Third Annual Oaxaca Women’s Creative Writing + Yoga Retreat: Lifting Your Creative Voice

Arrive Friday, March 8, leave Saturday, March 16, 2013–8 nights, 9 days.

Our Third Annual Oaxaca Women’s Creative Writing and Yoga Retreat: Lifting Your Creative Voice is a workshop based in the Zapotec weaving village of Teotitlan del Valle.  Imagine a setting so beautiful that it inspires all the best within you to write and create. Here, amid the bougainvillea blossoms and in the shade of ripening pomegranates, with the backdrop of 9,000 foot mountain peaks, you will enjoy a rich and rewarding experience. Our all-inclusive workshop is perfect for renewal and self-reflection. With Professor Robin Greene, MFA, guiding and coaching you in a supportive small group atmosphere, you’ll be encouraged to find your own creative center and to surprise yourself with the power of your words. You’ll have the opportunity to work with memoir, journaling, poetry, and mixed genre writing in an intimate workshop environment.

Through daily yoga sessions that are tailored to each participant’s physical level and needs, you will flex your body to stretch your imagination.  Our talented and supportive yoga teacher is Beth Miller from Boulder, Colorado, who is back with us for Year Three, too.  Beth employs movement, chanting and “vocal yoga,” using the breath to find voice and creative center.

A Message from Professor Robin Greene

“The writing retreat is very relaxed, and in the past two years–yes, this is our third!–the participants have been wonderfully supportive and open-hearted. You don’t need to bring any writing, but if you wish, you can–anything from a piece in progress, notebook ideas, some journal entries, or finished work. Oaxaca is a lovely place and finding writing topics is easy. Also, I’ll have plenty of prompts, writing exercises, and suggestions—and, of course, as the women write, they energize each other.

“The retreat is intended for both novice and experienced writers of all genres. As the writing instructor, I like to encourage women to find their individual voices so that the retreat experience is personally meaningful to all participants. In fact, although I have one scheduled conference with each participant, I’m available for feedback and coaching throughout our time together. Also, because I teach creative writing, I have a repertoire of techniques and strategies to share with writers at all levels.

“Again, this is our third year. And although I’m a university professor, the Women’s Writing Retreat remains my favorite teaching experience.”


We cannot promise that you will win a poetry prize, as one of our participants did last year after writing her award-winning poem at the retreat, or be published in a literary journal as another participant accomplished in 2012.   We CAN promise that you will explore, develop and broaden as a writer.

Congratulations to Nancy Coleman, 2011 participant and                         emerging writer, whose short story Fall was published in the                                                    April 2012 Issue 436 of  THE SUN literary magazine.

Offering 5 CEUs for 15 contact hours of instruction awarded by Methodist University. This applies to teacher’s license recertification.

If you are working on a project — bring it. If you have something in mind but haven’t yet put it to paper (or computer), this is the place to do it.


The retreat is designed to accommodate both novice and experienced writers, and it is limited to offer an especially satisfying small group experience. Through writing exercises, discussion, caring feedback, and the simple gift of time, you’ll gain knowledge and perspective about the art and craft of writing. Our goal is to empower you to tell your story well, and to lift and share your voice—widening your lyrical range and adding to the tools in your narrative toolbox.

Congratulations to Katie Kingston, past participant and                                          a 2011 Pablo Neruda Poetry Prize Finalist — for the poem she wrote              during her workshop experience with us.

In addition to daily writing exercises in organized sessions, Robin will meet one-on-one with participants so that each writer feels nurtured and personally served.  During these individual coaching session, Robin will review your writing and offer gentle suggestions if improvement is needed.


You’ll have an opportunity to retreat and write on your own during open time in the schedule if you choose, but there’s also plenty to do here. We’ve scheduled daily yoga, stretching and meditation sessions, and there’s ample time for other activities such as walking, hiking, bird-watching, and visiting village weaving and artists’ studios.

What the Retreat Includes:

  • 18 hours of group writing instruction
  • One-hour individual coaching session
  • Daily workshop sessions to give/receive feedback
  • Focused coaching to hone your skills: grammar, reading in public, publishing
  • 7 daily yoga sessions, tailored to varying skill levels
  • Women’s traditional temescal sweat lodge
  • Guided visit to Tlacolula regional market
  • 8 nights lodging
  • 8 breakfasts
  • 4 lunches and snacks
  • 7 dinners

Optional Added Fee-based Activities:

  • Massage with a Shiatsu massage therapist
  • Traditional cooking class on Saturday, March 16 (depart March 17) — stay one more day to participate! (2 person minimum)
  • Continuing Education Units for Teachers


Exquisite Corpse* Poem 2012Ragged and Unfolding

Across half a continent I’ve traveled to Oaxaca—

mountains, pomegranates, sacred hearts,

searching for something, but I’m not sure

what.  Is it love, sorrow, or pain that fills my heart?

Morning breeze, cool—midday sun, hard.

Don’t try to prepare for the desert mountain;

the mountain will prepare for you or for something

unexpected. And what expectations

but the ragged unfolding of our hours,

souls singing, rising upward?

So let us gaze into that blue sky, let mountain

tears be indigo, pericon—jammed against

that mountain’s face, we face the sun,

balance between here, there, and sigh.

*The Exquisite Corpse is a surrealist tradition, as Robin Greene explains, in which a piece of art is made collaboratively.  The Corpse Pose in yoga is the Shivasana ending pose.  During our workshop, each person contributed a line or two each day.  Robin pulled all our voices together to hear the collaborative voice as one.  The result was the poem above, Ragged and Unfolding.



There are lovely walking paths around the village, along the river and into the countryside near a local reservoir. You are welcome to venture out and explore the village and its environs on your own. Personal safety is not a concern here.

Come join us in an inspiring setting of great natural beauty for an opportunity to explore and lift your voice, enrich, and empower your world.


What Past Participants Say

“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

“This retreat is held in a really wonderful place, with a guide who knows a great deal about the town, has true relationships with people who live here. Robin and Beth were great teachers; they worked really well together.” — Morgen Van Vorst, Los Angeles, California

“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

“Deep and delicious work in a very supportive environment. I now have a focused, with understanding and direction to move forward with my writing.” –Beth Miller, Boulder, Colorado

“We learned from the other women in the group, from the culture, the language and people in the village. It was magical.” –Bridget Price, Sydney, Australia and Mexico City

“I loved that Robin, Beth and Norma were just a part of the group. I loved going to the markets and the cooking class. I’ve always wanted to come to Oaxaca and this was the perfect opportunity.” — Sue Spirit, Boone, North Carolina

Your Workshop Leaders

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 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 led community and conference workshops, 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 ofLight and Lateral Drift(collections of poetry), and Augustus: Narrative of a Slave Woman (published in 2011). 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:

Beth Miller is our yoga instructor who combines yogic practice and philosophy with meditation, creativity and improvisation. She specializes in Vinyasa-Hatha yogic traditions and employs sonorous yoga practices as an approach to help women of all ages to give voice to their lives. She has a background in Holistic-Health Counseling, working primarily with teen girls and young women to inspire healthy lifestyle habits. In addition, Beth is a vocal artist, performer and teacher of Western classical and sacred music. She holds a B.A. in music from Westminster Choir College, is a Certified Holistic Health Counselor, and completed the chef training program from the Institute for Culinary Education.

Norma Hawthorne has produced arts and educational programs in Oaxaca, Mexico, through Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC since 2006. She has offered tapestry weaving, natural dyeing, painting, documentary filmmaking, and photography workshops that are attended by participants from throughout the U.S., Canada and from as far as Australia. During her 25-year career in higher education, Norma has organized national award-winning continuing education programs for Indiana University, University of Virginia, and George Washington University, and raised more than $23 million for The University of North Carolina School of Nursing. She holds the B.A. from California State University at Northridge and the M.S. from the University of Notre Dame.


Preliminary Workshop Outline

  • Friday, March 8, travel day, arrive and check-in
  • Saturday, March 9, orientation, village walk, writing, yoga
  • Sunday, March 10, regional market visit, yoga, writing
  • Monday, March 11, yoga, writing, temescal
  • Tuesday, March 12-Thursday, March 14, yoga, writing, open time, individual consultations
  • Friday, March 15, yoga, writing, reception and reading
  • Saturday, March 16, departure

Lodging/Accommodations and Cost

To keep this program affordable, we have selected clean and basic accommodations at family operated bed and breakfast inns.  Local meals are prepared by excellent cooks from organic ingredients made from scratch. Vegetarian options are available.

Base Cost: $1,195 per person double occupancy with shared bath facilities. Single rooms are available with a single supplement. A limited number of double occupancy rooms with private bath, and single occupancy with private bath are available. Please indicate your preference below.

[ ] Option 1: I will share a room, double occupancy with shared bath, $1,195 per person.

[ ] Option 2: I prefer a single room with shared bath for a total of $1,295 per person.

[ ] Optional 3: I will share a room, double occupancy, with private bath for a total of $1,295.

[ ] Option 4: I prefer a single room with private bath for a total of $1,495.

[ ] Option A: 5-hour Zapotec cooking class on Saturday, March 16 (you will depart on Sunday March 17), includes local market shopping tour and lunch.  Add $120 (includes class, one night lodging, three meals).

[ ] Option B: One-hour massage scheduled during open times in the weekly schedule. Add: $50.

[ ] Option C: 5 CEUs (Continuing Education Units) for 18 contact hours of instruction, with certificate of completion, $75.

Most travel workshops of this type and length cost more than twice as much!

The workshop does NOT include airfare, taxes, tips/gratuities, travel insurance, liquor or alcoholic beverages, some meals, and local transportation to and from Oaxaca city.  We will arrange taxi pick-up and return from/to the Oaxaca airport at your own expense.

We reserve the right to substitute instructors and alter the program as needed.

Reservations and Cancellations

A 50% deposit based on your preferred options is required to guarantee your spot. The final payment for the balance due (including any additional costs) shall be paid by January 10, 2013. Payment is requested or PayPal. We will  send you an itemized invoice when you say you are ready to register.

We strongly recommend that you take out trip cancellation, baggage, emergency evacuation and medical insurance before you begin your trip, since unforeseen circumstances are possible.

To get your questions answered and to register, contact:  Since we are in Oaxaca most of the year, we are happy to arrange a Skype conversation with you if you wish.

This retreat is produced by Norma Hawthorne, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC. We reserve the right to make itinerary changes and substitutions as necessary.


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