Private Writing Retreats at the Poem House

By Request: Dates Available throughout the year

Hosted & Led by Kate Moses

Private writing retreats for 1-4 writers of fiction or creative nonfiction in upstate New York at Kate's charming, historic home, the Poem House, featured in Adirondack Life magazine.  


Kate offers private writing retreats, writing intensives, and intimate, small-group workshops upon request for 1 to 4 writers at her historic home in the idyllic hamlet of Essex on Lake Champlain in the Adirondacks. Each retreat can be designed to fit the current needs of the writer and their project, from a residency format during which the writer focuses on their own work in peaceful seclusion with meal preparation and other practicalities all taken care, to a guided writing intensive with a complete manuscript assessment and targeted plan for work to be accomplished during the retreat as well as ongoing consultation with Kate throughout. Group workshops can be arranged for existing writing groups, friends, or classmates and can follow a classic workshop plan (individual submissions and group feedback), a generative workshop plan designed to develop new material, or a topical seminar-style workshop with a focus on a particular craft concern (such as character development, structure, scene building, etc.).

Whether your preference is to be taken care of and left alone to write, or to take part in intensive daily consultations, writing prompts and directives, and dynamic conversations about writing and literary life over long sumptuous meals, the goal is to create a retreat that supports your writing practice and your goals in an inspiring, peaceful environment.  What writer wouldn’t want to spend a few days being cooked for, pampered, and talking about their writing?  

Always included in private retreats at the Poem House are boutique-style lodgings and farm-to-table organic meals prepared by Kate, using local organic ingredients whenever possible and planned for your dietary needs. To quote Kate's  favorite children’s book, Bedtime for Frances, “There will always be chocolate cake in this house.” (Gluten and dairy free, if necessary. And maybe not always chocolate, but there will definitely be cake . . .) 

Scheduling is based on mutual agreement: any time of the year is possible, and length can be anything from a long weekend to a week.

Please note: Kate shares her home with two dogs and a long-haired cat, so writers with animal allergies may not be comfortable at the Poem House.


Named “the Poem House” by visitors and the subject of a recent feature profile in Adirondack Life magazine, Kate’s historic home is surrounded by lush heirloom perennial gardens modeled after Emily Dickinson’s famous gardens. Built in the 1780s with additions in the 1820s and 1875, the house spans three architectural styles: Colonial, Greek Revival, and Victorian, including a double staircase salvaged from the wreck of the famous Lake Champlain Ferry in 1875. From the Juliet balcony overlooking Main Street to the 3000-volume library that was once the town’s post office, the Poem House will fuel your imagination with its eclectic vintage décor, contemporary art collection, and attention to creature comforts. Three of four bedrooms have double or queen beds; there is also a single bedroom, and all have desks and/or use of a downstairs office with a view of the back garden and its many visiting bird species.

Known for its serenity and beauty, notably for having one of the most intact ensembles of Federal and Greek revival architecture in the U.S. (the entire town is listed on the National Register of Historic Places), Essex is a perfect place for a quiet retreat from the bustling world. Located within Adirondack Park, Essex is surrounded by great hiking trails and incredible views. Depending on the season of your private retreat, optional activities may include cycling, paddling, swimming, and other water sports. There are several local options for yoga, as well as seasonal leaf-peeping, birdwatching, antiquing, and absorbing the inspirations of landscape. Home to the famous Essex Farm, Essex County is burgeoning with farm-to-table and community-supported agriculture (CSAs), several only minutes away, with many farm stands open daily, supplying everything from vegetables and fruits to meats, eggs, dairy and artisan cheese, and boutique brewing.

Lake Placid is an easy and picturesque drive, as is Burlington, Vermont across the lake. For a taste of European culture and urbanity, Montreal is less than two hours north. The house is 20 minutes by car from the Amtrak station in Westport, NY and just steps away from the ferry across Lake Champlain to Vermont.


Retreats are individually personalized and will include consultation with Kate at a mutually-agreed level, local airport or Amtrak pickup & drop-off, lodging with private bedroom and either private or shared bath, and all meals during your stay. Long-distance travel is not included.


Cost is determined by the desired level of consultation with Kate plus a daily charge for lodging and meals. Please contact the Birds & Muses admin team for an estimate at


The first step is to ask yourself, what would be most useful to your writing project and your progress as a writer? Then email the Birds & Muses admin team at to consult on your preferred retreat format, length of retreat, potential dates, and an individualized quote.   

Waiver: All applicants must also review and sign the Birds & Muses Retreat Agreements waiver to be considered for a retreat spot. Click the "Sign Your Waiver" blue tab at the bottom right of this page to get started.



Kate Moses is the author of the internationally acclaimed Wintering: A Novel of Sylvia Plath, published in sixteen languages, and Cakewalk: A Memoir, chosen by National Public Radio as one of their favorite memoirs of 2010. Recipient of a Lannan Literary Fellowship, a Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize for Best Fiction by an American Woman, an American Book Award, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, a Prix des Lectrices de Elle, and residencies from the MacDowell Colony, Djerassi Resident Artists Program, Headlands Center for the Arts, Karuna, and The Lighthouse Works, Kate is also co-editor of two bestselling anthologies of essays on motherhood, Mothers Who Think: Tales of Real-Life Parenthood and Because I Said So: 33 Mothers Write About Children, Sex, Men, Aging, Faith, Race & Themselves. A founding editor of Salon, former literary director of Intersection for the Arts in San Francisco, and former senior acquisitions editor of North Point Press, Kate has taught writers at two dozen universities in the U.S. and U.K. Through Birds & Muses, Kate mentors writers in the U.S., Canada, the Middle East, several European and African nations, and New Zealand. A seventh-generation San Franciscan, she now lives in upstate New York. Learn more about Kate’s books at