Barred Owl Retreat, Leicester, Massachusetts | March  21, 2020


The Colrain One-Day Informational Retreat is designed for poets who wish to learn the basics of a poetry manuscript before submitting to presses and/or applying to the Colrain Poetry Manuscript Conference.  In a small group (8-10 poets) team-led by two seasoned Colrain Poetry Manuscript facilitators, you will explore questions that include the following:

1. What is a poetry manuscript?
2. Do I have enough poems for a full-length manuscript?
3. What about a chapbook? What are the pros and cons of each?
4. Is a Cover Letter necessary? How do I write it?
5. How is a Table of Contents assembled?
6. What is an Acknowledgements page and how is it assembled?
7. What are End Notes and do I need them?
8. What is a Prologue Poem or Proem, and do I need one?
9. What is a “project” book and would my manuscript fit this category?

We will also discuss the where, why and how of submitting to presses.

In short, the Colrain One-Day Retreat will provide you with the information you need to assemble and submit  your manuscript.

The retreat will be led as a team by seasoned Colrain editors and poets Joan Houlihan and Ellen Dore Watson.

_dsc3823largeCROP1Joan Houlihan is the author of five books of poetry, most recently Shadow-feast (Four Way Books). Her other books are: The Us, named a “must-read” book of 2009 by Massachusetts Center for the Book, Ay, a sequel to The Us (both from Tupelo Press), The Mending Worm, winner of the Green Rose Award from New Issues Press, and Hand-Held Executions: Poems & Essays. In addition to publishing in a wide array of leading journals, including Poetry, Boston Review, Harvard Review, Gulf Coast, and most recently, Plume, Massachusetts Review and Ocean State Review, she has served as consulting editor and reviewer at a series of online magazines, most recently, Contemporary Poetry Review, and as Associate Editor at Tupelo Quarterly. Her critical essays are archived online at Her work has been anthologized in The Iowa Anthology of New American Poetries (University of Iowa Press) and The Book of Irish-American Poetry–Eighteenth Century to Present (University of Notre Dame Press). She has served as judge for numerous poetry awards and contests including the Louise Bogan Prize for Poetry (Trio House Press), the Jane Kenyon Award for Poetry (New Hampshire Literary Awards), and Massachusetts Center for the Book Award, among others. She has taught at Columbia University, Emerson College and Smith College and currently serves on the faculty of Lesley University’s Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing Program in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is also Professor of Practice in Poetry at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. Houlihan founded and directs the Colrain Poetry Manuscript Conference.


Ellen.2016Poet and translator Ellen Doré Watson is the former director of The Poetry Center at Smith College and is currently the Grace Hazard Conkling Writer-in-Residence at Smith. She also serves as poetry and translation editor of The Massachusetts Review. Her fifth full-length collection, pray me stay eager, is available from Alice James Books. Earlier books include Dogged Hearts (Tupelo Press, 2010), This Sharpening (also from Tupelo), and two from Alice James, We Live in Bodies and Ladder Music, winner of the New England/New York award. Her poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, Tin House, Orion, and The New Yorker. Among her honors are a Rona Jaffe Writers Award, fellowships to the MacDowell Colony and to Yaddo, and a National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowship. Her best-known works of translation are The Alphabet in the Park and Ex-Voto, both by Brazilian Adélia Prado. Watson also teaches in the Drew University Low-Residency MFA in Poetry and Poetry in Translation and has for many years led a generative writing group in Northampton, MA.

Where and When: The retreat will be held on Saturday, March 21 at the beautiful Barred Owl Retreat, a 15-room 1920‘s colonial home located just outside the city of Worcester, Massachusetts, in the town of Leicester. The retreat’s lovingly landscaped acreage hosts an orchard, a brook, two ponds and an abundance of wildlife including herons, beavers, otters, deer, and of course, barred owls. The property abuts a secluded 114-acre nature preserve so on the grounds one might feel away from it all, yet Barred Owl Retreat is just four miles from downtown Worcester.

Schedule:  The day proceeds as follows:

The workshop officially ends on Saturday at 5 pm.

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Participants are invited to dine with Joan Houlihan and Ellen Watson post-workshop at a nearby restaurant if desired. Note: Please let us know if you’d like to come so we can make a reservation for the right number.

Cost and Application: The conference cost is $475 which includes tuition, breakfast, lunch, snacks, and all day coffee & tea.

Apply: To apply, please email the following information: Your name, address and phone number, brief bio, and reason for interest in the retreat to:

Upon acceptance, you will be sent registration/payment instructions.

How to Get Here: Barred Owl is located at 88 Marshall Street, Leicester, MA, only 20 minutes from downtown Worcester and 15 minutes from the Worcester Regional Airport (Flights at the Worcester Airport are limited to Jet Blue airlines only. Logan Airport in Boston is 40 minutes away if necessary for your flight plans). Amtrak and buses arrive in Worcester where you can easily take a taxi or Uber to the retreat.

Refund Policy: Refund up to 4 weeks prior, less 15% processing fee. Colrain Conferences reserves the right to cancel this conference without penalty, liability limited to a full refund of registration fees.

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