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Questions & Answers

How Do I Register?

I am so new to the island that my life is similar to an infant's with all her energy consumed by long unblinking stares. I do not put on a show of knowing much. I am letting in the moss and whales and wetness. 

E-mail Ruth at and ask for a registration form. She'll get in touch with you right away and send you the registration form with instructions about registering for the Tongass Mist Writing Retreat.

Who Can Attend?/What if I can't afford this?

I chose Sitka. She did not choose me. I chased the island. I sent messages and I became a squeaking wheel of want until she let me in. 

All writers are welcome to register. All genres are welcome. Be in touch with Ruth if the retreat is too expensive for you as there may be a scholarship for the cost of the retreat if at least ten writers register and pay in full.

What does the retreat cost and include?

Raven knocks are Sitka's cocka-doodle-doo. Yesterday a toddler knocked his tongue to the roof of his mouth just like a raven while he played on the hospital room floor with yellow trucks. In a recliner his newborn baby brother snuggled to their father's chest. This is the way we all grow knotted firmly to the wild earth by our language. 

The retreat costs $699.00 for a single room in Sweet Water Dorm/$549.00 for a shared room in Sweet Water Dorm) and includes

*group generative writing sessions with Robert Vivian

*lodging with linens and bedding

*breakfasts and lunches provided Nov 21,22,23,24

 *transportation to daily outdoor excursions

*access to common areas on Sitka Fine Arts Campus such as fire pit- lounges- yoga studio for low cost classes, large outdoor spaces and readings in chapel or Yaw Arts Center.

*It does NOT include travel to Sitka, Alaska

*It does NOT include cost of dinner (although transportation will be provided to a cafe each evening for supper or writers can make their own arrangements). 

Why Write in Sitka?

The white spot is a seagull who cuts across my view, breaking up dense spruce across Cresent Harbor-a pinch of cardamom in coffee. 

Sitka is a vibrant location, literally a 14 mile stretch of road in the middle of wilderness.  It's an island in Alaska and it's not like the interior Alaska climate you might assume. Sitka is in a temperate rainforest. It's often rainy, misty and stays green all year. The average temperature at the end of November is still 41 degrees farenhiet. Sitka is inside the Tongass Forest which is North America's largest forest and is currently threatened by proposed policies to open pristine wilderness for new commercial use that it had been protected from in previous legislations. You can spend your entire time in town or swing to the other end of the pendulum and go on independent treks by yourself on trails, or find a way to get on the water too. The art community in Sitka is rich and diverse. This is a welcoming place for creating. Robert Vivian will be here and he is a wonderful writer, teacher creative soul!

What else? Come and find out! For a tiny community, there is a whole lot going on both on the trails and in town. 

What is Sitka, Alaska like in November?

Last night I saw northern lights dance down on Sitka and there were cars and humans lining Halibut Point Road. You could see the lights from the center of town this time, not even spot lights blocked the show. But many of us wanted to get out of the streetlights. We drove away from town. Some people stayed inside their cars. Some people stepped out to stand near ocean for their view. Some people shivered and some wore blankets. Everyone gawked. It is better than the Fourth of July when you can be dazzled without the sound of explosions. 

Southeast Alaska is much milder than the interior of Alaska, and certainly not at all like the arctic. Because Sitka is located on Baranof Island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean we get different weather than most of Alaska. Average temperature in November here? 41 degrees! If it snows it almost always melts by late morning. There may be ice in places on trails or the sidewalk if it is unusually cold, but that's what yak traks were made to conquer! You do not want to fall in the water as it is very cold. The bears will mostly be snoring in their dens so you'll still want to be "bear aware" but can know that they are well fed at this time of the year and likely asleep. It often rains in Sitka so you will want to bring water proof jackets and boots although the rain is often a light drizzle which you can do fine in with normal boots. Rain boots are great for wading in tide pools irregardless. You may even see northern lights this time of year.

Food Options?

Beauty seeps into duty. It drips in where there are leaks. It oozes over all the organized piles. Beauty is a fungus growing over dead things. Conks and mushroom small as a your button, especially witch's butter in brilliant gold.

There will be morning tea and coffee with a continental breakfast. A lunch will be provided each day as well. To lower the cost of the retreat supper will not be included in the cost of the retreat, but the group will go to a cafe in town each evening and transportation will be provided for this. If the group size is large enough it's possible this may change to include more meals. 

Sweet Water Dorm has a lounge with a fridge and microwave. 

A complimentary ride to the largest grocery in town 4 miles away from Sitka Fine Arts Camp will be provided as well at the beginning of the retreat. If there are certain food items you absolutely must have- bring them with you! There is a wonderful grocery just two blocks from the Sitka Fine Arts Campus with fresh fruit and veggies and food staples. There are numerous cafes, coffee shops, pubs 0.5 miles away from campus in the heart of town. A few places will deliver as well. 

How Do I Get To Sitka?

She told me she cut the sunshine off my hair. I step further into this dim ocean-hugged life. 

Sitka is a 3 hour flight from Seattle. 

You will land in in at least one other Southeast Alaskan city en route and usually just stay on the same plane. 


Outside an ocean roars and I trust it not to breech beyond this shore. 

Sitka Fine Arts Campus Lodging in Sweet Water Dorm is  newly renovated (in past year) and very clean. Linens and bedding are provided. Each room has a window onto the spacious campus or forest behind dorm. There are two twin beds in each room with comfortable spring mattresses. There is a large lounge to for gathering and writing and there are spacious outdoor grounds with beautiful mountain, harbor and town views. 

Writing sessions and readings will be held right next to the dorm on campus in the Yaw Art Center or Chapel building. 

If a family member or friend travels with you they will need to pay full cost of attendance for a shared room. Please be in touch with any questions. Sorry, no pets. 

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