KUCHING, BORNEO

 

 

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KUCHING, BORNEO/MALAYSIA

If interested in attending a small group of participants to Borneo please contact us because we’re anxious to make this a event a reality.

This will be an adventure/travel writing workshop.  Authors joining us are: National Book Award finalist, Dan Chaon; Vanity Fair’s contributing editor, Alex Shoumatoff and anthropologist Dr. Gerrell Drawhorn.

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Borneo, an island of luscious diversity, with the second oldest rainforest in the world and rivers overflowing with life. For writers who have dreamed of writing about wildlife and nature, we’ll be visiting two rehabilitation centers Semenggoh and Matang,  where you’ll see orangutans roaming free in the forest. Technically these orangutans aren’t wild because they’re use to humans, thus they can be observed and photographed more closely while they feed. Birute refers to most orangutans in rehabilitation centers as “bicultural” because they are actually released rehabilitates.

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We’ll be visiting the Bako National Park where you’ll see proboscis monkeys, silvered leaf monkeys and mangroves, Rafflesia flowers, waterfalls and longhouses. This is a nature lovers paradise.

In Borneo, you’ll be writing daily.  Early morning workshops from 7:30 – 10:30 with Alex and Dan. Later, Alex and Gerrell will guide you through the day giving you assignments to write about.  You’ll learn about the culture, flora and various animal species that live in Borneo. Gerrell will also be giving you a reading list that will include authors who wrote about their experiences in Borneo: Rajah Brooks–the first white Rajah, Joseph Conrad, Somerset Maugham, Multituli, Linklater and others.

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Our first three days in Borneo we will be staying in Kushing. In Kushing, we will begin our days with early morning writing workshops. In the afternoon, you’re free to visit the town or attend the RAINFOREST WORLD MUSIC FESTIVAL. The RWMF has been voted as one of the best International Festivals in world music.

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On our fourth day, we’ll be leaving Kushing for the jungle. We’ll be staying at Batang Ai Longhouse.

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Dan Chaon, Gerrell Drawhorn and Alex Shoumatoff will be teaching workshops.

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DAN CHAON is the acclaimed author of Among the Missing, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and You Remind Me of Me, which was named one of the best books of the year by The Washington PostChicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, The Christian Science Monitor, and Entertainment Weekly, among other publications. Chaon’s fiction has appeared in many journals and anthologies, including The Best American Short Stories, Pushcart Prize, and The O. Henry Prize Stories. He has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award in Fiction, and he was the recipient of the 2006 Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Chaon lives in Cleveland, Ohio, and teaches at Oberlin College, where he is the Pauline M. Delaney Professor of Creative Writing.

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ALEX SHOUMATOFF  is a contributing editor with Vanity Fair.

In l986 he started writing for newly resurrected Vanity Fair with a piece on the Murder of Dian Fosseythat was made into the movie, “Gorillas in the Mist,” and the magazine has been his main outlet ever since. He has written dozens of memorable pieces in the ten thousand word range for them, a few even policy-changing like his seminal “The Silent Killing of Tibet” and his exposee of the illegal logging of the ancient redwoods in the Bohemian Grove Club. His most three pieces, “Agony and Ivory,” “Positively 44th Street,” and “The Last of Eden,” will give an idea of his wide range of subject matter and writing style, and the genres of literary journalism he is going to be teaching and talking about. Environmental writing, nature writing, ethnography, travelogue, science writing, family history, memoir, advocacy journalism, writing to effect positive change. He will impart tips of the trade that may spell the difference between getting published or not, and on how to interview celebrities and hostile subjects.

Shoumatoff has published ten books : Florida Ramble (Postcards from Florida in its most recent edition), Westchester : Portrait of a County, The Rivers Amazon, Russian Blood, The Capital of Hope, In Southern Light, The Mountain of Names, African Madness, The World is Burning, and Legends of the American Desert : Sojourns in the Great Southwest. The last one was glowingly front-paged by the New York Times book review and both Time magazine and the New York Post’s number two non-fiction book of the year. He is at present 600 pages into his autobiography, Suitcase on the Loose, and writing a book about his recent trip into the rainforest of Borneo with a boyhood friend he’d been out of contact with for 55 years.

He is also coming out with a docuseries, Suitcase on the Loose, the first episode of which was just shot among the last Penan hunter-gatherers in Sarawak. The mission of the show is the same as what he writes about and of the Web site he started in 2001, Dispatchesfromthevanishingworld.com, now read by people from 90 countries a month, to make people realize the endless fascination of what is out there and the rapidity with which the planet’s biocultural diversity is being destroyed. All the big carnivores and the last hunter-gatherers on every continent are in their endgame, not to mention the songsbirds, bees, frogs, freshwater clams, and many other forms of life. This is what Shoumatoff’s career has mainly been devoted to, and will be from here on out : getting the word out, doing what he can to stem the damage, getting people to value and care about our vulnerable and precious fellow beings. He has put his literary chops at the service of the planet, and is now transitioning to the audiovisual. How we can make the Big Shift to a more empathetic civilization will be a big topic in his workshops and lectures.

“one of our greatest storytellers”– Graydon Carter, editor Vanity Fair magazine

“one of the great prose stylists of this or any other century”– Michael Hogan, Huffington Post

“Shoumatoff is a genuine citizen of the world, at home with people everywhere, and his example serves as an inspiration to all who cherish the ties that unite humankind… In my opinion, he ranks among the very best nature writers of our or any other time”– Timothy Ferris, science writer

“I never realized anybody could write about Westchester with so much love.”– William Shawn, editor The New Yorker

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DR. GERRELL DRAWHORN is a biological anthropologist at Sacramento State University.

Jerry was born in Albany, New York but his family relocated to California when he was a child. His father was an electronics engineer and when NASA downsized in the Sixties he took a position training engineers at the VALCO Aluminum plant in Tema, Ghana. Jerry spent most of his teens in Africa and his family travelled through most of the newly independent nations in East, West and North Africa. His interest in Anthropology developed organically from his experiences in multicultural schooling, urban African life, and staying in rual villages when on safari.  While he was still a teenager, he was privileged to meet the famously Leakey family in Nairobi and Olduvai Gorge. There, Louis and Mary Leakey were involved in their famous discoveries. At Olduvai Gorge, Jerry helped UCLA Professor Merrick Posznasky do archaeological field surveys on the 18th century “slavery period” Ghanaian villages. In Africa, Jerry developed a love of traditional and modern African music.

In 1976, Jerry received his degree in Anthropology at UC Berkeley.

After graduation, he worked at the American Museum of Natural History where he researched fossil gelada baboons and co-authored a paper on the elusive origins of Primates and related Orders –Tree Shrews, Flying Lemurs and Bats.

Jerry received his Ph.D. in Anthropology at UC Davis. At Davis, he co-authored with Henry McHenry, a seminal paper on the origin and relationships of fossil humans using the controversial technique of cladistic analysis. This method is currently used for analysis of every type of system from DNA to complex anatomy, it’s broadly applied to all biological groups.

Jerry’s Ph.D. dissertation on the relationships of fossil orangutans has resulted in his exploration of fossil Pongo sites in Sumatra and visit to most of the field sites where living orangutans are still being studied.

Jerry has published an analysis of the forensic evidence suggesting the infamous Piltdown Man hoax was likely an “inside job” by a curator at the Natural History Museum in London, using a sub-fossil orangutan jaw from Sarawak and a paper on how the co-discoverers of the modern Theory of Evolution–Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace–cooperated to raise funds for the first ever “international” expedition to seek the “missing link”–in Sarawak.

Jerry’s continued his research of Alfred Russel Wallace, as well as the development of a cultural evolutionary system developed by James Richardson Logan, a Singaporean Victorian-era polymath.

Jerry has been activity involved in the Sacramento “World Music” community radio station and he’s the current World Music Buyer for Tower Records.

For a decade, Jerry has returned to Borneo to attend the Rainforest World Music Festival in Kuching.

 

 

Price:

Single room: $3,950 (*4 Batang Ai Longhouse, *4 Hotel in Kuching–room w/breakfast & dinner, workshops, entrance fees to sites and ground transportation).