2018 Writing Workshop is Cancelled
We are moving the retreat back to the quiet of Teotitlan del Valle from Oaxaca City and lowering the price to make it more affordable for you to attend!
This is our 8th year for the Oaxaca Women’s Creative Writing Retreat. We welcome neophyte women writers and those of us who are more seasoned and want to go to the next level. Some of us have published and many of us dream about it. We may 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 : New, Lower Price
- $1,195 double room with private bath (sleeps 2)
- $895 single room with courtyard bath (shared by several)
- $1,495 single room with private bath (sleeps 1)
- Non-resident: $650 per person (no lodging or food)
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- You keep journals, notes, drafts of unpublished material.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.
You arrive by Friday evening, March 2 and leave Friday morning, March 9, 2018. The workshop fee includes 7 nights lodging, all breakfasts, all writing instruction and workshop sessions, gentle yoga/stretching several times during the week, 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 to 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.
Optional 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 site, 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 on a quiet residential street in the Zapotec village of Teotitlan del Valle. We will occupy two family operated inns, located within steps of each other. The families live in residence, so it’s a great chance to practice your Spanish and to dine like the locals. Accommodations are basic, simple and clean.
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 or rural inspiration, there is plenty to capture your attention, too.
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
- 7 nights lodging
- 7 breakfasts
- 5 dinners including celebratory final dinner
- Final Group Reading with Celebratory Fiesta Dinner
Optional activities you can arrange on your own:
- Optional yoga sessions that focus on stretching and flexing
- Afternoon visits to archeological sites, mezcal distilleries, or an outing to Oaxaca City
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 Professor of English and Writing and Director of the Writing Center at Methodist University in Fayetteville, NC, where she held the McLean Endowed Chair in English from 2013-2016. Greene has published two collections of poetry (Memories of Light and Lateral Drift), two editions of a nonfiction book (Real Birth: Women Share Their Stories), and a novel (Augustus: Narrative of a Slave Woman).
Greene’s second novel, The Shelf Life of Fire, is forthcoming from Light Messages Publishing, and Greene is currently working on a sequel. Greene is a past recipient of a North Carolina-National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Writing, and has published over ninety pieces of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction in literary journals.
Greene has received two teaching awards, the latest of which, the Cleveland Award, received in 2017, is the most prestigious award offered by the university where she teaches. Greene has given over a hundred academic presentations, literary readings, and writing workshops in a variety of venues throughout the US. Additionally, Greene is cofounder and editor of Longleaf Press, a literary press that primarily publishes poetry, and cofounder of Sandhills Dharma Group, a Buddhist meditation group.
She holds a M.A. in English from Binghamton University and a M.F.A. in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Art at Norwich University.
See Robin’s website: www.robingreene-writer.com
Preliminary Workshop Outline
- Friday, March 2, travel day, arrive and check-in. Dinner included.
- Saturday, March 3, introductions, orientation, workshop session, writing exercises. Breakfast. Lunch and Dinner OYO.
- Sunday, March 4, workshop session, writing exercises. Breakfast. Lunch and Dinner OYO.
- Monday, March 5, workshop session, writing exercises. Breakfast. Lunch and Dinner OYO.
- Tuesday, March 6, workshop session, writing exercises. Breakfast. Lunch and Dinner OYO.
- Wednesday, March 7, workshop session, writing exercises. Lunch and Dinner OYO.
- Thursday, March 8, yoga, reading preparation session. Reading and Gala Fiesta Dinner. Breakfast and Dinner. Lunch on your own.
- 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.
Each Workshop Day includes breakfast, writing sessions, plus scheduled individual coaching sessions with Professor Robin Greene. We will include yoga sessions several times during the week together. Each day you will have choices for how you will spend your time — in retreat to write, to meander historic cobblestone streets and village markets, gather at cafes to discuss subject possibilities or work in process, or to schedule an optional massage.
Special Pop-Up Events!
During the week, we might 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 welcome dinner and 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: email@example.com
This retreat is produced by Norma Schafer, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC. We reserve the right to make itinerary changes and substitutions as necessary.
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Details, Another View of Frida Kahlo at Casa Azul
In the last three years, I’ve probably visited Casa Azul, where Frida Kahlo was born and lived with Diego Rivera, over ten times. I come because I organize the art history study tour, Looking for Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.
Frida Kahlo Calderon, daughter of Jewish Hungarian father and Oaxaquena mother
Can you get to Mexico City next weekend?
On this latest visit last Friday with a group from Australia and New Zealand, I served as a consultant for their leader who wanted a one-day quick immersion into Frida’s life for her group.
Frida’s father and mother, her portrait of them
I wondered: How do I continue to take photos of the same iconographic details of Frida and Diego’s life? The paint brushes. The photographs. The furniture. The folk art collection.
Detail of studio paint brushes, her strokes became weaker at the end
The pre-Hispanic ceramics and lava rock sculpture. The clothing. The frog urn that contains her ashes. The paintings she created out of pain. Reverence. Disappointment. Courage. Commitment to love and family. Passion.
Watermelons. Celebration of Life. Finished just before death.
Go to the details, I told myself. Captures the parts, not the whole. Focus on the brush strokes. The lace. The color. The shadows and reflections. The images of the men and women she loved.
Colored oil crayons, still neatly boxed, waiting. Ready.
Go to the details. Find the ribbons. Find the ribs of the plant leaves. The shape of flowers. The accoutrements of the corsets and built-up shoes to hide her deformities. The textures and reflections.
Palm ribs in the expansive garden, Casa Azul
She put such a strong, uplifting face to the world despite her injuries — physical and emotional.
She called Diego “Toad” and “Panza” — ashes contained within the frog jug.
This trip to Casa Azul was different for me and I used the experience to examine the infinite, small parts of life that we often scan over to take in the big picture.
Visceral, the insides of a gourd, like a fertile womb ready to give seed. But she couldn’t.
If you want to join me in Mexico City, Thursday, July 29, for a July 30 morning start to a three-day immersion into the murals, paintings and lives of Friday and Diego, there is a space for you. It’s so easy to fly in and out!
Lover, sculptor Isamu Noguchi, in Mexico
Why is Frida Kahlo an icon? Perhaps you would like to help me answer this question.
Supported by a frame, a corset, exposed, bare and barren.
What does she represent for women who aspire to be independent, strong, feminine and vulnerable?
Painting from a wheel chair, Casa Azul
She hid her misshapen body beneath glorious hand-woven and embroidered dresses, put her best foot and face forward. Persevered and thrived.
Loved by photographer Nicolas Murry. She was devoted to Diego.
Today, she is more famous, more revered than Diego Rivera because she exposed herself and revealed the internal, damaged self.
Frida refused to let her polio define her, though she wore a brace, sturdy shoes.
Andre Breton called her Mexico’s surrealist painter. She is more than that. Surrealism conjures up Salvador Dali and the distortions he saw in life. Frida reflected on her own distortions and created beauty from them.
On the bus, a fateful day of destruction and a lifetime of reconstruction
Would Frida have become the painter she did without having suffered the trolley car accident that sent a metal spear through her uterus?
Frida Kahlo, 1907-1954
Self-portrait, through Frida Kahlo’s looking glass
Sometimes courage requires that we each put one foot in front of the other to move forward, despite set-backs. We love Frida Kahlo because through her story she teaches us that life requires risk, innovation, and that being afraid is part of our existence.
Painted gourd adorns kitchen table in Casa Azul
When Frida died, Diego Rivera wanted to establish a museum to honor her. She was not yet recognized. He convinced his friend, Dolores Olmedo, to invest in purchasing Frida’s paintings and Casa Azul.
Closet where Frida’s belongings were sealed for 50 years
But, he made her promise not to open the green closet door, where clothing, diaries and photos remained secreted for fifty years.
In 2006, the closet was opened and art history was rewritten.
The garden at Casa Azul
Posted in Cultural Commentary, Mexico City, Workshops and Retreats
Tagged art history, Diego Rivera, feminism, Frida Kahlo, icons of womanhood, life, Mexican painters, Mexico City, study tour, Women