Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Welcome to Guest Blogger Patty Kinney

Today I'm pleased to introduce Patty Kinney who writes about her first writer's retreat and much more.

Meet Patty Kinney: poet, essayist and woman extraordinaire. Patty and I first met nearly ten years ago when she was my student at the Antioch MFA program in Los Angeles. I knew then that she was an incredible spirit and the years since have only made that more clear. 

About a year ago Patty got back in touch with me through the magic of Facebook. Since then I've had the pleasure to see Patty at several literary events and as part of different classes I have taught. Her poems are honest, humorous, and leave me wanting more. She is a poet whose name I believe you will come to know. 

Patty's poems and essays have appeared in The Sun, hipMama, Crab Creek Review, OccuPoetry, Poets Against War and other journals and anthologies. Patty is a 2013 EDGE program participant. 

Here's Patty's take on allowing herself the gift of a first writing retreat. 

I was not a person who liked being around a bunch of women before this experience.

Now, I embrace it.

I do a lot of lucid dreaming. My desires inform my dreams. Two years ago when I yearned to travel to Newport, Oregon to attend Poets On The Coast, a writing retreat for women, I just couldn’t swing it. Life got in the way. Still, it lodged itself like a sliver in my subconscious.Honestly,  I wasn’t crazy about spending the weekend with a bunch of strangers, especially women. But the dreams didn’t stop; the sliver festered.

Last September, when the retreat was in it’s second year, I became a Poet On The Coast.

My drive from Olympia to the Oregon Coast took place on the hottest day of the year. I left behind a very ill mother and a sunburned child. I arrived early, happy to discover an Irish Pub near the 100 year old Sylvia Beach Hotel. I needed a Guinness to brave all these women. 

An hour later, I checked in to the Neverland of writerly hotels. Each room is named for writers, novelists, poets - dead and alive. I lugged by vintage suitcase to the Alice Walker room, opened the door and cried. I’d been to Uganda twice. The room was a near replica of a cabana I stayed in while on safari in East Aftica. I poked around other rooms (they leave them open before guests arrive). I was bookended by John Steinbeck and Virginia Woolf. I checked out Colette (posh), Mark Twain ( stately), Dr. Seuss (whimsical).

When it came time to meet the women, I took the stairs one by one. My feet moved so slowly I was sure they were drugged. As I reached the Mark Twain room, other women began to filter in. Renee from Canada, Angie from California, Amber from West Virginia - two dozen in all. The entire Pacific Northwest and beyond represented. We were recently homeless women, lawyers, teachers, nurse practitioners. We wore bare feet, Birkenstocks, slippers and Italian sandals. I was immediately intimidated. My inner child sucked it’s thumb.

As the women introduced themselves I felt my breathing slow. I slid out of my sandals. The girls were a smorgasbord. Every level of writing, every level of nice, every level of accepting.

Meet Shelly, Cat-in-Residence

I’d made plans to go to dinner with another poet from Olympia but as I returned to my room to get ready for dinner I found I was weeping. A lot. I wept for the gift I’d given myself - time away to write. I wept for not giving it to myself sooner. I wept for the other writers/poets and the snippets of their work I’d heard in their self-introductions. I wept because there were petunias, and cosmos, and echinacea in the welcome garden as I entered the hotel. I wept because there is a hotel cat, Shelly. Mascara-smeared, I told my friend I could not join her for dinner. The hotel was quiet that night. I imagine I wasn’t the only one filled with gratitude at pulling off a getaway. I was Bonnie, not a Clyde in site.

The rest of the weekend is a beautiful blur. There were new poems written from wonderful writing exercises, yoga with Kay, the most gentle spirit I’ve ever met (I had to do it sitting in a chair), wine and snacks a plenty, a fresh five course gourmet meal, goal setting, Mostly I remember the women. Their words, their smiles a stick writing in the sand, I’ll see you next September.

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If you are interested in joining Poets on the Coast 2013, let us know soon. There are only 3 spots left! Save on registration fee if you register on or before Valentine's Day!


  1. Patty, reading this brought back so many wonderful memories! I remember being a nervous wreck that first evening as well, but stepping out of my comfort zone for that magical weekend was well worth it. See you in September!

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  3. I met Patty recently at a writer's workshop here in Olympia. She is a fantastic poet. Does she have her own blog?