time to get away?

December 3, 2019

Sometimes, as another short gray day dawns, even twinkling holiday decorations aren’t enough to cut through the gloom. When that happens, it’s time to start thinking about getting outta town. A writing retreat may be solution, and looking forward to an upcoming retreat may be just enough to lift you from the doldrums.

This list is not comprehensive. The residencies, retreats, workshops, and other getaways vary widely in locale, cost, activities, competitive entry, expectations, and other variables. Some programs do not yet have dates posted but you can usually get on a mailing list for updates. Dates are 2020, except as noted.

Future opportunities (2020 application deadlines are past):

Even visiting these websites will make you feel better…

. . . . .

the dark days of winter

November 28, 2017

If you tend to sink into the gloom of short winter days, here are a few prospects for the months ahead (all dates 2018; check back with sites if information is not yet posted):

. . . . .

treats and retreats

April 24, 2016

Emma Larkins - writing outdoors

If you haven’t made your summer plans yet, this might be a good time to start thinking about the writing months ahead. When it comes to writing festivals and retreats, summer begins in May. Below is a selection of 2016 goings-on in the wider Cascadia region. Some of these events have fees and require applications. Follow the links for more information.

. . . . .
photo by Emma Larkins

Getaway: nature, breath, words

September 23, 2015

North Cascades Institute

If poetry and meditation amidst the autumnal beauty of the North Cascades sounds intriguing, consider spending two days at the North Cascades Institute for “Sit, Walk, Write: Nature and the Practice of Presence.” Meditation teacher and author Kurt Hoelting and writing teacher and poet Holly J. Hughes will guide participants through a variety of activities that include plenty of time for hiking and relaxation. The retreat will be held Friday, October 23 through Sunday, October 25, 2015. See more and register on the NCI website.

winter getaway

July 23, 2014

San Miguel Poetry Week

When the winter days are short, dark and damp, why not escape to the Mexico sunshine for San Miguel Poetry Week? Start the new year with instructors Nikky Finney, Thomas Lux, Jennifer Clement and others, plus a small group of participants who will enjoy classes, readings, writing and time to explore San Miguel de Allende.

The upcoming winter session will be held Saturday, January 3 – Friday, January 9, 2015. Learn more on the San Miguel Poetry Week website and the open group on Facebook.

finding the treat in retreat

February 20, 2014

Edenvale Retreat CentreEdenvale Retreat Centre, just over the border in Langley, BC, is the setting for Barbara Turner-Vesselago’s Freefall Writing retreat — a week of intense, focused writing with astute feedback, whatever your subject or genre. Surrounded by gardens and room to roam, work on an existing manuscript or generate new work. There’s solitude, congenial company and exceptional food.

This year’s Edenvale Retreat will be held May 26 – June 1, 2014. To learn more and reserve a space, visit the Freefall Writing website, blog or Facebook page.


October 16, 2013


Hypatia-in-the-Woods, a non-profit retreat and resource center for women, is located on three wooded acres outside of Shelton, Washington. Women artists and academics can apply for a stay of one to four weeks at the Holly House residence to work on a project that forwards their lives and careers.

Recent poets-in-residence have included Shannon Camlin Ward, Laura Snyder and Holly J. Hughes. Read brief notes about the experience from Shannon Ward and Holly Hughes. Learn more about Hypatia-in-the-Woods on the website and on Facebook.

a weekend in November…

August 25, 2013

Northwest Writers' WeekendEscape from the early-winter doldrums to three days of creativity. Registration is now open for the sixth annual Northwest Writers’ Weekend, with three instructional classes (poetry, creative non-fiction and songwriting), readings/performances by instructors and participants, writers’ circles, time for writing on your own, six meals and lodging for two nights, all in a beautiful wooded setting with a lake and walking trails in Port Orchard, Washington. Find out more and register on the Northwest Writers’ Weekend website or like NWW on their brand-new Facebook page.

get away and write

August 2, 2013

HedgebrookThanks to Mary Ann Gwinn, Seattle Times book editor, for the heads-up on Hedgebrook.

The Whidbey Island-based organization is accepting applications for its Writer in Residence program until midnight, Pacific Standard Time, Wednesday, September 4, 2013.

Residencies of two weeks to six weeks, between February and October 2014, are available for about forty writers.

Learn more about the Writer in Residence program and see the application guidelines. Follow Hedgebrook on Facebook.

reflecting on Fishtrap

July 23, 2013


A guest post by Jo Ann Heydron

I’ve just returned from Summer Fishtrap, my favorite writing conference. I’ve attended better-known, juried conferences — Bread Loaf, Tin House, Napa, Squaw Valley — but I go year after year to Fishtrap. When I skip a year, I stumble into fall as if deprived of some major nutrient. I might as well have scurvy.

Located in a Methodist retreat center near the Eastern Oregon town of Joseph, Fishtrap is a few hundred yards from the spectacularly beautiful Wallowa Lake, ringed by mountains and serviced by cabins, lodges, a mini-golf course, elevated tramway, and ice cream stands that recall the 1950s. Counterpointing this old-fashioned cheer are the ghosts of Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce people, who claimed the Wallowa Valley as their own, were betrayed by the U.S. government, resisted relocation, and almost won the day. You can’t look into the lake or hike in the hills without feeling their presence.

Writers, the 150 adults and youth who sign up for this week of workshops, and the ten or so who teach them, are attracted, I think, by the beautiful sorrow of the place and the way it speaks to saving what we can of our dying world. Teachers this year included William Kittredge, Annick Smith, Judy Blunt, Ben Percy, Scott Russell Sanders, Holly Hughes, Minton Sparks, Tarn Wilson, Myrlin Hepworth, and musician Anne Sibley. Jane Vandenburgh and my own instructor, Kim Stafford, wound up yearlong workshops. Wild author Cheryl Strayed was keynote speaker for the weekend and Jennifer Sahn, editor of Orion Magazine, moderated a panel on storytelling.

I appreciate Fishtrap’s noncompetitive, congenial atmosphere, in which you can hear messages that shake up your writing life among friends who quiet the fear and anxiety that accompany growth.

Registration for Summer Fishtrap 2014 will begin in April. Next year’s keynote speaker will be poet Naomi Shihab Nye. We’ll celebrate the hundredth birthday of the late iconic poet William Stafford by remembering the title of one of his books, You Must Revise Your Life, and imagining what following that advice that might entail.

. . . . .
Jo Ann Heydron lives in Bellingham. Her work has appeared in Puerto del Sol, Trachodon, The Nebraska Review, So to Speak, the Pacifica Literary Review and elsewhere. In 2009, she received an MFA in fiction from Pacific University. Her poem “How to Stay” was a 2010 winner in the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest. This year, she’s enjoyed a yearlong workshop taught by Kim Stafford through Fishtrap. She has taught at community colleges in Washington and California and blogs at Talking to Strangers: An Introvert Hits the Streets.

%d bloggers like this: