Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Join Me at the Sun Writing Retreat in May...Scholarships Available!

“Excited” is hardly enough of a word to describe how I feel about being part of the upcoming Sun magazine writing retreat in the mountains of North Carolina in May. I’ll be leading three classes, giving a short reading, and mostly absorbing the amazing creative vibe that I experience whenever I’m lucky enough to hang out with Sun people—whether it’s the folks who edit the magazine, fellow Sun writers, or the readers who are as passionate as I am about this community and this publication.

The good news is that YOU can join in. I’ve copied some of the details below from the website, but you can find a list of all the sessions and more info on registration at this link: http://thesunmagazine.org/get_involved/events/41 This is a low-key, stress-free, egos-left-at-the-door, open-to-all-levels sort of gathering, and I know that you will return home with your creative soul feeling nourished.

And even better news: You can apply for a scholarship to this writing retreat! Scroll through for more info, but note that the application deadline is fast approaching: March 10.

It truly is not possible to feel MORE enthusiastic about this event!

Program Description
To write about our lives in a way that affects others and affirms our common humanity, we must be willing to leap — with all our passion, fear, and longing — into the fire.

Since 1974, The Sun has published the kind of brave, revealing writing that lives up to the magazine’s motto: “What is to give light must endure burning.” We invite you to join Sun readers, authors, and staff for a weekend of celebrating the written word. The authors will lead workshops geared to bring forth the best in your own essays, short stories, and poems. A Readers Write session will help get your pen moving. There will be opportunities to speak with editor and founder Sy Safransky. And the weekend will also include readings by Sy and the authors.

You don’t have to think of yourself as a writer to attend, because the best part of a Sun gathering is getting to meet people who appreciate the magazine’s compassionate, unflinching view of the world as much as you do. We hope you’ll join us.

The retreat runs Friday, May 20, through Sunday, May 22.

Friday: Check-in begins in the afternoon. Dinner is followed by the Opening Session and a reading featuring Sun authors.
Saturday: Workshops begin after breakfast and run until 5:45 pm with a break for lunch. After dinner, there is a reading by Sy in the auditorium, followed by a reception and book signing.
Sunday: Final workshops begin after breakfast and are followed by the Closing Session. We depart at 12:15 pm.
Individual meetings with Sy Safransky will run throughout the workshop sessions on Saturday and Sunday.


Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, Wildacres Retreat is a nonprofit conference center dedicated to “the betterment of human relations and interfaith dialogue.” Situated on 1,600 acres of lush woodland near the Blue Ridge Parkway, Wildacres offers hiking trails, mountain views, and delicious, plentiful meals served family style. Its facilities are modern yet rustic, providing a cozy setting for writing. Each guest room has a private bathroom and accommodates two people. To maintain a true retreat environment, there are no televisions, telephones, or alarm clocks in the rooms. For more information visit the Wildacres website: wildacres.org.

Registration and Cost

The all-inclusive cost for the weekend is $395, which includes five meals and shared lodging in a double room with a private bath. ($155 of the registration fee covers meals and lodging; the rest covers tuition.) The Sun is offering four full scholarships. For details, see below or click here.

You can register online or download a registration form. Fax your completed form to (919) 932-3101 or mail it to:
The Sun
Attn: Wildacres Retreat
107 N. Roberson St.
Chapel Hill, NC 27516
You may also register by phone by calling The Sun at (919) 942-5282, 9–5 est, M–F.
A large enrollment is expected, and spaces are limited. We recommend registering soon.

The Sun is offering four full scholarships to writers who would benefit from this retreat but are unable to afford it. Scholarships cover lodging, meals, and tuition for the weekend. Application materials must be received by March 10.

Click here to apply for a scholarship online. You can also download an application form to complete by hand and return to us. Mail your printed application materials to:

Attn: Wildacres Scholarships
The Sun 
107 North Roberson Street
Chapel Hill, NC 27516
We will notify you of our decision by April 1.

Authors Scheduled to Appear
Fred Bahnson is the author of Soil & Sacrament: A Spiritual Memoir of Food and Faith and co-author of Making Peace with the Land. His essays have appeared in The Sun, The Oxford AmericanImageOrionWashington Post, and Best American Spiritual Writing. Fred’s writing awards include a Pilgrimage Essay Award, a Kellogg Food & Community fellowship, and a North Carolina Artist fellowship in creative nonfiction from the North Carolina Arts Council. He teaches at Wake Forest University School of Divinity and lives with his wife and sons in Transylvania County, North Carolina.
Chris Bursk was first published in The Sun in 1977 and is the author of thirteen books, includingThe Infatuations and Infidelities of Pronouns, Cell Count, The Improbable Swervings of Atoms(winner of the Donald Hall Prize in Poetry), and, most recently, Selected Poems. He has been the recipient of nea, Guggenheim, and Pew fellowships and his work has won the Another Chicago Magazine Award, the 49th Parallel Award from Bellingham ReviewThe New Letters Prize in Poetry, and the 2011 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award.
Frances Lefkowitz is the author of To Have Not, a memoir of growing up poor in 1970s San Francisco. A former senior editor of Body+Soul magazine, she is now a freelance writer, editor, and writing coach. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in The SunTin HouseGlimmer Train, and Martha Stewart’s Whole Living. In 2011 she founded the Community Memoir Project to sponsor free writing workshops in public libraries, and she blogs about writing, publishing, and footwear at PaperInMyShoe.com. She lives in Northern California, where she enjoys surfing and speaking Spanish.
Leslie Pietrzyk is the author of two novels, Pears on a Willow Tree and A Year and a Day. Her collection of short stories, This Angel on My Chest, won the 2015 Drue Heinz Literature Prize. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in The Sun, Washington Post Magazine, Salon, Literary Hub, Gettysburg Review, Shenandoah, Cincinnati Review, PMS, Greensboro Review, and River Styx. She lives in Virginia and teaches in the Converse low-residency mfa program and in the Johns Hopkins Graduate Program in Writing.
Sy Safransky was editor of his junior-high-school newspaper, his high-school newspaper, and his college newspaper. (Guess where this is heading.) He earned a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University, then worked as a newspaper reporter until he discovered that the real news is what connects us. Twice divorced, in 1983 he married an adorable hippie who today is an adorable psychiatrist — a good thing for him. He has one stepson, two daughters, and three grandchildren. Miraculously, the magazine he founded in 1974 survives to this day, but in heaven things sometimes turn out that way. He is editor and publisher of The Sun.
Joe Wilkins is the author of the memoir The Mountain and the Fathers — winner of a 2014 Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award — and two collections of poetry: Notes from the Journey Westward and Killing the Murnion Dogs. A Pushcart Prize winner and National Magazine Award finalist, he has published essays, poems, and short stories in The SunThe Georgia ReviewThe Southern ReviewHarvard ReviewOrion, and Slate. Wilkins lives with his wife, son, and daughter in McMinnville, Oregon, where he teaches writing at Linfield College. As the winner of the Boyden Wilderness Writing Residency from pen Northwest, he spent the fall of 2015 living with his family in a remote cabin along the Rogue River in southwest Oregon.

Full program details, including the workshop schedule and a list of what to bring, will be available online on April 1.


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.