A Poetry Retreat










This week I was lucky enough to sneak away for a few days of eating, sleeping, and breathing poetry at The Poet’s Poetry Workshop at the Highlights Foundation. What a treat to leave the usual chores and responsibilities behind and just focus on poetry. Our instructor Rebecca Kai Dotlich shared her wisdom and her library, guided us through many creative exercises, and facilitated endless critique sessions. My fellow students brought a huge range of experiences and talents to the table, but we all shared a passion for poetry, a desire to improve, and a genuine interest in supporting one another. Rebecca Davis, the editor-at-large for WordSong visited, and we even snuck in a skype session with Lee Bennett Hopkins, who advised us to write from the gut and from the heart. Today I am feeling grateful, exhausted, and full.

I got really fabulous answers to last week’s questions (and I will provide some kind of summary when I get a chance) so I’d like to ask another question this week:

Where do you go—what workshops, retreats, conferences, etc.—when you want to get away, get inspired, and focus on the craft of writing poetry?

Thanks for taking the time to answer.

For more Poetry Friday and other delectable treats visit Jama Rattigan.

22 replies
  1. Robyn Hood Black says:

    Welcome home, Liz – I sure missed talking a salamander-decorated walk with you up there this May like we did before! Glad it sounds like another few days well spent.

    Can’t say enough good things about Highlights Founders workshops, so I would definitely put those at the top of the list. I’ll also mention that in my SCBWI region a couple years ago, I organized a poetry retreat with Rebecca as our leader. While that might have been more work than writing time for me, I thoroughly enjoyed connecting with other poets for a weekend in the woods. As I mentioned in my belated response to your post from last week, good company on this creative journey is something to savor!

    • lsteinglass says:

      Hi Robyn,
      I missed your good company and the salamanders too.
      I only barely glimpsed the white tail of a deer disappearing into the trees.

      • Robyn Hood Black says:

        Just noticed I typed “talking” instead of “taking” a walk – must have been a Freudian slip there, since I loved our talking as much as the walking! ;0)

  2. jama says:

    Thanks for sharing about the retreat. Glad to hear it was definitely time well spent and full of inspiration. Rebecca is such a heartful person and poet. 🙂

  3. Bridget Magee says:

    Lucky you, Liz! Rebecca is an amazing poet and instructor. And the Highlights Poetry Workshops are amazing experiences for growth and networking (you get to meet the GREATEST people. *wink-wink*.)
    I’d love to hear about other people’s experiences with other poetry retreats/conferences…maybe there are some closer to the southwest and more affordable? =)

    • lsteinglass says:

      I have found that some SCBWI conferences no one mentions poetry, or it’s mentioned as something NOT to do, but I have heard that at some regional events people actually talk about poetry as if it’s a good thing!
      Yes, if you want to meet great people, go to a children’s poetry workshop.

  4. joyacey says:

    As you have discovered, it is really difficult to find poetry workshops that focus on Poetry for Children. Highlight’s Founders Workshops are the only ones I know of. I have attended workshops at The Frost Place that I have enjoyed–but that is adult poetry. The place I go when I need to retreat is into books. There are lots of wonderfully, fantastic books on writing poetry (written for children, and those for adults) that I start reading again until an idea hits me that so inspires me, I must stop and write.
    I count my blessings each month when my children’s poetry critique group meets. Bridget Magee, Charline Profiri, Sharon Landeen, and Carol Hagan have helped me so much with my poetry.

    And then there are the on-line resources, Poetry Friday is a great way to wrap up each week.

    • lsteinglass says:

      I agree. Some of best teachers are in books, and not necessarily in the how-to books. I read my favorite poets over and over again, looking very closely at what they do.

    • lsteinglass says:

      I too find walks inspirational. In fact Rebecca led us on a walk in the woods to find treasures to write about.

  5. mattforrest says:

    I just attended the local SCBWI conference a few weeks ago, and am looking forward to going to Penn. for the Highlights Workshop on Poetry this fall!

    • lsteinglass says:

      Yes, the SCBWI conference you attended seemed to have a lot of poetry. I know you’ll have a great experience at the Highlights Workshop in the fall.

  6. Buffy Silverman says:

    So glad you got to go to another Highlights poetry workshop, Liz. Last year’s was definitely inspiring for me. I’ve never been to any other poetry workshop, but my critique group has an annual writing retreat which is also great. I bring lots of poetry books and feel more accountable for my writing time than I do at home.
    I’d love to hear more about this year’s Highlights workshop if you want to share.

    • lsteinglass says:

      I love the idea of a critique group retreat. There is definitely something to be said for getting away.

  7. Janet F. says:

    Hi Liz,
    I love your cabin photo and your overview of our time at Boyds Mill Barn! Since it is the only retreat I have been to so far, I can say it was a learning experience on many many levels. And one I recommend.

    At Highlights, time to write, hear others’ work, “talk” with Lee Bennett Hopkins……glad I take notes……and learn with and from Rebecca Kai Dotlich was nourishing. Meeting new poetry friends was also a huge plus. The Highlights and Boyds Mills Press tour was a fabulous way to end the time and meeting Rebecca Davis was more than helpful to me. She is brilliant and approachable. How lucky to have her as a poetry advocate.

    Just a note to say I read and enjoyed your Limericks post (have been way behind on my reading of late due to travels) and wanted to ask if you have a cut-off time for commenting on posts. (Assume yes…). I have to say I loved the post and all you did with it. I especially like how you showed “what not to do” in a concrete way. It is very helpful to teachers who are perhaps “rusty” on the whole Limerick form and want to begin, but are not sure….(kids have a way of asking you questions from all places in and out of the box, so it is good to give a bigger picture for them, too!) I used to write lots of these with 5th graders and think I will try some again thanks to you. Also liked your soccer book spine poems. I don’t think I have been getting all your postings sent via email, so must double check.

    • lsteinglass says:

      Hi Janet,
      It’s always nice to see you online but I was especially happy to meet you in person. Now when I see you online I can picture you and hear your voice.

  8. Donna Smith says:

    The onliest thing I do is I guess use my senses and sensibilities as I linger. I wish I could go to a seminar or writing group, but I don’t know where to start. Nevermind…I stopped and did a search, and found the Maine Poets Society. I’m going to do further checking now! There are probably more things I don’t have a clue about…or about which I haven’t a clue. Thanks for getting me started!

  9. Renee LaTulippe says:

    Lucky you, Liz! A retreat would be heaven. But I’m way over here, so I retreat to nature and to books and to my poetry critique group — hey, that’s you! 😉 Seriously, I can’t spend as much time at Poets’ Garage as I’d like, but I learn so much just reading all your work and everyone’s critiques.

  10. maryleehahn says:

    I need to do what Donna did and quit whining about not having a critique group and either find one or make one!

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