Hamptons Retreat

*Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our 2020 Hamptons Retreat has been cancelled. We hope to reconvene for this retreat again in June of 2021!*

Join us for our eighth annual Hamptons retreat the weekend of June 19–22, 2020, for poetry classes, workshops, readings and conferences in a historic mansion in Amagansett within walking distance of the famous Amagansett ocean beaches as well as the beautiful beaches on Napeague Bay. The 14,000-square-foot house is the largest of the four Devon Colony estates in Amagansett, built as grand summer homes in 1909. The highest point for miles in either direction, with ocean and bay views, the house has seventeen bedrooms and seven bathrooms, a pool and hot tub, tennis court and game room, and is just a short car ride from East Hampton and Montauk and the Pollock-Krasner House in Springs. Check out photos from last year’s retreat here.

Faculty members Natalie Eilbert, Marwa Helal, Tyehimba Jess and Jason Koo will lead morning poetry classes on Saturday and Sunday devoted to writing new material and afternoon workshops providing feedback on previously written work. Students and faculty will share their work in evening poetry readings on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. On Monday, students will meet with a faculty member individually for a conference on their work.

Registration covers tuition, room and board for the entire weekend. Poet-Chef Timothée Gerber-Fleury (of Red Hook Tavern) will prepare our delicious home-cooked meals. See the full retreat menu here. Standard registration includes lodging with one or two roommates in a large bedroom—you can register with friends or we can arrange a roommate (or two) for you. Single registration comes with a private bedroom; premium single registration comes with a larger private bedroom and a larger bed. Volunteer to help in the kitchen and with clean-up to knock $100 off registration. Let us know your rooming preferences and any dietary restrictions you might have on the registration form, and let us know if you’d like to volunteer.

If you’re in need of financial aid, we’re offering four retreat fellowships this year to cover the full cost of standard registration. We strongly encourage writers of color, LGBTQ+ writers, women writers, indigenous writers, writers with disabilities and writers from other underserved communities to apply. Fellowship applications are due Sunday, March 29. Click here to apply.

Standard registration: $895

Single registration: $1045

Premium single registration: $1095

To get to the retreat, take the LIRR (train) or Hampton Jitney (bus) to Amagansett; if you’re driving, take the Sunrise Highway (NY-27 E) to Oceanview Lane in Amagansett. More detailed information is available upon registration.


Retreat Schedule

Friday, June 19

4–7 PM: arrival
7–8 PM: happy hour/introductions
8–9 PM: dinner
9–10 PM: faculty readings

Saturday, June 20

8–9 AM: breakfast

9–10:15: “The Vocative” / Natalie Eilbert

Whether we hear the poem as an argument, a communion, a dialogue or a spell, someone or something is fixed on the other side of the language. “Vocative” comes from the Middle French meaning “showing the person or thing spoken to.” In this generative writing session, we’ll train our energies and lexicons on someone or something living, dead or having never existed (interpret this last one widely), in an effort to reveal the person or thing to whom or to which we are calling. We’ll read poems by Lucie Brock-Broido, TC Tolbert and Angel Nafis, who demonstrate in their verse rich extensions of self and their numinous others. Writing exercises will be braided throughout the seminar, as we envision, list and derive a means of speaking towards someone or something. We’ll end with a discussion of the role audience plays in such incantations and share some of what we wrote throughout the session.

10:30–11:45 AM: “Poem as Party: Inviting People into Your Poems” / Jason Koo

Writing poetry, as we all know, is a solitary activity, but spending too much time alone can lead to some pretty solipsistic poems. Too often we leave people out of our poems as we write almost by default about ourselves. One of the benefits of a writing retreat is that we’re forced to leave our shells as poets and connect with other people, writing and reading alongside each other. In this class, we’ll read and discuss poems in which people form part of the necessary creative fabric of the poet’s life. We’ll look at poems by poets such as Frank O’Hara, James Schuyler, Aracelis Girmay, Jessica Greenbaum, Morgan Parker and Tommy Pico as we write our own poems inhabited by the people in our lives.

11:45 AM–3:30 PM: writing/rec time
1–2 PM: lunch
3:30–5:30 PM: small-group manuscript workshops
5:30–7 PM: rec time/happy hour
7–8 PM: dinner
8–9 PM: student readings

Sunday, June 21

8–9 AM: breakfast

9–10:15 AM: “The Art of the Lyric Essay” / Marwa Helal

Through a close reading of Eula Biss’s “Letter to Mexico,” we’ll retrace the mini-forms and structures that make up an exemplary lyric essay and discuss what makes it so. Students will be guided through collage-based prompts as we blur the lines of genre and explore poetic techniques that help us achieve the highest potential relationship between form and content. Supplementary readings will include work by Anne Carson and Hanif Abdurraqib.

10:30–11:45: “The Ethics of Historical Research in Poetry”/ Tyehimba Jess

During this class, we’ll discuss the role of history in American poetry and the ethical responsibility of writers to study their personal and collective histories. We’ll also discuss and explore the role of cultural institutions and practices in creating compelling, distinctive poems. Each participant will be asked to bring one picture, article or song with them, and during the session everyone will create a poem that interrogates history and their identity using these historical documents.

11:45 AM–3:30 PM: writing/rec time
1–2 PM: lunch
3:30–5:30 PM: small-group manuscript workshops
5:30–7 PM: rec time/happy hr
7–8 PM: dinner
8–9 PM: student readings
9:30 PM–11:30 PM: dance party!

Monday, June 22

9–10 AM: breakfast
10–11 AM: 1st round of student-teacher conferences
11:15 AM–12:15 PM: 2nd round of student-teacher conferences
12:30–1:30 PM: 3rd round of student-teacher conferences
10 AM–1:30 PM: writing/rec time for students not conferencing
1:30–2:30 PM: lunch
2:30–4 PM: departure