From Writing

The Writer

Thrilled to be interviewed by The Writer. I spoke with the lovely Meredith Quinn about my history leading retreats, what yoga contributes to our creative process and my upcoming retreat near Jackson Hole.

 

 

We timed the retreat to end just as the Jackson Hole Writers Conference begins.  I am pleased to say that I will be part of the conference and will be presenting a workshop!

An 8 Minute Write from Susan Collins

 

We wrote together in Culebra this year.  Here she is with Sophy Craze:

Sue Collins and Sophy Craze Culebra 2015 by Sue Collins

 

 

Cell phone set to buzz in 8 minutes. How much I’d like it to be the gentle ding of sweet Patricia’s bell but the sun is shining in London. I’m sitting on my balcony and can feel its heat on my face. So good. ‘Mouth up’ good. The 18 hour journey is behind me, fading nicely like the pain of childbirth. The warmth is transporting me back to that circle of new friends. People I didn’t expect to like. Why was that? My arrogance? My Englishness? Fear of exposure? Fear that words wouldn’t flow from my pen? But they did and all my negativity blew away on peerless skies and lapping waves. Home to my own bed. What a glorious luxury. Clean white sheets, favorite pillows and a broader mind. Some post to open – the tax man telling me I owe him. I don’t. My payment and his letter crossed so I’m filled with smugness. Huh! It’s my birthday! Texts from my gorgeous children. My grandchild is kicking, saying ‘Happy Birthday’ to its grandmother. Now the 8 minutes are up. Too soon. But I have to stop. Patricia rules.

 

 

To This

A wood thrush flutes at forest’s edge; moose
stands lordly over grass; and high in birches
twigs brush shyly green. Somewhere children
watch the ground. Mothers twist veils to rope,
and deep in earth, an oily shadow seeps. Though
no one asks, I choose them all: thrush, moose,
birch, new leaves painting sky. I choose children
afraid to look, mothers hanging by jet threads.
I choose this clearing and the shadow’s path.

Patricia Lee Lewis

En Route to Guatemala

Prayer to Ixchel While Boarding the Plane for Guatemala

Ixchel
Ixchel, Maya Goddess of Moon & Weaving

Oh let the synapses reconnect

Lo siento, olvidarme todas de español

Let the words of my mouth be in Spanish

Cuando llego en Guatemala

Let the world I carry in English

Be safe and beautiful

Mis hijos y hijas, mis nietas

Y nietos, mi esposo y amigos.

May I open to the people and colors

And smells of Antigua, ciudad vieja,

Con una cabeza y corazon de español.

Patricia Lee Lewis

How I came to lead Writing Workshops and changed my life.

By Patricia Lee Lewis

Nearly twenty years ago, I took my first-ever writing workshop with Pat Schneider. Back then, there was no “AWA method,” no national trainings to learn how to run workshops, no book describing the process. There was only 7:30 – 10:30 p.m. once a week at Pat’s and Peter’s yellow farmhouse in the middle of Amherst. That’s where I found not “how to write,” but home. It was the kind of home you always dreamed of, smelling of fresh coffee and brownies, soft with laughter and wild with hugs, and the whole purpose of the next three hours was to write anything.

Amazingly, the other writers seemed to be there to listen and to tell you what they liked about your piece. They weren’t even allowed to say something negative, not about your brand-new-baby writing. This was a home for writing, a home for the emerging self, a place to gain the courage to write the truest thing.

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The Sacred Isle of Iona

By Patricia Lee Lewis.
Published in the LA Times.

There is a Gaelic prediction that whoever goes to Iona will go not once, but three times. It is a tiny island, barely 1½ miles by 3 miles, set across a narrow sound from the large island of Mull in the Hebrides, off the west coast of Scotland. But the richness of its landscapes, its ancient history, and something mysterious and ineffable in its spirit, call the traveler to return.

When you approach Iona for the first time, it’s likely to be by ferry from the small port of Fionnphort on Mull, or from the north by private boat. You will see a small village, its front row of stone houses neatly lined along a street facing the Sound, and behind them, gentle hills holding stone buildings, farmland and sheep.
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A Pilgrim in Wales

By Patricia Lee Lewis.
Published in Hampshire Life Magazine.

In the ancient Celtic tradition of pilgrimage to sacred places, Erna Evans is going to Skomer Island.

We sit across a table on the train from Cardiff, strangers speeding along Wales’ south coast. As she talks about surviving the Holocaust, marrying an English doctor, becoming a widow, her eyes are as keen as a herring gull’s.

She calls herself a traveling housewife, and goes by train or bus every day to the cliff-walk along Wales’ edges, or to one of the small British islands, exploring as she can. Her swollen legs are made worse by Wales’ wet weather, so walking is hard; but she says the secret to life is not to mind the rain-and then every day is a good day. As I say goodbye and get off the train in Tenby, it begins to drizzle.

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On the Trail of Signs and Wonders

By Patricia Lee Lewis.
Published by the LA Times.

Visiting with the spirits of people whose 5,000-year-old rock paintings survive in preserves along the Rio Grande

COMSTOCK, Texas — Where three rivers come together, spirits must abound. I think this as I leave Big Bend National Park and head east toward los tres rios, the confluence of the Rio Grande, the Pecos and the Devils on the Texas-Mexico border.

The cliffs and canyons above these rivers are alive with paintings of fantastic figures, part human, part animal, part bird. They are believed to be ceremonial images 4,000 to 5,000 years old.

It is an April day at the end of the 20th century, and I am searching for holy places. I am here on a journey to honor the life of my eldest son, to make peace with his death by his own hand and to lay down, in the stark and sacred land of the state where we were born, my 20-year burden of guilt and sorrow.

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