Retreat for Artists and Writers

Posted On Nov 21 2017 by

A Multi-Disciplinary Retreat in the Desert

The Joshua Tree Experiential Arts & Writing Retreat unfolded like a contact dance. It just ended this Sunday around 3pm, and driving home into the pink sunset there was a lot to absorb. The workshop series/retreat grew from a dream I had to do a writing retreat in the desert around a campfire. Sean Negus helped me manifest and shape this dream into something real, and he challenged me to ground my reckless desire in research. We wanted the retreat to be interdisciplinary since we both feel nourished by our friendships with musicians, visual artists, filmmakers, and photographers, and because we work in multiple mediums ourselves (though poetry is definitely where my experience is most grounded). I am excited for next year and nervous as I consider how to recreate such a magical experience. Everything went as planned, and from this experience, I have a better sense of what the retreat is about, who it is for, and also who (gulp) it may not be for. The next step is gathering submissions from our retreatants to construct our annual commemorative anthology. Below I have some photos for you of the weekend. But first, here is a poem I wrote during Sean’s Engaging the Web workshop:

Mustard red embrace between the rocks
I am the branch’s jewel in boot-high shrubs
Less colorful rocks vye for my attention and drown
Refusing to level, gown of spikes
How emphatically bushes point in my direction
toward destiny, rotate at the base


mural before getting to retreat
mural of joshua tree
bush in moody lighting
tree at mojave stars ranch
before first day workshops
breakfast for retreatants
sunrise through smudgy window
sun through window
low, sage green shrub
shrub on premises
half of sean's face
sean and the vista
morning selfie
morning portrait in the desert sun
Matt in the morning before workshops
Matt Sherling “The Banana Judge”
L.I. Henley's first living room reading
L.I. Henley reading in our living room
cigarette break
Sean and Matt after day 2 workshops
Sunset at rock mounds at joshua tree
sunset at 49 Palms Oasis after rock and web workshops
Kitchen at mojave stars ranch
Retreatants making breakfast together
hiking on day 2 for workshops
Hiking 49 Palms Oasis for workshops
Lily Tran at 49 Palms Oasis
Lily Tran looking into her camera
post-retreat drinks at local bar
Suzanne Im and Matt Sherling at local bar after the retreat
Group shot on the last day of workshops
Group Shot during Wabi Sabi workshop
workshops at 49 palms oasis
Matt Sherling writing on a rock during geologic forms as muse
using torch to burn our intentions
lighting our intentions on fire
Commun(e)ication workshop with Sean
My cultural artifact from Sean Negus’s Ontopoetics and Dialoguing with Place workshop: a mylar balloon
Sean and sage at final workshop
Sean Negus performing a final saging at the closing ceremony
me with my cultural artifact
Trespassing an abandoned homestead during Commun(e)ication workshop
hiking 49 Palms Oasis
Matt Sherling’s green socks @ 49 Palms Oasis
Suzanne and John Im's doggie
Quinoa, The only dog participant at the retreat! Props!
getting a drink at a local bar after the retreat
Matt Sherling and John Im waxing poetic after the retreat

Last Updated on: November 21st, 2017 at 5:07 pm, by Ariel

Written by Ariel