Catskill LIT: Meeting on Equal Ground
Contributed by Jill Olesker, Woodstock-based Storyteller/Arts Educator
I recently attended the Catskill LIT Writers Retreat & Festival held at the Ashokan Center. As I pulled in to the center, right away, the beautiful surroundings—both natural and architectural, with buildings made of hand-hewn local logs—made all my everyday connections and concerns fade away.
To take advantage of the gorgeous 285-acre natural campus, the retreat was structured with workshops and activities that were mostly centered around nature and writing. The variety of offerings allowed me to explore many ways to write. Each teaching artist had wonderful techniques for us to try and were also open to our ideas as students regarding what we wanted to get from the class.
I met wonderful people some of whom were writers by profession and some, like me, who write for personal pleasure. We were all meeting and working on equal ground. There was also plenty of time to talk to each other, meander—with others or alone —on the trails, canoe, go to diverse evening programs and eat s’mores around a campfire at the end of each day.
In short, we became a community with a joyful and relaxed tone, one set by Lissa Kiernan, The Poetry Barn’s director and the person who dreamed up this dreamy Catskills’ writing getaway. Thank you, Lissa, for making it all possible! See you next year!