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THE WITCHES & WARRIORS RETREAT

July 21-24, 2022
The Watershed Center

 


 

 

Información en español aquí 

Our inaugural retreat is a space for BIPOC poets and movement workers. Six poets and six activists will be invited to rest, dream, scheme, share skills, and build relationships on a 73-acre farm in upstate New York.

Bringing together the radical creativity of poets with the audacity and expertise of activists, Witches & Warriors will create space for participants to envision together a more liberated future. Activities will include workshops, discussions, writing sessions with faculty mentors, rest and play time, and a public reading/celebration. The retreat will take place at the Watershed Center in Millerton, New York (Munsee Lenape and Mohican Land).

 

This year, we are pleased to welcome Cynthia Dewi Oka and Alexis Pauline Gumbs as faculty. 

Click here to apply.

WHO THIS RETREAT IS FOR

BIPOC poets, organizers, activists, and movement workers who are interested in the intersection of poetry and social justice organizing/movement building. We will be prioritizing people located in the Northeast, to facilitate local relationship building.

RETREAT ACTIVITIES

The retreat will be a mix of structured and unstructured time. Activities will include workshops led by our faculty members, discussions on the interplay between art and organizing, presentations of participants' work, and collaborative writing sessions. There will also be time for rest and recreation: games, swimming, hikes, yoga, meditation, etc. The retreat will culminate in a public event on-site. See draft schedule below.

COST

There is no fee to attend the retreat. Participants are responsible for their own travel.

HOW DO I APPLY?

Applications are open here! Submit your application by 11:59pm EST on Saturday, April 30. All applicants will be notified of decisions by May 27.

 

The application includes:

  • biographical information, including a 150 word bio

  • a work sample (5-7 pages of poems, or a 5-page max description of your organizing work)

  • answers to three essay questions (500 words max for each):

  1. Who are your people / who is your community?

  2. What is your experience in working at the intersection between the arts and organizing/activism/movement-building?

  3. What do you hope to get out of this retreat?​

QUESTIONS?

Email us: hello@brewandforge.com

MORE INFO

The Witches & Warriors Retreat comes out of five years of building solidarity between writers and organizers through the annual Brew & Forge Book Fair. In the course of that work, we’ve seen how organizers everywhere are in dire need of restorative spaces to help them dream outside of the day-to-day grind of campaign work. Meanwhile, poets understand how our work can be transformative for communities, and yet often find ourselves siloed in academic spaces and/or struggling to create within an under-resourced field. We take heart in the way Pablo Neruda’s line “Podrán cortar todas las flores, pero no podrán detener la primavera” (“You can cut all the flowers, but you can’t stop spring from coming”) animated the Arab Spring and subsequent social movements. And yet, in our current context, it’s hard to find spaces specifically designed for poets and activists to talk to each other, dream together, and create the powerful works of poetry that will animate the movements to come. We believe writers, especially poets, can help make the fights for racial, economic, and gender justice more imaginative and more nourishing for the people in them. We envision the Witches & Warriors Retreat as a catalyst, a meeting point, and a spark for future collaborations. 

The 2022 retreat is made possible with support from RESIST, the Markham-Nathan Fund, and many individual donors. Thank you!

RETREAT SCHEDULE

Note: This schedule is subject to change!

 

Thursday

5-6 pm  Opening circle

6-7 pm  Dinner

8-9 pm  Fellow Presentations

 

Friday

8-9 am  Breakfast

10-11:30 am  Faculty Workshop

11:45 am -12:30 pm  Group Discussion/Activity

12:30 -1:30 pm  Lunch

1:30-2:30 pm  Rest

2:30-3:30 pm  Group Discussion/Activity

3:30-6 pm  Rest

6-7 pm  Dinner

 

Saturday

8-9 am  Breakfast

10-11:30 am  Faculty Workshop

11:45 am -12:30 pm  Group Discussion/Activity

12:30-1:30 pm  Lunch

1:30-6 pm  Rest/Creative Time

6-7 pm  Dinner

7:30-8:30 pm  Public Reading with Faculty

 

Sunday

8-9 am  Breakfast

10-11am  Closing Circle


 

In addition to the above, we’ll offer some optional morning and late-night activities. Please note that the retreat will most likely be an alcohol-free space in order to allow youth poets/organizers to participate.

2022 RETREAT FACULTY

ALEXIS PAULINE GUMBS

Alexis Pauline Gumbs is the author of Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals (winner of the 2022 Whiting Award for Nonfiction), Dub: Finding Ceremony, M Archive: After the End of the World, and Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity, and co-editor of Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Frontlines. Her writing has appeared in publications including Make/Shift, Left Turn, The Abolitionist, Ms. Magazine, and more. She holds a PhD in English, African and African American Studies, and Women and Gender Studies from Duke University and is the co founder of Black Feminist Film School, an initiative to screen, study, and produce films with a Black feminist ethic. In 2020, she was awarded the National Humanities Center Fellowship for her book-in progress, The Eternal Life of Audre Lorde. She lives in Durham, North Carolina.

Alexis Pauline Gumbs - Headshot.jpeg

Photo by Sufia Ikbal-Doucet

Cynthia Dewi Oka 3 - Photo by Jose Quintana.JPG

CYNTHIA DEWI OKA

Originally from Bali, Indonesia, Cynthia Dewi Oka is the author of Fire Is Not a Country (2021) and Salvage (2017) from Northwestern University Press, and Nomad of Salt and Hard Water (2016) from Thread Makes Blanket Press. Her fourth poetry collection, A Tinderbox in Three Acts, is a Blessing the Boats Selection chosen by Aracelis Girmay and is forthcoming in fall 2022 from BOA Editions. A recipient of the Amy Clampitt Residency, Tupelo Quarterly Poetry Prize, and the Leeway Transformation Award, her writing appears in The Atlantic, POETRY, Academy of American Poets, and elsewhere. An alumnus of the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers, she has taught creative writing at Bryn Mawr College, New Mexico State University and Voices of Our Nations (VONA). For fifteen years, Cynthia worked as an organizer, trainer, and fundraiser in social movements for gender, racial, economic, and migrant justice. As an immigrant and former young single mother with working-class roots, her aesthetics are guided by her core values: self-determination, collaboration, and attention to the peripheral. She writes to be free.

Photo by José Quintana

FAQ

WHAT IF I AM BOTH A POET AND AN ORGANIZER?

We're excited to welcome folks who do both! For the sake of our processes, we ask you to choose one primary designation, with the knowledge that many participants straddle multiple worlds and identities.

WHAT KINDS OF POETS ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?

We do not adhere to any particular style or school of poetry. You do not have to be published, but we are looking for people with a deep and demonstrated commitment to poetry, especially as a community practice. Applications are open to emerging as well as established writers. 

WHAT KINDS OF ORGANIZERS ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?

While we hold a capacious definition of movement-building, we prioritize folks whose work involves building power in directly-affected communities in order to address the root causes of oppression. This may include people working toward—and engaging the intersections between—racial justice, climate justice, carceral abolition, LGBTQ+ liberation, worker power, disability justice and/or indigenous sovereignty. Applications are open to new and experienced organizers!

I DO NOT IDENTIFY AS BLACK, INDIGENOUS, OR A PERSON OF COLOR. CAN I STILL APPLY?

No. The Witches & Warriors Retreat is for BIPOC writers and movement workers only.

WHAT COSTS ARE COVERED?

There is no fee to attend the Witches & Warriors Retreat, and food and linens will be provided by the Watershed Center. We are asking participants to cover their own travel costs to and from the retreat. We understand that this may present a financial burden on some participants, and we will do what we can to help coordinate carpools and help with your own fundraising efforts. 

 

HOW DO I GET TO THE RETREAT?

The retreat will take place at the Watershed Center in Millerton, NY. See this page for information on how to get to the retreat venue. For those arriving by bus or train, we will arrange rides to/from nearby stations.

WHAT ARE THE SLEEPING ARRANGEMENTS?

All rooms are communal, with 2-3 beds to a room. We will gather participants' sleeping preferences and do our best to accommodate everyone's needs. Participants may also bring tents to camp on the grounds, if preferred.

 

HOW ACCESSIBLE IS THE VENUE?

The main house at the Watershed Center has an accessible entrance and bathroom, as well as one room that can be converted to be wheelchair-accessible. Once applications are accepted, we will gather information on participant needs, such as interpretation services, child care, dietary restrictions, etc. Feel free to email hello@brewandforge.com with more questions about accessibility.

WHAT ARE YOUR COVID SAFETY PROTOCOLS?

The Watershed Center has a comprehensive COVID policy. Most group activities will be held outside or in a well-ventilated yurt. We will require all faculty, staff, and participants to be fully vaccinated (including a booster shot) by July 1, 2022. Additionally, we require you to bring a negative PCR test, and will be conducting rapid-testing onsite during check-in. We will determine masking policies closer to the retreat date, based on current guidelines and the needs of our participants.

We recognize that we are all navigating an ever-changing landscape when it comes to the pandemic. We commit to—and ask all participants to commit to—being flexible and adaptable as conditions shift. 

WHAT IF I HAVE MORE QUESTIONS?

Please email hello@brewandforge.com, and we will be happy to answer!

HELP US DO THE DREAMWORK!

You can help us build a stronger and more creative movement by supporting BIPOC organizers, activists, and socially-engaged poets. The Witches & Warriors Retreat will need community support to become a reality! Please consider donating below!

Help send one person to the retreat:

$30 provides supplies for the weekend

$100 pays for one faculty workshop

$700 covers the full retreat fee we would have to charge

$1800 reflects the full cost of sending one person to the retreat

Brew & Forge is a fiscally sponsored project of the Peace Development Fund, a 501(c)3 public foundation. If you'd like your contribution to go specifically toward funding the retreat, please write "for Witches & Warriors" under "add note."