Writers from across Canada descended upon St. Peter’s Abbey this past weekend for the Sagehill Writer’s Retreat.
Thirty-four writers will be creating literary works of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry throughout their 10 days at St. Peter’s Abbey. The writers were at the abbey until July 28.
Sagehill kicked off their time at the abbey with Saskatchewan grown instructors Daniel Scott Tysdal, Sandra Ridley, and Jacqueline Baker all reading from their own works on July 20 while instructor Jeanette Lynes and instructor and keynote speaker Tanis MacDonald shared their work on July 22.
Many of the writers are new to the art but are not completely inexperienced in writing, says Tysdal. Instructing them in his introductory course with Lynes is like a Wizard of Oz experience, he says.
“They’re all at that point of starting out and introducing all the tools that they already know about…We’re just showing them that (their heart and courage) is already there.”
For Baker and Ridley, they are working with writers who are already in the thick of their manuscripts so they are being shown the many different worlds their students are working on creating.
It has been fun to show authors from Vancouver to Halifax this part of the prairies, says Sagehill executive director Tara Dawn Solheim.
They will take a bit of Saskatchewan back with them when they leave for home, she says, the abbey location becomes integrated into the writing.
Writers are often isolated so giving them an opportunity to network and meet new, lifelong friends in a community is a great, but rare, part of providing the retreat, says Solheim.
So many writers are on current projects when they come to Sagehill and with small classes they are given the opportunity for one-on-one time with instructors.
Solheim hopes this gives writers the chance to take their project to the next step.
“That’s the interesting and exciting thing that happens here for everyone…it’s an incubator for writers.”
The abbey was actually a plan B considering there was a fire at their usual summer retreat spot, the Living Skies Retreat and Conference Centre in Lumsden back in the spring.
They were welcomed to the abbey with open arms through Fr. Demetrius Wasylyniuk and they are very grateful for that welcome, says Solheim.