The 2019 Desert Writers’ Retreat

Our sixth annual retreat of writing and desert living. This event is full.

tahiti village nightDates: May 19-25
Facilitator: Jordan Hartt
Registration: Contact to join the waiting list.

The workshop takes place at Tahiti Village.

Live and write in the beauty of the Mojave Desert, near the pulse and energy of Las Vegas. The Desert Writers’ Retreat is not only where Kahini started, in 2014, but one of our central events: a mix of craft, community, individual retreat time, and inspiration–and maybe a few margaritas, as well.

This Retreat is designed to get you to one completed short-short story in one week–in one of the most beautiful, inspirational places for writers in the world.

Workshop Description: “The Garden and the Wild”


Some of literature’s richest stories and poems find inspiration from such settings and metaphors as the “garden”–the planned, the ordered, the seemingly protected–and the “wild”: the unplanned, the unordered, the seemingly unprotected.

How do our characters move in the earth that surrounds them? What kind of place(s)–sculpted/gardened or “wild”–do they move in, and how do these different environments affect both their internal and external lives?

Some writers locate within parks or gardens elements and insights into human nature. Consider the novels of Jane Austen, for instance, or the work of Hafez-e Shirãzi or Henry James. Other writers,  including Toni Morrison (“Paradise” and “Tar Baby”), Virginia Woolf (“Kew Gardens”), Katherine Mansfield (“The Garden Party”) and John Milton (“Paradise Lost”) have explored the concept of the garden as exclusionary: in order to wall a place in,  what and who are kept out

Exploring the concept of natural “wildness” also yields rich setting and metaphor: consider the work of Barry Lopez, Robert Michael Pyle, Terry Tempest Williams, Edward Abbey, John Haines, Ken Kesey, and Jourdan Imani Keith, among many others–including William Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest” and its many contemporary responses.

How do our characters respond to metaphorical or literal “wild” settings? What does it mean to have one’s external setting or interior life disordered, in some fashion? Is there more order in wildness/wilderness than in human-sculpted “order”? Further: in what ways are cities “ordered”? In what ways are they “wild”? How does this affect–or not–our characters?

As you can see, we are less interested in answering these questions in any kind of definitive way, and more interested in posing these questions to our characters. 

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We’ll the workshop begin by sharing true or fictional stories from our own lives involving our experiences with both “ordered” and “unordered” outdoor spaces–in whatever sense that means–and we’ll explore how both natural and cultivated worlds influence our characters. Short readings–and long discussions–will be provided.

For this workshop, a passing familiarity with a few of these artistic works–Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” Toni Morrison’s “Paradise” and “Tar Baby,” Virginia Woolf’s “Kew Gardens,” Katherine Mansfield’s “The Garden Party,” John Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” and Jane Austen’s “Mansfield Park”–will be helpful, but not necessary.

Much discussion and freewriting will comprise the first half of the week. Then we’ll switch focus to our own writing: we’ll each write a short piece of up to 1,000 words (a complete piece or excerpt from a longer work) and do a full, half-hour discussion on your new, raw draft.

Kahini’s leisurely discussions of each piece are famous not only for how quickly they advance each individual piece, but for the richness of the craft discussion that comes along with the workshop of the piece itself.

Very short fictions are nearly always experimental, exquisitely calibrated, reminiscent of Frost’s definition of a poem—a structure of words that consumes itself as it unfolds, like ice melting on a stove.
~Joyce Carol Oates

You’ll leave the workshop with a completed and workshopped piece ready for advanced revision, with new connections and community as a writer, and with great memories from Las Vegas to last a lifetime.lv7


Sunday, May 19
7-9 pm: welcoming drinks and conversation at Booze & Bites
Monday, May 20
10 am-1 pm: morning workshop: Discussion of our individual writing goals; Discussion of the short-short; Discussion of our characters or our narrative selves within the natural world and the human-built world, and their/our various reactions; Freewriting, Character Sketches, and Sharing. Readings (Katherine Mansfield, John Haines, and Jourdan Imani Keith), handed out.
Tuesday, May 21
10 am-1 pm: morning workshop: discussion of the work by Katherine Mansfield, John Haines, and Jourdan Imani Keith. Freewriting and sharing.
Wednesday, May 22
Writing day
Thursday, May 23
10 am-1 pm: workshop sessions
Friday, May 24
10 am-1 pm: workshop sessions
5:30 pm onward: drinks and dinner at Booze & Bites
Saturday, May 25

In our resort setting just south of the Las Vegas Strip, you’ll find both solitude and community celebration–whatever you’re looking for. You can draw inspiration from the silence of the open spaces of the Mohave Desert, or the hum and energy of Las Vegas, available only twenty minutes to the north. The blend of both options creates the perfect recipe: quiet, solitary writing retreat and/or energetic city inspiration, as you choose.

The workshop takes place in a private condo at Tahiti Village.

In one of the most beautiful and inspirational desert locations on earth, spend your afternoons and evenings enjoying the best of what Las Vegas or the surrounding desert has to offer, including Red Rock Canyon, the Strip; or simply reading, writing, and enjoying the sun.