Our fifth annual Oaxaca Women’s Creative Writing Retreat just ended. After an intensive week of writing, listening to each other’s words and offering feedback, our participants dispersed to upstate New York, Denver, Manhattan, North Carolina, the north coast of British Columbia. We are a diverse group. Our words resonate, are distinctive and universal.
I have been able to do not much more than organize and actively participate, which I do each year. This time, I wrote, rewrote and rewrote a poem that was finally ready to submit to Minerva Rising literary magazine where I am a monthly contributor. It was hard and satisfying work. I started a creative non-fiction piece that could likely become the foothold for a memoir. Then, I wrote another about the Aztec goddess Tonantzin, mother earth. I had no time to take many photos or write a blog post.
This sense of place inspires us. Others wrote poetry, memoir, creative non-fiction. Some wrote fiction. Mostly they wrote about relationships between mother and daughter, with husbands and boyfriends, childhood memories, Christmas and grandchildren, the meaning of food, the slipping away of time, death, aging, youthful exuberance and misguided decisions, the strength of being a woman. This is important stuff however trivial it may seem. We listen. We say what works and what doesn’t work, what we understand or don’t.
Each morning began with yoga, a refreshing and cleansing way to begin a writing practice. One afternoon, we took the practice to Yagul archeological site where DNA testing of cave corn remnants confirmed that corn was first cultivated here about 8,000 years ago. It is a magical place high above the valley floor where the wind speaks.
We ate great local Zapotec food, strolled the Sunday Tlacolula market, wrote about these experiences, savored the deliciousness of culture and community in Teotitlan del Valle, and directed this energy into our writing.
We celebrated the upcoming wedding of Becky with flowers, flan, lots of tamales with yellow mole and chicken, and Magadelena’s handmade chocolate with almonds. She roasts her own cacao beans!
Hermalinda and her daughter-in-law came from San Felipe Usila to give us a private expoventa show and sale of the Chinanteco region’s fantastic textiles, woven on back strap looms and then intricately embroidered in cross-stitch.
The end of the week culminated with a public reading followed by a fiesta dinner. Many will return again next year, March 4-12, 2016, and we hope there will be space for you. Interested in participating? Contact us.