Writing Retreat

Write alongside other writers!

Join us for the fourth annual Writing Retreat at Shake Rag Alley, open to writers of all levels. Enrich your talent and prospects at Shake Rag Alley School for the Arts in this charming art community and old mining town. Choose one of three genres taught by either Patricia Ann McNair (Memoir and Personal Essay; Retreat Artistic Director), Christine Rice (Short Story), or Shawn Shiflett (New Novel Pages) for an in-depth workshop that will challenge you across the three days. These workshop directors are award-winning published authors and active, experienced teachers of writing.

Interwoven around these main workshops will be optional and inspiring creative activities, including talks on Writing About Race, with Eric May, and Baldwin in Paris, with Philip Hartigan, a panel discussion on Alternatives in Publishing, a Faculty and Local Author Reading, two Participant Open Mics, and a craft talk on narrative distance, with Sarah Hammond, make for a retreat jam-packed with opportunities to learn, share, network and write. Make new writing friends each day at lunch and enjoy Mineral Point evenings together.

Manuscript consultations are available with instructors on a first sign up, first served basis, at a very affordable price.

We are pleased to work in partnership with Hypertext Magazine & Studio, a social justice writing nonprofit organization. 

Books by Faculty, Panelists & Presenters

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Mining the Story

May 29 - 31

Writing Retreat Details & FAQs

Classroom assignments for Workshop Groups will be provided at check-in.
Group events and meals are held in the Lind Pavilion, 411 Commerce St.

Friday, May 29

9 – 10 am: Check-in at the Coach House, 18 Shake Rag St.

10 – 10:30 am: Welcome & Faculty Introductions

10:45 – 11:45: Writers Drawing for Discovery | Philip Hartigan

noon: Lunch

1:30 – 4:30 pm: Workshop Groups in assigned classrooms

4:30 – 6 pm: Meet & Greet

5:30 – 7 pm: Manuscript Consultations [McNair, Rice, Shiflett]

Free Evening to explore Mineral Point and/or Write

Saturday, May 30

9 am: Manuscript Consultations [McNair, Rice, Shiflett, Hammond, May]

10 am – noon: Workshop Groups

noon – 1 pm: Lunch & Participant Open Mic

1 – 4 pm: Workshop Groups

4:30 – 5:30 pm: Writing About Race | Eric May

7:30 pm: Faculty and Local Author Reading | open to the public

Sunday, May 31

9:30 am: Manuscript Consultation [May]

10 – 10:45 am: Your Inner Child, an exercise in narrative distance | Sarah Hammond

11 – 12:15: Alternatives in Publishing | Patricia McNair, Justin O’Brien, Judith Sutcliffe

12:30 – 1:30 pm: Lunch & Participant Open Mic

1:45 – 3:45 pm: Workshop Groups conclude

4 – 4:30 pm: Closing Remarks & Toast

5:30 pm: James Baldwin in Paris | Philip Hartigan | open to the public

Friday, May 29 | 10:45-11:45 am | Lind Pavilion, 411 Commerce St.

Philip Hartigan will lead a drawing activity to prime the creative pump for an exciting weekend of writing.

Writing Retreat participants may sign up for a 25-minute one-on-one manuscript consultation with any one of these faculty members:

  • Sarah Hammond
  • Eric May
  • Patricia McNair
  • Christine Rice
  • Shawn Shiflett

Fifteen manuscript consultation appointments are available. You may submit one piece no longer than 12 pages. Cost is $45 (see below)

Call the Shake Rag Alley office at 608-987-3292 to schedule after purchase.

Saturday, May 30 | noon-1 pm | Lind Pavilion, 411 Commerce St.

Sunday, May 31 | 12:30-1:30 pm | Lind Pavilion, 411 Commerce St.

Registered workshop participants are invited to read from their own work during lunch. Please limit your selections to under 10 minutes. Order of reading will be determined by self-selection using sign-up sheets on a first-come first-served basis. A microphone and podium will be provided. Printing services are not available.

Saturday, May 30 | 4:30-5:30 pm | Lind Pavilion, 411 Commerce St.

Eric May, Chicago Public Library 21st Century Author, whose book Bedrock Faith was named a Notable African-American Title by Publishers Weekly, shortlisted for the 2014 Great Lakes Great Reads Prize and declared a top read by: Roxane Gay; Booklist; O, The Oprah Magazine; Chicago Reader; and Chicago Tribune/Printers Row, will give a talk on writing about race.

Saturday, May 30 | 7:30 pm | Lind Pavilion, 411 Commerce St.

Faculty and local authors will read from and discuss their work
beginning at 7:30 pm in the Lind Pavilion at 411 Commerce St.

Sunday, May 31 | 10 am | Lind Pavilion, 411 Commerce St.

Sarah Hammond is an international author for young people and has published for both teens and younger readers. For almost a decade she worked as a lawyer in London, UK. Her first teen book The Night Sky in my Head was published by OUP and was shortlisted for the Calderdale Children’s Book of the Year Award, the Leeds Book Award (14-16 category), the James Reckitt Hull Children’s Book Award and the Angus Book Award. Her first picture book, Mine!, was published by Parragon. Sarah runs workshops and competitions, mentors students, and presents at conferences and universities.

Author Website

Sunday, May 31 | 11 am | Lind Pavilion, 411 Commerce St.

Justin O’Brien is a writer and typographer, retired from advertising and now working on his own projects. His writing has appeared in Living BluesThe Voice of the River Valley, Juke Blues, Sing Out!, Irish Music, Chicago Parent, and Elysian Fields. In 2018 he produced his first book, Chicago Yippie! ’68, on his experiences as a teenaged anti-war protester.

Judith Sutcliffe is a multi-faceted artist who enjoys creating and teaching in a variety of media, including concrete/mosaic art, doll-making, primitive weaving, book arts and printmaking, forged jewelry, tile, woodcarving, nonfiction and poetry. A native of Iowa, Judy spent 17 years as a tile muralist in Santa Barbara, CA, before returning to the Midwest in 1996. Her tile paintings grace many Santa Barbara public buildings and private homes. In addition to tile work, Judy, as The Electric Typographer, has designed over 30 typefaces, including calligraphic and image fonts. Judy is co-owner of the Longbranch Gallery, in Mineral Point. Additionally, Judy has long been active in writing groups in Galena, Illinois and is the author of A Collection of Old Men, Blue Eyed Grass, California Poppy, Wild Rose, The Little Mermaid and the Story of Kimballton in Iowa’s ‘Danishland’ and co-author of An Old House in Galena, with Sandy Scott, as well as Grandma’s Cherry Spoon: a Story of Tuberculosis, with Marjorie McVicker Sutcliffe.

Sunday, May 31 | 5:30 pm | Lind Pavilion, 411 Commerce St.

Campus Map: Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts

Coach House
18 Shake Rag Street

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Art Café

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Ellery House

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restrooms

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restrooms

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Open Air Parking

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Lind Pavilion Parking

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Roadside Parking
allowed on Commerce Street

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Smejas’ Studio parking

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Smejas’ Studio
30 Doty Street

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Curbside Parking
as indicated

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Accessible Parking
with curb cut

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Alley Stage

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Cabinet Shop

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French Cabin

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1830 Log Cabin

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Potter’s House

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Blacksmith Barn

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Federal Spring

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Monarch Garden

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Lind Pavilion
411 Commerce Street

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two blocks to

High Street & Commerce Street
Restaurants, Shops & Galleries

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To Grocery Store
Point Foods
622 Dodge Street

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Street Parking with Additional Parking behind Smejas’ Studio

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The Green
open air park

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Stair Steps
between
Cabinet Shop & Lind Pavilion

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Stair Steps
to Alley Stage

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Stone Bridge
over
Federal Spring

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The Sardeson
223 Commerce St.
The Sardeson is home to the
Sardeson Pottery Studio,
Roland’s Loft,
and Tuckpoint. 29 of 31

Weaving & Fiber Arts Studio

Cannery Row Arts Incubator
121 Water St.

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Footbridge

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ADA accessible buildings: Lind Pavilion, Coach House, Smejas’ Studio