The Kāpiti Writers’ Retreat – What’s it all about?

Kirsten Le Harivel, who’s organizing the Retreat, shares a little more about why we’re doing this event and what we hope you will get out of it.

Why did you establish the Kāpiti Writers’ Retreat?

After attending the 2012 Port Townsend Writing Conference, an event in the United States that has been bringing together writers for over 40 years, I knew I wanted to bring something like this to New Zealand

I had never spent so much concentrated time on my own writing and in a communal setting. It was amazing to get up and talk writing over breakfast, sit in workshops during the morning, then talk craft in the afternoon (and often late into the evening!).

The Kāpiti retreat is smaller in scale but I hope encapsulates similar drives–to bring writers together to learn, exchange and immerse themselves in writing and the writing world.

What are you most excited about?

Bringing people together–creating space for local writers to come together and to learn from such a varied group of writing teachers and participants. I’m particularly excited to be able to host Gary Copeland Lilley. He was one of the workshop faculty at the Port Townsend Conference and I still remember his craft lecture on narrative poetry. Gary has been part of Kahini’s work in the United States from the beginning and it feels really appropriate to have him join us here.

What would you say to people who are wondering what they will get out of it?

The model we’ve developed is, as far as I can tell, new to Aotearoa. We have a great range of institutional programmes and a lively festival scene but there aren’t many opportunities for writers to immerse themselves in writing and contemporary craft outside of that. The retreat aims to fill that gap.

The six-hour workshops provide time for writers to get stuck into the topic as it relates to their work and to build connections with others in the workshop. By spreading the session over two mornings there is also space to reflect overnight on what we’ve learnt before bringing it back the next morning.

The afternoon sessions are a space for everyone to learn and engage in contemporary craft issues. The themes of these sessions will be drawn from the interests of our writing teachers but the conversation will flow in and beyond to the questions, thoughts and ideas that participants have.

Discover more about the retreat and the writers here.

Coming from outside New Zealand? Contact for travel tips to Wellington and the beautiful North Island coast!

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