Semiprivate Writing Workshop and Retreat

An intimate writing weekend in a beautiful home on the James River

at the Porches, Norwood, Va

29–31 March 2019


Join three other writers and me for a cozy weekend of intensive one-on-one feedback, free writing time, a group workshop, and detailed post-workshop feedback on up to 10 pages of revised or new material.

Lodging: Two nights in a large, private bedroom with a comfy bed, reading chair with footstool, writing desk, great lighting, and many thoughtful touches. The Porches is located at 56 Pine Hill Lane, Norwood, VA 24581, about an hour southeast of Charlottesville.

Food: A wine-and-cheese reception Friday evening, hot dinner Saturday, and snacks and coffee are provided. Breakfast Saturday and Sunday and lunch Saturday are on your own.

Feedback: Across the weekend, we’ll meet one-on-one twice for 30-minutes each. You’ll send me up to 20 pages ahead of the workshop, and our first meeting, either Friday afternoon or Saturday morning, will be about these 20 pages (I’ll provide written feedback as well). In our second meeting, Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning, you can use the time however you wish: sharing revisions, bouncing ideas for a new piece, or something else. After the workshop, you can send me up to 10 pages of revised or new material, and I will provide detailed written feedback on this as well.

Cost: The cost for the weekend is $750 and includes lodging, food, and feedback as described above.

Apply: Send a writing sample of no more than10 pages by 15 February to


Mathina Calliope

Mathina’s writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, NPR, the Brevity blog,, and elsewhere. Read samples of her work.

A former newspaper journalist, she has an MFA and more than 13 years’ experience teaching writing to students ages 9 to 89.

Mathina’s Politics and Prose writing workshops regularly sell out.

What Mathina’s Clients and Students Say

“It’s a breath of fresh air to go into one of Mathina’s workshops and talk about and analyze and come to love the parts of our lives and selves that society doesn’t leave room for us to talk about.” -Allan Regis

“Mathina was far and away the single most impactful person in my writing process. She has an uncanny ability to identify weaknesses that I knew existed but couldn’t quite put my finger on.” -Rachael Eckles

“Mathina is my go-to person for anything written.” -Arthur Coleman

“I’ve participated in half-dozen or so similar classes, but Mathina’s was significantly more engaging and helpful. Under her enthusiastic leadership we reflected, disputed, learned, grew.” -Paul O’Shea


When will I learn if I’ve been accepted? No later than February 28.

How does payment work? On acceptance, a deposit of half ($375) is due. Full payment is due on 27 March.

Do the 10 pages submitted for application have to be part of the 20 pages we will workshop? No.

When are the 20 pages we will workshop due? 15 March.

What kind of writing is this for? Fiction or creative nonfiction prose.

Do I need a car to get to the Porches? It is vastly easier to get there with a car; however, since it will be a small group going, I suspect we should be able to coordinate travel and carpooling will be an option. If you’re coming from out of town, there is a train from Washington, D.C. to Charlottesville, which is about an hour northeast of the Porches.

What kind of kitchen will we have access to? The Porches has a full kitchen with stovetop, oven, microwave, three refrigerators, the usual dishes and cookware, a tea kettle, a Keurig, a French press, and pantry staples such as oil, salt and pepper, and common spices.

These dates aren’t good for me, but I’m interested. When will you hold another one? Email me to sign up for my (very occasional) newsletter so you can receive alerts about my upcoming workshops and retreats.

Will I have my own bathroom? There are two full bathrooms and one half bath shared among five people.

What about accessibility? The Porches is an old house and is not wheelchair accessible. There are steps leading into the house, and the bedrooms are on the second and third floors.

Workshop Series and Singles

Making Memoir Meaningful: Craft, Authenticity, and Voice

Politics and Prose's NEW Union Market location

Four Saturdays: March 2, 9, 16, 23, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Imagine your tale, touching others.

You want to write because you think you have something to say. Guess what? You do. Your stories aren't meaningful just to you; they can powerfully affect your readers as well. Of course, this doesn't happen automatically; we've all listened to or read other people's anecdotes that bore us, that have no bearing on our lives. And yet as humans we are all connected. We differ, but we share universal passions, sorrows, yearnings, and joys. Discovering the thread that links us all will make our writing light up another person's mind—and heart. And mastering craft, authenticity, and voice will lead us to that thread.

Be inspired, hone your craft, find out how others do it, sharpen your analytical skills (thus improving your ability to revise your own work), meet potential readers for the long term, and much more.

We'll explore crucial elements of personal writing—craft, authenticity, and voice—via lecture, example, practice, and feedback.

In addition to the feedback of your peers on your writing, you'll receive detailed commentary and (included but optional) line edits from me. Each student will submit a piece of writing up to 1,500 words; we will take turns providing feedback to each other.

Class size is limited to maximize individual attention and feedback.

I recommend Mary Karr's Art of Memoir, but this is optional.

When: Four Saturdays: March 2, 9, 16, and 23, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Where: Politics and Prose, Union Market: 1270 5th St NE, Washington, DC 20002

How much: $160 

Register: Head over the class description page on the Politics and Prose web site.