For the 7th year, women will gather in retreat for a week of creative writing, daily yoga, meditation and exploration in Oaxaca, Mexico. Our workshop is limited to 10 people. Will you be one of them? Some of us are novices. Others are published poets and writers. All are welcome and encouraged. If this is something you have always wanted to do, please do not hesitate. We fill quickly!
In 2017, we are based in Oaxaca City — a UNESCO world heritage site!
Arrive by Friday evening, March 3. The workshop ends Friday morning, March 10, 2017. The workshop fee includes 7 nights lodging in a top-rated Bed & Breakfast Inn, all instruction, daily yoga, personal coaching sessions, daily breakfast and some lunches. You might want to arrive a day early to settle in, avoid a late night arrival or missed connection.
Who Attends? Women with something to say.
- You keep journals, notes, drafts of unpublished material.
- You dream of writing and never have.
- Ideas percolate, and you want to capture and develop them.
- 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.
Workshop Leader: Professor Robin Greene
Our workshop leader and coach is published author/poet and university professor Robin Greene. With her help and feedback 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!
You are encouraged to write in the genre that best suits you: memoir, journal, poetry, personal essay, creative nonfiction or fiction.
Daily morning yoga sessions enhance your writing. We tailor the sessions to fit each person’s physical level and needs. As you flex your body, you stretch your imagination. Yoga develops core strength to find voice and creative center.
This is a perfect combination of the physical and spiritual, says past participant Lee Ann Weigold.
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 in a woman-owned and operated Bed and Breakfast Inn, in the heart of Oaxaca’s historic center, within easy walking distance to Santo Domingo Church, the Andador walking street lined with shops and restaurants, the Zocalo and city markets. We have available four double/shared rooms with private bath and three single rooms. Two private/single rooms share a bath. The Inn is in a restored colonial home with patio, gardens, gathering and retreat spaces. The food is delicious, home-cooked and organic. Vegetarian and gluten-free options are available. We have reserved the entire house for our retreat!
Imagine a setting so beautiful that it inspires all the best within you. Here, amid 16th century Spanish buildings, pre-Hispanic archeology and culture, flowering trees and exquisite views, you will enjoy a rich and rewarding experience. Our workshop is perfect for renewal and self-reflection.
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 and 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 yoga sessions tailored to your skill level
- 7 nights lodging
- 7 breakfasts
- 3 lunches
- Final Group Reading with Celebratory Fiesta Dinner
Optional Added Fee-based Activities:
- 1-hour Massage, with local practitioner
- Temescal women’s sweat lodge, as schedule permits
*What is Temescal? The pre-Hispanic temescal of Mexico was used by the Aztecs, the Zapotecs, the Mixtecs, and the Maya for therapeutic and purification purposes—coming-of-age rites, childbirth, the burial of a relative, and other tribal ceremonies. Temescal comes from the indigenous Nahuatl word temazcalli, meaning “bathhouse.” The temescal is a rectangular or round adobe structure with a vaulted roof. In it volcanic rocks are heated and steam is produced by throwing herbal teas, such as rosemary and eucalyptus, on the rocks. The bather is gently whipped with ritual or medicinal plants. Curanderas, locally trained folk healers perform the ritual.
The Spanish friars fought against this custom during the viceroyalty because they considered mixed-gender bathing inappropriate. Nevertheless, the temescal survived and is still used in certain parts of Mexico, mainly for bathing, for alleviating illness, or for recovery after childbirth. However, there is an increasing interest in reviving the traditional religious aspects of the temescal as part of the country’s heritage.
2016 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!
Pomegranates and Sacred Words (2016)
Backs of people in a crowd, and a silver, spiky-haired woman
whose body is love, walks among us and among the long-stemmed
green onions, beautiful, white, bundled, by stands of embroidered
aprons, blood-red hibiscus, cheap jewelry, and an indigo, cochineal,
marigold symphony of wool. When the grandmothers leave us, who
will wear red ribbons braided into their waist-long hair? Who will make
tortillas or beat blankets? Are we all the same, with different names,
dos and don’ts, fears and hopes and shopping carts full of papayas
and canna lilies, a tapestry code for I love you, a postcard with a stamp
to send it flying? Today, at Yagul, the mountains breathed with us,
lowering their tongues into our open mouths, and later in town,
a river ran through the street’s cobblestone center, while a Zapotec
woman walking alone, basket balanced on her head, raised her face
to the rain and whispered “remember.” So we leave this village
with gratitude and woven rugs, pomegranates and sacred words
as Picacho, watches over us, inspires us, high above the last light of day.
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 reinvestigate 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 3, travel day, arrive and check-in. Meet for No-Host Dinner at 7 p.m. (dinner at your own expense)
- Saturday, March 4, introductions, orientation, workshop session, writing exercises, yoga. B, L. Dinner OYO.
- Sunday, March 5, workshop session, writing exercises, yoga. B, L. Dinner OYO.
- Monday, March 6, workshop session, writing exercises, yoga, B, L. Dinner OYO.
- Tuesday, March 7, workshop session, writing exercises, yoga. B. Lunch and Dinner OYO.
- Wednesday, March 8, workshop session, writing exercises, yoga, B. Lunch and Dinner OYO.
- Thursday, March 9, yoga, reading preparation session. Gala Fiesta with Reading. B, D.
- Friday, March 10, 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 will lead you on optional walking visits to artist and artisan studios, city markets, craft galleries, museums and churches. 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. Some days also include lunch. 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 an outdoor cafe to discuss subject possibilities or work in process. Each evening is free to stroll the Andador, savor Oaxaca’s outstanding cuisine, sample artisanal mezcal or retreat to your room for quiet time.
Special Pop-Up Events!
During the week, we will invite noted artisans and crafts people 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.
- $1,395 double room with private bath (sleeps 2)–4 rooms
- $1,695 single room with private or shared bath (sleeps 1)–3 rooms
There will be a sign-up for massage and temescal appointments after you arrive. You will pay for these services directly to the providers. Costs to be announced.
The workshop does NOT include airfare, taxes, tips, travel insurance, liquor or alcoholic beverages, some meals, 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 A 50% deposit is required to guarantee your spot. The last payment for the balance due (including any add-ons) shall be paid by January 10, 2016. 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. If you do not wish to do this, we ask you email a PDF of a witnessed waiver of responsibility, holding harmless Norma Schafer and Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC. 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.
In Transit and Transition: From North Carolina to Oaxaca
The past two months that I have been in North Carolina have been filled with visiting dear friends, doing a lot of creative writing that includes poetry, creative non-fiction and personal narrative, attending a women’s writing retreat, planning new workshops, and keeping Mexico on my mind. I tell friends that I love it when I’m in North Carolina and I love it when I’m in Oaxaca. Both places are home and I’m never ready to leave either place when it’s time. But, thankfully, there’s always that return ticket to take me forward.
What does HOME mean to you?
This week I’m in transit and transition, planted in Santa Cruz, California for a longer-than-usual ten-day visit with my family. My 97 year-old mother is slowing down, though is mobile and quite alert, still able to carry on a meaningful political conversation, always an important distinction in my family. Yesterday, my 12-year-old niece played a violin recital that my mother’s retirement community enjoyed. Tomorrow my son arrives to celebrate his birthday during the July 4th weekend. We are based at my sister’s house where an organic garden is in glorious profusion of fresh vegetables and the Mediterranean climate offers dry sunny days and chilly nights that promote deep, restful sleep. This feels like home to me, too, reminding me of childhood California nurturing. California roots run deep.
On Tuesday, July 9, I will travel to Mexico City on a non-stop flight from San Francisco. There, I’ll meet Deborah Morris, M.D.-P.A., who heads up the physician’s assistant program at Methodist University. We have two of her students volunteering in the Teotitlan del Valle public health clinic for the month of July. We will join them for a mid-session debriefing and plan a project they will create that will have sustainable health education benefits for the village.
So, stay tuned. Soon, I’ll be back in Mexico to give you more reportage about Oaxaca and beyond.
Hope you are having a great summer. -Norma
P.S. Consider our next Women’s Creative Writing and Yoga Retreat in Oaxaca, winter 2014.
Posted in Cultural Commentary
Tagged creative writing, Mexico, Oaxaca, retreat, travel, workshop, yoga