October 4-6, 2024 – Creative Attention: Invitational Play & Practice for Writers

“…And you, too, have come into the world to do this:
to go easy, to be filled with light, and to shine.”

-Mary Oliver, from When I Am Among the Trees

Good writing—the kind that feels good, the kind that flows—comes less when we call it and more when we invite it. A powerful way to invite is to step back from our plans, our goals, even from the work itself, and just to give our attention back: to our practice, to our inspirations, to others’ work, to the people and places and objects we encounter. I experience this kind of creative attention as a grounding, restorative, deeply sacred act—and an act of play.

Play is anything we do with no intent to accomplish, to profit, or even to learn, but rather for pure openness, connection, and enjoyment. Play and attentive listening both teach us to let go of our attachment to outcomes, and to go easy. And though this is not the goal, it is the truth: when we make space for play and attention in our lives, composition tends to flow more freely.

This weekend retreat will invite you into invitational practices that focus on depth and slowness, physical presence, and a little bit of whimsy and serendipity. When we look at others’ writing, we will do so through the lens of poetry, but you do not need to be a poet or plan to write poetry during this retreat. (Though you may, of course!) Bring your curiosity and join us for a fun and restorative weekend.


  • Place: Rockvale Writers’ Colony, 6994 Giles Hill Road, College Grove, TN
  • Time and Date: 4:00 p.m. Friday, October 4 to 11:00 a.m. Sunday, October 6, 2024
  • Cost: $425.00 plus tax. A $150.00 non-refundable deposit is due upon registration. The balance is due by September 13, 2024.
  • Includes: 2 nights in a private bedroom/bathroom suite, access to RWC common areas, gardens, and hiking trails, 5 meals with wine at dinner, 4 workshops, and community with other writers.

The Schedule (tentative)

Friday, October 4, 2024

4:00 to 6:00 p.m. – Check-in and settle in. We’ll show you to your assigned room.
6:00 p.m. – Dinner
7:00 p.m. – Welcome and Overview of Retreat
7:15 p.m. – Writing Workshop: Savor the Sparkling Phrase
Encounter the practice of Florilegia in community, and meet this weekend’s suggested project. We’ll close our evening contemplatively with an exercise in deep listening.
9:00 p.m. – Free Time / Bedtime

Saturday, October 5, 2024

6:30 a.m. – Coffee Ready!
7:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – Breakfast is available. Come anytime you’re ready.
8:30 a.m. – Writing Workshop: Natural Attention
We’ll meet to discuss practices of attention and play in nature, then we’ll go out and try them—and/or create our own! We’ll come back together to share what’s come up for us, before breaking for lunch.
9:45 a.m. – Free Time for Writing
12:00 p.m. – Lunch
1:00 p.m. – Free Time for Writing
6:00 p.m. – Dinner
7:00 p.m. – Writing Workshop: Sacred Listening
Our afternoon session invites us to deeply encounter poems, each other, silence as a member of our group, and our own inner teachers.
8:30 p.m. – Reading / Share Your Writing – Sharing is optional; however, we ask that you attend whether you read or not, in order to support other writers.
10:00 p.m. – Free Time / Bedtime

6:30 a.m. – Coffee Ready!
7:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – Breakfast is available. Come anytime you’re ready.
8:30 a.m. – Writing Workshop: Playing with Words
In our final session, we’ll play with “collecting” a poem (or a prose paragraph, or a piece of flash fiction, if you like), and we’ll have time to reflect on our weekend projects, and share them if we like.
9:45 a.m. – Free Time for Writing
11:00 a.m. – Checkout and Goodbye

Facilitator: Tara Shepersky

Tara K. Shepersky is a contemplative walker, writer, photographer, and hand-writing enthusiast. Her books are Tell the Turning (2021) and Serpentine (2023), both illustrated collections of poems published by Bored Wolves Press. Her poems and essays have appeared in many publications, including Orion and The Christian Century. Tara wanders the west coast of the United States, but she’s pleased to be returning to Rockvale, where she spent a wonderful and fruitful residency in 2018.

Please note the following due dates and refund policy:

  • Fee: $425.00 PLUS TAX
  • $150.00 non-refundable deposit due upon registering.
  • Balance due three weeks before retreat start date (September 13, 2024)
  • If cancellation by retreater occurs more than 2 weeks before retreat (on or before September 20, 2024) – refund will be 50% of the balance.
  • If cancellation by retreater occurs less than 2 weeks before retreat (after September 20, 2024) – no refund
  • If RWC cancels the retreat for any reason, full refunds will be provided to all retreaters.