The Magic of Nine: Poets on the Coast, Sept 6-8, 2019 - Nine Years Old, Grade 9---


I like the number 9. 

I vividly remember being 9 years old and being in the 4th grade at the Michael Driscoll School. My teacher, Miss Smith (rumored to have been a runway model in the Barbados) was my teacher and I still remember our classroom: the Reading Train made from colored construction paper taped to the lower walls. Whenever we read a new book, we slipped a piece of paper in our train car. 

At least I think that's what we did, mostly I just remember the train. Then there were sugar cube cities and the study of countries and flags. This all happened in Brookline, Massachusetts ---- now famous for being the first municipality in the country to supply bathrooms (city hall, libraries, schools) with free feminine hygiene products. No more "menstrual shaming" said 18 year old (that's 9 x 2) Sarah Groustra, a Brookline High School graduate.  Kind of a cool thing for a town to become famous for.

But I digress.

9th grade is more of a blur --- but it was a big deal. In Brookline, it's the first year of high school. First boyfriend, first freedoms, first poetry class. My 8th grade teacher, Jerry Katz, had taken me up to the high school and convinced someone at Brookline High School to let me take an "advanced" poetry class. What I remember is my first exposure to Emily Dickinson --- thank you Dr. Katz!

And flash forward too many years to count and I'm on the brink of the 9th year of Poets on the Coast: A Writing Retreat for Women. It was over 10 years ago that one December evening, Kelli Russell Agodon and I sat in a cottage on San Juan Island and came up with the idea of running our own retreat. We'd both worked as guest faculty at several writers conferences -- sometimes having to teach in unheated rooms and once underneath a modest staircase.

The first year of Poets on the Coast took place at the Sylvia Beach Hotel on the Oregon Coast. On the way down I5, the interstate was closed due to a prairie fire (in Oregon) and Kelli and I arrived late to our own retreat! 1001 thanks to those first 16 women who trusted us with their poems and taught us so much.

Now nine (!) years later, Poets on the Coast has doubled in size and moved up to the beautiful town of La Conner, Washington, home to the Skagit River Poetry Festival, the Museum of Northwest Arts, and the epicenter for the artists of the Northwest School. 

A few of the things we've done in recent years to up the cool factor each year includes: a visiting poet in residence; this year we welcome Lena Khalaf Tuffaha, a visit (and if desired) publication at the Museum of Northwest Arts (MONA), an open mic for all (if desired) participants, and a one on one (free with registration) session with Kelli Russell Agodon, Lena Khalaf Tuffaha, or me.

I know I might be biased but I think this is the best weekend residency for women poets ever! Each year we have true beginners who are at their first conference and just trying their hand at poetry to the poets who have published their own books. We have had educators, students, farmers, children's book authors, therapists, stay at home moms, poet laureates, and grandmothers join us.

Some women stay at the Country Inn or Channel Lodge; some women stay at Katy's Inn,  a VRBO, with friends, or live in the area. If you are free the weekend of September 6th - 8th and want to be part of a creative, supportive, and fun group of women --- we might be a match! To register you can click here! Or leave a message below if you have questions.

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