The 2019 Kampala Writers’ Retreat

A week of writing and inspiration. Two spaces taken, ten spaces available.


Dates: October 6-12, 2019
Facilitators: Wairimu Mwangi; Jordan Hartt
Registration (tuition, private housing, and excursions):
Regular Registration: $1,800
Studies in Short Fiction Member: $1,200
Contact: [email protected].

This retreat takes place at the Red Chilli Hideaway; we will also spend time at Pan African Square and Lake Victoria. Six spaces at this event are reserved for east-African writers, at 50,000 ugx; six spaces are reserved for writers from outside Kampala, at the above cost. Transfers from the airport to our lodging are provided for any writer flying in. 

Live and write among the energy and inspiration of Kampala, Uganda, one of the most thriving literary hubs in the world. The Kampala Writers’ Retreat is designed to get you to a 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 work of Goretti Kyomuhendo, for instance, or Jane Austen, Rabindranath Tagore, 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?

read, write, and make memories for a lifetime

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. 

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 the natural or cultivated world influence our characters in their own stories.

Short readings–and long discussions–will be provided in the workshop.

For this workshop, a passing familiarity with a few of these artistic works–Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” Goretti Kyomuhendo’s “Waiting,” 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 a week of writing to last a lifetime.


Sunday, October 6
5-8: Welcome gathering, introductions.
Monday, October 7
10 am-noon: morning workshop
1 pm-3 pm: participant open-mike and performances at Pan African Square.
Tuesday, October 8
10 am-noon: morning workshop
1 pm-evening: visit to Lake Victoria
Wednesday, October 9
Free day. (Independence Day)
Thursday, October 10
10 am-noon: morning workshop
1 pm-evening: visit to the Nile River
Friday, October 11
10 am-noon: morning workshop
6 pm: celebratory final gathering, bonfire, and open-mike at Pan African Square.
Saturday, October 12


wairimuWairimu Mwangi is a writer and the founder of the Literature Africa Foundation. 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.

jordan copyJordan Hartt is the author of the short-story collection “Leap,” with a new collection, “Drifting,” forthcoming in January. Jordan facilitates the online creative-writing course and community Studies in Short Fiction; hosts three writing residencies per year in Po’ipū, Kaua’i; and gives as a philanthropist to artists and visionaries around the world. Contact.