Writing Retreat & Festival To Light Up Ashokan Center

Photos taken at The Ashokan Center, Olivebridge, NY

Photos taken at The Ashokan Center, Olivebridge, NY

Collaboration is Key to “Catskill LIT”

The Poetry Barn's second annual retreat invites writers of all stripes to Olivebridge, New York's 300-acre Ashokan Center from September 2-5 for a retreat and festival designed to light up your writing life. 

Beginning on Labor Day, poets, songwriters, prose stylists, and storytellers will take over The Ashokan Center's inspirational campus nestled amidst waterfalls, meadows, and streams. Guests can camp, commute, or stay overnight in solar-powered buildings that blend rustic charm with modern amenities. All packages include meals made from locally-sourced ingredients; a full menu of workshops and activities is available à la carte.

World-famous aerialist and award-winning writer Philippe Petit will set the bar at the retreat's opening ceremony with a presentation on creativity. Mr. Petit, the event's Artist-in-Residence, will also lead a workshop called "The Art of Writing," in which participants will create written works that spin-off artistic masterpieces.

The Poetry Barn’s director Lissa Kiernan says, "The Catskills are home to so many talented writers, artists, and musicians. But since the area is sprawling, it's possible to feel isolated sometimes. Last fall, we had a wonderful retreat attended by fifteen fabulous poets at the barn. Lately, though, I’ve been interested in how we all might benefit from having a dedicated time and place to trade stories and foster collaboration. The Ashokan Center is located just two miles from The Poetry Barn. I saw it as a natural choice for a larger gathering of creatives who share a love of the written word."

Other workshops include letterpress and bookbinding with printmaker and book artist Maureen Cummins, songwriting and singing with musicians Jude Roberts & Julie Parisi Kirby and illustrated journaling with artist, writer, and calligrapher Barbara Bash. 

Woodstock's Post-Traumatic Press co-founder Alison Koffler-Wise will lead two "hike and write" expeditions: the first to Cathedral Gorge, a glacial gorge ending in an 80-foot waterfall, and the second to a 19th-century writer's cabin. Ashokan Reservoir writer Nina Shengold will offer "Prose Rambles," writing prompts designed to blur the line between fiction and nonfiction.  

"Breathe. Read. Write." with The New School’s Lisa Freedman and "Body Intelligence" with Kingston Yoga Lab's Cory Nakasue will combine movement, meditation, breath, and writing exercises designed to recharge the right (or "write") side of the brain. On the lighter side, Musician-in-Residence Phyllis Capello will offer ukulele lessons and Kiernan will offer poetry-wine pairings at the nearby Poetry Barn.

Nightly musical performances, readings, and open-mics will fill The Ashokan Center's expansive, quilt-hung performance hall. Dancing under a creek-side pavilion and sharing stories around a campfire—s' mores included—will round out each day. For more information, visit http://catskill-lit.com.

Lissa KiernanComment