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From Event to Meaning: a generative essay and memoir writing retreat with Dionne Ford

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Join memoirist Dionne Ford for a writing-based creative retreat, an opportunity to reinforce your writing skills at the idyllic Clos Mirabel in the French Pyrenees.


About this course:

Poet and memoirist Mary Karr says that memoirists start out with an event and work up to meaning. This creative writing workshop in the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains in France will be all about generating new work during the time we are together based on significant life events. We’ll spend mornings discussing elements of craft with the help of work by Karr, Alexander Chee, Annie Dillard, Toni Morrison and Michel de Montaigne. Then, we will go through a series of exercises around what I believe are the essential components of personal nonfiction – voice, passion for the truth, scene building, senses, structure and of course memories, and turn those components into an essay or memoir chapter. All you need to bring is a picture that is meaningful to you, something to write with and your senses stimulated by the idyllic surroundings.

Writing Retreat Programme Outline: (*In progress and subject to change)

Saturday
4.00 – Check-in time from 4pm onwards.
Guests arrive, settle in and explore Clos Mirabel
6.30 – Welcome drinks and dinner

Sunday
8.30 – 9.30 Buffet breakfast of local and regional produce
10.00 – 12.00 An introduction to the course
1.00 – 2.00 Lunch at Clos Mirabel
2.00 – 5.00 A guided writing exercise, written, read aloud.
6.30 – Aperitifs before 4 course dinner in the Manor House or on the terrace

Monday
8.30 – 9.30 Buffet breakfast of local and regional produce
10.00 – 12.00 Craft talk: rebuilding memories on the page
1.00 – 2.00 Lunch at Clos Mirabel
2.00 – 5.00 A guided writing exercise, followed by free time to write individually or with the instructor and like-minded course participants.
6.30 – Aperitifs before 4 course dinner in the Manor House or on the terrace

Tuesday
8.30 – 9.30 Buffet breakfast of local and regional produce
10.00 – 12.00 Craft talk
1.00 – 2.00 Lunch at local Auberge followed by an afternoon excursion.
2.00 – 5.00 Writing exercises en plein air.
Transport provided. We will return at roughly 4.00pm.
6.30 – Aperitifs before 4 course dinner in the Manor House or on the terrace

Wednesday Day off
8.30 – 9.30 Buffet breakfast of local and regional produce
9.30 – 6.00 Free time to explore Pau or beyond. The Clos Mirabel team is available to provide suggestions and organize transport.
6.30 – Aperitifs before 4 course dinner in the Manor House or on the terrace

Thursday
8.30 – 9.30 Buffet breakfast of local and regional produce
10.00 – 12.00 Craft talk and discussion of readings
1.00 – 2.00 Lunch at Clos Mirabel
2.00 – 5.00 A guided writing exercise, followed by free time to write individually or with the instructor and like-minded course participants
6.30 – Aperitifs before 4 course dinner in the Manor House or terrace

Friday
8.30 – 9.30 Buffet breakfast of local and regional produce
10.00 – 12.00 This morning the students drive the conversation. Come with a question you have that has not been answered.
1.00 – 2.00 Lunch at Clos Mirabel
2.00 – 5.00 A guided writing exercise, followed by free time to write individually or with the instructor and like-minded course participants
6.00 – Aperitif and evening event in the Atelier space, readings by participants.
7.00 – 4 course dinner in the Manor House or on the terrace

Saturday
8.30 – 9.30 Buffet Breakfast and departure (Check-out 11am)

Non-painting guests: we are more than happy to welcome non-painting guests, accompanying partners, family or friends. There are plenty of activities to experience around Clos Mirabel, that will make your holiday unforgettable Click here for more information.

The Art Studio offers a spacious open plan layout of 75 m2. It is available at all times during your stay. Click here for more information.


To select this course make your choices (See our Accommodation page):

If you encounter any difficulties, you can also send your choices (accommodation & atelier) from our contact form here.

(If you would prefer to book by telephone please contact us directly: +33.6.79.59.04.91)

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