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2019 RETREAT: Sept. 26 - 29, 2019

Thanks to everyone who made our 2019 retreat a great success! Workshop hosts Betsy Warland, Traci Skuce and Curtis Gillespie were all excellent and entertaining, as well as our additional workshops, events and Rural Ramblings. Small Potatoes Farms spoiled us yet again with Moe's amazing cooking and Banner Mountain Lodge was as stunning as ever. Check back here for information on our 2020 retreat.

Banner Mountain Lodge
Banner Mountain Lodge

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Morning Meditation
Morning Meditation

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Betsy Warland
Betsy Warland

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Banner Mountain Lodge
Banner Mountain Lodge

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Betsy Warland (poetry, non-fiction)


Betsy Warland has published 12 books of creative non-fiction, lyric prose and poetry. Warland’s 2010 book of essays on writing, Breathing the Page—Reading the Act of Writing became a bestseller. Oscar of Between—A Memoir of Identity and Ideas (2016) was originally an online salon and is now in the process of becoming a chamber opera. Author, mentor, teacher, manuscript consultant, editor, and Director of Vancouver Manuscript Intensive, Warland received the City of Vancouver Mayor’s Award for Literary Excellence in 2016.

Betsy presents the workshop Reading the Signals: For poets, prose writers, cross-genre writers alike, we inevitably encounter points where the piece we’re working gets stalled. Genre, structure, mistaken focus, avoiding difficult but crucial narrative aspects, skimming, are a few of the possible culprits. In this workshop we will investigate and identify what type of stall is happening in your writing, what message it is signalling and how it can propel you in the direction your piece is eager to go. Bring five source pages excerpted from a longer piece or shorter, connected pieces to investigate.

Traci Skuce (short fiction)


Traci Skuce is a Cumberland, BC-based writer. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Pacific University (Oregon). Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals, including The New Quarterly, New Ohio Review, Prairie Fire and Grain. In 2015, she was a finalist for the CBC Creative Non-Fiction prize and this past spring one of her stories was long-listed for the CBC Fiction prize. Traci has been teaching writing workshops to writers of all levels since 2000, and is deeply passionate about the craft of writing. Her short-story collection, Hunger Moon, will be released by NeWest Press in April 2020. 

Traci presents the workshop, Gift of the Gab: Dialogue is fun to read. Unless it isn't. In this workshop, we'll discuss the pitfalls of writing dialogue and ways to steer clear of them. Moving through a series of exercises you'll learn how to get your characters really talking. You'll access voice, body language and gesture, and discover how underpinning most dialogue is a transaction of desires. Then you'll learn how to hone what you hang between those quotation marks into something memorable and artful. So bring your pens and notepads and get ready to write! 

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Curtis Gillespie (narrative and interviewing)


Curtis Gillespie is the author of five books and has won seven National Magazine Awards (including a record-tying four awards in 2014) for his writing on the arts, politics, society, travel and sport. In 2010, he co-founded the narrative journalism magazine Eighteen Bridges, which he edits and which has won eight National Magazine Awards. Eighteen Bridges was named Magazine of the Year at the 2018 Alberta Magazine Publishers Association (AMPA) awards. Curtis was a recipient of the University of Alberta Alumni Honour Award in 2014, the Edmonton Artists Trust Fund Award in 2016, and was named Editor of the Year by AMPA in 2017.

In his large-group workshop, Curtis will discuss how to employ narrative in journalism, creative non-fiction and fiction. Narrative is a powerful tool for telling complex stories in inventive and entertaining ways. In his small-group sessions, Curtis discusses the art of the interview: Whether you are writing a short newspaper article, a lifestyle article, a travel piece, or a a major long-form journalism narrative, or even researching your fiction, talking to the right people and getting what you need from those conversations will often dictate the success or failure of your story.

Additional Activities: 
One-on-one editing with Paul Glover

Paul is a writer and editor who has lived most of his life in northwest BC. As former editor of NorthwordMagazine for more than seven years, he has come to know many northern writers through their writing andcorrespondence, if not inperson. While Paul is a down-to-earth kind of guy, and easy-going about writing styles, he is fussy about the elements that make a good story or article.

Ballad Writing with Danica Boyce

The ballad is one of the most pervasive and enchanting forms in European and North American oral tradition. Ballads tell stories using dialogue, action and imagery, in a simple structure that is both easy to learn and to sing. In this workshop, Danica provides an introduction to ballad form and conventions, and assists participants in composing a short ballad on a topic of their choice, suitable for singing or for reading aloud. Danica produces a popular podcast on folk culture and folk music called Fair Folk. She holds a master's in Medieval and Early Modern Studies (Middle English Literature) and a Bachelor of Education, both from the University of Victoria, British Columbia.

Writing From the Present
with Harold Feddersen

What happens when we become present? What sinks? What comes alive? What invitations rise from the quieter place we have entered? These are some of the questions that will be explored during this workshop. In this journey we will be using short-form poetry to find expression for what we interact with both within ourselves and in the within of nature. Come, breathe, be present, and write. 

Morning Meditations with Julie Chaplin

No meditation experience necessary to participate in these gentle guided visualization meditations to begin your day with clarity and peace. These meditations will help you focus on centering your self and connecting with the inner guidance and wisdom that we all have within us. When we are given space to listen, we hear what we need to hear. We hear what we already know. This is our intuition guiding us and it also helps guide our creativity. When we listen, we know and when we know we can act. Creativity comes through us when we are open to listening and it is then up to us to act on that wisdom. These meditations will simply give you the space to listen to help you in your creative writing process.

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Morning Pages with Norma Kerby

Norma leads our Morning Pages this year. Using interesting and stimulating prompts to practise creative writing and generate original short pieces, participants will have the opportunity to present their work to a small group for friendly discussion.

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The program designed for this Writer’s Retreat will help you ground, breathe and improve your self-esteem, re-calibrating your authentic pathways necessary for creative thought-processes and imaginary movements. Servaas is known for his easy and fun style of teaching. He is the founder of Mobilizing Awareness® Somatic Rehabilitation & Education. He presents workshops and post-graduate education programs to health professionals and other interested parties with an experiential emphasis. By profession Servaas is a Somatic Practitioner as well as a Physiotherapist, a Hanna Somatic Educator®, a Pranassage® Practitioner and a Pilates Mat Instructor.

Recalibrating Pathways for Creativity through Somatics with Servaas Mes
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