Poetry & Food Weekend Retreat


DEPOSIT – $250 (50% refundable before July 1, 2019)


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.

September 13 – 16 2019
Fielder Farm, Huntington, Vermont

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. There are also 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 private or shared room, we are sure you’ll find comfort at Fielder Farm!


$500 = all meals, workshops, plus shared accommodations for 3 nights
$750 = all meals, workshops, plus a private bedroom for 3 nights

Preliminary Schedule

By September 1: 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 the formal workshop on Sunday morning. Participants should bring 10 copies of the poem to the weekend retreat.

Friday, September 13:
5:00pm – Check-in/Registration
7:00pm-9:00pm – Dinner (food poetry reading by local authors)

Saturday, September 14:
7:30am-9:30am – Breakfast
10:00am – Welcome introduction – in-depth schedule for the days’ events will be provided
10:30am-12:30pm – Food & poetry discussion led by workshop leaders. Through looking at food poetry by authors such as Galway Kinnell, Mary Oliver, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Li Young-Lee, we’ll examine 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.
12:30pm-2:30pm – Enjoy lunch while interacting with the chef and learning some culturally appropriate ways to talk about and around the fare they will be providing. At the end of lunch, the ingredients and schedule for helping out with dinner preparations will be explained.
2:30pm-3:30pm – Poetry meeting to initiate three food-related writing exercises for using food-and-language material from lunch: 1) diction/sound; 2) sensory/images; 3) associative connections (personal/cultural) to food.
3:30pm-6:30pm – 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. Neil will also be available for questions about poetry and Kate for questions about food-language-culture connection.
6:30pm-9:30pm – Dinner with chef’s explanation of the dishes and dining etiquette along with after-dinner reading of fresh poetry.

Sunday, September 15:
7:30am-9:30am – Breakfast
10:00am-12:00pm – Formal poetry workshop and critique of the poem each participant sent ahead of time.
12:00pm-2:00pm – Lunch; Discuss local foods and local memories of eating and speaking with chef and Kate.
2:00pm-6:00pm Participants work on final version of food poem(s) created during 2-day event and meet with Neil for 15-minute conferences.
6:00pm-8:00pm – Dinner; additional discussion about and around food
8:00pm-10:00pm – Reading by participants of “finished” food poems

Monday, September 16:
7:30am-9:30am – Breakfast
10:00am – Departure

Our culinary guest this year: Karina Ckless. Karina was born and raised in Porto Alegre city, Rio Grande do Sul, the most southern state of Brazil. Karina is a truly “Gaucha” who loves land and rural life. She earned her PhD in Biochemistry in Brazil, and started her career as college professor of Biochemistry at Brazilian Universities. One of her great challenges in adult life was to leave her established career in her beloved country and move to Vermont to pursue even a more challenging professional life as a post doc at the University of Vermont. It has been almost 20 years since the aerial view of a place with “a big lake and too-small- airport-to- land-a-plane” terrified her mind. Now this beautiful view of Lake Champlain became the wonderful feeling of getting home. She lives in northern Vermont with her husband Ed, dog Koko and three cats Marta, Robinho (Bibi) and Zelda. Currently she works as a Biochemistry Professor at SUNY Plattsburgh, NY and commutes from Vermont. Her passions beyond science, education and outdoor activities are “all things food”, from growing to cooking and sharing with family, friends and students. She grew up in a nurturing family where food is the ultimately expression of love, and she strongly believes and cultivates that.

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.

Additional information


Private Room, Shared Room, Loft


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