Ann Ericksson and Gary Geddes

2015 Retreat Leaders Ann Eriksson and Gary Geddes

Tutka Bay Writers Retreat

Registration is open!

Friday, September 11 through Sunday, September 13, 2015
Tutka Bay Lodge (59° 28' N 151° 30' W)

New for our 6th Tutka Bay retreat we have two outstanding guest instructors, Ann Eriksson and Gary Geddes!

When the Words Burn

Words are the central concern in writing, just as color might be considered the principal ingredient in painting, or notes in music. If you want to make those words sing or ignite, so they leave an unforgettable impression, nesting in the ear or taking a reader by the throat, it might help to have a wonderful imagination or a hatful of tricks and plots. However, your most important tool is your love of language. As a colleague once observed, what happens next is important in writing; and what always happens next in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction is a word. Not the next twist in the plot, but what happens right there on the page. And that word is the fulcrum, the point of balance that determines how the writing will proceed. If you’re able to listen backwards and forwards as you choose each new word, you’re more than halfway to holding a reader’s attention and earning his or her admiration.

Yes, this sounds arduous, and it is. But it’s also really what makes writing so much fun. Anyone can imagine a clever plot, a catchy rhyme scheme, or an enviable theme, but it’s only the word-masters who know how to create the kind of linguistic net that catches and holds you for the duration.

Ann Eriksson and Gary Geddes are both engaged writers, exploring issues of considerable social and political importance, but what makes Ann’s novels and Gary’s poetry and nonfiction memorable is their attention to language, the words chosen, the sounds and images those words evoke, and where the stress patterns fall in a particular sentence or line. Gary has been praised for his “deadly accuracy in language and form,” Ann, for her care for the shape and ring of sentences. Join them in their separate genre breakouts and joint craft sessions, which will encourage sharing. Bring along your knowledge, questions, and short samples of your own work that might be worth sharing because they’re problematic, pretty damn good, or somewhere in-between.


About the Instructors

Canadian novelist and biologist Ann Eriksson combines her background in ecology with her life experiences to create works of fiction populated with compelling characters and grounded in nature. Ann was born in Saskatchewan in 1956 and spent her formative years in small prairie towns where the people and the landscape first inspired her dual passions for the natural world and for writing. As an adult, Ann migrated to the west coast where she earned a degree in biology from the University of Victoria. While working as a consultant and raising two children, Ann taught herself to write fiction and has published four novels since 2003: Decomposing Maggie (Turnstone Press, 2003), In the Hands of Anubis (Brindle and Glass, 2009), Falling From Grace (Brindle and Glass, 2010) which won a Silver Medal for the 2011 Independent Publishers Book Awards, and the best-selling High Clear Bell of Morning (Douglas & McIntyre, 2014). Ann is a founding director of the Thetis Island Nature Conservancy. She lives with her husband, poet Gary Geddes, on Thetis Island, BC.   

Gary Geddes has written and edited more than 45 books of poetry, non-fiction, drama, fiction, criticism, translation and anthologies and won at least a dozen national and international literary awards, including the National Poetry Prize, National Magazine Gold Award, the Commonwealth Poetry Prize (Americas Region), the Lt.-Governor's Award for Literary Excellence and the Gabriela Mistral Prize, awarded simultaneously to Octavio Paz, Vaclav Havel, Ernesto Cardenal, Rafael Alberti and Mario Benedetti. His work has been praised by Philip Levine, Billy Collins, Douglas Dunn and many poets worldwide. His most recent poetry titles are Falsework, Swimming Ginger and What Does A House Want? His non-fiction works include Sailing Home, Kingdom of Ten Thousand Things: An Impossible Journey from Kabul to Chiapas, and Drink the Bitter Root: A Search for Justice and Healing in Africa.


The Tutka Bay Experience

The Widgeon at Tutka Bay Lodge

Your weekend of instruction and inspiration will take place at Tutka Bay Lodge, named by Fodor in 2012 as one of the World's Top 100 places to stay. Tutka Bay is a remote and rugged fjord characterized by soaring mountain, secluded beaches, old growth forest, and dramatic tidal fluctuations. To get there you fly or drive to the fishing community of Homer on the Kenai Peninsula (225 miles south of Anchorage) then take a 20-minute water taxi ride across Kachemak Bay. On the way you will observe a variety of shore and water birds, and there is always the possibility of sighting sea otters, orcas, and humpbacks.

Once there you will enjoy the full-service accommodation and renowned cuisine provided by the staff of Within The Wild. For its memorable meals, the lodge sources organic, natural, and local Alaska ingredients, often from their own gardens or foraged from nearby wild places. Our retreat facility, The Widgeon, is a whimsical crabbing boat dry-docked on a tidal lagoon just a short walk away from your well-appointed cabin.

The retreat experience begins on Friday at 1pm, when we gather at Mako's water taxi on Homer Spit for the trip across Kachemak Bay. A welcome session takes place at 3pm, and your first instructional session is scheduled for 7pm on Friday, leaving you plenty of time to settle in and explore. After a full day on Saturday, the weekend wraps up on Sunday with lunch after the morning session. You'll depart Tutka Bay for Homer at 2pm, arriving by 3pm to continue your journey home. 

In session on the Widgeon

In addition to the daily instructional sessions with our retreat leader, there will be the opportunity to pursue assignments in the natural setting.

The schedule allows time for reflection and recreation in the form of beach walks and forest hikes, and time to work on your writing outside the classroom. Ÿou can choose to relax on the spacious oceanside deck, soak in the outdoor hot tub, or take an invigorating sauna. For an additional fee, you can take advantage of on-site services such as massages or local boat tours. Cookery classes and guided hiking and ocean kayaking and boating are complimentary.

Retreat fees

Retreat fees include instruction, meals, lodging in shared cabins, hot tub, sauna, and self-guided hiking. 

General registration is now open. 

$600 for 49 Writers members


$650 for non-members


If you are unsure of your membership status, email To become a 49 Writers member click here.

All registration fees include $80 return water taxi fare from Homer to Tutka Bay Lodge. Participants are responsible for their own transportation to and from Homer, and we will facilitate opportunities for informal carpooling from Anchorage. Except for the water taxi, fees are non-refundable unless we have a replacement for your slot. If you must cancel due to unforeseen circumstances, you may substitute a replacement and we will do our best to assist by activating our wait list. A 10 percent cancelation fee will apply.


$550 Early registration for 49 Writers members at the Kobuk level and higher ran March 29 - April 5.  

In order to offer more writers the opportunity to participate, all accommodations will be shared this year. Please note too that Tutka Bay Lodge will only be open to registered participants during the retreat, In consideration of our 49 Writers community.

Tutka Bay LodgeAccommodations

Retreat registration is limited to 18 participants. All accommodations are in shared cabins; view details here. Rooming and cabin requests may be made at time of registration, but we reserve the right to place you according to availability. 

Optional activities

Our hosts at Tutka Bay Lodge offer the following complimentary activitieshike with guide, kayaking with guide, cooking class, and yoga. Available for a fee are: Tutka Bay boat tour ($25); Halibut Cove/Gull Island boat tour ($100); 60-minute massage ($100); and 90-minute massage ($150).

Registration for optional activities will be available to registered participants in early August, with those fees collected by Tutka Bay Lodge on arrival.

Past retreat leaders have included David VannDani Shapiro, Pam Houston, Ron Carlson, and Carolyn Forché.

49 Writers
 49 Alaska Writing Center