"The workshop hums and the honey reeks of thyme." – Virgil
Several times a year—or by request—Kate offers intimate writing retreats at soul-stirring locations in the U.S. and abroad as well, as at her historic home in the idyllic village of Essex on Lake Champlain in the Adirondacks. Knowing that what most writers lack is writing time—a writer's most precious and elusive resource—the primary goal of Birds & Muses retreats is to provide writers with experienced guidance, sanctuary, and time to write. Birds & Muses' signature retreat is a Guided Writing Intensive: participants receive in-depth consultation on their entire writing project and create a strategic work plan before the retreat, followed by a week of supported writing and revising during the retreat. Unlike a workshop-style retreat, the focus is your own writing, and the retreat resembles a stay at an artists' residency coupled with a mentor's assessment and ongoing, hands-on encouragement. One participant has called Birds & Muses retreats "a room of one's own with dinner parties." No retreat would be complete without the company of inspiring, supportive, like-minded writers, dynamic conversations about literary life over wine and sumptuous meals, and the opportunity to refresh the imagination and recharge in a new and stimulating setting.
Limited to small groups of 3-12 writers, retreats typically include optional morning writing prompts and yoga, craft lessons over cocktails, participant readings, and special guests from the literary or artistic world who join us for a meal and a conversation. Always included are boutique-style lodging and seasonal organic meals using local foodstuffs whenever possible, typically prepared by Kate and the Birds & Muses retreat faculty (many of whom also write about food and cooking), punctuated by Kate's renowned baking. Optional activities might include meditation & massage, hiking, swimming or beach walking, day trips to nearby cities or historic sites, antiquing, seasonal leaf-peeping or olive-gathering, absorbing the inspirations of landscape, and sampling from local farms, wineries, and artisan makers of food and crafts.
Individual and private group retreats (up to 4 participants) are available by request. What writer wouldn’t want to spend a long weekend -- or a week -- being cooked for, pampered, and talking about their writing?
See below for the current calendar of available retreats in 2018, as well as information on retreats now past. October 2018 takes us to the Adirondacks and Craigardan, an 1880s sheep farm–turned–arts center on Hurricane Mountain in Keene, New York, where the first annual Bookgardan program will take place: the first of two week-long residencies that frame a 12-month mentorship designed to complete a draft of a novel or memoir in a year. On November 10-17, 2018 will be Birds & Muses in Sicily: a Guided Writing Intensive at a sublime contemporary villa on the southern Mediterranean coast near Noto. Other locales, including the Mendocino Coast, Tuscany and Greece, Coastal Maine, and another round of Bookgardan will follow in 2019.
For more information or to schedule an individual or private group retreat, contact the Birds & Muses team.
Please do take a moment to consult the Birds & Muses Ltd. liability policy here before applying to any retreats.
Kate 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, and a Prix des Lectrices de Elle, 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, her literary essays and food writing have appeared in many publications in the U.S. and U.K. Learn more about Kate’s books at katemoses.com.
Kate is the author of seven novels, including The Great Man, which won the 2008 PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction, and The Last Cruise, forthcoming from Doubleday in the summer of 2018. She is also the author of two food-centric memoirs, Blue Plate Special and How to Cook a Moose, which won the 2016 Maine Literary Award for Memoir. She has taught fiction at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop as well as short workshops in both memoir and fiction at several residencies and MFA programs. She has published essays and articles in many magazines, including Vogue, Elle, Bookforum, O, the Oprah Magazine, The New York Times, and Food & Wine. She lives in Portland, Maine and the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her husband. Visit Kate at katechristensen.net and on Twitter @aquavita.
Mary is a Maine-based author and award-winning journalist. Her memoir, Accidentally on Purpose, was turned into a CBS sitcom starring Jenna Elfman. Her literary book criticism appears regularly in national publications, including The New York Times and People. For more than a decade she was a film critic, first for newspapers in the San Francisco area and then for Time Magazine. A member of the National Society of Film Critics, she’s been a staff writer at the Seattle Times, The Los Angeles Times and The Los Angeles Daily News. Her writing has appeared in magazines ranging from the late great Gourmet to Marie Claire and Parenting.
Jennifer is an award-winning, internationally published author and journalist. Her novel, The Ambassador’s Wife, won the 2013 William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition Best Novel award, the 2016 Phillip McMath Post Publication book award, and has been optioned for a miniseries starring Oscar-winner Anne Hathaway. Jennifer’s highly praised memoir, The Woman Who Fell From the Sky, about her tenure as editor of the Yemen Observer in Sana’a, received the Elle magazine Readers’ Prize and was included on National Geographic Traveler's 2014 recommended reading list. She has taught writing at many universities in many countries and currently lives in London with her husband and daughter.
MJ (Mia Jane) Henderson
MJ is a writer, massage therapist and yoga teacher. With a background in journalism (incl. Los Angeles Times, Brand X, Soundspike.com & Sports Illustrated's The Cauldron), MJ recently received her MFA from UCR/Palm Desert and is writing her first novel. She's also building The Fatastrophe Project, a multimedia experiment that explores eating disorders, body image and body politics. Fatastrophe: The Podcast launches on iTunes in August 2018. Instagram: @mizmjhenderson & @fatastropheproject.