Inward Toward the Greater Myth

A Poetry & Yoga Retreat by the Ruth Stone House
Description

This 5-day in-person writing retreat will be a collaborative exploration of poetry and consciousness through conversation of craft, workshop critique and daily yoga practice. Our goal will be to reorient exploration of consciousness through soma (body) and psyche (mind). Participants will have dedicated time to read and write, as well as engage in workshop critique of their own and others’ poems, alternating with discussion of theory/craft. Working closely with both poet Bianca Stone, and artist and yoga instructor, Candace Jensen, attendees will gain insight into the powerful relationship between poetic practice and expanding consciousness by investigating personal mythology and symbolism, accessing interiority, dream journaling, and more.

 

Soma: One-hour+ daily yoga and meditation will be an integral part of the retreat content, (no past experience with yoga required!) We will explore these age-old practices of guided meditation, yoga asana, and yoga nidra (yogic sleeping) and to purposefully influence our writing practice. 

 

Psyche: Participants are invited to spend work on personal writing projects based in (or around) poetry. Time for discussion and workshop, as well as intellectually rigorous discussion, will also give way to plenty of time to generate new writing, and to feel, and to rest. 

 

This week will be rigorous yet distinctly playful. On one hand we will be doing the heady work of discussing readings of poetry and theory, and working privately on our written projects–then we will ground back to the body and the experience of ineffable consciousness. Simple! The ambition will be in our ability to relax into these explorations and just get curious. We’re here to explore, not to know. 

 

Preparation: the retreat begins before we convene in Vermont with [one ninety minute zoom meeting] hosted by the faculty. We will introduce the material and each student will share a packet of three poems (or pages) of work for classmates to read and comment on. 

 

Readings:

TBD

 

MORE ON THE THEMES

 

“Myth and metaphor…are not ornaments and artifices tacked on to language but something in the stuff of language and hence of the mind itself. Language is poetry, and a poem is only the resources of language used to the full.” Elizabeth Seawell wrote in The Orphic Voice. If we believe that poetry is the natural state of language–that which articulates consciousness (in mind and body), then what is it that obstructs our poetry? Adam Phillips may posit, via Freud, that it is the superego that thwarts and that soaring poetic self. “Being able to reflect on one’s conscience–being able to look at the voice of conscience from varying point of view–is itself a radical act…” He wrote in “Against Self-Criticism.”

In this wildly ambitious workshop, we will plant the seeds in you for this both shared, and self-investigatory project. Finding a way to better channel that natural psyche state can create a window, or open up a dialogue on the page. Much of the material of our “self” lies outside of, and deeper than, the realm of our conscious thought and intentional creative process. When we read poems we love, isn’t it true that we often “don’t understand” everything? Is it true that we are often paradoxically “too vague” in poems and why do we fear to speak what we think we know–or more to the point: know we know but are uncertain about? What’s the difference between being uncertain, and being confused? How can a conversation with our own unconscious speak to the reader’s unconscious? What does it mean to be intimate with a reader who is not present? How is poetry a relational process, and how is the exploration of self also one of collaboration? 

 

In a way it is about the life-long process of being a poet, not the product of a final Poet self. We learn to listen, get playful; be learn to be brave and stand our own absurdity; to write what is unfamiliar and utterly our own. 

 

And, can we simultaneously increase our capacities on the other side of consciousness; awareness? Becoming more aware of the living beings and complex animacy of the world, including our own bodies. Looking towards embodied consciousness we will be more sensitive to our subtle states of being. 

 

The methods: We reject the Cartesian idea that we are separate beings in a cold indifferent universe, and seek to activate greater consciousness of a vibrant, animate cosmos. We embrace Seawell’s assertion that “The human organism thinks as a whole, and our division of it into mind and body is the result of overemphasis on logic and intellect in near isolation which has led us into so one-sided a view of the activity fo thought, so gross an underestimation of the body’s forms of thought and knowledge.” (TOV., 36)

 

Together we will play and poem. We will look and converse with poets and thinkers who have come before, including: Rilke, Dickinson, Blake– Phillips  the Upanishads, Martin Buber. 

 

Yoga Asana (Hatha yoga flow), meditation and Yoga Nidra (“conscious sleeping”) will be offered in a curated, daily practice to support expansion of consciousness. Appearing in the Upanishads, some of the oldest texts that we have, these systems of Yogic practice and experience are sciences developed to expand consciousness and increase sensitivity. 

  • Yoga Nidra is a deeply restful practice designed to cycle the practitioner through levels of consciousness— this practice releases latent material from the psyche, while also revealing that which sabotages the creative impulse. 
  • Yoga Asana will be both a grounding balm for the headier content (and aching shoulders and cramped hands from writing) and yet will often be both stimulating and provocative. 
  • Guided mediation will support mindfulness, awareness of subtlety, and activate imagination through visualization and conscious use of modification of breath (pranayama).

 

Details:

-Dynamic, collaborative faculty team with experience in poetry workshop, yoga, and retreats

-Peaceful and lush private retreat setting in rural southern Vermont

-Delicious, local catering (allergies and dietary restrictions will be accommodated)

-Daily yoga and meditation (all body types and experience levels are welcome)

-Daily discussion & writing prompts

-Movie night, conversation salons, opportunities to read your work amongst your peers

-Ample time to rest, walk in meadow and woodland,  enjoy the environment

-2000 square foot Art Barn with writing nooks, yurts, workshop space and large yoga-room

-Private yurt for yoga and meditation, and quiet sheltered writing space

-Intimate retreat group limited to 10

-Half hour rom Brattleboro VT and 10 minutes from Bellows Falls, VT  (access to Amtrak)

-Two  hours from Hartford, CT or Burlington, VT (access to international airport)

 

Scholarship subsidies will be made available! Share and contribute to our scholarship campaign today! <Link to give butter>

 

Topics For Discussion:

–Poetry & Consciousness in Rilke’s Elegies

–Defining the Relational

–The senses: gateways to consciousness

–The collective unconscious

–Dream and imagination

–Defense against the Cartesian “old position”

–Layers of embodied consciousness from a Tantric lens

 

Reading Packet — get compiled by May 1st

Required Readings:

-News of the Universe: Poems of Twofold Consciousness

-Rilke’s Duino Elegies

 

–William Blake

–Tracy K Smith

–Emily Dickinson

–John Keats

–Yusef Komunyakaa

–Rilke

–Gaston Bachelard

–I & Thou (Martin Buber)

–Giuseppe Civitareses

–Wanda Coleman

–Franz Wright

–Bion

–Red Pine

–Anne Carson

–Dara Barrois/Dixon

–Carl Jung

–Freud

–Barbara Guest

–Simone Weil 

 Deleuze (Desert Islands essay) 

Packet of readings includes:

Martin Buber

 

Additional packet: Tantra, Yoga & Related (from Candace)

Yoga Nidra

Meditations

Asana

Upanishads

Readings

Myths / Poems 

Moore’s Guest House

Stay with us in our Victorian Inn amid the natural beauty of southeastern Vermont. The inn is located on a knoll overlooking the picturesque Saxtons River. Enjoy sightseeing, browsing, biking, swimming or just relaxing on our grand front porch.

In Situ Polyculture Commons

In Situ Polyculture Commons (ISPC) is a nonprofit arts residency, commons and cultural catalyst located in Southeastern Vermont, on the unceded land of the Elnu Abenaki people.

We champion the meaningful intersection of creativity and ecology.

Our mission is to cultivate creative expression and cultural resilience by supporting the creative lives and wellbeing of artists, build opportunities for making lasting connections and relationships to place and context, and steward diverse and nourishing commons committed to regenerative practices. We also aim to inform, educate and inspire other individuals and organizations to do the same.

Application: 

 

Applicants must submit 5-10 pages of written work, a bio and written artist statement about why this retreat interests them. The success of this week will depend on trust, openness, willingness to engage together, and above all respect and collaborative spirit. We will all be living, eating and working together for 6 days. The house and grounds will provide opportunities to find privacy, but we will also need to be very aware of the close quarters. Please be mindful about these facts! 

Requirements:

  • Applicants are poets and writers with established writing, and/or publishing practices who are exploring poetry and interdisciplinary study. Accredited degrees are not required but candidates should be comfortable and / or interested in academic discussion and writing workshop settings
  • This retreat will require preparatory reading
  • Recommended: some experience with meditation, yoga or committed spiritual practice
  • Two pre-retreat online meetings in June: Sundays (exact dates TBA)

 

Zoom Meeting:

  1. Guided meditation with Candace Jensen-CYT, 500 Hours
  2. Discussion of selected readings materials
  3. Packet of poems/text to be workshopped first drafts sent to Class

-explore initial thoughts on some of the required readings together, experience our first guided meditation, and otherwise prepare for our week retreat. 

 

What to Submit for Application: 

  • 10 pages of poetry or essay hybrid work. PDF preferred. One poem per page, single spaced.
  • Statement of why you would like to participate in this retreat, and how it applies to the poetry/text project you are working on. (2,000 characters, including spaces, punctuation, and individual letters) This narrative will help the us see and understand how you intend to create, expand and engage at the retreat and a vision of your poetic practice.
  • 2 references who can attest to your ability to share space and be a respectful community member

Donations from this page will subsidize tuition for all students and provide scholarships! Help us make this retreat affordable for everyone by sharing the donation form after clicking DONATE above!

Join the mailing list