I began October at a weekend writing retreat in southern Missouri at a place called Dawt Mill, a historic mill, now a resort. It’s a small retreat held in both the spring and fall, usually with visiting writers who lead workshops in poetry, fiction and non-fiction writing. But this fall it was a pared down version with just local leaders and no workshops. We had plenty of time for writing, creating our own workshops with writing prompts and exercises, discussing our projects and adventures in writing, socialization, and readings in the evenings. It was a good getaway for most of us in an environment of acceptance and camaraderie.

Dawt Mill is located in a beautiful setting right along a river, and most of our activities took place outdoors immersed in the sounds of the river bumping over rocks and flowing onto the shore, the sun creating diamond sparkles on the surface of the water. It was a perfect weather weekend with sun and warm days and cool nights, with a fire pit to warm us after the sun set.

Those who wanted to, read some of their work. I read a poem on Friday night and then another one on Saturday night. It was nice to get affirmation from fellow writers. Some of the attendees are in the process of publishing books, so it was great to hear about their experiences, and I think it was good for them to be able to express their joys and frustrations.

I am going to post one of the poems I read at the retreat here:


“I did not/find my womanhood in the servitudes of custom.” *
I found it in trial and error,
rebellion and compliance,
anger and peacefulness.
All these things led me
to where I am today,
alone, but satisfied with my life,
a solitary figure
casting a long shadow
in the setting sun,
still moving forward,
learning and growing,
as I will until my time is over.
My womanhood is strong and resilient,
and it has nothing to do with custom.
I go with the flow of my own stream,
clear but unpredictable,
bumping over rocks and sand bars,
smoothing into a run for the river,
knowing I will become
part of the collective of women
combining our wisdom and strength
to recreate the world into our vision.

*from “Against Love Poetry,” by Eavan Boland

© 2022 Dorothy A Joslyn

How do you express your individuality, your “separateness” from others, yet as a part of the whole of humankind?

Write about your life as it is now, it’s joys and sorrows, successes and failures, ups and downs.

What are you working on right now that makes you happy? If you’re stuck, how can you break loose and follow your dreams?

6 replies
  1. Sarah Birnbach
    Sarah Birnbach says:

    I love the poem, and I love the photo at the top. I’m so glad you went on that retreat and treated yourself to such a exciting experience. I will copy this poem into my journal and work on the prompts, which I also love. Thank you for this blessing.

  2. Kathi
    Kathi says:

    What a lovely way to spend the weekend! For now I’m focused on health and wellness as I make my way through the last few months of work. Retirement is calling and hopefully a writing retreat is in my future! I love the poem you shared. Lots to think and write about.

  3. Katherine McQueen
    Katherine McQueen says:

    I just now had the quiet to read this entry & poem. I absolutely love this poem and how you captured the paradox of women’s lives: “rebellion and compliance.”
    Your metaphor “flow of my own stream/clear but unpredictable” is not only true, but captures the honest way you have chosen to live your life,


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