Hamptons Retreat

Join us for our seventh annual Hamptons retreat the weekend of June 28–July 1, 2019, 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, Shira Erlichman, Jason Koo and Angel Nafis 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 Hometown Bar-B-Que in Red Hook) 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.

For the first time, Brooklyn Poets is offering retreat fellowships to cover the full cost of standard registration for students in need. We strongly encourage writers of color, LGBTQ+ writers, women, indigenous writers, writers with disabilities and writers from other underserved communities to apply. Fellowship applications are due Sunday, March 31. Click here to apply.

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.

Register early by April 8 to take $100 off registration and unlock three installment payments. Register between April 9 and 30 to take $50 off registration and pay in two installments. Register between May 1 and May 15 to pay full price all at once. Members can take $25 off registration and returning students $10 off when it reaches full price.

Standard registration: $895 (by Apr 8) – $945 (by Apr 30) – $995 (by May 15)

Single registration: $1095 (by Apr 8) – $1145 (by Apr 30) – $1195 (by May 15)

Premium single registration: $1145 (by Apr 8) – $1195 (by Apr 30) – $1245 (by May 15)



Retreat Schedule

Friday, June 28

5–8 PM: arrival
7–8 PM: happy hour/introductions
8–9 PM: dinner
9–10 PM: faculty readings

Saturday, June 29

8–9 AM: breakfast

9–10:15: “The Professional Amateur ” / Shira Erlichman

In insecure moments I remember that amateur comes from the French word meaning “lover of.” To be uncertain is to love is to begin. Shunryu Suzuki, author of Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice, says, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.” As art makers, our ego and insecurities can often close the door preemptively on our own artistic investigations. We have to actively cultivate the professional amateur within—the one who is brave, willing to not know, to be unrefined, to explore possibilities and, essentially, to trust. With the understanding that creativity itself is a skill that can be honed, we’ll engage in a variety of exercises, aiming for a radical return to a more innocent mode of perception.

10:30–11:45: “Inching Towards the Ecstatic: Poems that Leap Off the Page”/ Angel Nafis

This workshop will take a closer look at the ecstatic tradition. Often when we think of the ecstatic we associate it with poets like Whitman and Hafiz—we think of the joy, rapture, vision and mysticism that is ever present in their poems, but beyond the potential flatness of joy or the mere foray from the ordinary to the extraordinary. In this class we’ll focus on the way metaphor and image provide a mode for the ecstatic gesture to move away from stasis into revelation. We’ll look at texts by Frank O’Hara, Ross Gay and Aracelis Girmay to explore strategies of figuration, displacement, paradox and juxtaposition, and the music and rhythm integral to the ecstatic experience. Participants will choose their favorite ecstatic devices and create original works utilizing them.

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 30

8–9 AM: breakfast

9–10:15 AM: “The Epiphany” / Natalie Eilbert

“Epiphany” comes from the Greek word epiphainein, meaning “to come suddenly into view.” Poems rely on the epiphanic when the poet is entangled, bereft, clouded, or oversaturated—although the reveal may never shine through. When a poem does arrive at this meridian, all the images and statements around this point become significant. Arrival, then, is about the trouble of getting there. In poetry, we celebrate this circuitous geography. In this class, we’ll read poems by Safia Elhillo, Marcelo Hernandez Castillo and Airea Matthews that gear toward the epiphanic through argument, arrangement and insight. We’ll enlist the help of our surroundings to discover our astonishments. We’ll practice a five-minute guided meditation in the middle of our writing session to see what, of our own thoughts, we can fixate upon.

10:30–11:45 AM: “Spraggle upon Waggle: Listing with Sprawl and Precision”/ Jason Koo

From Christopher Smart’s celebration of his cat Jeoffry in “Jubilate Agno” to Whitman’s epic catalogues in Leaves of Grass to Wislawa Syzmborska’s litany of apologies in “Under One Small Star,” poets have explored the list form as a way to make their poems as expansive, inclusive and symphonic as possible, a space where many disparate things can come together at once. In this class, we’ll examine how these poems, seemingly so easy to write and potentially endless, consist of a subtle mixture of sprawl and precision. In the hands of poets like Smart, Whitman and Symborska, and contemporary poets like Terrance Hayes and Mary Ruefle, a list both organizes and lists in the sense of tilting or deviating. We’ll take a close look at how these poets modulate syntax and line and make use of repetition and variation to create these effects, then try our hand at our own list poems.

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: ’90s hip hop dance party!

Monday, July 1

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