Friday, March 16, 2018

31st Anniversary of Poetry Weekend Intensive Weekends

Poets at work

Maria Mazziotti Gillan and Laura Boss celebrate the 31st Anniversary of their Poetry Weekend Intensives held at at St. Marguerite’s Retreat House with their 2018 spring weekend.

These events are held at the English-style manor house at St. Marguerite’s Retreat, part of the Convent of St. John the Baptist in Mendham, NJ. The spring weekend will be Friday, May 25, Saturday, May 26, and Sunday, May 27, 2018. The weekend begins on Friday evening and continues through Sunday lunch.

St. Marguerite’s Retreat House      (Photo:Mark Hillringhouse)

The $425 fee (deduct $25 early bird discount if you pay by 4/1/18) includes all workshop sessions, 1:1 conferencing, your own room, and all meals.

At this weekend writing retreat, poets will find:
• support and encouragement;
• stimulating writing exercises/prompts leading to the creation of new work;
• workshop leaders who are actively engaged in the writing life;
• opportunities to read their work aloud to the group;
• a community of writers and networking opportunities.

This poetry weekend is open to all writers over the age of 18.

For teachers and others, 15 professional development credits are available.

The weekend schedule:

Friday: Please arrive early because of the holiday weekend, between 2 pm and 5 pm, and settle into your rooms. Both Friday and Saturday before dinner, we will meet and greet at 5 pm in the lounge at the end of the hallway on the 1st floor (feel free to BYOB). After dinner, we will break into two groups (about 12 to 15 in each), where we will have the opportunity to write poetry and share the work we’ve just written.

Saturday: After breakfast, we will break into two groups for morning workshops. Lunch will be served, followed by one afternoon workshop and either free time or a critiquing session with the poet faculty. Interested participants can sign up in advance at the retreat house and may bring previously written, typed work for feedback. After dinner, there will be an additional workshop.

On Friday and Saturday evenings, the two groups will come together and we will share our work— either something written on the weekend or previously.

Sunday: Breakfast will be followed by a workshop. A final reading by participants will serve as the “closing ceremony” to what we hope will be an inspiring and productive weekend. Lunch will offer another opportunity for socializing and networking.

Download a printable information sheet and registration form

For further information, email Maria Gillan
or send a SASE to Maria Gillan, 40 Post Avenue, Hawthorne, NJ 07506.

Laura Boss is a first-place winner of PSA’s Gordon Barber Poetry Contest. Founder and editor of Lips, she is the recipient of three NJSCA Poetry Fellowships, and in June 2011 received the first International Poetry Award at the International Poetry Festival in Swansea, Wales. Her books include: Reports from the Front, Arms: New and Selected Poems, Flashlight and her latest collection, The Best Lover. She co-edited with John Gallaher, Time Is a Toy: Selected Poems of Michael Benedikt . Her poems have appeared in The New York Times. Visit her website:

In Maria's book on writing poetry, she says what she hoped to accomplish, much like during the weekend sessions, is:
"to give writing prompts that will help you to get past all the outside influences that keep you from believing in yourself and in your ability to write. In order to write, you need to get rid of notions about language, poetic form, and esoteric subject matter ? all the things that the poetry police have told you are essential if you are to write. I wanted to start from a different place, a place controlled by instinct rather than by intelligence. Revision, the shaping and honing of the poem, should come later, and, in revising, care always needs to be taken to retain the vitality and electricity of the poem. Anyone can learn to craft a capable poem, but it is the poems that retain that initial vitality that we remember; these are the poems that teach us how to be human."

Maria Mazziotti Gillan's most recent books are the poetry and photography collection, Paterson Light and Shadow  and the poetry collection, What Blooms in Winter . Her collection of poems along with some of her paintings is The Girls in the Chartreuse Jackets . Maria's official website is