Poet, Playwright, Workshop Facilitator
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IWWG Annual Boston Writing From Your Life Retreat










3rd Annual Boston Writing From Your Life Retreat April 28,  2018

Join us on April 28, 2018 for the 3rd Annual IWWG (International Women's Writing Guild) Writing From Your Life Retreat

Metrowest Boston (Medfield, MA) REGISTER AT IWWG.ORG/EVENTS

Produced by: Kelly DuMar    kellydumar@gmail.com for more info

Featuring Writing Workshops with IWWG Faculty: Susan Tiberghien, Maureen Murdock & Kelly DuMar

Boston New England area writers – please join us for a springtime creative writing retreat with three outstanding IWWG instructors. Our Writing From Your Life Retreat offers you professional and personal insights into memoir, myth, poetry & prose as well as exceptional enrichment of your creative life.  Experience the gifts of guild community in our annual regional event in Metro-west Boston! 

WHAT  Writing From Your Life Retreat – In Memoir, Prose and Poetry

WHERE Metrowest Boston, MA

 WHEN April 28, 2018

TIME  9:00 a.m. – 5:15 p.m.

COST $95 IWWG Members; $120 non-members; new member special  $135

              (includes $55 Annual IWWG membership dues) includes Lunch

WHO      Susan TiberghienWriting Your Life Stories from Journaling to Memoir

Susan Tiberghien. Photo & Article by Jeannie Wurz. SwissInfo.ch.  Susan Tiberghien came late to writing, but she’s made up for lost time. The founder of the Geneva Writers’ Group (GWG) is the author of several books and despite living most of her life in Europe, says she is still very much an American writer. 

Susan Tiberghien. Photo & Article by Jeannie Wurz. SwissInfo.ch.  Susan Tiberghien came late to writing, but she’s made up for lost time. The founder of the Geneva Writers’ Group (GWG) is the author of several books and despite living most of her life in Europe, says she is still very much an American writer. 

‘I am American. I write from my American soul’
Jeannie Wurz, for SwissInfo.ch
Dec 10, 2017 - 11:00

Susan Tiberghien came late to writing, but she’s made up for lost time. The founder of the Geneva Writers’ Group (GWG) is the author of several books and despite living most of her life in Europe, says she is still very much an American writer. 

I came to Europe to do graduate work in Contemporary Literature. I was 21, just out of university, with a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Literature and a minor in French. I had studied French for three years in high school and four years at college, but when I arrived at Grenoble University in the French Alps, I realized that I couldn’t make myself understood, nor could I understand. 

For the first two months I learned more French in intensive classes. And as it happens, suddenly I was able to take notes at lectures in French instead of English! It just switched.  

Susan Tiberghien will be retiring in 2018, as the Geneva Writers’ Group celebrates its 25th anniversary. Her story is the sixth in our series on US expats in Switzerland. 

Family life in two languages 

I stayed in Europe for a Frenchman. Pierre-Yves was finishing engineering school at Grenoble, and we were married in ‘58. It was during the Algerian war. He did 2 ½ years of military service, and we lived in southern France at an airbase. Then his first job took us to the European Union in Brussels – Euratom, it was called at the time. The European Atomic Energy Community. 

After four years in Brussels we went to Italy, then to the US, where Pierre got an MBA from MIT. A computer company was opening its headquarters in Geneva, so he came here as finance manager, and I followed with our five children. 

In the beginning, life in Switzerland was difficult. We had spent four years in Italy, where children are princesses and princes. We arrived in Geneva, where children were expected to be quiet and obey. We were in an apartment on the fifth floor, and to get into a small elevator with groceries and five children – I couldn’t do it! So after two years we found a house, and because we now had more room, we adopted a two-year-old boy from Vietnam. 

Our son had only heard Vietnamese until then, so we stopped mixing English and French at home and spoke only French. Pierre and I had met in French. And it turned out that Geneva was the right place for a bicultural marriage. When I was living in France, I criticized everything and blamed my husband, and when we were in America he blamed me. Switzerland was neutral. 

Eventually I realized that there was so much in Switzerland that I appreciated. Not only the beauty of the country, but its integrity. And its place in the history of the world. 

Reaching out to the writing community 

After bringing up the children I had time to return to my first love, writing. In 1984 I went to my first writers’ workshop. It was my birthday present to myself when I turned 50. I came back so excited about writing that I joined a writers’ group at the American Women’s Club of Geneva. When I went back to writing, the stories just poured out. I had to start reading a lot of English to get my language back, and gradually I rediscovered my mother tongue. 

Before long I was leading the writing workshop at the women’s club. The group’s first collection of writing, Offshoots, came out in ’89. This led to an invitation to the International Women’s Writing Guild in New York. It was such an experience for me, bridging the ocean between America and Europe, meeting all those women. I’ve gone back every year for 27 years. 

In Geneva our group grew too large, so in 1993, 17 friends and I started the Geneva Writers’ Group. We invited men to join as well. Today we have around 230 paid members and a 10-member steering committee. We’ll be celebrating our 25th anniversary in June 2018! People are surprised that there is such a large group of English-speaking writers in Geneva. 

Half of those 17 founding members are still with us. Because it’s Geneva, maybe one fifth of our members leave every year, and one fifth come in – new writers, new ideas. But underneath this movement there’s this core group who have supported one another for years. And I think that’s what makes the GWG special. 

Our most well-attended event is the Geneva Writers’ Conference, held once every two years. The idea came from Bern. The first Swiss writing conference was held in around 1994. It was organized by Deborah Ott. The second was in Zurich, organized by Susan Tuttle two years later. And then it was our turn, in Geneva in 1998. And Bern and Zurich said: “Please keep on!” So we did. 

People come to the writers’ conference from all over. We have writers who are published, writers who want to be published, and writers who are just writing for the joy of writing. There were 220 attendees in 2016. We had 10 instructors - many from abroad - and six panelists. At our 2018 conference, March 2nd to 4th, we’ll celebrate 20 years! 

The path from writer to published author 

My own writing career developed along with the writers group. Initially I was writing fiction. I dreamed my first book of nonfiction. I had started Jungian analysis in order to work with my dreams, and at a writers’ conference at 3:00 in the morning I woke up from dreaming that I was writing a book about Jungian analysis. I even wrote down titles of chapters that would be in it. I still have that paper. 

Dianne Dicks, founder of Bergli Books, said: “Do you know that there is a publisher in Zurich who publishes in English and in German?” And I sent the manuscript to him. ‘Looking for Gold: A Year in Jungian Analysis’ was my first book. It was published in 1995, and I shifted to nonfiction. 

Writing – whether fiction or nonfiction – is a narrative. The story element is essential. And personal essays use the craft of fiction. You have adventure. You have imagination. You have character. You have conflict. And you have an epiphany. I’ve been very happy staying with nonfiction because it uses not only the techniques of fiction but also the techniques of poetry. We polish. We look for images. We listen to our words. 

‘Looking for Gold’ was about working with dreams to awaken our creativity. After its publication, three years of intensive lectures at the C.G. Jung Institute in Kusnacht led to my second book: ‘Circling to the Center: A Woman’s Encounter with Silent Prayer’. 

I was now teaching workshops both at Jungian societies and at writers’ centers in the States. After several more books I was thinking: what I’d like to do is share what I’ve been teaching. Bring the Jungian psychology, spirituality and writing together. And that’s my new book that’s coming out March 1st: ‘Writing Toward Wholeness: Lessons Inspired by C.G. Jung’. 

America needs criticism 

I feel – especially at my age, 83 – so grateful to have discovered writing. When my mother was living in a retirement home in Williamsburg, Virginia, I taught workshops on writing for the residents. The people would come into the workshop, slumped in their chairs. And after an hour and a half of remembering a story, sharing it with the person next to them, and then writing it, they would really start sitting up straight. It gave them a sense of importance, a story they could share. 

In the last two or three years, I’ve done quite a few workshops on “Words Matter”. I’ve gone back and reread ‘1984’ and ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. It’s horrifying. We’re living 1984 today: false facts. It was all predicted. So as writers it’s our duty to take our words into the world around us. 

We can criticize America. It needs criticism; we have gone astray. I considered giving up my American nationality. But I don’t want to give it up. I am American. I write from my American soul, and that’s who I am. 

And in spite of the changing times, there is still an openness, a willingness to try something new, that is American. And people are ready to help one another. That support, I think, is a good example of what we offer at the Geneva Writers’ Group.

Books by Susan Tiberghien 

Looking for Gold: A Year in Jungian Analysis, 1995

Circling to the Center: A Woman’s Encounter with Silent Prayer, 2000

One Year to a Writing Life: Twelve Lessons to Deepen Every Writer's Art and Craft, 2007

Side by Side: Writing Your Love Story, 2015

Footsteps: In Love with a Frenchman, 2015

Writing Toward Wholeness: Lessons Inspired by C.G. Jung, coming in 2018


               Maureen Murdock – Memoir as Contemporary Myth

               Kelly DuMar – Writing Truth & Beauty – Using Your Personal Photos for                

               Creative Writing in Poetry & Prose

Your Creative Writing Retreat Includes:

9:00        Arrival & registration - a warm welcome with bagels, coffee and juice

9:45      Introductions & Opening Remarks by host Kelly DuMar

10:00      Susan Tiberghien, Writing Your Life Stories – From Journaling to Memoir

1l:45       Enjoy a Catered Lunch & Book Fair – network with other writers and

               purchase books written by current IWWG members in attendance

1:15        Kelly DuMar, Writing Truth & Beauty – Using Your Personal Photos for

             Creative Writing in Poetry & Prose

3:15        Maureen Murdock, Memoir as Contemporary Myth

5:00      Wrap-Up & Goodbyes


To Register, go to: www.iwwg.org/events or contact Marj Hahn iwwgquestions@gmail.com

Workshop Descriptions & Instructor Bios

Writing Your Life Stories from Journaling to Memoir (Susan Tiberghien)

Memoir is a window into your life. You choose a life experience, shape it into story, and try to make meaning out of it. In this workshop we will first look at what windows we wish to open. Then at how to shape what we see into compelling narrative. We will write a short piece of memoir, in which ultimately we hope to uncover meaning. In so doing, we will respond to today’s urgent call to bear witness through our words.

Susan Tiberghien, an American writer living in Geneva, Switzerland, has published threememoirs Looking for Gold, Circling to the Center, Footsteps-A European Album, and the highly appreciated writing book,  One Year to a Writing Life, plus two new titles published in 2015: Side by Side: Writing Your Love Story and Footsteps:  In Love with a Frenchman.  She teaches at C.G. Jung Centers, at the International Women’s Writing Guild, and at writers’ centers and conferences in the States and in Europe where she directs the Geneva Writers’ Group, an association of over 230 English-language writers.   www.susantiberghien.com

Writing Truth & Beauty – Using Your Personal Photos for Creative Writing in Poetry & Prose (Kelly DuMar)

The photos we save & the photos we take show what we care about and hope to preserve, what moves and mystifies us, the people, places, stories and experiences that bring meaning into our lives. In this workshop, we’ll write creatively from personal photos that arrest our attention and unpack why they do. Writing stories from photos allows us to approach our pictures as works of art – no matter the quality of the photo, we can approach them with an artist’s perception and awareness of powerful hidden meanings and revelations worthy of development into creative prose. Writing from photos allows us to express the truth of what we feel - and know - and haven’t said, as we capture the beauty and deeper meaning of an image. Each participant will bring 1-3 photos to explore, as we shape images into poetry and prose that reveals personalities, identity, relationships, conflicts, universal truth and beauty. Participants may choose to bring photos specifically relating to current or prospective projects in poetry or prose.

Kelly DuMar is a playwright & poet who facilitates creative writing workshops for writers across the US. Her poems are published in many literary magazines, and her award-winning poetry chapbook, “All These Cures,” was published by Lit House Press in 2014. A past president of playwrights’ Platform, Boston, Kelly has been involved in facilitating new play development for many years. Her award winning plays have been produced around the US and Canada, and are published by dramatic publishers. She founded and produces the Our Voices Festival of Women Playwrights at Wellesley College, now in its 10th year, and she moderates, Let’s Talk TLA, a bi-monthly teleconference and poetry open mic for members of the Transformative Language Arts Association. Kelly s website is Kellydumar.com

Memoir as Contemporary Myth (Maureen Murdock)

The popularity of memoirs today reflects the desire to find meaning in the mystery of our lives and to understand our unconscious choices, actions, and dreams. Memoirists are our contemporary myth makers. Myth can be seen as an ordering principle that gives coherence to the way our memories unfold, and the mythic themes of family relationships, quest for identity, love and betrayal, personal sacrifice, and death dominate contemporary memoir writing. In this workshop you will write a short memoir piece that explores a mythic theme. 

Maureen Murdock, Ph.D., is the author of six non-fiction books, including the best-selling book, The Heroine’s Journey, about a woman’s psycho-spiritual journey and Unreliable Truth: On Memoir and Memory about memoir writing. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages. She has been teaching memoir writing in southern California and internationally since 1990 and has written pieces for the Huffington Post on criminal justice and mental illness. You can read her blog on her website: http://www.maureenmurdock.com