The Maui Writers’ Retreat

Upcoming: April 24-30, 2022
Faculty: Erin Belieu (full), Pam Houston (full), Nicholas Samaras (full)
Host: Jordan Hartt
Location: Lahaina, Maui


The Retreat

Writing Craft

The Maui Writers’ Retreat brings nationally ranked writers together with ardent participants in a week of writing and community.

With a focus on writing craft, writing community, and the inspiration of the writing life, the Maui Writers’ Retreat offers writing instruction, afternoons to enjoy all that the Valley Isle has to offer.

Writing Community

The retreat is limited to ten writers in each workshop.

Both tuition-only and tuition-and-housing options are available.

If you book housing through us, we stay at the Aina Nalu Villas in Lahaina, as well as other houses and condos in and around the Lahaina area. Please contact for options.




Writing Inspiration

Sunday, April 24
Arrivals and getting settled.

Monday, April 25
9 am-noon: morning workshop

Tuesday, April 26
9 am-noon: morning workshop
7 pm-8 pm: evening freewrite

Wednesday April 27
Writing day/island day

Thursday, April 28
9 am-noon: morning workshop
7 pm-8 pm: evening freewrite

Friday, April 29
9 am-noon: morning workshop

Saturday, April 30

Faculty: Poetry

Born in Nebraska, Erin Belieu earned an MA from Boston University and an MFA from Ohio State University. Belieu’s work focuses on gender, love, and history, filtering wide-ranging subject matter through a variety of theoretical frameworks. She often addresses feminist issues in her artistic work, and is known for infusing traditional formal conventions with colloquial speech patterns ranging across decades and geographies.

Belieu is the author of five books of poetry: “Come-Hither Honeycomb” (forthcoming in 2021), “Slant Six” (2014), “Black Box” (2006), “One Above & One Below” (2000), and Infanta (1995). Belieu also co-edited the anthology The Extraordinary Tide: New Poetry by American Women (2001).

With poet Cate Marvin, Belieu cofounded VIDA: Women in the Literary Arts, an organization that seeks to “explore critical and cultural perceptions of writing by women” in contemporary culture. She has taught at Washington University, Boston University, Kenyon College, Ohio University, and Florida State University. She currently teaches in the University of Houston’s MFA/PhD Creative Writing Program, as well as for the Lesley University low-residency MFA in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

CLASS DESCRIPTION: “Not Your Mother’s Lyric Poem: Courting Risk in Form and Content”

For a poem to feel alive, to feel worth the hours of time we spend together, risk is necessary in shape, subject matter, and language. For a poem to succeed, I believe it needs to challenge the writer in unexpected ways. Together, we will delve into poems by contemporary poets, honoring them with close readings; we will study the art of risk and then use poems and discussions to stretch our own writing whether by using found forms, collage, surrealism, or high lyric — whatever causes us to be startled into new ways of writing and revising. I’ll bring poems for us to look at and you can bring your favorites, too. Some of the poets that regularly engage in risk, to my mind, are Terrance Hayes, Philip Metres, Valzhyna Mort, Kelli Russell Agodon, and many others. Our class will be primarily  generative with some discussion, mini-lecturettes, and much laughter.

Nicholas Samaras is from Patmos, Greece (the “Island of the Apocalypse”) and at the time of the political Greek Junta (“Coup of the Generals”) was brought in exile to be raised further in America. He has lived in Greece, Asia Minor, England, Wales, Brussels, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Germany, Yugoslavia, Jerusalem, and thirteen states in the United States of America. He writes from a place of permanent exile.

Individual poems have been featured in the New Yorker, the New York Times, the Paris Review, Poetry, the New Republic, and many other publications. His first book of poetry, “Hands of the Saddlemaker,” received the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award. He is currently writing a poetry textbook.

CLASS DESCRIPTION: “Writing Without Words, and Saying Without Saying” 

I always want to give more to writers—not just to help make a better poem, but to share ways of an ongoing perspective to achieve your next level of writing: higher, deeper, further. I’d like to suggest: forget the answer for now. What we need before that is to get the question right—and get the right question. As writers, we ask: what is the next level of writing I need to get to? In this master class, I will focus on identifying the next level and means of achieving that level in your writing, and generating both new work and a way to invigorate older work by recasting linguistic approach and word usage via implication, rather than statement. We’ll do generative exercises and examples, I’ll meet with everyone one-on-one, and we’ll try and do a meal together during the week, as a way to maximize our discussions.


Faculty: Fiction

Pam Houston is the author of the memoir “Deep Creek: Finding Hope In The High Country”; two novels, “Contents May Have Shifted” and “Sight Hound”; two collections of short stories, “Cowboys Are My Weakness” and “Waltzing the Cat”; and a collection of essays, “A Little More About Me,” all published by W.W. Norton.

Her stories have been selected for volumes of The O. Henry Awards, The Pushcart Prize, Best American Travel Writing, and Best American Short Stories of the Century, among other anthologies. She is the winner of the Western States Book Award, the WILLA Award for contemporary fiction, the Evil Companions Literary Award and several teaching awards.

She teaches in the Low Rez MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts, is Professor of English at UC Davis, and co-founder and creative director of the literary nonprofit Writing By Writers. She lives at 9,000 feet above sea level near the headwaters of the Rio Grande.


It was great when it happened, gorgeous when it lived in your imagination, transcendent as you hit the “on” button of your computer and got to work. Now that it is on the page it is seeming both flat and unapproachable. In this workshop we will look at drafts of stories and novel chapters that aren’t quite making it, and see if we can figure out how to make them not just good but great. We’ll address structure (making sure that form is following function or vice versa), narrative tension, voice, point of view, dialogue, and beginnings and endings. We will talk about how to find the real pain spot of a story and we will force ourselves to slow down where it hurts. We will make sure that our glimmers, those hunks of the physical world that sent us into the story in the first place, have been remade in all of their complexity in language. We will talk about the difficult moments when writing feels like juggling an apple, a chainsaw, and a toaster, and celebrate the rare but intoxicating moments when the place we were most afraid to go did not kill us after all. We will do some brief, nightly exercises, and I would like you to read Mary Gaitskill’s “Don’t Cry” and Tim Winton’s “The Turning,” before you come to the retreat.