Port Townsend Writing Conference

portown.jpeg0001I was fortunate enough to spend a wonderful week in Port Townsend, Washington at Centrum, an artist’s retreat that sponsors writing workshops every summer. 

I studied with Mark Doty, the poet and memoirist, for one week. I learned so much about my own writing and about how to facilitate a workshop. Mark led 14 of us in a workshop, and his masterful facilitation skills convinced me that if we frame discussions about each other’s writing, we can all learn to become stronger writers. Even when we discussed poetry written by other people in the class that did not resemble my own, I learned because Mark kept saying things like: “If you write a poem like this, a few things to keep in mind might be…”

I plan to take this language to my own work with students: “If you want to write a story like this, a few things to keep in mind might be…”

Go to the Centrum website to learn more about this amazing place:


And, if you do not know Mark Doty’s work, I highly recommend these two titles:

His memoir Dog Years, and his award winning poetry collection My Alexandria.

Whatever you do, take the opportunity to learn from someone this summer…

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3 Responses to Port Townsend Writing Conference

  1. Mrs. V says:

    This sounds like a great opportunity. I emailed myself the link to the conference home page so that I can remember to watch for details of the 2010 conference since I am close to Washington. I can see how something like this would have a big impact on my writing which will lead to better instruction for my students. I appreciated you sharing the language frame that you took away from the conference to use with your students.

    Is the writing that you recommended appropriate for middle schoolers or is it for adults?

    • markovermeyer says:

      The books I mentioned are really more appropriate for adults… Glad you may take advantage of Centrum! I will tell you to consider staying offsite – the housing is rustic, to say the least…

      But, the learning is amazing.


  2. Mrs. V says:


    I was just remembering back to your post about this and looked up the information for this summer. It looks like it will conflict with some courses I am taking to get started on an Ed.D., but I am going to try to look again next year.

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