Monday, September 17, 2012

Writing the Journey - a Moroccan Desert Retreat

Writer and performer Jan Cornall mentors writers and teaches writing at Australian universities and community colleges. She also leads writing retreats and workshops in inspiring international locations - Bali, Fiji, Cambodia, Burma, and Laos. Each year a number of her students go on to publish with major publishing houses. As Jan explained to The View from Fez, 2013 will see her run a writers' retreat that begins in the streets of Fez before heading into the Moroccan desert

When I decided I wanted to run a desert writing journey in Morocco I was lucky to find the ideal place - an oasis retreat in the a tiny traditional Berber village, perched on the edge of one of the Sahara’s most extraordinary natural landforms, the 22 km long sand dune, Erg Chebbi.

Established by Australian artist Karen Hadfield, Cafe Tissardmine is slowly becoming a hub for writers, painters, photographers, even scientists wishing to study desert flora and fauna.

Karen was on a short holiday to Erg Chebbi in 2010 when it all became clear - this was where she would set up an artist’s retreat. She found her renovators dream, a mud brick ruin in Tissardmine village, and with business partner Yousef Bouchedor, set about converting it into a guest house. Located 30km from the well travelled towns of Erfoud and Rissani, Cafe Tissardmine is a place of tranquility, ‘where the loudest thing you will hear is the birdsong.’

In January, our twelve day writer’s journey begins in Fez with a day and a night to explore the ancient city before we head out by four wheel drive to Tissardmine. For our six day desert retreat we sleep in traditional Berber tents (complete with en-suite bathrooms) and attend daily workshops and readings in the comfortable artist’s salon.

Taking our inspiration from the cosmology of the Moroccan star, we will explore the mystical significance of the eight cardinal directions and the areas of writing craft they relate to. Excursions into the desert from our base will employ the senses and elements to capture the unique desert experience and transform it into powerful writing. We will complete our journey with a breathtaking drive across the Atlas Mountains to Marrakech, where we will celebrate our writing achievements with a feast of Moroccan culture.

Please join us if you would like to come. Writers of all genres and all levels of experience are welcome. Creative artists, photographers, performers - even if you have no idea what you might write you will be surprised what you are capable of.

Writing The Journey - Morrocan Caravan, Jan 10 - 22, 2013.


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