January 2015

Amherst Writers & Artists

January 2015
Amherst Writers & Artists Newsletter
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Fence by Maureen Buchanan Jones
Image Credit: Maureen Buchanan Jones

Dear AWA Friends,

Robert Frost wrote “Good fences, make good neighbors,” and the interpretation of this line is often to agree with the voice of the narrator in making fun of the neighbor who walks the wall like “an old-stone savage armed.” We want to believe that we don’t need fences to understand one another. But the AWA method is about boundaries when we listen to each other, respecting just-written work and knowing it requires delicate attention. Careful and clear fences do make good neighbors. The same idea is true in the community of workshop leaders. We support each other as we build our small communities and do our best to link them one to another. We don’t pull workshop members from other’s workshops, knowing there are enough writers to fill our circles, and recommending each other for the needs of individual writers. We are neighbors, not walling in or walling out. We are writers, allowing the freedom of our memories and imagination to be the “ground-swell” that “spills the upper boulders in the sun.”

This new year brings excitement and anticipation to AWA. Our first-ever conference will be held May 2 & 3, 2015, in South Hadley, Massachusetts, just 20 minutes from where AWA began in Amherst. AWA-trained workshop leaders will gather and participate in 16 sessions focused on honing writing and workshop leadership skills. Over 32 session leaders will bring their experiences and expertise to share. Bisi Ideraabdullah, long-standing workshop leader, AWA Board member, and the founder of Imani House, will give the keynote address. On Saturday evening, May 3, the Founder’s Dinner will host Pat Schneider to talk to us about 30 years of leading workshops and a lifetime of writing. If you haven’t registered, now is the time!

AWA is leading five trainings this year around the U.S. and Canada. AWA Press is offering the fifth annual Pat Schneider Poetry Contest, with a $1,000 1st place prize. A double issue of Peregrine will be published and ready for sale online and at the May conference. The AWA website will undergo a thorough re-design with the goal of providing a more welcoming, efficient and robust representation of the AWA community. We want it to serve your needs.

We have also increased our staffing this past year. Joining me and the inimitable Katie Frank is Emily Savin. Katie and Emily are committed to the essence of what AWA stands for and bring this passion to the smallest tasks necessary to manage the global throng that AWA has become. We are beyond lucky to have their skills and vision.

A good fence is one that establishes a safe border and allows us to lean across and grasp hands. The AWA method has taught me how precious it is to do this work together.

With gratitude and respect,
Maureen Buchanan Jones
Executive Director


AWA Conference Updates: Keynote, Founder Information

AWA Conference registration is open! We've also continued to update Conference information on our website. Please read on to discover what's new or visit the Conference section of the site to explore for yourself.

If you are interested to learn more about Keynote Speaker, Bisi Ideraabdullah, and her accomplishments with Imani House and Women of Color Writers' Workshop in Brooklyn, NY, read her in-depth bio on our website. We also addedmore information about AWA founder Pat Schneider and her offering for the Founder's Dinner on May 2nd. The dinner, from 6 - 8 p.m. at the Willits-Hallowell Conference Center, is a fundraising event open to the public. It is registered for separately from the AWA Conference.

We also added an event to Saturday night: an all-community Open Mic, beginning after the Founder's Dinner. We view the event as an opportunity to honor one of AWA's central tenets, that each person has a strong and unique voice, and to celebrate the quality of work produced in AWA-method workshops. For more info, see the Schedule on the AWA Conference website.

To be informed about conference news, please connect with us on Facebook or Twitter and please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  if the email to which you'd like us to send newsletters is changing.


Training Updates: Registering Now for 2015

Our first Training Session of 2015, taking place from March 23 - 25 at Serra Retreat Center in Malibu, California, is filling up quickly!

If you'd like to be a part of this training, please read on for information about how to apply and do so as soon as you can.


The application and registration process is now open for our 2015 Training Sessions. If you would like to join our community of workshop leaders, begin the application process online by visiting the Trainings Schedule on our website. Or, to apply offline, visit our website, download and print the 2015 Application, and send it with the $300 deposit to:

Amherst Writers & Artists
PO Box 1076
Amherst, MA 01004

For questions about the application process or any of the trainings, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . We look forward to hearing from you!

AWA Workshop Group Leadership Trainings in 2015

AWA Training Session: March 23- 25 2015 in Malibu, CAMarch 23 - 27

Serra Retreat
Malibu, CA

AWA Training Session: May 30 - June 3, 2015 in Philadelphia, PAMay 30 - June 3

Pendle Hill
Wallingford, PA

AWA Training Session: July 22 - 26, 2015 in Mono, Ontario, CanadaJuly 22 - 26

Ecology Retreat Centre
Mono, Ontario, Canada

AWA Training Session: September 9 - 13, 2015 in Chicago, ILSeptember 9 - 13

Cenacle Sisters
Chicago, IL

AWA Training Session: November 15 - 19, 2015 in Loranger, LANovember 15 - 19

Solomon Episcopal
Loranger, LA


Affiliate Dues for 2015

For all AWA-Certified Workshop Leaders, it is time to pay the annual dues of $175 USD.

These dues entitle you to call yourself an AWA Affiliate, which means that you are actively supporting the organization through displaying the AWA Affiliate Logo on all promotional materials. By doings so, you are aligning yourself with an internationally recognized organization that brings the AWA Method to writers around the globe. In return, AWA offers you a dynamic presence on its website, reduced fees for all AWA events, and a 50-word classified ad four times a year in the AWA Newsletter. We are in the process of re-designing the AWA website to allow further access and promotion for all Affiliates, Chapters and associated non-profits. Please join us.

Dues can be paid through Paypal on the AWA website.

Dues can also be paid by check to:
Amherst Writers & Artists
P. O. Box 1076
Amherst MA 01004

Thank you! Your dues ensure that AWA can continue to bring the AWA Method to those who are seldom heard, as well as support you as a workshop leader and writer.


Founder's News


March 6 – 8, 2015
Friday 4 – 7, Saturday 8 – 8, Sunday 8 – 1

22 Kings Highway
Rowe, MA
413 339 4954
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

A weekend-long poetry retreat

There will be exercises ranging from free-writes to sonnets. You’ll gain new tools that will help you grow as a poet — and to live as one, learning how to navigate the world of publishing as well as how to manage your creative life. Meals included.


Affiliate Classifieds


AWA Affiliate & Executive Director Maureen Buchanan Jones is leading a workshop in Manhattan on Febuary 21st. There will be two, 3-hour sessions, morning and afternoon, with both sessions devoted to generating new work. The morning will include a focus on poetry, the afternoon a focus on prose. More information available here.


"Writing as an art form belongs to all people, regardless of economic class or educational level. . . . A writer is someone who writes."

-Pat Schneider


A Gift of Inspiration

Who is your favorite AWA writer? Someone in your workshop? Someone whose voice stays with you? Show appreciation to your favorite writer by donating $20 to AWA in her or his name. They will receive a card informing them of your donation and the knowledge that AWA continues its mission around the world.

To date, dozens of AWA writers have received this note of praise for their work. Choose your writer and let them know that they inspire you!



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