Truth & Beauty

//Truth & Beauty
Truth & Beauty 2016-12-21T20:37:27+00:00



Truth and Beauty

A Poetry Workshop
with Marie Howe & Ellen Bass

May 22-27, 2016
Mayacamas Ranch
Calistoga, CA

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty . . .”
—John Keats

If you want to encounter more truth in your poems, to express it in the most beautiful way possible, to craft poems that reflect the inextricable marriage of truth and beauty, love and death, the luminous and the ordinary, please join us for this special workshop.

We will elude and distract the censors that silence or limit us. We’ll approach our experience from new angles to find the poem within the story. We’ll question the stories we think are true and experience the power of not-knowing and discovery.

We will write poems, share our writing, and hear what our work touches in others. We’ll also read model poems by contemporary poets and discuss aspects of the craft. But mainly this will be a writing retreat—time to explore and create in a supportive community. Though the focus is on poetry, prose writers who want to enrich their language will find it a fertile environment.

Mayacamassage-cottage-with-flowers267x200The structure of the workshop:

Although this workshop is appropriate for beginning poets, with much support and encouragement offered, it is also recommended for experienced poets, including those who have published books or chapbooks, are teaching poetry, or have simply been working at the craft for a long time.

This workshop is oriented toward generating new work. We’ll start each day with a talk about some aspect of the craft of writing. Then the rest of the morning will be devoted to writing. Unlike workshops where there are multiple short writing prompts, we prefer to schedule longer writing sessions so that there’s time to go deeply into your writing. You may not be actually writing that entire time, but there’s space for writing, reflection, starting off on a whole new topic, maybe taking a short break to refresh yourself and beginning again.

Mayacamas GardenThen we’ll have lunch together and there’ll be a little free time—to walk, read, relax, or, if you’re burning, to keep writing. In the afternoon, we’ll meet to share our work. For these sessions, we’ll divide into smaller groups, one led by each teacher (you’ll have the opportunity to work with both teachers in the small groups). Everyone will have a chance to read and to receive responses, encouragement, and support. Marie and Ellen will also provide guidance and suggestions for those who need or want that. Then we’ll have dinner and the evenings are usually free for relaxing, socializing, talking about poetry—whatever you’d like to do.

The workshop begins with dinner on Sunday, May 22, and will end with our group poetry reading on Thursday evening, May 26. There will be a last breakfast together on Friday, May 27, before check out.

Mayacamas-Double-Room300x200About Mayacamas Ranch:
Set on a hilltop ridgeline above the town of Calistoga in Napa, CA and surrounded by spectacular 360-degree views, Mayacamas Ranch provides an awe-inspiring, natural setting.

With its secluded and expansive grounds, comfortable guestrooms, organic based cuisine from their garden, Mayacamas is a stunning, secluded retreat center.

Mayacamas Ranch has guest units and cottages situated in various buildings on the property. All beds at Mayacamas are 100% organic and feature organic sheets in all rooms.

Mayacamas Ranch PoolThere is also a heated salt-water pool and hot tub, hiking trails and a spring-fed lake. If a trip to Italy isn’t on your calendar this year (or even if it is), come to Mayacamas Ranch!

To see more of Mayacamas Ranch, visit

Rooming and costs:

Mayacamas has a variety of housing options depending on whether you would like to room by yourself or with another person. For a double occupancy room the cost is $2,350 and for a luxury double occupancy suite (complete with a living room and private bathroom) the cost is  $2,450. The options for single occupancy rooms include a single with a shared bath at $2,750, a single with a private bath at $2,950, and a luxury single occupancy suite with a sitting area, private bath, and patio at $3,050.

The fees are all-inclusive, including the workshop, lodging, and all meals.

Rooms cannot be guaranteed, though we will take your requests into consideration. If you have difficulty with stairs or any other mobility issues, please let us know when you register. Please let us know what your first and second choices of accommodations are (whether single with private bath, single with a shared bath, a double or either of the luxury suites). Additionally, if you are familiar with Mayacamas and have specific rooms in your choice category that you’d like, feel free to request them as well.


UPDATE 12/4/15: This workshop filled within hours of it being announced. If you would like to be added to the wait list for this year, please email Jen at



If you find that you cannot attend the workshop, let Jen know as soon as possible and she’ll try to fill your space with someone from the wait list. If she can fill your space, she’ll refund your payment, minus a $150 administrative fee which is non-refundable. The sooner you let us know, the more likely that we can fill your space.


Questions and Concerns:

If you have any questions or concerns, please email Jen at


Marie HoweMARIE HOWE is the Poet Laureate of New York State and author of three books of poetry, the most recent being The Kingdom of Ordinary Time (Norton). Her previous books include The Good Thief (which was chosen for the National Poetry Series) and What the Living Do. She has also co-edited In the Company of My Solitude: American Writing from the AIDS Pandemic. Her poems have appeared in The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Agni, Harvard Review and New England Review, among many others. Marie Howe received a Guggenheim and a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship. She teaches at Sarah Lawrence and NYU. In the words of Stanley Kunitz: “Marie Howe’s poetry is luminous, intense, and eloquent, rooted in an abundant inner life. Her long, deep-breathing lines address the mysteries of flesh and spirit, in terms accessible only to a woman who is very much of our time and yet still in touch with the sacred.”


Ellen BassELLEN BASS‘s poetry includesLike a Beggar(Copper Canyon Press, 2014),The Human Line(Copper Canyon Press, 2007), and Mules of Love (BOA, 2002).  She co-edited (with Florence Howe) the groundbreaking No More Masks! An Anthology of Poems by Women(Doubleday, 1973). Her non-fiction books include The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse(HarperCollins, 1988, 2008) and Free Your Mind: The Book for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Youth (HarperCollins, 1996). Her work has frequently been published in The New Yorker, The American Poetry Review, and The New York Times Magazine, as well as many other journals. Among her awards are a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Fellowship from the California Arts Council, two Pushcart Prizes, The Lambda Literary Award, Elliston Book Award, Pablo Neruda Prize from Nimrod/Hardman, Larry Levis Prize from Missouri Review, and the New Letters Prize. She lives in Santa Cruz, CA and teaches in the MFA writing program at Pacific University.