What are you thinking about? I am thinking of an early summer. I am thinking of wet hills in the rain Pouring water. Shedding it Down empty acres of oak and manzanita Down to the old green brush tangled in the sun, Greasewood, sage, and spring mustard. Or the hot wind coming down from Santa Ana Driving
On December 4, 2015, California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. appointed Dana Gioia as California poet laureate. He is the author of numerous poetry collections and books of literary criticism. He will serve a two-year term.
Alejandro Murguía is San Francisco’s sixth poet laureate and the first Latino poet to hold the position. An editor, translator, literary organizer, and prose writer, he is the author of the poetry collections Stray Poems (City Lights Books, 2014) and Native Tongue (CC. Marimbo Press, 2012), among others.
Feb 18 2018 to Feb 23 2018
If you want to encounter more truth in your poems, to express it in the most beautiful way possible, to craft poems that reflect the inextricable marriage of truth and beauty, love and death, the luminous and the ordinary, please join us for this special workshop. We will elude and distract the censors that silence or limit us. We’ll approach our experience from new angles to find the poem within the story. We’ll question the stories we think are true and experience the power of not-knowing and discovery. We will write poems, share our writing, and hear what our work touches in others. We’ll also read model poems by contemporary poets and discuss aspects of the craft. But mainly this will be a writing retreat—time to explore and create in a supportive community. Though the focus is on poetry, prose writers who want to enrich their language will find it a fertile environment. Although this workshop is appropriate for beginning poets, with much support and encouragement offered, it is also recommended for experienced poets, including those who have published books or chapbooks, are teaching poetry, or have simply been working at the craft for a long time.
This workshop is oriented toward generating new work AND revising those works. We’ll start each day with a talk about some aspect of the craft of writing. Then the rest of the morning will be devoted to writing. Unlike workshops where there are multiple short writing prompts, we prefer to schedule longer writing sessions so that there’s time to go deeply into your writing. You may not be actually writing that entire time, but there’s space for writing, reflection, starting off on a whole new topic, maybe taking a short break to refresh yourself and beginning again. Then we’ll have lunch together and there’ll be a little free time—to walk, read, relax, or, if you’re burning, to keep writing. In the afternoon, we’ll meet to share our work. For these sessions, we’ll divide into smaller groups, one led by each teacher (you’ll have the opportunity to work with both teachers in the small groups). Everyone will have a chance to read and to receive responses, encouragement, and support. Marie and Ellen will also provide guidance and suggestions for those who need or want that. Then we’ll have dinner and the evenings are usually free for relaxing, socializing, talking about poetry—whatever you’d like to do. The workshop begins with dinner on Sunday, February 18, and will end with our group poetry reading on Thursday evening, February 22. There will be a last breakfast together on Friday, February 23, before check out.
Set on a hilltop ridgeline above the town of Calistoga in Napa, CA and surrounded by spectacular 360-degree views, Mayacamas Ranch provides an awe-inspiring, natural setting. With its secluded and expansive grounds, comfortable guestrooms, organic based cuisine from their garden, Mayacamas is a stunning, secluded retreat center. Mayacamas Ranch has guest units and cottages situated in various buildings on the property. All beds at Mayacamas are 100% organic and feature organic sheets in all rooms. There is also a heated salt-water pool and hot tub, hiking trails and a spring-fed lake. If a trip to Italy isn’t on your calendar this year (or even if it is), come to Mayacamas Ranch! To see more of Mayacamas Ranch, visit http://www.mayacamasranch.com. Mayacamas has a variety of housing options depending on whether you would like to room by yourself or with another person. For a double occupancy room, the cost is $2,400 and for a luxury double occupancy suite (complete with a living room and private bathroom) the cost is $2,550. The options for single occupancy rooms include a single with a shared bath at $2,800, a single with a private bath at $3,000, and a luxury single occupancy suite with a sitting area, private bath, and patio at $3,150. The fees are all-inclusive, including the workshop, lodging, and all meals. Rooms cannot be guaranteed, though we will take your requests into consideration. If you have difficulty with stairs or any other mobility issues, please let us know when you register. Additionally, if you are familiar with Mayacamas and have specific rooms you would like to stay in, feel free to request them as well.
Marie Howe was the Poet Laureate of New York State and is the author of four books of poetry, the most recent being Magdalene (Norton). Her previous books include The Kingdom of Ordinary Time (Norton), The Good Thief (which was chosen for the National Poetry Series) and What the Living Do. She has also co-edited In the Company of My Solitude: American Writing from the AIDS Pandemic. Her poems have appeared in The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Agni, Harvard Review and New England Review, among many others. Marie Howe received a Guggenheim and a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship. She teaches at Sarah Lawrence and NYU. In the words of Stanley Kunitz: “Marie Howe’s poetry is luminous, intense, and eloquent, rooted in an abundant inner life. Her long, deep-breathing lines address the mysteries of flesh and spirit, in terms accessible only to a woman who is very much of our time and yet still in touch with the sacred.” www.mariehowe.com
Ellen Bass is the author of Like a Beggar (Copper Canyon Press, 2014) and The Human Line (Copper Canyon Press, 2007). She co-edited, with Florence Howe, the first major anthology of women’s poetry, No More Masks! An Anthology of Poems by Women (Doubleday, 1973). Her poetry has appeared frequently in The New Yorker, The American Poetry Review, and many other journals. Among her awards are a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Fellowship from the California Arts Council, three Pushcart Prizes, The Lambda Literary Award, The Pablo Neruda Prize , The Larry Levis Prize and the New Letters Prize. Her nonfiction books include Free Your Mind: The Book for Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Youth and Their Allies I Never Told Anyone: Writings by Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse , and The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse which has been translated into twelve languages. She is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and teaches in the MFA writing program at Pacific University.
9:00pm to 3:00pm
3975 Mountain Home Ranch Road94515 Calistoga, California
Mar 23 2018 to Mar 25 2018
"There is a vitality, a life-force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action. And because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium, and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open." —Martha Graham
"This workshop will allow us to leave the rush of our busy lives and be still enough to hear the stories and poems that gestate within us," says Ellen Bass. "We'll write, share our writing, and hear what our work touches in others. We'll help each other to become clearer, go deeper, take new risks. With the safety, support, and inspiration of this gathering, you will have the opportunity to create writing that is more vivid, more true, more complex and powerful than you've been able to do before."
Whether you are interested in poetry, fiction, nonfiction, memoir, or journal writing, this weekend will provide a rich opportunity to immerse yourself in the writing life. Both beginners and experienced writers are welcome.
Recommended reading: Bass, Like a Beggar; ed: Dawes, When the Rewards Can Be So Great: Essays on Writing and the Writing Life.
9:00pm to 3:00pm
55000 Highway 193920 Big Sur, California
Dec 03 2017 to Dec 08 2017
In the words of Martha Graham: “There is a vitality, a life-force, an energy . . . that is translated through you into action. And because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. If you block it, it will never exist… It is not your business to determine how good it is. . . . It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”
Recommended reading: The Poet’s Companion; Bass, Like a Beggar; ed. Dawes, When the Rewards Can Be So Great.
9:00pm to 3:00pm
55000 Highway 193920 Big Sur, California
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—& humans walked to the edge of the sand
through a bank of verbena & fog;
they thought they’d never get over
the deaths, but they were starting to. Worry
about money rested in their phones. Talk of
candidates had stalled. Some sang. Grays of
The only thing I miss about Los Angeles is the Hollywood Freeway at midnight, windows down and radio blaring bearing right into the center of the city, the Capitol Tower on the right, and beyond it, Hollywood Boulevard blazing —pimps, surplus stores, footprints of the stars —descending through the city