Hello Writers,

I’ve decided to take poet Mary Oliver’s advice and “be idle and blessed” this summer. I’m taking the summer off to recharge my creative batteries and enjoy time and travel with friends and family.

The reference to “idle and blessed” is from “The Summer Day,” a beloved poem famous for its last line: ‘Tell me, what is it you plan to do/with your one wild and precious life?” A while ago, I had the privilege of singing this poem set to music, surrounded by the hundred voices of Aurora Chorus, a women’s community choir here in Portland, and it still gives me shivers.

It won’t all be idleness. I’ll be working with an editing client, developing a new Craft Magic workshop on writing dialogue, and gathering up new poems for a poetry workshop. September feels like the perfect time to brew a cup of tea and start writing together again. If you are a newsletter subscriber, you’ll get word first when my fall workshops open for sign-ups.

May you have a wonderful summer,


The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

—Mary Oliver

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Are Wild Fern Writers workshops for me?

These workshops are for you if :

  • You are ready to write your truth.
  • You want to write deeply into the heart of things.
  • You are ready to strengthen your writing muscles.
  • You crave a community of writers to inspire and support your writing.
  • You need structure to get writing, but once you get started, there’s no stopping you.
  • You are poised to move out of your comfort zone and make some writing magic!

What to expect at a Wild Fern Writers workshop?

  • Our workshops are designed to offer inspiration, motivation, and camaraderie in a community of writers.
  • In a virtual (Zoom) writing studio, we gather in an intimate group of writers guided by an experienced facilitator.
  • We introduce ourselves and get centered with a brief guided mindfulness exercise.
  • We review the Amherst Writers & Artists’ guiding values and practices. The Amherst Writers & Artists’ method follows two practices that distinguish it from other methods you might be familiar with.
    • First, we treat all writing as art, created narrative, or literature. Even if it is written in the first person, we never assume the writing is autobiographical. While this may feel artificial at first, it allows us as writers and listeners to experience the distance between who we are and how we tell our stories.
    • Second, AWA workshops ask us to listen in a different way than we usually do in our lives. We don’t listen to help the writer or fix the writing. We are asked to leave behind our own experiences and expectations and enter into the universe that the writer has created. We listen for and notice the craft choices a writer has made.
  • We freewrite in response to creative prompts for five, ten or more minutes, followed by an opportunity to read aloud what we’ve written, with or without feedback from other writers. Writers are welcome to write in any genre and reading is always optional.
  • Unlike traditional workshop critiques, when we offer feedback, we focus on what is working well, what is strong, and what is memorable in the writing. We believe newly drafted writing isn’t ready for a full critique, and that affirming feedback helps writers build on their strengths.
  • Workshops often close with the reading of a poem.