Writing Workshops, Retreats, Mentoring

Poetry Sanctuary

Poetry Sanctuary is a full day retreat, facilitated by James, that includes a short lesson on a specific aspect of the craft of poetry, writing prompts to inspire participants to practice these aspects (producing at least 2 or 3 new poems) and silent time for writing and/or revision.

Participants also have the opportunity to share their work in group readings and receive private feedback from James if they choose that option.

The objectives are to learn something new about the craft of writing poetry, write new poems, work on revision, and share poetry together in a welcoming and inclusive group setting.

The Poetry Sanctuary day looks like this:
10:00: Participants gather together, get comfortable and introduce themselves.
James reads the monthly POEM ON CHAIR. (always a fun and clever poem to lure the muses out.)
The guidelines for working in silence and the Practice of Feedback are discussed.
James leads a poetry lesson for about an hour. Some of the topics covered in previous retreats have included:

  • Designing Titles
  • Creating Tone in Poems
  • Endings – How Do You Know When a Poem is Finished?
  • Creating Immediacy in Poems
  • Maintaining a Workable Submission Practice
  • Poetry of Place
  • Dreaded Associations
  • Finding the Centre of a Poem
  • Long-Armed Poems
  • Assonance and Mood
  • Revision Using Interpoesie
  • Odes
  • Prose Poems
  • The Turn
  • Tenor and Vehicle
  • Sound and Movement
  • Points of View

Following the lesson, a series of Writing Prompts are presented. Participants write new poems (usually 2 or 3) and then share one of their new poems if they wish. (Reading aloud is never mandatory)
At 1:00 we break for a delicious lunch. (presented by the extraordinary Sue Reynolds)

From 2:00 to 4:00 everyone writes in silence. Participants may work on the new pieces written that day or write new poems, even bring poems from home to work on.
During this same timeframe James meets with participants, one-on-one, to provide a 10 minute personalized feedback on a poem they emailed him a few days before the Poetry Sanctuary. This feature is included in the price.
At 4:00 participants gather together and share poems. This could be either a new poem written during the day of the retreat, or another poem further along in the revision process. Participants will indicate the form of feedback that they wish to receive, from reflections on the strengths of the poem, to analysis and suggestions for revision. Reading is not mandatory.


Uplands is located in a beautiful, secluded valley on the Oak Ridges Moraine only twenty minutes north of Whitby, and less than an hour’s drive from downtown Toronto.

Please visit our Uplands page for more information.

FALL 2018

September 8 – Saturday (sold out)
September 27 – Thursday (fully booked – wait list open)
October 14 – Sunday (fully booked – wait list open)
November 3 – Saturday (fully booked – wait list open)
November 21 – Wednesday (3 spots left)
December 9 – Sunday (1 spot left)

Enrollment is limited to 8 people. Cost: $99.00 (includes HST)

CLICK HERE to be taken to the Registration Page

Celebrating our 10th Year!

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