More Retreat

View of Mt. Rainier from Hedgebrook Farm

My door with my basket of foods for breakfast and lunch.

The farmhouse dinner table where we ate each night.
Llamas at the farm across the street (and you can see how close you are to Puget Sound here).
Carolyn & me on our last day


A few more photos of Hedgebrook.

Michael asked about working with Carolyn Forche. She is incredible and probably one of the most generous poets I have ever met. She is very kind and very lovely in so many ways.

Our group met in the morning. We called it our breakfast club where we touched base and then wrote until 3. At three, we met in the longhouse (I believe they called it) and read our poems and talked about them and new writing assignments before dinner. Dinner was at 5:30 every night. Afterwards, we usually read anything else and talked before going back to our cabin and either going to bed or writing more.

Here's one writing assignment you can do from wherever you are--

Begin in your present landscape (the natural world) with specific items (examples: twig, stone, robin, etc.) then go back into your past to something that changed you and write about both places, the here and the past/then. Weave both scenes together.


Retreats give you a lot of time to think about your life and how things are going for you. The best thing they can do for you is kick you out of routine (and bad habits).

I believe that writers need this time away (a week or more is always best, but you can do a 4 day retreat if you have less time, even a two day retreat but usually what happens is that just about the time you settle in, you have to go).

So far since returning to the real world, I have taken some good good habits with me and am quite happy about that. It's been a lot of work though to stay mindful of what's good for me. I always think of Jamie Lee Curtis in Freaky Friday when dropping her teenage daughter off to school she yells out the car door, "Make good choices!" It's such a mom/daughter moment, and yet, I think of her (she is a favorite famous person of mine, high up on my list, next to Meryl Streep) and that line: Make good choices. Because our lives are built on them.



  1. love the pics, especially the one of mt. rainier :)

    nice exercise. perhaps i will see what is in my back yard...

  2. thank you for sharing your experience with us. i love the pictures and i love hearing how productive you were.

    so wonderful that you spent some time with carolyn forche! i have a poem about going to her reading this summer in saratoga. i didn't get to meet her then, but maybe someday!

  3. Thanks, Jessie!

    Thanks, Carolee. I do hope you get to meet her. You will love her. A very kind and genuine person.

  4. Oh, Carolyn! I loved working with her back in August of 2007... so much so that I've wnadered over to the Hedgebrook website and I think I just might have to apply for the March workshop. Any times? :) xo

  5. My friend, Phebus, spent time at Hedgebrook and loved it. Thanks for the photos.

    I'm hoping to get away for a block of time, maybe a week, in 2010. AWP Doesn't count.

    "Make good choices" is a constant refrain in my house. And that sometimes good people make bad choices, and we can always make better ones.


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