2018 Retreat Schedule

2019 Schedule coming soon!





1:30      Registration/Check-in at E Bar L Ranch (cabins available by 3:00)

5:00      Orientation

5:30      Cocktail Hour with music by TBA
Artisanal cocktails by Montgomery Distillery

6:30    Dinner

7:30      To the End of the Experience—A reading by best-selling and debut memoristis Laura Munson and Melissa Stephenson, followed by Introductions & Contributors’ Notes

9:00    Bonfire




7:00      Breakfast

8:00     Horseback Trail Ride (pre-registration required; a la carte pricing)

8:30     Morning Manifestos—an optional generative writing exercise led by Holly Wren Spaulding

10:00    Old Craft, New Paths: The Art of Teaching Writing, Revised Jack Ridl (a retired professor whose former students include over 75 published authors), Laura Munson (the founder and director of Haven Writing Retreats), Keetje Kuipers (a former tenured professor who resigned her position to write and teach part-time) and Holly Wren Spaulding (a poet who makes her living teaching remotely) convene to talk about the craft of teaching.  

11:00    Breaking Down the Door: First Book Deals in Full Light—Literary Agents Kirby Kim and Julie Stevenson talk first book deals; Nathan Hill--whose debut took twelve years to complete and was compared by none other than John Irving to Charles Dickens--moderates/instigates.

12:30    Lunch

1:15     When We Were Birds—a prose reading award-winning memorist, debut novelist and poet Joe Wilkins.

2:30     First Do No Harm: How to Write Fully Formed, Three-Dimensional, Flesh and Blood Characters— acclaimed fiction writer Jack Driscoll’s annual nonpareil craft lecture.

4:00     All I Ever Wanted To Be Was Home—award-winning poets Sherwin Bitsui and ML Smoker read from their stellar books, which gracefully engage with birth-right/curse, and the indelible influence of home. Q and A to follow.

5:00       Open Mic Cocktail Hour—led by Barrett O’Brien.
Artisanal cocktails by Montgomery Distillery

6:30      Dinner

7:30      Existing in the Ecotone—Beloved Orion Publisher and CEO Chip Blake and special guest David James Duncan discuss transformative literature and its place in a periled world.

8:30      An Evening with Martha Scanlan—A proper, sit-down set with one of the West’s essential songwriters.

Bonfire to follow




7:00      Breakfast

8:30      Coralling the Characters — Actor, screenwriter, and playwright Barrett O’Brian will present the short theater piece The Civics Teacher and lead a writing prompt on first person, politically-active, socially-engaged, environmentally-aware diatribing. Bring your quelled passions and a willingness to unleash.

10:00     The Biology of Creativity — a talk by physician, prose writer and Beargrass alumnus JoDean Nicolette, on what promotes the brain and heart’s capacity to generate art.

11:30     The Editorial PerspectiveOrion CEO and Publisher Chip Blake, and Milkweed Editions’s Editor Abby Travis discuss the pleasures and pitfalls of sustaining  publishinghouse vision, and how a press’mission can alter editorial decision-making.

12:30      Lunch

1:15       See It New: Three ways to Freshen, Move, and Reimagine Your Prose—Award-winning fiction writer and professor Dee McNamer offers inspiring and insanely practical sculpting exercise for the body of any prose work.

2:30      Speed-Pitching with NYC Agents—in our version of speed-dating, agents Julie Stevenson and Kirby Kim field our pitches (with some stumpers thrown in); Milkweed Edition’s Abby Travis moderates and minds our Ps and Qs.

4:00      Ars Poetica?—Award-winning poets Jack Ridl, Keetje Kuipers, Sherwin Bitsui, and debut prose-poet Chris La Tray speak through their own poems about the creative process and the fine art of paying attention.

5:30      Cocktail Hour with music by the amazing Martha Scanlan

6:30      Dinner

8:00         A Visit from The Nix—New York Times bestselling debut novelist Nathan Hill reads from his universally lauded The Nix.

9:00      Reception & Bonfire





7:00      Breakfast

10:00     Bridging the Distance— Gratitudes and Salutations

12:00      Check out of cabins

12:30      Lunch / Departure


Manuscript consultations available with all guest authors/editors/agents for a separate fee.

Missoula's independent bookstore Fact & Fiction will be selling books on-site throughout the retreat. 

Schedule subject to change.