Maria, Laura, and Writing Your Way Home

I am back from the writers' retreat!

The Salem Writers Group, Danielle Jones-Pruett behind the camera

This is the third year I've attended the winter session of Writing Your Way Home, an intensive poetry writing workshop run by Maria Mazziotti Gillan and Laura Boss. This year, there were eight of us for the weekend, about 30 of us in attendance. The Massachusetts contingent was deep! We had a terrific time, and I wrote seven poem drafts.


On our way down to NJ, we passed by Newtown, CT, where the school shootings occurred. As we passed the exit on Friday--hours after it happened--there was traffic, police, and sirens in the distance. We mostly stayed away from TV images, but we had laptops. It was all the talk in the hallways. The tragedy entered our hearts and entered our poems. We looked for comfort in the poetry of others--Lucille Clifton, Bob Hicok, Yusef Komunayakaa--and discussed how they were able to capture some aspect of how to feel. I am thankful that we mostly stayed away from the news or we wouldn't have gotten anything done.

On our return, we passed by the airport as the president's plane touched down for the memorial service. There was just a sadness in the air.


Kevin Carey showed his documentary about Maria Gillan, co-directed by Mark Hillringhouse with music by Bob Evans. The film, called All That Lies Between Us, has footage from last year's retreat so it was nice to see some of those past moments caught on film, as well as celebrating Maria's lifetime body of work.

We will show Kevin's film at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival on Saturday, May 4.


We laughed a lot, read poems in a round at the evening poetry readings, sang songs on Saturday night with guitar accompaniment by Bob Evans, and talked about our hopes for our poetry. We went into The Cave and brought back drafts we will revise in the days and weeks to come. It was just what I needed to slog off any doubts or fears I have about my writing and to keep moving forward.


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