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April 2016

Amherst Writers & Artists Newsletter
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March Newsletter Photo by Maureen Buchanan Jones
Image Credit: Maureen Buchanan Jones

Dear AWA Friends,

Writers frequently talk about experiencing writer’s block. In AWA workshops fewer writers find themselves at this creative version of a locked door, because the AWA Method allows us to range freely, to choose what most needs to be said in that moment, to play and experiment without restriction. A block comes from being forced to write what we think we should. Assignments, work projects, and deadlines can send us down this path only to arrive at a dead end. The key to opening the door, is to let loose; write what you want to write, create something entirely different from the should, and restore your confidence in your creative ability. The should will still be there, but you will return to it with conviction and a fresh approach. The other block that can appear is when we face writing that frightens us. Writing into our most difficult places takes courage, so closing that door tightly can make sense. Except that we often find we can’t write about anything else. Here again, the AWA Method offers relief. Writing within the workshop means writing in good company, not going down a dark road alone. Step by step the writing unfolds and the block vanishes. What is on the other side of the door is wondrous, complicated, surprising, and strange.

Spring in Amherst is not only bursting and beautiful, but AWA is full of upcoming events. The first is a dramatic performance, directed by Board Director Pat Brown. The Road to Damascus is a provocative revision of the Canterbury Tales with proceeds to benefit AWA. Please come! All the details are below.
On May 3rd AWA will participate in a second fundraiser: Valley Gives. This event invites everyone to support their favorite non-profit in the Connecticut River Valley, which is where AWA lives. And aren’t we one of your favorite non-profits? The details are below. Thank you in advance!

The AWA Training Program for 2016 is underway with the Malibu session completed and new workshop leaders welcomed! Next we will be in Wallingford, Pennsylvania then Chicago, Illinois and finally Albuquerque, New Mexico. Please see the full details below and on our website.

on-line only submissions are open March 31 – May 31. Please send us your poems and short stories, and please invite your workshop members to do so as well! Submissions are open to the general public. Guidelines are on the website. The Sixth Annual Pat Schneider Poetry Contest will begin again with on-line and hard copy submissions accepted May 1st – July 1st. A reader’s fee of $18.00 covers up to three poems. With a $1,000 prize, this contest is open to everyone, so believe in your work and send it in! Full guidelines are on the website.

If you find yourself at your own creative locked door, give yourself a surprise. Write what is foolish, most heartfelt, or absurd. Write about the pebble in your shoe. Then kick the door.

With gratitude and respect,
Maureen Buchanan Jones
Executive Director


Upcoming Fundraisers


What: Staged reading of a new play by Dannis Caraher
When: Friday April 29th & Saturday April 30th from 7 – 9 p.m.
Where: NACUL Center for Ecological Architecture, located 593 Main St in Amherst, MA
Cost: Donations $12, Students $5, all proceeds benefitting AWA



Bisi Ideraabdullah KeynoteTrainees Listening Pat Signing Books

We are so grateful to each one of you who make up our community: whether you’ve written in an AWA workshop or lead your own, whether you’ve read an AWA Press book or shared your work with us during the Pat Schneider Poetry Contest.

We consider AWA to be a network of people who share our conviction, Pat’s conviction, that writing as an art form belongs to all people. The work we do, training people to lead workshops in the AWA method and connecting them through the Affiliate program, is to further this message and the many voices it strengthens.

We would be honored if you took the time to contribute to our mission by:

  • Offering your thoughts about our work in an email to us or on social media, especially when tagging us or using the hashtags #AmherstWriters, #AWAmethod, or #ValleyGives, to help us follow along and be part of the conversation
  • Sharing the link to our fundraising page
  • Donating resources on May 3rd to help further our mission (you can even start a fundraiser for us to encourage others to give or offer to match any amount of donations )


Training News: Malibu Complete, Pennsylvania in May

We’re so thrilled to welcome the new leaders trained in Malibu last month! A photo of the group appears below. For more, please visit our Facebook page.

Malibu 2016 Group
From left to right (instructors in italics): Maureen Buchanan Jones, Mary Tuchscherer, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6


AWA Workshop Group Leadership Trainings in 2016

May 21 – 252015 Training in Philadelphia, PA

Pendle Hill
Wallingford, PA

September 5 – 92015 Training in Chicago, IL

Cenacle Retreat
Chicago, IL

November 13 – 172015 Training in Loranger, LA

Bosque Center
Albuquerque, NM

Complete your AWA certification this year! We welcome you to apply online or print the 2016 Application and send it with a $300 deposit to: Amherst Writers & Artists, PO Box 1076, Amherst, MA 01004

Reach out with questions to We look forward to hearing from you!



Press News

AWA Press is currently accepting submissions for our next issue of Peregrine and, starting May 1st, for the Sixth Annual Pat Schneider Poetry contest as well: first prize $1000 and publication in Peregrine.

Regular journal submissions are accepted online only while contest submissions will be accepted in print (see Guidelines) as well as, for the first time, online.



Affiliate Classifieds


Summer Writing Retreat with Maureen Buchanan Jones. Join me for four days of writing, resting and rambling in Hawley Massachusetts. August 7 – 10, 2016. Great food, a sky full of stars, and the chance to sink into your words. For information: or

IRELAND – Summer 2016 – Inkslingers offers a writing workshop (with restorative yoga) in Ireland, August 6-14. Let the beauty and history of Ireland seep into your consciousness and writing. Nine days, eight nights, four-star hotels, fabulous experiences. Led by Sue Reynolds and two other skilled AWA facilitators. More at



In The Luminous In-Between, Cynthia Leslie-Bole‘s lyrical poems invite us to experience the radiance of one woman’s evolution through marriage, motherhood, spiritual individuation, and kinship with nature. This collection celebrates our innate capacity to create, heal, and perceive what lies beyond the ordinary in ‘the luminous in-between.’


Founder’s News

For books, Pat’s blog, and a calendar of events, please visit:


“Writing as an art form belongs to all people, regardless of economic class or educational level. . . . A writer is someone who writes.”

–Pat Schneider


Remember us on May 3rd


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