A Ten-Day Generative Poetry Writing Retreat in Umbria Italy – May 16th to May 26th, 2022

Poet as Diviner – Hunting the Pluck of Poetry

An Invitation
to a Ten-Day Generative Poetry Writing Retreat
with poet Richard Osler
and Paper-Arts Facilitator Terry-Ann Carter

at La Romita School of Art, Terni, Umbria, Italy

Poets Writing In-Situ in Spoleto, Umbria, Italy, 2018










Cut from the green hedge a forked hazel stick
That he held tight by the arms of the V:
Circling the terrain, hunting the pluck
Of water, nervous, but professionally

Unfussed. The pluck came sharp as a sting.
The rod jerked with precise convulsions,
Spring water suddenly broadcasting
Through a green hazel its secret stations.

The bystanders would ask to have a try.
He handed them the rod without a word.
It lay dead in their grasp till nonchalantly
He gripped expectant writs. The hazel stirred.

Seamus Heaney (1939-2013) from The Death of a Naturalist, Penguin, Faber, 1973

La Romita Courtyard


The title of the 2022 La Romita retreat (the fourth retreat led by Richard at La Romita) is inspired by Seamus Heaney’s line in his poem above: hunting the pluck of water. But in our case, in this retreat, we will be hunting the pluck of poetry! That pluck! The pluck when we put our pens to paper (or fingers to a keyboard) and we are pulled into words, words that surprise us! When I think of this pull into our poems I am also reminded of lines from  American poet Jack Gilbert’s lines: Poetry fishes us to find a world/ part by part, as the photograph interrupts the flux/ to give us time to see each thing separate and enough./The poem chooses part of the endless flowing forward/ to know its merit with attention.
— Jack Gilbert (1925 – 2012)

This idea so central to my experience of poetry: that something other plucks or pulls us into our poems, that a poem chooses part of the endless flowing that becomes our poem. What a thought! But the longer I write poetry the more the words of Heaney and Gilbert ring true for me. Or to put it another way, in the words of Canadian poet Susan Musgrave, come and discover what she has discovered: it seems to me my poems know more than I do and are wiser than I am. Discover how your poems can bring closer to yourself and your world in a healing and transforming way. Please consider this invitation to join me this June in Umbria for a life-changing poetry-writing experience.


What better place than Italy, at La Romita School of Art in Umbria (click here for the La Romita website) and at many other inspiring locations in Umbria and Tuscany, to write on location in some of the most beautiful places imaginable.

In this ten-day poetry writing retreat we will maintain a constructive balance between facilitated writing sessions, lots of quiet times for writing and our out trips to some of the remarkable places near and far-near from La Romita including Assisi, Perugia, Spoleto, Todi and some of the lesser-known towns that dot the hilltops of Umbria, each with their own special features and histories.

The structured writing sessions, many in situ, or as artists say, en plein air, at places we visit will be inspired by handouts based on meditations on craft, specific creative prompts and the poems of master poets: Poets such as Ocean Vuong, Patrick Lane, Rosemary Griebel, David Whyte, Mary Oliver, Frank O’Hara, Jan Zwicky, Roger Reeves, Ishion Hutchinson, Derek Walcott, James Wright, Giovanni Pascoli, Jack Gilbert, Seamus Heaney and many others.

The retreat will combine aspects of poetic craft with poetry’s ability to open you to surprising moments of discovery with ourselves and the world around you. This approach will help you write unexpected poems that stretch you as a person and as a writer.

And for the first time this retreat will also include sessions led by celebrated poet and paper-arts facilitator, Terry Ann Carter. Terry-Ann will invite you in her sessions to take lines from your poems or those of others and and add them to paper-art constructions that might include hand-made books, accordion books or even paper-mâché  bowls!

So Many Places to Write: Carsulae Archeological Site, Umbria, Italy


Open to writers of all levels of experience.


To help prepare you for the poetry retreat you will receive a six-page introduction in early May 2019 chock full of poems and thoughts on poetics. In addition, a few weeks later, you will receive a pre-retreat writing adventure/assignment to be completed and brought with you to the retreat. The poem that comes from this will be at the core of how we introduce ourselves at the beginning of our time together.


There is something special that happens when a poet/retreatant lives in a community of other poets for ten days. Yes, life-long friendships can develop, but even more, a synergy can occur as poems are written together, shared and revised that leads to the retreatant going home with up to ten new poems quite unlike any others they have written before.


La Romita School of Art, located in the hills overlooking Terni, Umbria, sixty miles north of Rome and a three-hour drive from Florence.


Includes room, all meals at La Romita, return ground transportation from Rome to La Romita, all poetry facilitation and all frequent out-trips. The price does not include airfare to Italy.

For Double Occupancy: US $3,200.00. Single Occupancy Supplement (five rooms available): U.S.$350.00. For Additional Single Rooms: US $700.  Please contact Richard Osler for discounts that might be available to you.

A deposit of $500.00 is required to register. The deposit is non-refundable unless the retreat minimum of eight participants is not reached by March 1st, 2022. Final balance, non-refundable, will be owing no later than March 1st, 2022.



Richard enjoying writing in-situ at Villa Lante, Lazio, Italy

Richard Osler  is a poet and a celebrated poetry writing facilitator and workshop leader who, between April 2020 and July 2021 led around one hundred and twenty group generative writing sessions At Homewood Ravensview, a residential mental health facility on Vancouver Island and about two hundred individual generative poetry sessions. His full-length collection, Hyaena Season, was published by Quattro Books, Toronto, in the Fall of 2016. His chapbook of short poems Where the Water Lives was published by Leaf Press in 2012. His poems have appeared in many journals in the US and Canada. In 2011 and 2017 he was shortlisted for the Malahat Open Season Awards in poetry, in 2015 he was longlisted for the PRISM International Poetry Prize and in 2021 he was a finalist for the Ruminate Magazine Broadside Prize. His other writing includes chapters in The Rock Rabbit and the Rainbow: Laurens van der Post Among Friends and The Latest Morningside Papers by Peter Gzowski.His website, which includes his poetry blog published about fifty times a year, can be seen at recoveringwords.com.


Richard Writing In-Situ at Carsulae, Lazio, Italy


Terry Ann Carter. Photo Credit: Rhonda Ganz

Terry Ann Carter, a poet and book and paper artist, is the author of six collections of long form poetry, two haiku guidebooks, and five haiku chapbooks; she has edited four haiku anthologies. She is co-chair of the North America Virtual Haiku Conference (Oct. 15th to 17th, 2021) and as past president of Haiku Canada, founder of and facilitator for KaDo Ottawa (2001-2012) and Haiku Arbutus Victoria Study Group (2014-present), she has given hundreds of haiku and book arts workshops around the world.  A Crazy Man Thinks He’s Ernest in Paris (Black Moss Press) was shortlisted for the Archibald Lampman Award; day moon rising was shortlisted for the Acorn-Plantos People’s Poetry Award and Tokaido (Red Moon Press, 2017) won a Touchstone Distinguished Book Award.  In 2019, she was a judge for the first International Haiku Contest for the city of Morioka, Japan. Haiku in Canada: History, Poetry, Memoir (Ekstasis Editions) and Moonflowers: Pioneering Women Haiku Poets in Canada (catkin press) were both published in 2020. Blue Moon: The Ono no Komachi Poems (with book artist Heather MacDonald) is forthcoming from JackPine Press.


Please register on the La Romita website https://laromita.org/workshop/poet-as-diviner-hunting-the-pluck-of-poetry-with-richard-osler/ and if you have further questions contact Richard Osler at osler@shaw.ca or at 604-836-7875.


You have given me the gift of poetry through patience, grace, humour and ultimately, love. You are a master at holding space for this new voice.
– Christine L., Victoria, October 2018

Being at La Romita, in the hills of olive groves, within the deep history of Umbria and the story of the once-Capuchin monastery itself, was enchanting. I’d worked briefly with Richard Osler once and knew he would bring big energy and a head and heart full of poetry. He did that and more. The more is in his uncanny ability to enable people to find their own poetry. He invites, supports and nourishes the opening of inner channels of communication with the people we’ve been missing in ourselves, who all have so much to say. Richard gives poetry and while we received it and worked hard to learn to hear it, we also had an incredibly good time.
– Tonya L., Calgary, July 2017



  1. Ken Albrecht
    Posted June 29, 2022 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    Will you be holding a similar workshop on creative poetry writing in Umbria in 2023?

  2. Richard Osler
    Posted July 12, 2022 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    Ken: No plans for now! But please stay in touch!

  3. Posted November 3, 2023 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    i consider myself a poetry creative process and somatic therapist. how do i get paid work? do you have any writing on how to get paid gigs? I live in california. I published a collection of poems by women i a residential recovery home. Becoming Athena; Poems by Women in Recovery. you can purchase on Amazon. I would like to distribute to especially women’s recovery centers.

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