I was so excited to be invited in 2012 to lead my first course at Sharon Black and Alex Duncan’s stunning retreat centre in the wild Cévennes mountains of southern France.
Remote and lush, the mountains are home to sheep and goats with bells, cheesemakers and beekeepers, the Cevennol ‘oignon doux’, wild mushrooms, wild herbs and sweet chestnut trees (the main source of flour here in the past), eagles, boar and bee-eaters. Close by is one of the main attractions of the week*: a waterfall pool, clear and deep – a perfect opportunity for skiving off, and stripping off, too. *Another is the wonderful organic vegetarian food.
WRITING THE BRIGHT MOMENT
Place, Longing and Belonging
(creative & reflective writing for novice & experienced writers alike)
Gardoussel, Cévennes, southern France
Sat 1 September – Sat 8 September
Course fee is £275.
Accommodation with all delicious food, and wine, in a shared room for 7 nights €580
(single rooms may be available for a supplement of €150)
EARLYBIRD BOOKING: NB 10% discount on total fee if you book before May 31st 2018.
‘Probably the best week of my life!’ (Penny Shutt, who attended the 2015 week)
In his ‘Late Fragment’, Raymond Carver asked of himself what he wanted from this life. His response:
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.
This is a week of creative and reflective writing, in both prose and poetry, to quicken the heart, fire the imagination, enliven the senses and re-tune our sense of belonging here on this beautiful planet, with the animals, birds, trees, insects, rivers (and other people) that share our home.
During this week, we’ll let our sense of longing lead our imagination and our writing. Through lively discussion, shared silence, slow walking, time outdoors, mindfulness exercises and creative prompts we’ll find new ways of being in and writing from each moment – effortlessly. There’ll be stimulating and gentle writing tasks, shared words and readings, and time simply to be in the natural world (including, if you’d like, time to immerse yourself in the waterfall pool!).
Expect a friendly group, a deepening of your sense of connectedness, a great deal of sometimes surprising writing (prose and poetry), a slowing down, some play, a lot of laughter, and a sense of depth, ease and restoration.
The mornings are given over to a quiet prompted start, followed by inspiring writing tasks. In the evenings there are shared activities and events, often around the firepit. Each afternoon there will be an optional reading-back session, with feedback if wanted. Another optional extra is generally a wake-up dance/movement/yoga/meditation session in the early morning.
Travel: the Abri website has comprehensive info on travel. Note that if you take Eurostar you can be in Nîmes just a handful of hours after leaving London.
A common word in relation to this course is ‘transformative’.
UK poet and author Roselle Angwin is a popular tutor who leads the Fire in the Head creative and reflective writing programme, and The Wild Ways ecosoul project, a path of reconnection with self, other, story and land. She’s passionate about wild places and the natural world, as well as the relationships and meeting points between inner and outer geographies. Roselle read Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic with mediaeval French at Cambridge, with a focus on Celtic language and mythology. Later, she trained in Transpersonal Psychology and holds a counselling qualification.
Herself well-published, she has been described as ‘a poet of the bright moment whose own sources of creative inspiration are her native Westcountry, Brittany, the Scottish islands, and a highly individual blend of Celtic myth and metaphysics, psychology, shamanic and Buddhist thinking’. She leads courses and retreats on Dartmoor, in Cornwall, the Isle of Iona and abroad.
Price includes all course tuition, accommodation and delicious vegetarian meals with an Ayurvedic focus. Massages are available on-site.
NB: Shared accommodation at a reduced rate is also available in a bell tent in the lovely meadow. Please ask Sharon when you book this.
‘It isn’t easy to put into words what a haven of peace, quietude and relaxation Gardoussel is. Having never attended a creative writing course before this was a revelation for me and I wrote more in a week with Roselle than I have in my life so far. Her techniques, encouragement and critiques set my creative juices flowing and gave me tools to continue my writing when I get home.’ (Kerryn Alt)
‘Roselle’s deep and thoughtful humanity, her affinity with nature, her skilled handling of material and participants, her inspirational writing and readings created a deeply healing and creative space.’ (Chloe Balcomb)
‘The week was marvellous and truly inspirational, in so many different ways. The exercises in poetry writing fired up my neurons and this improved my prose writing as well. Highlights were the delicious, healthy food, the atmospheric fire pit in the evening, the fun, laughter and the sharing of poetry and prose.’ (Anja de Jager)
November 2017: Kezza Ann posted this on facebook:
‘Three and a half years ago I stumbled myself into a creative writing retreat in France which literally changed my life…spinning me away from my Sydney life to landing me in my Somerset life. Cannot recommend this retreat space and retreat facilitator enough. The beauty, the nature, the space, the people. If you are in need of a 2018 peace-writing-holiday, and possible game-changer, get yourself to Roselle Angwin’s Writing The Bright Moment retreat in France.’ Thank you Kezza