May 5-7, 2023 — The Persona Poem: Allowing Our Many Voices to Speak

What is the subject matter you haven’t claimed? Writing persona poems extends our range of subjects and allows us to approach difficult material and subject matter through voices both fictional and historical, not to mention those of animals, birds, and elements of nature.

Throughout this weekend retreat, we will use some of the techniques of character development to invent fictional personas that we will turn into poems. We will travel through time and place and into the bodies of animals. We will read persona poems by Patricia Smith, Natasha Tretheway, Carol Anne Duffy, Margaret Atwood, Charles Simic, Sylvia Plath and others. We will write and share poems that explore many perspectives and voices.

Join facilitator Katherine Smith at RWC for a weekend of workshops, home-cooked meals, and plenty of time for relaxation and writing. We can’t wait to see you here!


Cost: $450.00 per person (includes 2 nights in a private suite, 5 meals, snacks, 5 workshops, and plenty of private time for writing)

Date: Friday, May 5, 2023 (Check-in: 4:00-6:00 pm) to Sunday, May 7, 2023 (Check-out: 11:00 am)

Place: Rockvale Writers’ Colony, 6994 Giles Hill Road, College Grove, TN


The Schedule (tentative)

Friday, May 5, 2023

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: Why the Persona Poem?  Speaking in the Tongues of Animals, Weather, and Trees

9:00 p.m. – Free Time / Bedtime

Saturday, May 6, 2023

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: Using Fictional Techniques to Develop Your Persona as a Character

9:45 a.m. – Free Time for Writing

12:00 p.m. – Lunch

1:00 p.m. – Writing Workshop: Using Photographs

6:00 p.m. – Dinner

7:00 p.m. – Writing Workshop: Your Persona’s World: Historical Figures and Setting

8:30 p.m. – Reading/Share Your Writing
An opportunity to share and read your writing. Sharing is optional, but we do ask that you attend to support your fellow workshoppers!

10:00 p.m. – Free Time / Bedtime

Sunday, May 7, 2023

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: The Series: Develop One of your Persona Poems into a Series

9:45 a.m. – Free Time for Writing

11:00 a.m. – Checkout and Goodbye



Retreat Facilitator: Katherine Smith

Katherine Smith’s recent poetry publications include appearances in BoulevardNorth American Review, Ploughshares, Mezzo CamminCincinnati Review, Missouri Review, Southern Review, and many other journals. Her short fiction has appeared in Fiction International and Gargoyle. Her first book Argument by Design (Washington Writers’ Publishing House) appeared in 2003. Her second book of poems Woman Alone on the Mountain (Iris Press), appeared in 2014. Her third book, Secret City, appeared with Madville Press in August 2022. She works at Montgomery College in Maryland where she is poetry editor of the Potomac Review.


Please note the following due dates and refund policy:

• $100.00 non-refundable deposit due upon registering.
• $350.00 balance due one month before retreat start date (April 7, 2023)
• If cancellation by retreater occurs 2 weeks to 1 month before retreat (April 7 to April 21, 2023)– refund is 50% of the balance owed.
• If cancellation by retreater occurs less than 2 weeks before retreat (April 22 to May 5, 2023) – no refund
• If RWC cancels the retreat for any reason, full refunds will be provided to all retreaters.