Newport, Rhode Island Writing & Yoga 2015 Retreat – April 3, 2015

We started Day 2 bright and early with Energizing Yoga taught by Elissa Lewis. Our belief is that yoga can clear and prepare the mind for writing during the day. Elissa rounded out yoga with aromatherapy using a citrus-scented essential oil.

The first set of workshops began with Rita Banerjee‘s “Literary Taboo.” Each participant drew two pieces of paper from a bowl with a word like “crocodile” or “femme fatale” on each. Each sheet also included a list of taboo words, which each writer was forbidden to use in writing about the words they had selected. For example, a writer who drew “spaceship” wasn’t allowed to use the words “portal,” “fly,” “aliens,” or “planetary.”

In Stephen Aubrey‘s “Weirding the World” workshop, we learned that the script isn’t a flat work of literature or a description in poetry of another world but rather another world passing before us in time and space. While language is part of this world, the rest of it is space. And before we populate space, we must create it.  During the afternoon, some writers stayed at the house to work on their pieces. Others explored Newport’s beaches and enjoyed the warm spring weather.

Executive Art Director Diana Norma Szokolyai taught us to own our voices during “Your Voice: Bringing your Page to Performance” in the evening. We watched performance poets like Anne Waldman (Uh-Oh Plutonium!) and Saul Williams (List of Demands) and then practiced using unusual instruments to add depth to our own work. Participant Claire Ince took to the thumb piano and Saundra Norton used a music box to add mystery to her poem (see Day 3 post for their work).

The final workshop for the day, “Developing Your Manuscript for Publication,” was led by Kathleen Spivack. The participants were asked to read their work out loud. After carefully reviewing each participant’s manuscript and giving individual feedback, Kathleen assigned a revised draft due from everyone for the next day.  After a hard day’s work, the whole group went out to dinner at the Brick Alley Pub in historic downtown Newport!

– Emily Smith

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