Retreat for Survival and Healing
March 22-23, 2024
The Sundress Academy for the Arts is hosting its fourth generative writing retreat celebrating survival and healing on March 22-23, 2024. This two-day retreat for sexual assault survivors will be held in Oak Ridge, TN and will be a safe space for creativity, generative writing exercises, discussions on ways to write trauma, advice on publishing, and more. Come join us in mutual support for a weekend of writing time for healing, safety, and comfort.
The event will be open to writers of all backgrounds and provide an opportunity to work with many talented poets and writers from around the country including Monica Prince, [sarah] Cavar, Najya Williams, Karo Ska, Aly Tadros, Beth Couture, Krista Cox, and Erin Elizabeth Smith.
Session topics include the following:
- Labor of Delight
- Speculative F(r)iction: Writing Mad, Unruly Trauma-Truths
- The Pleasure Principle: Writing Erotic Poetry after Trauma
- From Inside the Margins: Using Narrative to Facilitate Intercommunal Healing
- Giving Voice to Our Emotions: Writing Through Difficult Feelings
The weekend event runs from 12PM on Friday through 8PM on Saturday and includes group instruction, a reading by workshop leaders, an open mic, writing supplies, and meals. Writers will need to provide their own overnight accommodations.
To sign up for this retreat, you will need to make a $50 refundable deposit here. Spaces are limited so don’t wait to sign up for this year’s event.
Thanks to a generous grant from the Academy of American Poets, all fees for selected applicants will be waived. We will require a small, refundable deposit to hold your space. Attendees will be required to show proof of Covid vaccination and a negative Covid test before the retreat.
Labor of Delight with Aly Tadros
We all know too well the arduous work of healing from harm. But what does it mean to intentionally create room for the good? In this therapeutic writing workshop, drawing inspiration from Ross Gay’s Book of Delights, we will meditate on the instances of small but profound joy we encounter along the path toward resilience and healing. Together, we will explore the art of noticing and mining our moments of delight—individually, and as a collective.
Giving Voice to Our Emotions: Writing Through Feeling with Karo Ska
Giving Voice to Our Emotions: Writing Through Feeling is a generative workshop that invites you to pay attention to your body and to write guided by your somatic sensations. Sexual trauma disconnects us from our bodies, and our healing journey often involves re-engaging with this part of ourselves, specifically with our emotions. If emotions aren’t processed and released, they’ll stagnate and resurface. The workshop will focus on how you can befriend your feelings and see them as helpful guides, not something to resist. You will be provided with a feelings wheel to reflect on various emotional states beyond happy, angry, and sad. You will be encouraged to share what you wrote, but this will be optional. For anyone who chooses to share the facilitator will provide warm and affirmative feedback so that the person feels heard and seen.
From Inside the Margins: Using Narrative to Facilitate Intercommunal Healing with Najya Williams
This 90-minute session will be a seminar-style writing workshop where we will discuss critical texts from bell hooks, Ntozake Shange and Tourmaline, and how we can utilize them to access our healing. This workshop aims to provide participants with additional tools to communicate, process, and explore emotions related to experience with trauma, grief and sexual assault. Moreover, it’s an opportunity to reclaim personal narrative and construct the audience who will bear witness to this art. As expressed in the retreat’s mission, this workshop intends to be a safe space for all participants to carve their own path forward unapologetically, with an abundance of community care behind them.
The Pleasure Principle: Writing Erotic Poetry after Trauma with Monica Prince
After sexual violence, writers can recoil from writing sexual work to avoid activating traumatic memories. To help survivor-writers reignite their power through language, erotic writing acts as a soothing practice, allowing one to entertain fantasy and sensuality in a consensual space. This generative poetry workshop incorporates pleasure activism, sex magic, and trauma-informed pedagogy to create a safe environment to make erotic poems.
Participants will approach erotic poetry by focusing less on graphic details and more on personal definitions of sensuality, pleasure, and self-love. Defining eroticism beyond sex and using language as a tool for healing, writers will receive prompts for creation and revision.
Audre Lorde’s “Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power” and adrienne maree brown’s Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good, as well as other mentors, serve as foundations for this work. Writers of all experience levels and genres are welcome.
Speculative F(r)iction: Writing Mad, Unruly Trauma-Truths with [sarah] Cavar
What if the very forms of unreasonability, opacity, and “delusion,” pathologized in Mad people was also the locus of creative possibility? In this workshop, we will look to hybrid, experimental, speculative forms of life-storytelling as mentally/psychiatrically disabled people, and in particular, as disabled people who have survived sexual violence.With attention to the ways our experiences defy linear time and consensus “reality”, we will discuss examples of Mad speculative trauma-writing and craft, identifying the techniques and technologies authors use to manage difference, unknowability, and intimacy. We will practice writing our own fragments using the strategies of opacity, fantasy, and concealment we read in others’ texts, with the opportunity to share and process together. Authors we will engage include Johanna Hedva, Akwaeke Emezi, Kai Cheng Thom, and Hannah Weiner.