Writing Residency

A benefit for Straw Dog Writers Guild members



We are pleased to announce continued funding for another year of Straw Dog Writers Guild Writing Residencies at Patchwork Farm Retreat.  

A Straw Dog Writing Residency includes 6 days, 5 nights, Sunday at 3:00 pm through Friday noon, in one of the lovely, unique places at Patchwork Farm Retreat in Westhampton MA, www.writingretreats.org.

Residencies are self-guided and residents provide their own meals, with access to cooking facilities. Cost of accommodations will be covered for up to fifteen residencies in the coming year by a grant from a generous Straw Dog member.

Residencies are awarded on the basis of need, merit and the extent to which it seems that the person will benefit from the residency.

Applications will be accepted three times during the coming 2018 – 2019 year.

Applications are now being accepted to fill five residencies for the Fall Quarter. The deadline is Aug. 28, 2018. Future deadlines will be announced later in the year.

To apply for a residency

To apply for a residency, you must be a dues-paying member of Straw Dog Writers Guild (you may join at time of application for residency), and be working on a substantial writing project.

To apply please include:

- a brief description (no more than two paragraphs) of your writing project in any genre: poetry, fiction, memoir, literary non-fiction, essays, dramatic writing, songwriting, journalism, etc.;

- writing sample: 5-8 poems or 5-10 pages of prose;

- a statement of 500 words or less on how it would benefit you to receive a full scholarship to the residency.

Send application as an email attachment (doc., docx., or pdf) to jac.sheehan@comcast.net

 “I finished my retreat on Friday and I wanted you to know how much it meant to me. . . . I finally saw the arc of my story.  My process had been blind up to this last week and it was a breakthrough couple of days. . . . These 5 nights were such a gift! . . . I am not using hyperbole when I say that this retreat is a highlight of my life.  The work poured out of me and it was thrilling. . . . Please thank the anonymous member who gave the $$ for my stay.”  - Lisa Cain

"I had no idea how inspirational six days of sustained silence could be – especially when nestled in a rustic, yet elegant, mountaintop home surrounded by nature. This temporary escape from the distractions of day-to-day life showed me how easily the world can hijack this writer from that special but elusive place that exists beneath (and beyond) surface consciousness. It was a silence that allowed me to focus on the “simplest” sights and sounds so often lost in my noisy world back home. From my second floor cocoon aptly named “Eagles Nest,” I heard autumn leaves rustling, an acorn pinging on the rooftop, and the call of an unfamiliar creature in the surrounding darkness outside my window. And, yes, somewhere in the distance, I could hear chimes – which at one point made me wonder if they were real or imaginary. To reference a song title from Simon & Garfunkel, these truly were the sounds of silence..." 

(excerpt from the blog, The Sound of Silence by Bernadette Duncan Harrison, read more here) 

"I am feeling so deeply grateful for the opportunity gifted to me at the SD/Patchwork Farm writing retreat this past week. What an amazing experience I had during my 6 days--the ability and time to truly focus, make choices undisturbed by day-to-day activities, walk daily on land that recalls my history and service.

This special quiet time on a vast and penetrating expanse of long-spirited woodlands inspired an inner fire for completing a work-in-progress. It renewed my faith, allowed me to concentrate on a chosen manuscript that has been sitting for a looong time awaiting this opportunity. The clear block of designated time held a structure that assisted me to the finishing touches and the finish-line. And the residency as a whole offered me the unbridled privacy and freedom on the horse of writing, editing, getting it right!"  


(excerpt from Blog, Reflections on Writing Residency, read more here

- Ziji Beth Goren

"My 5-day retreat here at Eagle’s Nest has been a one-of-a-kind experience I will never forget. The opportunity to free myself from all outside distractions (except the amazing wildlife outside my windows and the natural beauty of these woods) and focus so intentionally on my writing projects energized and inspired me from the moment I arrived and set up my writing desk.

        To find myself in such a comfortable, appealing and accommodating setting is a luxury I have wholeheartedly embraced. My heart is filled with gratitude for Patricia’s gracious hospitality and the anonymous donor who made my stay possible. I am also extremely appreciative of those who read my writing submission samples and deemed them worthy of acceptance for this winter residency"

- Stephanie B. Shafran

March 2018


The Residency

What sound does an owl make in the dark

I wonder hiding in the burrow

On a soft bed with the windows wide open.

The night noises of insects and whispering leaves surround me

While busy thoughts rage in my mind

Racing to be purged in the quiet of no audible voice.

Nature giving me rest and contemplation in self-imposed solitude

Slowly working to ease a frantic body that struggles to sit still

and allow the gift of silence to release the tension and the words.

In my mind I hear

Who? Who?

Who am I?

I listen for the owl's call, the answer, the signal that I am

The writer.


Betsy Smith

August, 2018


“My stay at Patchwork was outstanding - relaxing, soothing, and invigorating. I didn't want to leave.

My first morning on the porch, while eating breakfast and reading poetry, a hummingbird came within a few feet of me and hovered for a minute or so as if to welcome me. I felt it was a good omen. 

I felt the retreat was a success for me because Patchwork provided:

  • clean, spacious rooms with cooling overhead fans and wide-open windows to let the cool fresh air in
  • beautiful natural landscaping with hummingbirds (I saw my second hummingbird while eating an early dinner outside the laundry room on the old wooden chair)
  • a quiet, restorative spiritual environment for the mind and soul with much privacy
  • a small refrigerator stocked with breakfast foods, a microwave, and cooking facilities downstairs so I could make my own healthy meals and not leave the Retreat to eat 
  • a small porch where I could be "outside" and write without leaving my rooms
  • a wonderfully amusing dog named Ninja who was so much fun to watch from the porch
  • composting! 
and I accomplished:
  • reading so much poetry, some books from my college years also, and some newer ones
  • drafts of new poems
  • a greater resolve to finish my poetry manuscript to be submitted for publication
Thanks again for such a wonderful place to stay. And especially thank you for the first night I arrived when you and Jenny carried all my stuff upstairs! Next time I know I will not need to bring very many things except for my writing!” 
-Phyllis St. George

  We have received a generous grant from a member of Straw Dog to inaugurate this program by funding up to 15 residencies.

You too can support a writer in this new offering by underwriting a scholarship! 

Please visit our  "Fund Drive" page