The 2019 Kampala Writers’ Retreat

A week of writing in Kampala. 

rchDates: October 6-12, 2019
Facilitator: Jordan Hartt
Cost: 100,000 Kahini magazine points, or $20,000 ugx for writers living within 500 kilometres. Housing is provided for all participants.

Please note: in order for each writer to receive maximum attention, this program is limited to six. 

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 novels of Jane Austen, for instance, or the work of Goretti Kyomuhendo, 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, one-hour discussion on your new, raw draft.

Kahini’s leisurely one-hour 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
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 bonfire and open-mike.
Saturday, October 12

Jordan Hartt

jordan copy

Jordan Hartt is a reader, writer, writing teacher, editor, and community & events organizer who serves around six thousand writers per year. He’s the managing editor of Kahini magazine and facilitates five annual writing retreats per year: one each in Kaua’i, Jamaica, Hawai’i Island, Maui, and Kampala, Uganda.

In the past decade, participants in Hartt’s writing programs have published three thousand individual times in literary magazines, including all major magazines; released over two hundred books on nationally and internationally ranked presses; been featured in the Best American Essays, Best American Poetry, and Best American Short Stories anthologies; and short-listed for the Caine Prize for African Writing.

Hartt’s writing has appeared in about forty literary magazines and journals. His collection of stories, “Leap,” appeared in 2015. He is currently at work on a new collection.