Kahini programs focus on craft, community and inspiration. Our international collective hosts the Kāpiti Writers’ Retreat and the Kāpiti Series in Aotearoa; the Kampala Writers’ Conference and school and community programs in Kenya and Uganda; the Kaua’i Writers’ Retreat and the Desert Writers’ Retreat in the United States; and Eleven Stories, the online writing course and community that brings together writers from all over the world.
Our writing programs provide the space and opportunity to create, revise, and develop new work; deepen our creative practice; and finalise work for publication and/or public performance.
Kahini arose from a conversation between its founding members Kirsten Le Harivel, Jordan Hartt, and Ssekandi Ronald Ssegujja, who wanted to create innovative creative-writing programs that provided exceptional learning experiences and the opportunity for writers of all backgrounds to come together.
The name ‘Kahini’ was gifted by writer and very first faculty member Sayantani Dasgupta. ‘Kahini’ is a Bengali word meaning ‘story,’ or ‘tale’—but not an ordinary story: an extraordinary one. Similarly, Kahini is all about creating extraordinary in-person and online creative-writing experiences.
Reading, writing, and conversation build connection and empathy, providing a deeper quality of life.
Our vision is a world of increased connection and empathy.
Our mission is to provide high-quality creative-writing programs that develop craft, build community, and provide lifelong inspiration.
The Kaua’i Writers’ Retreat is a week-long gathering for writers working in the short story or cross-genre form. Taking place in Po’ipū, Kaua’i, the last week of January/first week of February, the retreat includes generative morning writing sessions; the time and space to create, revise, read, think, and soak in the beauty of the island of Kaua’i; and intensive workshop sessions designed to get one new story to an advanced draft in one week.
The Kāpiti Writers’ Retreat is an immersive, two-day gathering for writers, happening on the Kāpiti Coast. The retreat includes intensive morning workshops and lively afternoon discussions taught by six established New Zealand writers; space to write, relax and engage with topics critical to your work. You’ll find community, encouragement, and a safe place in which to take artistic risks.
The Kāpiti Series is an annual program of one-off workshops offered primarily on the Kāpiti Coast. Taught by local and visiting international writers these workshops focus on specific literary and cultural topics and conversations.
The Desert Writers’ Retreat is a week-long gathering for writers working in the short story or cross-genre form. Taking place each May in Las Vegas, Nevada, the retreat includes generative morning writing sessions; the time and space to create, revise, read, think, and soak in the beauty and energy of Las Vegas and the Mojave Desert; and intensive workshop sessions designed to get one new story to an advanced draft in one week.
Returning in 2019, the Kampala Writers’ Conference is a week-long gathering for writers in the Eleven Stories program. Taking place in September, the program includes generative morning writing workshops, individualized afternoon manuscript-critique sessions, and special seminars–as well as the time and space to create, revise, read, think, and soak in the beauty and energy of east Africa.
Eleven Stories is an ongoing, online writing course and community designed to result in the creation, revision, and publication of eleven new short stories each year through craft lectures, writing exercises, and personal mentorship.
Wairimu Mwangi is a writer and founder of the Literature Africa Foundation. She manages Eleven Stories. Her educational textbooks are used in schools across Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Ghana. She is passionate about quality education for all and believes that without books or material to read, literacy suffers and when literacy suffers, opportunities decline. She enjoys mentoring youth, storytelling, travelling, reading and meditating.
Ssekandi Ronald Ssegujja is the founder of Writing Our World, an organization in Uganda that uses writing, debate and spoken word to give a platform to people to express themselves. He manages Eleven Stories and the Kampala Writers’ Conference. He is an events’ organizer who also runs the the writers’ club ‘Coffee and Books’ that happens monthly in Kampala. In 2014, his story ‘Walls and Borders’ won the Eastern Africa Writivism Literary prize.
Oceania Director Kirsten Le Harivel is a writer, project/programme manager and mother. She is the Director of the annual Kāpiti Writers’ Retreat and organises the Kāpiti Series. Although born in Scotland, she lives with her family on the Kāpiti Coast of Aotearoa. Her writing has been published in various international literary journals and she has an MA from the International Institute of Modern Letters. She has a background in programme and project management in the arts, youth, and refugee sectors. Contact: [email protected].
Americas Director Jordan Hartt manages Eleven Stories, the Kaua’i Writer’s Retreat, and the Desert Writers’ Retreat. Participants in his programs have published over three thousand times in literary journals, released over two hundred books on nationally ranked presses, and been featured in the Best American Essays and Best American Short Stories anthologies. Hartt’s own writing has appeared in about forty literary journals. A collection of stories, “Leap,” appeared in 2015.