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The 2016 Writers in the Round Retreat on Star Island (Thursday-Sunday, September 8-11) is a multi-day creative retreat for songwriters and poets in a beautiful natural setting. The retreat is a time for artisitic growth in a safe environment, fostered by instructors who are experts in their art, be it songwriting, poetry, or spoken word, and who are whole-souled in their approach to life.

Star IslandA Supportive Approach

The small group experience consists of classes for instruction, workshops for creative expression, and evening programs, which support a healthy group dynamic.

Participants are encouraged to take risks and push themselves to explore new aspects to the process of writing. Honesty, compassion, and humor are qualities valued by retreat organizers and participants.

Activities: New Beginnings and New Horizons

The development of a nurturing, yet challenging creative environment is a central goal. Formal activities are focused exclusively on this goal. There are also opportunities for informal networking, which are supported as a part of retreat activities. Through immersion in the formal and informal activities, participants often embark upon new creative directions never before touched upon, and form new creative associations with others outside of their daily walk in life. As such the retreat fosters diversity, and celebrates new beginnings and new horizons.

StarStar Island 2016 Retreat

Hello All!
We are happy to announce that Writers in the Round Creative Retreat On Star Island is now in its twelvth year!   We hope you will share with others and if possible let us know of your plans to attend this year's retreat. Registration opens on April 15. You may contact the Conference Registrar/Co-Chair at , or contact Co-Chair Craig Werth at

Financial aid is available again with Star Island. Many WITR attendees have made good use of financial aid in previous years. Full details are listed on the Star website:

This year's Writers in the Round (WITR) Retreat on Star, hosted by Ellen Taylor and Craig Werth, will take place from Thursday, September 8 to Sunday, September 11, 2015.

About the Instructors

Songwriting: Jocelyn Mackenzie

jocelyn picJocelyn Mackenzie is a Brooklyn-based, singer, songwriter, songwriting coach, percussionist, writer, fiber artist and all around maker of things. She is best known as 1/3 of indie-pop trio Pearl and the Beard, who released their farewell album Beast in 2015. The band is proud to have three songs from their catalog featured in Michael Showalter's new film Hello, My Name is Doris, starring Sally Field and Max Greenfield, in theaters in March 2016.  The band has an extensive touring history across the US, UK and Canada with such noteworthy artists as Ani DiFranco, Neko Case, Iron & Wine, Ingrid Michaelson, Bastille, Dar Williams, Lucius, You Won't, David Wax Museum,Lady Lamb, The Drums, Matt + Kim, Sharon Van Etten and more.
Mackenzie is a proud volunteer at the Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls, for which she has performed, coached, and given songwriting workshops for young musicians. In 2015 Mackenzie collaborated with Emily Hope Price to write and perform music for the independent theater piece All We Have Left, granted by the Jim Henson Foundation and the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center. Mackenzie is eager to release her new EP Unlovely later this year, which features a collaboration with Ani DiFranco and handmade accessories and jewelry for the album's cover art. In addition to her accessories design and music, Mackenzie also knits professionally and has created garments for such clients as Coach, Helmut Lang, Calvin Klein and Edun.

Poetry: BJ Ward

bjBJ Ward is the author of four books of poetry. His most recent, Jackleg Opera: Collected Poems 1990-2013 (IO Poetry Series/North Atlantic Books), received the 2014 Paterson Award for Literary Excellence. His poems have been featured on National Public Radio’s “The Writer’s Almanac” and the website Poetry Daily, as well as in publications such as Poetry, American Poetry Review, TriQuarterly, Green Mountains Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, The Sun, The Literary Review, and The Normal School, among others. His essays have appeared in The New York Times, Inside Jersey, The Worcester Review, and Teaching Artist Journal. He is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and two Distinguished Artist Fellowships from the NJ State Council on the Arts.

Registration Information

Registration for the WITR Conference begins on April 15, 2016.  See top right section of this web page for more information and relevant links.

Star Island Retreat

September 8 to 11, 2016

Registration Information

Registration for this conference will be held "on-line".  It begins for our conference on April 15.  If you have questions in advance, feel free to write to our registrar/co-chair, Ellen Taylor at:  For non-registration questions, you are also welcome to contact co-chair Craig Werth at:

SPACE is LIMITED to preserve the quality of the experience for participants.  We expect the retreat to fully fill with a balanced mix of poets and songwriters by mid-summer.


WITR Conference Registration (begins for our conference April 15)

Star Island Information

Financial Aid