Our September Come to Your Senses retreats here in Collioure are now behind us. Our writers arrived without a hitch (thank God) — rested relaxed, opened their minds and senses, enjoyed spectacular food, and viewed their writing through a fresh lens. Because even in a magic village in France, life is still life, there were a few glitches. Someone lost her luggage (or rather, KLM did), someone got lost in the vineyards (yes, we found her) and more than one person survived an impressively large bug bite (mosquitos can be the size of transport planes this time of year). Also, it turned out that just like in grade school, a lot of people don’t really like apples in their sack lunches! After the retreats, when we went to the Hotel des Templiers, the “art dorm” where our writers stay, to collect the coffee maker, sugar bowl, and paper cups from the workshop space, we found a pile of golden apples left behind. I scooped them up, took them home, and made a fabulous tarte tatin with them. Thank you, writers!
Aside from one rainy day, the weather was perfect. We hiked a little, and swam in the very clear water. We shopped at the sweetest boutique in town, La Plage Rouge, owned by my friend Valerie, who served us her special concoction of rosé and grapefruit juice as we browsed.
In workshop, we read Ross Gay’s sassy little essay Tomato on Board as we strove to write about things that bring us delight. We wrote about the time we knew “it” was over (my favorite writing prompt, courtesy of June retreat special guest Cheryl Strayed), and test drove Lynda Barry’s four-square journaling method.
Radical hospitality maven Ora Wise cooked for us! Everything she cooked she sourced locally, including figs from the trees in the neighborhood.
We ate fresh figs with a local soft cheese, roasted butternut squash with a spicy green Romesco sauce, grilled sausage and crispy smashed potatoes, French lentils, and exquisite green salads. Our sous chef, Kirsten, brought wine from Mas Christine, the winery she co-owns with her husband, Andy Cook. My personal favorite: Wild Boar, a robust red so named because the wild boars love munching on the Syrah grapes it comes from.
Am I tempting you? I hope so. Registration is now open for September 2023.
As always, I’ve also invited fabulous friends and writers to inspire and guide. Without further ado:
SEPTEMBER 10 – 15, 2023
Kim Dower, former City Poet Laureate for West Hollywood, CA, is the author of five highly-acclaimed collections of poetry: I Wore This Dress Today for You Mom (“Fantastic collection” – Washington Post): Sunbathing on Tyrone Power’s Grave, as well as Air Kissing on Mars — “sensual and evocative . . . seamlessly combining humor and heartache”–Los Angeles Times, Slice of Moon, called “unexpected and sublime,” by “O” magazine, and Last Train to the Missing Planet. Dower’s poems have been featured on Garrison Keillor’s “The Writer’s Almanac” and Ted Kooser’s “American Life in Poetry,” as well as in many journals, and anthologies. She teaches poetry workshops for Antioch University, UCLA Extension, West Hollywood Library, and the Hollywood LGBT Senior Center.
A contributing editor at Literary Hub, Michele Filgate is the editor of a critically acclaimed anthology based on her Longreads essay, What My Mother and I Don’t Talk About, published by Simon & Schuster. She received her MFA from NYU, where she was the recipient of the Stein Fellowship. Her work has appeared in Longreads, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, Refinery29, The Paris Review Daily, Tin House, The Rumpus, Salon, Interview Magazine, Buzzfeed, Poets & Writers, CNN.com, Time Out New York, People, The Daily Beast, O, The Oprah Magazine, and other publications. She teaches or has taught creative writing at NYU, The New School, The Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop, Catapult, and Stanford Continuing Studies, and is the founder of the Red Ink series. In 2016, Brooklyn Magazine named her one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Brooklyn Culture.” She’s a former board member of the National Book Critics Circle.
SEPTEMBER 17 – 22, 2023
Roxana Robinson is the author of ten books – six novels, three collections of short stories, and the biography of Georgia O’Keeffe. Four of these were chosen as New York Times Notable Books , two as New York Times Editors’ Choices. Her fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harper’s, Best American Short Stories, Tin House and elsewhere. Her work has been widely anthologized and broadcast on NPR. Her books have been published in England, France, Germany, Holland and Spain.
An editor at The Paris Review, Tin House, writer in the Features department at Vogue magazine, Jeanne McCulloch’s work has appeared in Vogue, Tin House, LitHub, Elle, Allure, O Magazine, and The New York Times Book Review, among other publications. Her interviews with writers have appeared in the legendary Writers at Work series at The Paris Review, and in Tin House. She is the founding Editorial Director of Tin House Books. McCulloch has taught fiction and non-fiction at The New School for Social Research and at numerous summer writers conferences. Her recent memoir, All Happy Families, is published by Harper Collins.
I hope you’ll consider joining us next September. Email me with any thoughts, musings, concerns, or questions. Our lines open and our operators (me) are standing by!