It can be hard to sit down and focus on writing when you have a flurry of emails, texts, and calls rolling in. Take a break from your hectic day-to-day and let your creative mind take center stage with a writer’s retreat. Retreats are a great way to unpack our cluttered brains and explore our empty inner spaces. Recharge with one of these five writer’s retreats help you find clarity, peace, and—ultimately—that super-sweet flow state where writers can make serious strides in their work.
BOAAT press is a publisher, online literary journal, writing workshop, residency host, and literary news source. Their writer’s retreat is a weeklong workshop and residency for seven emerging poets and one prominent workshop leader. Hosted in a spacious log cabin in Vilas, North Carolina, attendees can expect five formal sessions (three group workshops, and two one-on-one workshops) plus plenty of space to write.
Tuition is set at $1,100, which covers room and board, the workshop sessions, and home-cooked meals provided by BOAAT Press. To apply, you’ll submit ten pages of poems along with a statement of why you think the retreat would benefit you (500 words or less).
CantoMundo is a national organization devoted to the Latinx poets community. CantoMundo hosts workshops, symposia, and public readings to provide space for creation, documentation, and critical analysis of Latinx poetry. Their retreat is a four-day stay in New York City on the campus of Columbia University. There are no critiques at the CantoMundo Retreat, only generative workshops. Each retreat attendee will participate in two workshops, one with each faculty member.
The application process is fairly competitive, but applicants are encouraged to re-apply each year as the pool of applicants changes dramatically from year-to-year. Costs to attend include your travel to New York City, four nights at Columbia University at about $90/night, and meals. Breakfast and lunch are provided Friday-Sunday, while fellows are responsible for their own dinners and other expenses.
Founded in 1999 by Ann Hutt Browning and her Husband Preston Browning Jr., the Wellspring House is meant to provide more than lodging for writers and artists—it’s a place for them to find solitude and artistic refuge. Private, quiet, and densely wooded (with limited cell-phone service), the Wellspring House in Ashfield, MA offers a more independent stay. While two writers in residence will be available for any pressing questions, their main priority will be their own work.
To apply, send in a cover letter demonstrating your experience and intentions at Wellspring, a résumé or CV, a sample of your work, preferred residency dates, space needs, and an emergency contact. While most visitors stay 1-2 weeks, there is no minimum or maximum stay. Prices fluctuate depending on the size of the room and the time of year.
Kundiman is a national nonprofit meant to nurture writers and readers of Asian American Literature. Kundiman hosts retreats, workshops, mentorships, and more to create a space where Asian Americans can explore, become empowered, learn, and feel free. Their retreat is held annually in partnership with Fordham University. Attendees gain access to Master Classes, consultations, and writing circles from six nationally renowned Asian American poets and fiction writers.
Application is open to anyone who identifies as Asian American. Simply send in a cover letter, 5-7 pages of poetry or 5 pages of prose, along with a $25 application fee. The generous donors to Kundiman cover the cost of room and board for the entire five-day retreat, reducing the tuition fee to $375.
The Watering Hole is a southern-based organization who builds Harlem Renaissance-style spaces in the contemporary South. Bringing together poets of color from all spoken and written traditions, The Watering Hole hopes to build a community that focuses on poetics and craft-building. Their retreat lasts four days in December, featuring living room style daily workshops, craft talks, two readings, a keynote speech, group writing challenges, and more.
With rotating manuscript coaches, performance facilitators, and writing facilitators, the retreat is held at Hickory Knob State Park in McCormick County, South Carolina. Housing ranges from $499 to $899, depending on how much space and privacy you’d like. Those who are looking to save a little on their costs can also participate in a work exchange program.
No matter what retreat you choose, be sure to arrive with an open mind. It can take a few days to fully unwind and slip into a sense of community with your fellow attendees. And remember, the retreat isn’t over when you pack your bags. Be sure to bring some new good habits home with you as you continue on your writing journey.