Writers’ retreat offers workshops

Staff report

PELEE ISLAND, Ontario — The just-opened Pelee Island Book House has announced that it is offering writers an unparalleled opportunity to hone their craft under the tutelage of internationally celebrated authors.

Margaret Atwood, Alissa York, Wayne Grady and others will lead the six writers’ retreats in spring and fall, 2017. The retreats offer both accomplished and aspiring writers the opportunity to focus on their work free of distraction. Book House is on Pelee Island, which is located in the middle of Lake Erie, midway between Leamington, Ontario, and Sandusky.

The Book House also offers lower cost, six-night, self-directed residencies June 5-10 and Oct. 5-15. Designed for writers seeking a peaceful setting within a community of other writers in which to work on their manuscripts, residencies are $400 for shared bedroom accommodations or $500 for private accommodations and include three family-style meals each day.

During retreats, writers will enjoy plenty of peaceful time and space in which to work on their manuscripts, with the addition of hands-on workshop sessions led by renowned writers who bring expertise in a variety of genres. Group discussion, literary critique, master classes and inclusion in a holistic creative community add to the richness of the experience.

“The extraordinary authors joining us for our inaugural season will ensure that attendees gain invaluable insight and guidance as they work to hone their craft,” said Pelee Island Book House Director Dawn Kresan. “The author-led master classes are sure to be a highlight of each retreat.”

Kresan added that the relaxed pace and incredible natural backdrop of Pelee Island, along with Book House’s restful sandy beachfront setting, provide the ideal environment for productive creative thinking.

“Pelee Island has long provided an effective muse for poets, novelists and writers of all styles,” Kresan said.

Retreats last five or seven days and feature limited single- and multiple-occupancy accommodations. They range in cost from $600 to $1,200 depending on length and room choice. Each includes three buffet-style meals a day, accommodations and ferry transportation to and from the island. The number of workshops and master classes vary by session.

Spring 2017 retreat sessions include:

Fiction Writing: “True Lies” — May 8 through May 14, led by Alissa York, internationally acclaimed novelist and author of the short fiction collection, “Any Given Power,” which won the Journey Prize and the Bronwen Wallace Award.

This session also includes the option to attend Springsong reading, May 13, with Michael Crummey and Margaret Atwood. Springsong is a celebration of Pelee Island’s renowned birds and birding experience. The event began as a fundraiser for The Pelee Island Heritage Centre with the help of the Pelee Island Bird Observatory (PIBO) and Margaret Atwood and today benefits PIBO.

Writing Nature: May 16 through May 20; this session features Wayne Grady, translator, editor and author of more than a dozen fiction and nonfiction books, with most focusing on nature and the environment. Attendees of Session 2 also have the option to deepen their experience by attending a nature reserve tour and helping with bird banding.

Memoir Writing: “Writing Your Life” — Sept. 11 through Sept. 17; the first fall session is led by Paul Vasey, author of 15 novels, short fiction and nonfiction books, including “The River: A Memoir of Life in the Border Cities.”

Poetry: “Crafting Lyric Poetry” — Sept. 19 to Sept. 23; instructor Cassidy McFadzean will direct the poetry session. An award-winning poet whose work has been published in magazines in Canada and the U.S., McFadzean’s book, “Hacker Packe,” was recognized with two Saskatchewan Book Awards and was shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award.

Genre Writing: “How Story Transcends Genre” — Oct. 2 to Oct. 8; best known for his popular blog, Terribleminds.com, and his novel, “Aftermath,” which debuted at No. 4 on The New York Times best seller list, American novelist, comic book writer, screenwriter and blogger Chuck Wendig will lead the genre session.

Staff report