours truly (as are reviews on Amazon or Goodreads, by the way).

As always, thanks for being out there. I’m deeply grateful for your friendship and support. Please don’t hesitate to send a note if you want to run something by me or simply catch up. Meanwhile, here’s wishing you a happy and productive spring!

Warm regards,

Tim

A few scenes from the Pearl of the Antilles

March 28, 2018 § Leave a comment

Hey everyone,

Thought I’d share this link to a few photos of seascapes, landscapes, and cityscapes from the recent Brattleboro Museum & Art Center Cuba trip! These were taken in Havana, Trinidad, Cienega de Zapata National Park, and the Bay of Pigs.

If anyone’s interested in exploring ways to get down to the island in the next year or so, don’t hesitate to click here and/or get in touch.

Tim

To go or not to go? Traveling to Cuba and the situation on the ground

December 7, 2017 § Leave a comment

IMG_2428I’ve fielded quite a few questions in recent months about the advisability of travel to Cuba, given the stories that have been in the news: Hurricane Irma, the “sonic attacks,” and the new restrictions put out by the Trump administration.

Is it no longer possible/advisable/comfortable for Americans to travel to Cuba? Fresh from a wonderful contemporary Cuban art trip with my friend the painter Eric Aho and a group of ten intrepid travel companions, I’m finally in a position to report.

IMG_2399We had no problems with U.S. airport authorities, though we were asked for “paperwork” demonstrating that we were part of an educational group that was in compliance with the new regulations. I showed them our working itinerary, which was all they needed to see. Otherwise there were no barriers on the US side. For a summary of the new regulations, click here.

The flights down and back were nearly empty, a rare experience these days. You could stretch out on the seats, and there was plenty of room in the overheads. It made for an unusually easy and pleasant flight, though one couldn’t help feeling a little regretful on behalf of the many Cuban entrepreneurs who’d staked their futures on the openings for independent travelers under Obama—which have proved all too fleeting, from their perspective, under his successor.

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Construction cranes for two grand new hotels on the Prado are a sign that Cubans are still betting their future on tourism, despite Trump

In Havana, little has changed. Arriving in the city is always exhilarating: that feeling of being launched back in time, or at least to a place like nowhere else in the world. There is little visible damage left over from Hurricane Irma, and even less evidence of any effect of the so-called “sonic attacks” on diplomatic workers that have been reported in Havana (and more recently in Uzbekistan). The precise nature of these highly isolated incidents is unknown, what might have caused them, or even whether they were indeed attacks. Many Cubans I’ve spoken to are skeptical.

IMG_2553

These Cubans didn’t seem bothered by news of “sonic attacks”

In any case, there’s little evidence of nefarious events on the streets of Havana, where life goes on as normal. Uniformed schoolkids on the Prado playing soccer. Musicians and roller-bladers and lovers on the marble benches. The usual fishermen on the Malecón. Old cars in the street, families riding on motorcycles with sidecars, jineteros pushing cigars. People going about the business of daily life.

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The Malecón shows little sign of the flooding that occurred with Hurricane Irma

The main difference I could see is that there are so many fewer Americans on the streets than a year or even six months ago. Entrepreneurs have had to adjust their expectations, but there are still plenty of international tourists, so the situation isn’t as desperate as you might think. It’s a palpable slowdown, but everything hasn’t come grinding to a halt. Perhaps the Cubans don’t need us as much as we like to imagine.

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If you look very closely, you can see the ballet dancers behind some of the open windows

One day I got a little stomach bug and spent the day writing, going for short walks, and lounging around in my third-floor hotel room, which had a view into a dance school. I could peer through the breeze-ruffed curtains and watch the young dancers practice all day, reminding me again why I keep coming back to Cuba: the inspiration of being surrounded by people who take pride in their work – whether they are dancers, musicians, painters, mechanics, taxi drivers, fishermen or street sweepers. People who as a result of hard and disciplined daily practice are good at what they do, and find joy in that and in the textures of daily life. People of great, unflappable dignity who remain cheerful and friendly despite obstacles and hardships that are impossible to conceive for those of us that didn’t live them.

IMG_2454

Cuba’s natural areas have weathered countless hurricanes

In this way as in many others, little has changed in Cuba. It’s still an architectural time capsule, a cultural and natural environment of astounding richness and beauty. It’s still as fun, interesting, and inspiring as ever for the traveler, whether you’re returning or visiting for the first time.

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A trip to Cuba at this moment in history is an act of resistance against those who would impinge on our freedom to travel, and in the process damage the fortunes of the same free-market pioneers the new policies claim to support. More importantly, it is a chance increase the bonds of friendship between ourselves and our brothers and sisters on this special island.

Now is as great a time as ever to travel to Cuba. Read more about the options for doing that here.

 

 

A conversation about writing with James Scott of TK Podcast

August 29, 2017 § Leave a comment

TK-Podcast-LOGOReally enjoyed my conversation with James Scott on the latest episode of his terrific series of literary conversations known as the TK Podcast. James is a bestselling novelist (The Kept) and an excellent interviewer, with a real knack for asking questions about writing and life that lead to interesting places.

We talked about travel, the writing life, the binary nature of solitude, National Geographic, short fiction, how to sequence stories in a short fiction collection, the Cuba Writers Program, Ingmar Bergman, drug writingGreen Writers Press, Denis Johnson, The Grateful Dead, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Paul Bowles, and much, much more. Highly recommended if you’re a writer and/or a fan of literary podcasts! Here’s the link.

 

 

 

New Cuba/writing essay up at Cleaver

June 2, 2017 § Leave a comment

Turning-out-the-lights“The blackout was a revelation. It happened at around eight PM, in Trinidad, Cuba, on one of those moonless tropical nights that fall so suddenly you barely notice the dusk. This was several years ago—before the loosening of travel regulations that occurred under President Obama—and the number of American tourists remained small . . . At the time of the occurrence described in this essay, I was traveling to the country with cultural tourism groups at least half a dozen times a year.”

Click here to read the full essay.

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