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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. 

Applications for the 2022 retreat are now closed. If you applied and did not receive a notification email, please check your spam folder and/or contact hello@brewandforge.com.

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?

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 the Women Donors Network, RESIST, the Markham-Nathan Fund, the Poetry Foundation, and many individual donors. Thank you!

RETREAT SCHEDULE

Note: This schedule is subject to change!

 

Thursday

2-5 pm  Check in

6-7 pm  Dinner

7-7:30 pm  Welcome

7:30-8 pm  Rest

8-9:30 pm  Opening Circle

Friday

7-8 am  Early Bird Activity

8-9 am  Breakfast

9-10 am  Free Time / Morning Writing

10-10:30 am Community Agreements

10:30-11:45 am  Faculty Workshop

11:45 am-12 pm  Rest

12-12:30 pm  Mini-Session with Faculty

12:30-1:30 pm Lunch

1:30-4:30 pm Free Time / Guided Hike / Crafts

4:30-6 pm Group Discussion: Poetry in the Movement

6-7 pm  Dinner

7-7:30 pm  Rest

7:30-8:45 pm  Fellow Presentations

9:00-11:30 pm  Night Owl Activity

Saturday

7-8 am  Early Bird Activity

8-9 am  Breakfast

9-10 am  Morning Writing or “In It Together”

10-11:15 am  Faculty Workshop

11:15 am-11:30 pm  Rest

11:30 am -12:30 pm Dream Session: The Future of Poetry & Activism

12:30-1:30 pm Lunch

1:30-2 pm  Mini-Session with Faculty

2-6 pm Free Time / Swimming

6-7 pm Dinner

7-9 pm  Public Reading

9 - 10:30 pm Bonfire + drinks

10:30pm -12 am Night Owls Activity

 

Sunday

7-8 am  Early Bird Activity

8-9 am  Breakfast

9-10 am  Writing Session: How We Hold Each Other

10:00-10:15 am Break

10:15-10:30 am Group Photo + Evals

10:30 am-2 pm Closing Circle

12:30-1:30 pm  Lunch

1:30-5:00 pm Depart!

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

[Click for full images and image descriptions]

THE WITCHES & WARRIORS RETREAT
August 16-19, 2024 in Charlton, MA

The Witches & Warriors Retreat is a program for BIPOC poets and movement workers to learn, write, and dream together.


Bringing together the radical creativity of poets with the audacity and expertise of activists, this biennial retreat gathers six poets and six activists from across the Northeast and Mid Atlantic US. Activities include workshops, discussions, writing sessions with faculty mentors, rest and play time, and a public reading/celebration. Fellows are asked to take what they learn at the retreat back to their communities through an public event or project, seeding new ideas for creative movement-building throughout our region.

 

Aurielle Marie and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha will serve as faculty for the 2024 retreat.

APPLY HERE. Applications open now through April 21, 2024!

DATES

Friday, August 16 through Monday, August 19, 2024.

LOCATION

Prindle Pond Conference Center, 19 Harrington Rd, Charlton, MA 

WHO THIS RETREAT IS FOR

BIPOC poets, organizers, activists, and movement workers based in the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic US who are interested in the intersection of poetry and social justice organizing/movement building. Participants must be age 16 or older.

RETREAT ACTIVITIES

  • Daily workshops taught by faculty

  • Discussions on the past, present, and future of the interplay between arts and organizing

  • Presentations of participant work, including a public reading by faculty

  • Collaborative writing sessions

  • Free time and fun activities, including swimming, hiking, yoga, games, and karaoke.

COST

There is no fee to attend the Witches & Warriors Retreat! Participants will be reimbursed for travel costs up to $150.

HOW TO APPLY

Apply here! The application includes a 5-7 page work sample and three short answer questions (500 word max for each). Applications open on Monday, March 18 and will be accepted until Sunday, April 21 at 11:59pm EST. Questions? Read the FAQs here.

2024 RETREAT FACULTY

Aurielle, a Black femme with long hair in a protective style and dark eye makeup, looks at the viewer in front of a brick wall. They are wearing a lime green blazer over a black top with multiple gold necklaces.

AURIELLE MARIE

Aurielle Marie is a Black and Queer poet, essayist, and cultural strategist surviving state violence. They are the author of Gumbo Ya Ya and the winner of the 2020 Cave Canem poetry prize. She was a 2022 movement journalism fellow with Scalawag Magazine, a 2019 Lambda Literary Writer in Residence, and has received invitations to fellowships from Tin House, VONA, The Watering Hole, and Kopkind. Their work has been featured in American Poetry Review, the Poem-a-Day series, Teen Vogue, and The Guardian. A genderqueer filmmaker and storyteller, Aurielle writes about sex, systems, and The South from a Black Feminist lens.

Image description: Aurielle, a Black femme with long hair and dark eye makeup, looks at the viewer in front of a brick wall. They are wearing a lime green blazer over a black top with multiple gold necklaces.

Leah, a nonbinary Sri Lankan and white femme in their 40s with sand colored skin, grey smoke, chestnut brown and faded teal curls on one side of their head and a shaved side on the other, rose gold glasses and purple lips, looks at the viewer with their head resting on their left hand. They wear an apple green mesh top through which a neon yellow bra strap is visible. They sit in front of a hot pink couch heaped with cushions and a blonde wood coffee table with a pink protest sigh on it.

LEAH LAKSHMI PIEPZNA-SAMARASINHA

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is a nonbinary femme disabled writer and disability and transformative justice movement worker of Burgher and Tamil Sri Lankan, Irish and Galician/Roma ascent. They are the author or co-editor of ten books, including The Future Is DIsabled: Prophecies, Love Notes and Mourning Songs, Beyond Survival: Stories and Strategies from the Transformative Justice Movement (co-edited with Ejeris Dixon), Tonguebreaker, and Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice. A Disability Futures Fellow, Lambda Award winner and longtime disabled BIPOC space maker, they are currently building Living Altars, a cultural space space by and for disabled QTBIPOC writers and creators.

Image description: Leah, a nonbinary Sri Lankan and white femme in their 40s with sand colored skin, grey smoke, chestnut brown and faded teal curls on one side of their head and a shaved side on the other, rose gold glasses and purple lips, looks at the viewer with their head resting on their left hand. They wear an apple green mesh top through which a neon yellow bra strap is visible. 

HISTORY & VISION

The Witches & Warriors Retreat came 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 saw 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. While poets have been part of every social justice movement of the past century, it is 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 inaugural Witches & Warriors Retreat took place in the summer of 2022 at the Watershed Center in upstate New York. Alexis Pauline Gumbs and Cynthia Dewi Oka served as faculty.

RETREAT SCHEDULE

Below is the schedule for the 2022 retreat. Please note that this is subject to change in 2024.

 

Thursday

2-5 pm  Check in

6-7 pm  Dinner

7-7:30 pm  Welcome

7:30-8 pm  Rest

8-9:30 pm  Opening Circle

Friday

7-8 am  Early Bird Activity

8-9 am  Breakfast

9-10 am  Free Time / Morning Writing

10-10:30 am Community Agreements

10:30-11:45 am  Faculty Workshop

11:45 am-12 pm  Rest

12-12:30 pm  Mini-Session with Faculty

12:30-1:30 pm Lunch

1:30-4:30 pm Free Time / Guided Hike / Crafts

4:30-6 pm Group Discussion: Poetry in the Movement

6-7 pm  Dinner

7-7:30 pm  Rest

7:30-8:45 pm  Fellow Presentations

9:00-11:30 pm  Night Owl Activity

Saturday

7-8 am  Early Bird Activity

8-9 am  Breakfast

9-10 am  Morning Writing or “In It Together”

10-11:15 am  Faculty Workshop

11:15 am-11:30 pm  Rest

11:30 am -12:30 pm Dream Session: The Future of Poetry & Activism

12:30-1:30 pm Lunch

1:30-2 pm  Mini-Session with Faculty

2-6 pm Free Time / Swimming

6-7 pm Dinner

7-9 pm  Public Reading

9 - 10:30 pm Bonfire + drinks

10:30pm -12 am Night Owls Activity

 

Sunday

7-8 am  Early Bird Activity

8-9 am  Breakfast

9-10 am  Writing Session: How We Hold Each Other

10:00-10:15 am Break

10:15-10:30 am Group Photo + Evals

10:30 am-2 pm Closing Circle

12:30-1:30 pm  Lunch

1:30-5:00 pm Depart!

QUESTIONS?

We've compiled some Frequently Asked Questions here. If you don't see the answer to your question, email ceci [at] brewandforge [dot] com.

SUPPORT THE RETREAT

The 2024 retreat is made possible with support from the Markham-Nathan Fund, Resist, the Poetry Foundation, and many individual donors.

 

You can help us build a stronger and more creative movement by supporting BIPOC organizers, activists, and socially-engaged poets. Please consider donating below!

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."

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