Poetry and the town of La Conner have a long history. For the past two decades, the Skagit River Poetry Festival has brought some of the world’s finest poets to this quiet town in May for four days of workshops, readings and conversations about poetry.

Recently, I discovered that La Conner is also home to an annual writing retreat for women called “Poets on the Coast” hosted by Kelli Russell Agodon and Susan Rich. Feeling nostalgic for the festival buzz and a little stagnant in my own writing (I am a new mom with limited writing time these days) I signed up to participate this past September.


Kelli Russell Agodon (left) and Susan Rich (right)

The retreat is designed for writers of all levels and has been offered for several years. As I arrived to the opening reception it quickly became clear that there were many returning participants as well as some newbies to the group, like myself.

The atmosphere was welcoming and jovial and I was introduced to several women right away that spanned in age from 20 to 70-something. During the reception each poet was asked to share a poem. I was immediately struck by the depth and breadth of writers in the room and was excited to be surrounded by so many poetry lovers!

Agodon and Rich are beautiful poets themselves and also great advocates of literary citizenship, a topic we discussed at the retreat. In addition to their multiple books of poetry, Rich created and hosts WordsWest, a reading series in West Seattle and Agodon is co-founder and editor of Two Sylvias Press which also offers regular, online writing retreats and resources for poets.


In the second day of the retreat we dove into generative exercises that proved to be quite fruitful. Both Rich and Agodon are extremely generous with their ideas and support and as a group we explored a range of writing prompts that were original, exciting and, at least in my case, effective. I walked away from the day with four solid poem drafts, which I did not expect.

Both poets also offer a master class as well as one-on-one consultations during the retreat. While I was not able to participate in the last day due to previous commitments, the other participants had the op