INSIDE THIS ISSUE: Letter from Kathleen Olesky; Professional Development and Writing Retreat; Training News; Regional News; Founder’s Message; Affiliate Classifieds.

June 2018


Pink Rhododendron by Zhen Hu

Dear AWA community, 

The pink rhododendron outside the Walker Center is in full bloom. The blue jays chase the sparrows off the bird feeder. The chipmunks catch the fallen seeds. Maureen and I watch the nature show before us as we await the arrival of a new group of AWA trainees. 

They arrive alone or in pairs, from Maine, New York, California, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Massachusetts – curious, perhaps anxious before they begin this adventure. As the days unfold and the weather heats up,  we immerse ourselves in the  AWA Method; the essential practices, the affirmations. We declare we are writers. We write, we respond, tapping into our creative genius. We treat all writing as fiction and we hold close what we hear.  We listen intently to each writer and we reflect what is strong; the writer is inspired by the responses.

We dive right into the practice. Every trainee takes her turn at leading. She welcomes their new members into her “workshop.” She presents the prompt and holds her breath. Immediately, the writers pick up their pens, which dance non-stop across the page. The writers are absorbed in what they love to do most: write freely and honestly, unimpeded by the critic, not defined by educational background or social status.

In addition to writing herself, the leader has to keep track of the minutes. So much to remember, so little time. She asks them to stop at a place they can return to. Then she invites someone to read. This is when the magic appears:

We hear about the Buddha under the bodhi tree, an old man struggling to button his coat, a young man who pees his britches, a cuckoo clock that judges a five-year-old, the electric slide of tango, the fear of a waiting room. The writing is strong and clear, filled with images we won’t forget. Everyone responds with insight, kindness and inspiration.

The practice session ends. The leader lets out a sigh of relief. She did it! No matter the missteps, what matters most is that amazing, vivid writing flowed from the pens of the participants.  In the evenings, we delve into craft and learn to critique a poem. Then more practice—digging deeper, managing challenges. We laugh, we cry, we write while gaining confidence in our skills.

On the last day we gather to confer certificates on 12 new affiliates. Maureen explains the history of the movement and the method. We sing a final song. Outside as we say good-bye, the rhododendron has wilted, browned at the edges by the mid-June sun and the blue jay still torments the sparrow. In these few days, we have been changed by each other. We know each of these capable new leaders will inspire writers in her own realm to claim their unique voices and develop their creative genius.

Kathleen Olesky
AWA Board Treasurer & Secretary

AWA Professional Development and Writing Retreat just for AWA-trained leaders!

October 12 – 15, 2018 in Albuquerque, NM

Early bird discount ends July 4th. Register today to reserve your space at $50 off! If you want more information about this opportunity to connect with AWA community and your own writing voice, please visit our website or reach out to us via email.

October an issue? Join AWA Canada July 16 – 18 in Ontario for their Resource-Sharing Retreat! 

For information or to attend this similar event at a retreat centre in the gorgeous Hockley Valley, click here. You don’t have to be Canadian! All AWA facilitators welcome. 

Training News

Welcome these new workshop leaders, trained in Boston this June!

Front row left to right:Andrea Vassalo, Maureen Buchanan Jones, Eden Tirl, Judith Lagana, Jeanette Eaton, Rachel Diamondstone. Back row left to right:Kerry Hubbard, Pamela McKenney, Robbin Farr, Katherine Schulten, Tina Egnoski, Kathleen Olesky, Sharon Cucinotta, Patrice Ficken

Boston June 2018 Trainees

Writers at Pond

Inspired to become a facilitator? Join us this fall!

We have just a few spaces left in our final facilitator training of 2018. Sign up now to train with us from August 31–September 4 in Chicago, IL. 

If you have questions, please visit our website or email our Training Program Director, Maureen Buchanan Jones at

Regional News


On Saturday, June 16, six North Carolina AWA-certified workshop leaders planted a seed of community in Chapel Hill. Elizabeth Hahn, Carol Cooley, Ellen Summers, Kay Bosgraaf, Neesa Moloney, and Lane Goddard gathered in Elizabeth’s Writer’s Cottage to write together, reconnect, kibbitz, and share a delicious lunch. 

AWA Down South

A fertile brainstorming session produced lots of ideas about next steps in growing a regional AWA community, lots of suggestions for AWA development, and many honest thoughts about how AWA can best serve and support workshop leaders. Stay tuned for more! And if you’d like to talk about having a gathering in your own region, contact Lane.


Red Hook Star Revue Article

Many of the writing workshop leaders with AWA offerings in Brooklyn have been profiled by an article in the Red Hook Star-RevueIf you’re a New Yorker curious about getting involved with an AWA group, please check it out.

Congratulations to Aaron Zimmerman of New York Writer’s Coalition, Lynne Connor of Lost Lit, Leslie Fierro of Cast Off Writers, and Paul Rosario-Falcone of Safe Space Stories on this in-depth feature!

Founder’s Message

Something quite wonderful has just happened, and it moves me to celebrate the work of my husband, Peter Schneider. Yesterday he received a letter from Poet Laureate,Ted Kooser, asking permission to use Peter’s poem, “Lost in Plain Sight” on American Life in Poetry, which “reaches 1.5 million readers in newspapers and on the web!” To read his poem, go to: LOST IN PLAIN SIGHT

To read more about Peter’s work, both for AWA and on his upcoming book, visit Pat’s blog.

Pat Schneider

Affiliate Classifieds

Join AWA Affiliate Lisa Colburn and SoulCollage® facilitator Karen Godfrey for Unleash Your Inner Wise Woman: A Writing & SoulCollage® Journey, September 14 – 16, 2018, at the Mountain Valley Retreat Center in Harrisonburg, VA. Visit for details.  


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