November 2014

Amherst Writers & Artists

November 2014
Amherst Writers & Artists Newsletter
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Birch Bark by Maureen Buchanan Jones
Image Credit: Maureen Buchanan Jones

Dear AWA Friends,

Even the wind and trees write with us and share their lines. The word inspired comes from the Latin: inspirare. It means: To breathe. A birch tree etches itself on bark. The bark peels away like a sheet of paper. The wind carries it to us. The lines have been breathed into. When we write, we are breathed into, by our imaginings, by what is around us, by what we remember. We are inspired as November strips the leaves and stirs the branches in the northern hemisphere. November is novel month, the month of thirty poems in thirty days, the month of accepting less sun. It’s a time for gathering together for thanks in the U.S., so we extend our writing hands to everyone in a clasp that is filled with enormous awareness that we owe gratitude to each of you. You are Amherst Writers & Artists especially as you listen with respect to the words of others.

Here in the office, we have concluded the 2014 Training Program. This year AWA traveled from Malibu, California; to Mebane, North Carolina; to Ossining, New York; to Chicago, Illinois; to Scarborough, Ontario. All the miles were worth it. The AWA Workshop Method is not only finding its way into more corners of the planet, it is being heralded by people who understand how writing and listening to each other can transform how we know ourselves and each other. We are incredibly thankful to the 60 people who took a week out of busy lives to join us in learning how to create a workshop that really works. Registration for the 2015 Training Program is open. Please see the article below for details.

Registration for the 2015 AWA Conference will open on December 8th. We invite all those who have been trained in the AWA Method to join us May 2 & 3, 2015, in South Hadley, Massachusetts. This is the first time the AWA community will collect itself to honor its founder and celebrate over 30 years of dedication and vision by all those who have worked to keep the AWA flame bright. Some of our most inspired workshop leaders will offer sessions to support us in our work. Details are below and on the AWA website.

The global village can be daunting, and shortened days can make us feel our humanity more clearly. In these past months I have witnessed writers reaching far within and beyond themselves. I have witnessed a shared breathing that gives me hope.

With respect and gratitude,
Maureen Buchanan Jones
Executive Director


Valley Gives: Donate on December 10th!

We are excited to share with you the news that this year we are participating in the third Valley Gives Day, scheduled for December 10, 2014.

Mark Your Calendars to Donate on December 10th!Valley Gives is an innovative online fundraising event that encourages individuals to donate as much money as possible in support of their favorite charities in just 24 hours. Hosted by the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, it garnered $1 million in donations in its first year, 2012, and in 2013, doubled results to over $2 million dollars raised in 24 hours. The goal this year is to attract 20,000 donors and raise over $2 million to support vital charitable services.

Valley Gives supports the fundraising efforts of smaller non-profits like AWA by offering prizes throughout the day for donor engagement, totaling as much as $225,000. This means your donation counts for more, and can have a large financial impact, increasing what AWA can accomplish. The money we raise will support our trainings and expand the amount of financial aid we are able to offer low-income trainees. It will assist us in building a more robust community for trained workshop leaders: providing access to resources, a sense of connection, and continuing education. It will help us further establish a new program offering micro-grants to outreach organizations leading AWA-method workshops.

We want AWA-method workshops to be led in places as multiple and diverse as we can imagine: classrooms, hospitals, prisons. We want those who write together to hear, perhaps for the very first time, the message that they have a strong, unique voice and that whatever their background, they are capable of using words to create art. We know that many of you share this vision.

Please consider supporting us on Valley Gives day or scheduling a donation ahead of time (this is possible starting December 1st) to occur on the 10th. If you aren't able to give financially, sharing our donation page or news of our participation in Valley Gives with your friends and social networks is also a hugely influential way to further our work.


AWA Conference Updates: Registration Opens on Dec. 8th

More information about the AWA Conference is up on our website!

If you are a trained workshop leader, please go check out the list of offered sessions and information about their leaders. Many remain the same, but there have been a few additions and subtractions. If you find yourself excitedly planning which sessions you'd like to attend, make note of that information because registration is opening on December 8th.

There will also be a new Keynote Speaker: Bisi Ideraabdullah, founder and Executive Director of Imani House. In addition, she is the founder and leader of Women of Color Writers' Workshop in Brooklyn, NY.

To be informed about conference news, please connect with us on Facebook or Twitter and please contact us if the email to which you'd like us to send newsletters is changing.


Training Updates: 2015 Schedule Complete, Registration Open

Last week we completed the final training of 2014 in the snowy province of Ontario, Canada. It was a wonderful experience--all involved left with deepened skills and insight into the AWA method and its applications. We are proud to welcome this talented group into our community of trained writing workshop leaders.

Group Trained November 2014 in Scarboro, ON

From left to right, top (instructors in italics): Zoe Purdy, Christine Barbetta, Alex Cafarelli, Maureen Buchanan Jones; Middle row: Christine Kelly, Anna Gersman, Deepam Wadd, Laurel Karry, Sue Reynolds, Susan Turk; Bottom row: Catherine Rees, Vicki Pinkerton, Kate Marshall Flaherty, James Dewar, Janis McCallen


The application and registration process is now open for our 2015 Training Sessions. If you haven't been trained and would like to join our community of workshop leaders, you can 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 Classifieds

Your writing news here. AWA Affiliates are invited to email us 50-word announcements of writing-related news for inclusion in our Affiliate Classifieds. Each Affiliate may share news in four newsletters a year. Please take advantage of this space and help us showcase your brilliance! To do so, send an email with your 50 words to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .



"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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