Monday, June 04, 2007

Jun 29 to Jul 1: Two night poetry retreat on Bowen Island

Richard Osler sends this. If you think you might be interested, please contact him right away as he needs to determine if there might be enough potential participants to carpe this particular diem.

“Poetry, for me, is a way to converse with my experience of raw, complex reality in the midst of all the rationalizations I use to try to understand it. It is really a response to a call, and a calling out. It is a way of making noise to keep the bears away, of speaking to the deep spirit of cow dung and snotty babies, of arguing with her, singing in the dark, trying to out-shout the yapping, yowling all night-dogs outside my hotel window, calling the light, demanding her ministrations, until finally she comes and I awake, exhausted, nervous, and full of hope, for another day.” David Waltner-Toews.

No longer shy, feet crossed in nervousness, finger nails chewed to the quick, Summer
has arrived, full-bodied, hips swinging as she walks, struts across the long-grassed lawn.
Do I stay here inside peering out or (was that a wink) join her on that promising lawn.

I think I will join Summer out on that lawn! but before I do I wanted to throw out an idea for a different way of welcoming Summer this year.

There is a good chance that Rivendell Retreat Centre ( here on Bowen might have enough rooms available for Friday and Saturday night of the July long weekend to make possible a poetry reading and writing retreat. Not just any old retreat but one that could be a feast of community, words and contemplative reflection. Rivendell sits on the top of Cates Hill on Bowen affording a panoramic view of Bowen, Howe Sound and the North Shore Mountains.

Here’s the opportunity. The group that was looking to take up the 12 or so first-class rooms is having a struggle filling them. I have agreed to be the back up if that group cancels. There is a strong liklihood they will.

If I can gather up to 10 of us I think we would have a great chance of grabbing this incredible facility and enjoying a time of great fellowship and poetic exploration.

Weekend Structure. We would start with dinner on Friday and a one and a half hour session on Friday night. Using the words of some of the outstanding poets of the past century as a way to trigger our own thoughts and words we would begin to write.
We would continue this journey through a morning and evening session on Saturday and a final time together on Sunday morning. Retreatants could be on the 12:35 ferry off Bowen. We would prepare our meals together and have lots of down time for writing, walking and great conversations.

Retreat facilitator. That would be me, Richard Osler. I am a poet and semi-retired businessman living and working here on Bowen. I hosted and facilitated a successful weekend retreat at Rivendell among 16 participants this past January. Using poetry as the prod for an exhilarating plunge unto our own words the retreat fished out memorable words, lines and poems for all of to feast on. So much so I would love to do it again! Since that retreat I have led a number of morning workshops at a recovery centre on Bowen, again using poems as way to open others to the great wonder of discovering a conversation with the selves of the self they may have never known was possible.

Cost. As cheap as possible. The cost of the rooms at Rivendell is by way of donation with a suggested range of $20 to $50 per night. Since we will be preparing our own food it should be no more then $100 per person. For those who live close by or on Bowen we will ask one or two people per meal to bring and prepare a meal. Including facilitation and organization fee, food and accommodation the cost should not exceed $250 per person and could be as low as $190 per person. The idea is to make it as low as possible! The return ferry cost to Bowen (car and driver) is $22.40. Foot passenger : $7.10.

Who should come? Anyone who has a pen! Whether you are an accomplished poet or accomplished in the art of living this time will be for you: safe, yet as challenging as you choose, invigorating and life giving.

Who to Contact: Email or phone Richard Osler ( or 604 947 2247.

Response Time. ASAP! Since I only heard about this opportunity on Friday! I would like to get a fast sense as to whether or not there is enough interest at this late date to try and make a go of this!

“Most people…think that writing means writing down ideas, insights, visions. They feel that they must first have something to say before they can put it on paper. For them writing is little more than recording a pre-existent thought. But with this approach true writing is impossible. Writing is a process in which we discover what lives in us. The writing itself reveals what is alive…The deepest satisfaction of writing is precisely that it opens up new spaces within us of which we were not aware before we started to write. To write is to embark on a journey whose final destination we do not know. Thus, writing requires a real act of trust. We have to say to ourselves, ‘I do not yet know what I carry in my heart, but I trust that it will emerge as I write.’ Writing is like giving away the few loaves and fishes one has, trusting that they will multiply in the giving. Once we dare “to give” away on paper the few thoughts that come to us, we start discovering how much is hidden underneath…and gradually come in touch with our own riches.” Henri Noewen

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