The 2019 Kaua’i Writers’ Retreat

A week of writing and island living. This program is full. To join the waiting list or for inquiries, please email.

villas pool daytime

Dates: January 27-February 2, 2019
Facilitator: Jordan Hartt
Registration: Available only to Kahini magazine subscribers or writers. Contact [email protected].

Each participant provides their own housing. The workshop itself takes place at the Villas at Po’ipū Kai. In order for each participant to receive maximum attention on their work, registration is limited to six.

Live and write among the plumeria, hibiscus, and beauty of Po’ipū, Kaua’i. The Kaua’i 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”

kapa'a day
Kaua’i: The Garden Isle

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?

Our home on Kaua'i
Our home on Kaua’i

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,” 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.

Sunset at Brennecke Beach

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 on the Garden Isle to last a lifetime.


Sunday, January 27:
7-8 pm: welcoming drinks and conversation in H223
Monday, January 28:
11 am-1 pm: morning workshop.
Tuesday, January 29:
10 am-1 pm: morning workshop.
Wednesday, January 30:
Writing day/island day.
Thursday, January 31:
10 am-1 pm: workshop sessions
Friday, February 1:
10 am-1 pm: workshop sessions

Po’ipū is a small condo community located on the sunny southern shore of Kaua’i, about a half-hour southwest from the airport at Lihue. Good shopping and restaurants are available in Koloa, about a five-minute drive away.

villas pool
The villas at night

The workshop takes place in H223 at the Villas at Po’ipū Kai.

In one of the most beautiful and inspiring locations on earth, spend your afternoons and evenings enjoying the best of what Kaua’i has to offer, including enjoying the beach or water, hiking, discovering the history and culture of Kaua’i, or simply reading and writing at good restaurants and cafes.

Jordan Hartt

jordan copy

The best thing you can do for your writing is make it the place you go for pleasure. ~Dorothy Allison

My lifework is in two things: the personal practice of writing as a private meditation, as well as the publication and/or public performance of one’s writing.

Participants in my programs have published over two thousand individual times in literary journals, including all the major magazines; released over two hundred books on nationally ranked presses; and been featured in the Best American Essays, Best American Poetry, and Best American Short Stories anthologies.

My writing has appeared in about forty literary magazines and journals. My collection of stories, “Leap,” appeared in 2015. I’m currently finishing a new collection.