After a two-year hiatus, I’m returning to Esalen

I’m kicking off the holiday season by going back to Esalen in Big Sur California tomorrow to take a five-day poetry workshop with Joseph Millar. But I’ve made up my mind already. Just being back at Esalen after a two-plus-year break is all that matters. Of course I love being there to write. But what I really I love is just being there – period.

I’ve worked with Joseph many times before, usually when he leads poetry workshops with Ellen Bass and his wife Dorianne Laux – a fantastic trio of poetry brilliance. He also helped edit a lot of the poems that appear in my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On. He has a wonderful gift for honing in on the good and what can be improved about the poems he hears and reads.

Here’s a little information about Joseph that I lifted from his website:

Joseph Millar’s first collection, Overtime, was a finalist for the 2001 Oregon Book Award. His second collection, Fortune, appeared in 2007, followed by a third, Blue Rust, in 2012.
Millar grew up in Pennsylvania and attended Johns Hopkins University before spending 30 years in the San Francisco Bay area working at a variety of jobs, from telephone repairman to commercial fisherman. It would be two decades before he returned to poetry. His work stark, clean, unsparing records the narrative of a life fully lived among fathers, sons, brothers, daughters, weddings and divorce.
He has won fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in such magazines as DoubleTake, TriQuarterly, The Southern Review, APR, and Ploughshares. Millar teaches in Pacific University’s low-residency MFA.

With Joseph at the helm, I look forward to an opportunity to write several poems in the next five days. If I’m successful I’ll share a couple when I get back.

Here are a few of my favorite Esalen photos.

I love this little white buddha. There is no better place to meditate than at Esalen in Big Sur, California.

Since wifi is almost nil on the Esalen site, I found a place along Highway 1 to call my husband when I take my morning walks. The higher I get onto that little rock – I call it my talking rock – the better the reception.


The above is my favorite view from the Esalen sulfur hot springs baths. I usually go there just after sunrise while the last night’s partiers are all still asleep.


I’ll see you back here next weekend.

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