Tag Archives: Robin Greene

Lower Price, Return to Teotitlan del Valle: 2018 Oaxaca Women’s Creative Writing Retreat with Gentle Yoga

Pablo Neruda 2011 Prize Finalist Inspired at Oaxaca Women’s Creative Writing + Yoga Retreat

Poet Katie Kingston was selected as a 2011 Finalist for the Pablo Neruda Poetry Prize for her poem written during our Women’s Creative Writing and Yoga Retreat in Oaxaca.  Katie gave us permission to publish the poem and to share her workshop experience (below).

Woman Resting

Teotitlán del Valle, Mexico

 I have been waiting days to move

to the hammock, to drift

beneath the white portal into a white

dream delineated by black


Above me, the green tree

full of green grapefruit and a cluster

of yellow birds. My sky sways

with palm leaves and wingspan.

Footsteps approach

like a lullaby.

In the distance a child

wails blue syllables and the rooster

releases another qui-qui-ri-qui-qui.

I sketch their sounds on paper

alongside the corrugated bray

of burro.

The hammock swings

in the key of G. I am surrounded by tuning

forks and pomegranate blossoms.

I call this place


                     Lull is the word that comes

to mind. Lull says the wood smoke, lull

says the sheet on the line, lull says

the loom’s shuttle tapping wool strands

of indigo and cochineal

into the snug fit

of weft.

Sometimes the name for gold

dye escapes me, so I put down the pen, feel

the rhythm of my body as if I too

am a leaf lulled by breeze,

as if I too am held to the branch

by a nub of stem.


–Katie Kingston, Finalist in the 2011 Pablo Neruda Prize,

First Published in Nimrod International Journal, Vol.55 Titled What Time Is It?


What Katie Kingston says about the Women’s Creative Writing and Yoga Retreat:

Immersion in a new culture with a group of talented and inspiring women was definitely the catalyst for this poem, “Woman Resting.”  One day I found myself resting in the hammock, and while letting its hypnotic sway take over, I experienced the flooding of the five senses in this magical place, Teotitlán del Valle. I was motivated to write this poem, to try in one small way to capture the experience of this slower paced lifestyle. I haven’t experienced such a “lull” since childhood.

Teotitlán del Valle is all about weaving; indigo and cochineal dye hangs in natural wool skeins from the roof top lines. It fact, it seems that everything hangs from the sky in Teotitlan: the drying threads, the hammocks, the pomegranates, the grapefruits, the laundry, and even the sounds: birds, burros, roosters, pigs.  The experience at the Oaxaca Woman’s Creative Writing and Yoga Retreat was enhanced by the meditative atmosphere that allows for interpretation with a gathering of women who believe in writing as a spiritual plunge into the unknown.

When I returned to the United States, I submitted the poem to Nimrod International Journal’s 2011 Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry, www.nimrod@utulsa.edu, where it placed as a finalist and was published in the Nimrod Award Issue titled, “What Time Is It?”  Other good news followed. I submitted my manuscript, What Does Lorca Own?, which had been reviewed at the conference by Professor Robin Greene, our instructor.  We discussed the manuscript in depth, and I sent out the revision to several competitions.  It placed as a finalist in the 2011 Idaho Prize for Poetry, www.losthorsepress.org, and will be published in October 2012 by Lost Horse Press (distributed by the University of Washington  Press, Seattle) under the new title Translating Clouds.

No writer ever writes alone, and I have many individuals to thank for their support including Norma Hawthorne, Robin Greene, Susan Florence, and the other talented participants of the 2011 Oaxaca Women’s Writing Retreat.  For me, the experience was a success, giving me the time to write new poems, forge new friendships, and experience a new culture, where I felt welcome and safe as I hiked the village roads and spoke to goat herders, children learning English, and women who smiled back.



Oaxaca, Mexico Women’s Writing and Yoga Retreat 2012: Lifting Your Creative Voice

Oaxaca Women’s Writing  and Yoga Retreat:  Lifting Your Creative Voice, Arrive March 2-Depart March 9 — 7 nights, 8 days

Add-ons:  Arrive March 1 and take a regional cooking class on March 2.  Depart on March 10 and go on an artisan villages excursion on March 9.

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 pomegrantes, with the backdrop of 9,000 foot mountain peaks, you will enjoy a rich and rewarding experience.  Our all-inclusive retreat 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.

See what 2011 participant Sue Spirit wrote about the retreat.  Her essay was published in All About Women magazine.

We cannot promise that you will win a poetry prize (as one of our participants did this year after writing her award-winning poem at the retreat) or be published in a magazine!  We can promise that you will stretch, explore, and develop as a writer.

Offering 5 CEUs for 15 contact hours of instruction awarded by Methodist University. This applies to educational 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.

In addition, we include daily yoga sessions with our incredible yoga maestra Beth Miller, who employs movement, chanting and “vocal yoga” using the breath to find voice and creative center.

The retreat is designed to accommodate both novice and experienced writers, and it is limited so as 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.

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.

Workshopping session

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 45-minute individual coaching session
  • Daily workshops to give/receive feedback
  • Focused sessions to hone your skills:  grammar, reading in public, publishing
  • 6 daily yoga sessions, tailored to varying skill levels
  • Women’s traditional temescal sweat lodge
  • Guided tour to Tlacolula regional market
  • 7 nights lodging
  • 7 breakfasts
  • 5 lunches and snacks
  • 5 dinners

Optional Added Fee-based Activities:

  • Massage with a Shiatsu massage therapist
  • Traditional cooking class (includes lunch) — stay one more day to participate!
  • Continuing Education Units for Teachers

Getting ready for yoga!

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.

Prep during optional cooking class

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

Bridget, writing during free time

About the Workshop Leaders

Robin Greene is a 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 of Light 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: www.robingreene-writer.com

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 have been attended by participants from throughout the U.S., Canada and from as far as Australia.  During her twenty-five 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 has raised more than $20 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.

Healthful meals with vegetarian options

Lodging/Accommodations and Cost

To keep this program affordable, we have selected clean and basic accommodations at a woman-operated bed and breakfast inn that is part of their family compound.  Josefina, along with her mother-in-law Magdalena and daughter Eloisa, prepare delicious meals from scratch.

Base Cost: $1095 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, $1095 per person.

[  ]  Option 2:  I prefer a single room with shared bath for a total of $1195 per person.

[  ]  Optional 3:  I will share a room, double occupancy, with private bath for a total of $1195.

[  ]  Option 4:  I prefer a single room with private bath for a total of $1395.

[  ]  Option A:  5-hour Zapotec cooking class, includes local market shopping tour and lunch, on March 9.  Add $110 (includes class,one night lodging, three meals).

[  ]  Option B:  One-hour massage, to be scheduled during open times in the weekly schedule.  Add:  $45.

[   ] Option C:  5 CEUs (Continuing Education Units) for 15 contact hours of instruction, with certificate of completion, $75.

[  ] Option D:  Cooking class on March 2, add $110 (includes lodging on March 1 in Teotitlan del Valle).

[  ] Option E:  Artisan Villages Excursion on March 9, add $250 (includes overnight at lovely bed and breakfast in Oaxaca City on March 9)

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

The trip does NOT include airfare, taxes, gratuities, travel insurance, liquor or alcoholic beverages, some meals, and local transportation to and from Oaxaca city.

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 postmarked by January 1, 2012.  Payment may be made by check or PayPal.  We will be happy to send you an itemized invoice.

Please see our cancellation policy in the “Register + Refunds” section of the front page – tab is on the banner.  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: normahawthorne@mac.com or call (919) 274-6194

Please make checks payable to Norma Hawthorne, OCN-LLC, and mail it to: Norma Hawthorne, 110 Blue Heron Farm Rd., Pittsboro, NC 27312.  Thank you.

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


A Gift: Lifting Your Creative Voice Chapbook from the Oaxaca Women’s Writing Retreat

Today I received an extraordinary gift.  Morgen, one of the participants from our women’s writing and yoga retreat, has collected the product of what we wrote and spoke during our week together in March and created a chapbook.  I received this just moments ago as did the other women who were with us.  It came via email as a PDF in a zip file and is a stunning sampling of our creativity, our compassion, our desire to express ourselves through words written and spoken, and the fondness we developed for each other over the few days that we were together.  I do not have permission to publish what was written, so the chapbook won’t appear here.

However, I will reprint one of the writings I contributed that was especially meaningful to me:

The Artisan’s Woman (fragment), by Elsa Ramirez

I tore out the fibrous coat of the palm,

I cleaned the down out of the gourds,

I reached with machetes to the hard heart of the coconut,

I squeezed tubes of pastes with my fingertips

I smoothed the grains of the planks.

I polished with stones; I soaked the paper to its point

I saw the textures of the house with proud eyes

of who can unravel them.

I threaded in embroidering, I walked through the dust and mud.

From the Museo Textil de Oaxaca exhibit on indigenous weaving

What this post represents is a tribute to the creative process, to our writing instructor and coach Professor Robin Greene, to yoga master Beth Miller who gave us the spiritual grounding to reveal ourselves to all possibilities, and to the talented women who came from throughout the Americas unknown to each other and open to discovery.

Gathering for morning yoga in the altar room--sacred space

Our daily rituals (mas o menos):  begin with yoga and vocal resonance in the altar room of Casa Elena, move to al fresco breakfast in the garden at Las Granadas, meditate in silence, share readings of authors and poets who have meaning for us, write from our hearts independently, bring our work to the group for workshopping (feedback sessions), explore and write on our own or participate in an alternate activity (massage, temescal, cooking class, hiking, reading, visiting artisans), along with fabulous lunches, dinners and snacks.

What Are Those Things, By Humberto Ak’Abal, Mayan Poet

Que son esas cosas

que brillan en el cielo?

pregunte a mi mama.

Abejas, me contest.

Desde entonces cada noche,

Mis ojos comen miel.

What are those things

that shine in the sky?

I asked my mother

Bees, she answered me.

Every night since then,

My eyes eat honey.

(contributed by Bridget)

"Class" over lunch at El Descanso restaurant

The beauty of this Chapbook is that we have something tangible to hold on to that is a memory of our time together.  This bit of time, a parenthesis, an exclamation point, a colon that separates us from the routine of life and gives us a space to bring life to our thoughts, ideas and feelings.  It was a remarkable week by all accounts!  And, on the final night we had a  reading.


Nancy reads her poem

Bridget reads her play