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Calling all writers: Retreat at The Priory sure to spark creativity

| Juliana Poquette

Top photo credit: Justin Patchin

UW-Eau Claire has a storied heritage of talented writers among its faculty, staff, students and alumni. An impressive list of Blugolds have published works in virtually all genres, on topics as varied as their diverse academic and personal backgrounds.

So it’s only fitting that UW-Eau Claire should be the site of the writers’ event of the summer in the Chippewa Valley.

That’s right: The Chippewa Valley Writers Guild has announced the inaugural Priory Writers’ Retreat, to be held July 18-21 at The Priory, UW-Eau Claire’s scenic property just three miles south of the university’s main campus. And B.J. Hollars, the guild’s founder and executive director, is excited about the retreat’s location.

aerial view of The Priory

An aerial view of The Priory, UW-Eau Claire's 112-acre property located three miles south of the university’s main campus.

The Priory, a former monastery for Benedictine nuns, includes 48 private rooms for retreat participants, common areas well suited for workshops and craft talks, and an outdoor wooded setting with an abundance of natural beauty.

The setting easily can accommodate 48 participants from multiple writing levels and interest areas for both small-group, genre-focused workshops and large-group craft talks intended for all. Hollars says the synergy to be fostered among new and more seasoned writers from all genres makes The Priory Writers’ Retreat special.

“Because of our setting at The Priory, we’re really the first writers’ retreat in the region that can work like this,” says Hollars, also a UW-Eau Claire associate professor of English and one of those talented (and prolific) Blugold writers mentioned above. “No other writers’ program venue has this ability to host 48 writers in a variety of genres.”

Applications open

Blugolds called to be a part of that strong UW-Eau Claire writing heritage will be glad to know that openings remain for this unparalleled opportunity — and Hollars hopes new as well as more experienced writers will participate.

“The Priory allows us to provide more access for more writers to have this amazing opportunity, and I really encourage interested folks who may not consider themselves writers to apply,” Hollars says.

Retreat participants will learn from four widely respected writers-in-residence: Dasha Kelly Hamilton, poetry; Nickolas Butler, fiction; Mary Mack, comedy/humor; and David McGlynn, memoir/nonfiction. Max Garland, former Wisconsin poet laureate and UW-Eau Claire emeritus professor of English, will present the opening-night keynote address.

Complete details about the writers-in-residence, how to apply, scholarship opportunities, workshop topics and daily schedules are available on the Chippewa Valley Writers Guild website.