SPRING 2018 


SESSION 1Thursday May 10th to Wednesday May 16th (7 day workshop) 4 of 12 SPOTS TAKEN

"WRITING NATURE" — Pelee Island Bird Observatory sponsored workshops. There will be two workshops during the week, approximately four hours long each. A portion of the proceeds from enrolment tuition will be donated to PIBO. Optional activities include an island tour, winery tour and tasting, and SpringSong tickets. 

What is nature writing? Because “Nature” is the world we are in and the world that is in us, nature can be used in a myriad of ways in all genres: as setting, or as active participant and plot driver, and/ or symbolically, for philosophical observation and thematic exploration. The natural world—its landscape and oceans, animals, fauna, and birds—can represent everything from freedom and the power of imagination, to human desire, fear, indifference, and greed. During this workshop, we will look at the first five pages of each participant’s submitted fiction or nonfiction piece, focusing on the author’s use of nature and discussing its effectiveness. TO SUBMIT, please follow the instructions under the "APPLY" tab. You will be required to send 4-5 pages of fiction or nonfiction, once the preliminary on-line form has been accepted.

Instructors: Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson

Margaret Atwood’s speculative MaddAddam trilogy engages with current ecological concerns within a dystopian landscape, challenging the human/ nature dichotomy. Graeme Gibson’s The Bedside Book of Birds and The Bedside Book of Beasts are nonfiction “miscellanies” that explore the complexity of human/ animal relationships in myth and literature, fiction and nonfiction.


SESSION  2 — Friday May 18th to Sunday May 20th (weekend workshop) 

"WRITING AND DIVINATION" — One workshop class on Saturday. Lunch included.

To “divine” is to seek guidance and counsel from a god—or an oracle. To “auger” is to read the signs whether one is looking at the stars (astrology), throwing down coins (I-Ching), or drawing cards from the major and minor arcana (tarot). In this workshop will explore how occult practices dovetail with our writing lives. We’ll first take writers who used chance and occult practices (Yeats, H.D., Robert Duncan, Sylvia Plath, and James Merrell) before delving into prompts and revisionary exercises that border on the uncanny. Utilizing the language of tarot, the symbols of dreams and the forms of archetype, we will engage modes and invite portals into enhanced receptivity.

Instructors: Hoa Nguyen and Timothy Liu

Timothy Liu is the author of multiple poetry collections. He currently lives in New York, where he is an associate professor at William Paterson University. Hoa Nguyen has written several  poetry collections and been shortlisted for the prestigious Griffin Poetry Prize in 2017. She teaches poetics at Ryerson University in Toronto, Miami University’s low residency MFA program, and the Milton Avery School for Fine Arts at Bard College.

                                                     FALL 2018

SESSION 1 — Monday Sept 10th to Sunday Sept 16th (7 day workshop) 2 of 10 SPOTS TAKEN

"FICTION WRITING" — A week long retreat with two workshops, approximately four hours long each. Optional activities include an island tour, winery tour and tasting, and a yoga class.

The workshop will include both instructor and group evaluations and critiques of the submitted material. This will precede Heighton's popular "writing as re-enaction" seminar, which he has presented at Banff Centre for the Arts, McGuill University, Massey College, and Sage Hill Writing Experience. This seminar is designed to help participants generate new work while also returning to works-in-progress in a refocused and energized way. When not in workshopping, you are free to read, write, socialize, or explore the beauty of the island. TO SUBMIT, please follow the instructions under the "APPLY" tab. You will be  required to send 8-10 pages of fiction, once the preliminary on-line form has been accepted.

Instructor: Steven Heighton

Steven Heighton is the author of twelve books. He has received the Gerald Lampert Award, K.M. Hunter Award, P.K. Page Founders' Award, Petra Kenney Prize, and been nominated for the Governor General’s Award, the Trillium Award, and the Journey Prize. He was a fellow at the Cambridge Literary Seminars, and the writer-in-residence at Concordia University, Massey College, the University of Ottawa, and McGill University.  

SESSION 2 — Friday Sept 21st to Sunday Sept 23rd (weekend workshop)  These dates are subject to change.

Instructor: TBA