Naomi McDougall Jones

Naomi McDougall Jones is the first writer-in-residence at the Hemingway House.

    Between the Hemingway Seminar, the new Hemingway Walking App, the recently unveiled Hemingway Veranda and the promise of an expanding collection of Hemingway artifacts and ephemera, The Community Library in Ketchum is piling up quite a treasure trove of programs and items relating to the Pulitzer and Nobel Prize-winning American author.

    Hemingway has been a prominent figure in the Wood River Valley ever since he purchased a house in Ketchum—the same building where he would eventually end his own life. That house is also the direct cause of the library’s recent Hemingway undertakings.

    The library acquired the Hemingway House in 2017, taking it over from The Nature Conservancy. Since then, the library has doubled down on its commitment to all things Hemingway.

    One of the library’s top priorities was the establishment of a brand new writer-in-residence program at the Hemingway House. Two years down the line, the first artists have now been announced, with their eight-week residencies currently underway.

    The two artists have taken up residency in a newly furnished basement apartment beneath the house, which was converted from the garage. The new apartment boasts stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

    “The residency program grows from our belief that central Idaho offers a tremendous site for creative and intellectual work—it is an inspiring natural landscape that also is infused with significant history and a deep connection to one of the most influential writers of the 20th century,” explained Jenny Emery-Davidson, the library’s executive director.

    The library welcomed filmmaker Naomi McDougall Jones and musician Stephen McDougall Graham into the program on Aug. 15, and they will remain through Sept. 5 before taking a brief hiatus and returning to complete the remainder or their appointments from Sept. 22 to Oct. 27.

    At this point, Jones is nearly a regular at The Community Library. She took part in 2017’s Conversations With Exceptional Women conference, screened her sophomore film “Bite Me” at the library this past July, presented a screening of her debut film “Imagine I’m Beautiful” just last Thursday and will return for her second Exceptional Women conference next week.

    “It’s like heaven on earth for a writer, to be removed from life with peace and quiet just to work,” Jones said. “It’s such an amazing gift to artists and an incredible opportunity for the library to offer. I think this must be the best library in the world.”

    During her residency, Jones is hard at work crafting her third screenplay, “Breathe In/Breathe Out.” With all this time to work, Jones is prolifically churning out draft after draft of the script (though it looks like she will complete this project in far fewer drafts than usual—“Bite Me” saw 48 iterations, four fewer than “Imagine I’m Beautiful”).

    She will cap off her time at the Hemingway House with a live public reading of her completed screenplay performed by a group of local actors. That event will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 23, from 6-8 p.m. at The Community Library.

    Graham, on the other hand, is not a writer, but a musician. The Hemingway House residency program is open to scholars and artists as well as writers.

    An accomplished violinist and former concertmaster for Bucknell University, Graham has worked as a professional musician since 2013, performing regularly with New York’s Chelsea Symphony before achieving a Master of Music degree from the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College.

Throughout his residency, Graham will continue to refine his musicianship, and will present a number of public recitals between now and the end of October.

“We are thrilled to have two talented, innovative and extraordinarily kind artists as our inaugural residents,” Emery-Davidson said. “Naomi is a fantastic writer and a revolutionary in the film industry, and Stephen is a beautiful musician. We love to think how they are animating Hemingway’s house with their creative work, and we are looking forward to the community getting to know them over the next two months.”

The residents are currently working hard at the Hemingway House and enjoying the relative solitude provided by the author’s mountainside abode.

Under the library’s ownership, the Hemingway House is closed to the public. In keeping with the fact that Ernest and Mary Hemingway considered it a type of refuge from life in the public eye, the library will continue to treat the house as a private home.

    For the time being, the residency program is filled on an invite-only basis, but as the library works out particulars moving forward, a streamlined application process will likely be introduced.

    For general information about the Hemingway House or events tied to the residency program, visit comlib.org.

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