Poetry & Food Weekend Retreat


DEPOSIT – $500; balance due at retreat. Once you register, you will be contacted for your lodging preferences. See below for options.

Join us for a weekend of cooking and eating food intermingled with writing and performing poetry. We will read and encourage poetry that engages with food, while also exploring how food is laced about with language, culture, and politics. We will be seeking the sensuousness and significance in both oral forms.

June 3 and 4, 2017
Fielder Farm, Huntington, Vermont

Full refund 30 days from retreat (May 4 or earlier), 50% refund May 5 – 19. No refund after May 19. Balance due by the end of the retreat, June 4.

Please see below for schedule, workshop leader information, and loft vs. bedroom options. 


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Loft, Bunk, Bedrooms at Fielder Farm

Accommodations at Fielder Farm include the option of a private bedroom in either The Barn, where our workshops and meals will take place, or in The Sled, a separate building just a short walk away. (See photos here: The Barn and The Sled).

A second choice is to share a bedroom with another participant in The Sled. This room has a bunkbed.

A third option is to sleep in one of the two loft areas, which contain a total of 6 beds. The lofts are accessed by ladder-like stairs.  A bridge connects a second loft area to the first. (See photos here – scroll down: Loft).

Whether you choose a loft, bunk, or private room, we are sure you’ll find comfort at Fielder Farm!


$700 = food and workshops for both days (commuter)
$750 = food, workshops, plus a bunkbed, bed in loft, or shared bedroom for 1 night
$800 = food, workshops, plus a private room for 1 night
$900 = food, workshops plus a bunkbed, bed in loft, or shared bedroom for 3 nights
$1000 = food, workshops plus a private bedroom for 3 nights

(If you prefer to stay two nights, either Friday and Saturday or Saturday and Sunday, we can arrange that as well).
Preliminary Schedule

May 26: Send a poem whose focus is on food or, at least, makes some significant reference to food. Our poetry workshop leader, Neil Shepard, will critique this poem for formal workshop on Sunday morning. Participants should bring 10 copies of the poem to the weekend retreat.


8:30-9:30 Check-in

9:30-10:00 Welcome introduction

10-11:30 Poetry workshop – we’ll read food-related poems by well-known poets, examining how food opens the poet to memory; how food connects to culture; how food functions metaphorically and symbolically; how food encourages vivid sensory images, especially the less-engaged gustatory and olfactory senses, but also the tactile and the visual; how food influences certain decisions about diction, idiom, and word-sound, all of which echo and reinforce the foods and cultures presented to the reader.

11:30-1:30  Enjoy lunch while interacting with our Middle Eastern chef and learning some appropriate ways to talk about and around the Middle Eastern fares/he will be providing.  At the end of lunch, the ingredients and schedule for helping out with dinner preparations will be explained.

1:30-2:30 – Poetry meeting to initiate 3 writing exercises (15 minutes each) for using food-and-language material from lunch: 1) diction/sound; 2) sensory/images; 3) associative connections (personal/cultural) to food.

2:30-6:30 Participants spend time working on one or more of the writing exercises, turning them into more finished poems.  Throughout this time, participants may also come into the kitchen to chat with and help the chef cook dinner.

6:30-9:30 Dinner with chef’s explanation of the Middle Eastern dishes and dining etiquette along with after-dinner reading of fresh poetry.


7:00-11:00  Continental breakfast available.

9:30-11:30  Formal poetry workshop, critique of the poem each participant sent ahead of time.

11:30—1:30 Brunch — Local foods, local memories of eating and talking.

1:30-3:00  Participants work on final version of food poem(s) created during 2-day event

3:00-5:00 Tea served — read/comment on poetry resulting from two-day event.

5:00-5:30  Departure

Workshop Leaders:

Neil Shepard has had a long involvement in the world of poetry: his sixth and seventh books of poetry were published in 2015: Hominid Up, by Salmon Poetry (Ireland), and Vermont Exit Ramps II, by Sundog/Green Writers Press. His poems appear in several hundred literary magazines, among them Harvard Review, New England Review, North American Review, Paris Review, and Southern Review, and they have been featured online at Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and Poem-A-Day (from the Academy of American Poets). Shepard has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland, and CAMAC Arts Centre in France, and he has been a visiting writer at the Chautauqua Writers Institute, The Frost Place, and Ossabaw Island Writers Retreat. He founded and directed for eight years the Writing Program at the Vermont Studio Center; he taught for a decade in the low-residency MFA program at Wilkes University (PA) and for several decades in the BFA Creative Writing Program at Johnson State College. He also founded the literary magazine Green Mountains Review and was the Senior Editor for a quarter-century. He currently splits his time between Vermont and New York City, where he teaches poetry workshops at Poets House. Outside of the literary realm, Neil is a founding member of the jazz-poetry group PoJazz. He hopes to continue his involvement with poetry by joining what he calls “the most dynamic poetry organization in the state, Sundog!” To learn more about Neil and his work, feel free to visit http://neilshepard.com/.

Kathleen (Kate) C. Riley received her doctorate in cultural and linguistic anthropology from the CUNY Graduate Center in 2001.  She has conducted fieldwork on food and language in the Marquesas, Vermont, France, Montreal, and NYC.  In particular, she is interested in how humans communicate about, around, and through food – forging our personal and cultural feelings, identities, and relationships. She is also interested in how food and language co-operate as both symbols and instruments of social justice.  She presently teaches at Rutgers University, living in NYC, but spends as much of the growing season as possible in Johnson, VT.


Mouawia Bouzo and Deborah Felmeth are cultural ambassadors. Between their lives in rural Vermont and in Damascus, Syria, the husband and wife team add many components to their careers chef, photographer, writer, and oriental rug traders. In 2015 Deborah’s book of photographs taken in Syria 1991-2011 was published. syria-remember-me.com Between 2000 – 2011 they led several guided tours through Syria. In addition to all of this Mouawia teaches The Art of Syrian Cooking, including food preparation, spicing and cooking techniques. A delicious combination.



Additional information


Private Room, Shared Room, Loft



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