This is our 8th year for the Oaxaca Women’s Creative Writing Retreat. We welcome all levels: Experienced writers, novices and all the rest of us who are “in-between.” Some of us have published and many of us dream about it. We write memoir, poetry, essays, creative non-fiction and fiction. The workshop-conference is a haven for exploration and encouragement. Writers of all genres and ages are invited.
Friday, March 2 – Friday, March 9, 2018
- $1,395 double room with private bath (sleeps 2)
- $1,495 single room with shared bath (outside the room)
- $1,695 single room with private bath (sleeps 1)
- Non-resident: $995 per person (no lodging/breakfast)
Who Attends? Women with something to say.
- You keep journals, notes, drafts of unpublished material.
- You write on the backs of envelopes and scrap paper.
- You dream of writing and never have.
- Ideas percolate, and you want to capture and develop them.
- You want to merge the written word with photos, drawing or collage.
- Perhaps you have written and/or published a while ago, let the writer’s life lapse, and you want renewal and encouragement.
- You are a writer, and may want guidance and support to continue an unfinished piece or publish it.
In 2018, we are based in Oaxaca City — a UNESCO world heritage site!
You arrive by Friday evening, March 2 and leave Friday morning, March 9, 2018. The workshop fee includes 7 nights lodging at El Diablo y La Sandia Boca del Monte B&B, all breakfasts, all writing instruction and workshop sessions, daily gentle yoga/stretching, a personal coaching/feedback session with the instructor, and a grand finale celebration reading and dinner. You might want to arrive a day early to settle in, or avoid a late night arrival or missed connection.
Workshop Leader: Professor Robin Greene
Our workshop leader and coach is published author/poet and university professor Robin Greene. With her help and feedback, with participation from the group, you’ll gain knowledge and perspective about the art and craft of writing. There will be plenty of time to retreat for writing — what you come here for!
We encourage you to write in the genre that best suits you: memoir, journal, poetry, personal essay, creative nonfiction or fiction. Or, explore one that you have been hesitant about trying.
Daily afternoon yoga sessions are designed to open you up to stretch your writing capabilities. As you flex your body, you relax and stretch your imagination. Yoga develops core strength to find voice and creative center.
What Participants Say
- I learned I am fully capable of being the writer I dreamed of becoming.
- The location, teaching and program structure creates a truly transcendent experience of enormous value.
- I was challenged and that turned out to be exactly what I needed.
- Far exceeded expectations. Got many suggestions for how to write healing stories.
- It was wonderful!
- The combination of writing, yoga, meditation and shared sisterhood is transformational.
- Oaxaca feels safe, safer than my hometown in the USA.
- I identified a writing project that engages and excites me.
- The balance of intensive writing workshops, cultural excursions and yoga lead to a powerful experience on all levels.
- The feedback was so thoughtful. I honestly can’t think of anything I would change.
Accommodations — Lodging
We are based at El Diablo y La Sandia Boca del Monte B&B in the heart of Oaxaca’s historic center where we are within a few short blocks to Santo Domingo Church, the Andador walking street lined with shops and restaurants, the Zocalo and city markets. The Inn is in a restored colonial home with patio, gardens, gathering and retreat spaces. The breakfast is local, delicious, home-cooked and organic. Vegetarian and gluten-free options are available. We have reserved the entire house for our retreat!
While we are located in the hub of the city, our site is conducive to reflection and writing. The quiet retreat center offers plenty of private spaces to gather and express your thoughts. If you want street inspiration, there is plenty to capture your attention, too. Great gourmet restaurants and small budget cafes are nearby.
Topics participants write about have included family and relationships, women’s issues, health, health care and diagnoses, pain and recovery, loss, food and eating, and the spirit of life. We have heard voices that give us pause to laugh, cry and commiserate. The atmosphere is supportive and encouraging.
From Instructor Robin Greene
“The writing retreat is very relaxed. I ask each participant to send me a work in progress or writing sample before the workshop. This gives me an opportunity to tailor the workshop to strengths and needs. Our goal is to develop craft and we will support each other in this learning process.
I’ll also have plenty of prompts, writing exercises, and suggestions—and, of course, as women write, we energize each other. I like to encourage women to find their voices so that the retreat experience is personally meaningful. In addition to one scheduled conference with each person, I’m available for feedback and coaching throughout our time together. And, because I teach creative writing, I have a repertoire of techniques and strategies to share with writers at all levels.
We cannot promise that you will win a poetry prize, as did one of our participants after writing her winning poem at the retreat, or be published in The Sun Magazine and Minerva Rising literary journals as several past participants have. We CAN promise that you will explore, develop and deepen as a writer if you are open to the experience. Plus, you will make new friendships with like-minded people.
What the Retreat Includes:
- 21-hours of group workshop and feedback
- One-hour individual coaching session
- Focused sessions to hone your skills: grammar, reading in public, publishing, grammar, editing
- Daily gentle yoga sessions that focus on stretching
- 7 nights lodging
- 7 breakfasts
- Final Group Reading with Celebratory Fiesta Dinner
Optional Added Fee-based Activities:
- 1-1/2 hour Massage, with local practitioner
- Afternoon visits to archeological sites, villages with guide
2017 Exquisite Corpse Poem
The Exquisite Corpse Poem is a collaboration. Each writer in the group contributes a random sentence or phrase that then becomes part of a complete poem. The result is surprising and creative! We do this each year as part of our closing ceremonies for the Oaxaca Women’s Creative Writing and Yoga Retreat. For 2015, our mission was different however.
We adapt the Exquisite Corpse Poem based on the game developed by the Parisian Surrealist Movement. Professor Robin Greene, our writing instructor and coach, takes liberties with the concept and edits what we have contributed into something more coherent than abstract, but always beautiful!
In Oaxaca, Everything is a Poem
An Exquisite Corpse Poem by the Writing & Yoga Retreat Women of 2017
Cool blue walls and pebbled floors surround us
as words flow like cool water over our sun-heated
skins…. Is everything a poem here? Even the ants
and the humans, hot, lucky, looking for their match?
Even the horseshoe-shaped bar that spills its words
onto the table where the watermelon butchers work,
while we women writers of Oaxaca speak out our
sentences through open but barred windows, only
to find a white cat sitting on a window ledge, then
rising to strut in beauty like an unwashed dream,
while we sit cross-legged on wide beds, hearing
city dogs bark, listening as the day lifts into evening,
and the radical sky turns one woman’s hands
such dark indigo blue that the goddesses feel envy
and drink her language like mescal? Is everything
a poem here? So that even if we could tent the house
and save our words, the termites still might never
leave, and the purest truth might never know regret,
might end up a doo-wop squatter, living life as if
back in the girdle-Ike years again, growing like cactus,
hard and full of tears until all hope plays dead.
What Women Say . . . “I better learned how to put together a writerly life. The coaching session will help me stay on track. I enjoyed listening to and evaluating each others’ work. What a great group of women.” –Leslie Larson, California
“I came with the hope of being rejuvenated. I am leaving with a lightness and grounding that is beyond comprehension.” –Rebecca S. King, North Carolina
“The instruction was excellent and supportive. The personal coaching session offered me a chance to talk about my writing in a way I never had before. The workshops are especially valuable because the feedback is so thoughtful.” –Susan Lesser, New York
“I discovered that my writing entertains people! Yoga is the best I have ever experienced. A perfect combo of the physical and spiritual. –LeeAnn Weigold, British Columbia, Canada
“There is amazing resonance between the writing and yoga teaching — vigorous, solid, and accepting.” –Deborah Morris, M.D., North Carolina
“It was all perfect. You gave us a beautiful writing workshop in a beautiful village setting and you also gave us a strong community-of-women bond that will far outlast this conference. Mil gracias!” — Katie Kingston, MFA, Trinidad, Colorado
“The quality of the teachers was stellar and the combination was a perfect fit for me. Robin has a clarity that is lovely, supportive, truth-telling, knowledgeable, superbly skilled. Beth is a beautiful, beautiful teacher. Combining the yoga and sound with writing was profound.” — Nancy Coleman, Portland, Maine
“Robin’s knowledge impressed and guided me throughout the week. She is one of the most generous people, instructors and writers I have ever met. The week gave me the insight to investigate life and write about it.” Kathryn Salisbury, North Carolina
“The week helped with my intention to write my book. There were too many valuable parts to list! We experienced an amazing time together, sweating leaves, meditation, chanting, writing, and honoring our lives. This was an awesome experience.” — Susan Florence, MFA, Ojai, California
“We learned from the other women in the group, from the culture, the language and people in the village. It was magical.” –Bridget Price, Mexico City
Your Writing Workshop Leader: Robin Greene
Robin Greene is the McLean Endowed Professor of English and Writing, and Director of the Writing Center at Methodist University in Fayetteville, North Carolina. She is also co-founder and senior editor of Longleaf Press, a literary press that publishes contemporary poetry. Greene is the recipient of a NC Arts Council/NEA Fellowship, a university teaching award, and a visiting professorship in Romania. Her work is widely published in literary journals. Greene has served as a writing consultant and has taught creative writing for over two decades. Her books include Real Birth: Women Share their Stories(nonfiction), Memories of Light and Lateral Drift (collections of poetry), and Augustus: Narrative of a Slave Woman. Greene holds an M.A. in English from SUNY-Binghamton and an M.F.A. in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. See Robin’s website: www.robingreene-writer.com
Preliminary Workshop Outline
- Friday, March 2, travel day, arrive and check-in. Meet for No-Host Dinner at 7 p.m. (dinner at your own expense)
- Saturday, March 3, introductions, orientation, workshop session, writing exercises, yoga. Breakfast. Lunch and Dinner OYO.
- Sunday, March 4, workshop session, writing exercises, yoga. Breakfast. Lunch and Dinner OYO.
- Monday, March 5, workshop session, writing exercises, yoga, Breakfast. Lunch and Dinner OYO.
- Tuesday, March 6, workshop session, writing exercises, yoga. Breakfast. Lunch and Dinner OYO. Lunch and Dinner OYO.
- Wednesday, March 7, workshop session, writing exercises, yoga, B. Lunch and Dinner OYO.
- Thursday, March 8, yoga, reading preparation session. Reading and Gala Fiesta Dinner. Breakfast and Dinner.
- Friday, March 9, departure. You may choose to extend your time in Oaxaca City or environs. We can also recommend guides to take you to craft villages if you choose to stay on.
On selected afternoons Norma Schafer can lead you on optional walking visits to artist and artisan studios, city markets, craft galleries, museums and churches. You may also want to hire a guide to go to Monte Alban or nearby crafts villages. There is plenty to explore here for writing inspiration.
Each Workshop Day includes breakfast, writing sessions, yoga, plus scheduled individual coaching sessions with Professor Robin Greene. Each day you will have choices for how you will spend your time — in retreat to write, to meander historic cobblestone streets and city markets, gather at outdoor cafes to discuss subject possibilities or work in process, or to schedule an optional massage. Each evening is free to stroll the Andador, savor Oaxaca’s outstanding cuisine, sample artisanal mezcal or retreat to your room for quiet writing time.
Special Pop-Up Events!
During the week, we can invite noted artisans to come to the B&B for special showings of their work. This might include textiles, alebrijes (carved and painted wood figures), clothing, pottery and other regional crafts.
The workshop does NOT include airfare, taxes, tips, travel insurance, liquor or alcoholic beverages, lunches and dinners (except the final celebratory fiesta) and local transportation to and from the airport to our B&B. We will give you detailed instructions for how to get from the Oaxaca airport to our hotel after you register. We reserve the right to substitute instructors and alter the program as needed.
Reservations and Cancellations. Send us an email to register. A 50% deposit is required to guarantee your spot. The last payment for the balance due shall be paid by January 10, 2018. We accept payment with PayPal only. We will send you an itemized invoice when you tell us you are ready to register. After January 10, refunds are not possible. You may send a substitute in your place. If you cancel before January 10, we will refund 50% of your deposit.
Required–Travel Health/Accident Insurance: We require that you carry international accident/health/emergency evacuation insurance. Proof of insurance must be sent at least two weeks before departure. We also ask that you complete a witnessed waiver of responsibility, holding harmless Norma Schafer and Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC. We will send this to you several weeks before the workshop start. Unforeseen circumstances happen!
Workshop Details and Travel Tips. Before the workshop begins, we will email you instructions to get to the workshop site from the airport, and documents that includes extensive travel tips and information. To get your questions answered and to register, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
This retreat is produced by Norma Schafer, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC. We reserve the right to make itinerary changes and substitutions as necessary.