Ashokan Center hosts Poetry Barn’s Catskill LIT festival

Ashokan Reservior (photo by Dion Ogust)

The Poetry Barn will conduct its second annual writers’ retreat, called Catskill LIT, from Monday to Thursday, September 2 to 5, at the Ashokan Center. Poets, songwriters, prose stylists and storytellers will take over Ashokan’s inspirational 300-acre campus nestled amidst waterfalls, meadows and streams. Guests can commute, camp or stay overnight in solar-powered buildings that blend rustic charm with modern amenities. All packages include meals made from locally sourced ingredients. A full menu of workshops and activities is available à la carte, with fees starting at $20, once you’ve purchased your $25-per-day Festival Pass (ten percent off if purchased online by August 31 with the code GETLIT).

The headliner/artist-in-residence for Catskill LIT is world-famous aerialist and award-winning writer Philippe Petit, who will give a presentation on creativity at the retreat’s opening ceremony and also lead a workshop called “The Art of Writing.” Other workshops include letterpress and bookbinding with printmaker/book artist Maureen Cummins, songwriting and singing with musicians Jude Roberts and Julie Parisi Kirby and illustrated journaling with artist/writer/calligrapher Barbara Bash.

Attendees won’t just be living in their heads; movement and music will also figure in many of the activities. Post-Traumatic Press co-founder Alison Koffler-Wise will lead two “hike and write” expeditions: the first to the glacial Cathedral Gorge with its 80-foot waterfall and the second to a 19th-century writer’s cabin. Screenwriter/playwright/novelist Nina Shengold will offer “Prose Rambles,” walks with writing prompts designed to blur the line between fiction and nonfiction. “Breathe. Read. Write.” with the New School’s Lisa Freedman and “Body Intelligence” with the Kingston Yoga Lab’s Cory Nakasue will combine movement, meditation, breath and writing exercises designed to recharge the right (or “write”) side of the brain. Musician-in-residence Phyllis Capello will offer ukulele lessons, the Vanaver Caravan’s Emily Vanston will offer dance instruction and Poetry Barn director Lissa Kiernan will offer poetry/wine pairings.


There will be yoga in the mornings, swing dance, musical performances, readings and open mics in the evenings, swimming, canoeing and Ashokan’s famous wood-fired sauna. Sound dreamy? Check out all the details at

Catskill LIT
Monday-Thursday, Sept. 2-5
$25 day, workshops $20+
Ashokan Center, 477 Beaverkill Rd., Olivebridge,