Upcoming Events

THE HEALING ART OF WRITING: A Conference and Writing Workshop

Dominican University of California | July 8 - July 14, 2012


The Healing Art of Writing
began as Writing the Medical Experience, a conference that first met in 2003 as part of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers in the breathtaking Sierra Nevada.  The conference continued for four years on the campus of Sarah Lawrence College, attracting participants from all over the country.  Past faculty members have included notable writers and poets such as Richard Selzer, Frank Huyler, Courtney Davis, John Fox, Ted Kooser, Donald Hall, and Alicia Ostriker.  Now we are pleased to bring WME to Dominican University of California, with a new title intended to reflect more closely its aspirations.

Our conference offers a unique experience in bringing together caregivers and patients who share a passion for writing about the mysterious forces of illness and recovery.  The conference fosters communication between the two worlds we are all born into, described by Susan Sontag as “the kingdom of the well and . . . the kingdom of the sick.”  A belief shared among all the participants is that being cured of the disease is not the same as being healed, and that the writing of poetry and prose brings us to a place of healing.  Our subject is the body, our medical experiences widely diverse, our goal to express through literature what happens when a physical or mental anguish disrupts our lives.

Since participants are exploring intimate subjects, the conference fosters mutual support and friendship.  The campus of Dominican University provides a secluded retreat, yet lies within easy distance to San Francisco for those wishing to venture forth.  Wednesday afternoon of the conference is non-scheduled to allow participants to explore the Bay Area, socialize, or take time for quiet reflection.

The Workshops

Poetry workshops will meet from 9:30 to noon each morning. Workshop members and leaders change daily so that all may experience a variety of styles and voices. Poets will be required to write a new poem each day to bring to the workshop. In this atmosphere of challenge and support, poets will be free to break old habits and write with more strength and truth.  Since time is limited, you may wish to bring a list of possible subjects for new poems.

Prose workshops meet from 9:30 to noon each morning. Participants will meet with a different leader each day. Two to three manuscripts will be treated at each session. Participants will have the opportunity to read manuscripts in advance so as to be prepared to give constructive feedback in the workshop. The first two days’ manuscripts will be due two weeks before the start of the conference, the remainder upon registration. Participants whose manuscripts are being discussed the first two days will be notified in advance.

Afternoon and Evening Events

There will be daily talks and panel discussion on craft, editing, publishing, ethics and other subjects that address the particular concerns of writers. Faculty readings, participant readings and social gatherings will take place during the evenings.  In addition to workshops participants will be offered a one-on-one session with a faculty member to allow for more detailed feedback on their work.

Contact: David Watts, Conference Director
Foundation for Humanities in Medicine