We both became ill. He could not work. Both of us were poets, but I doubted whether I could ever write again. Then, miraculously, I came upon a small ad for A Room of Her Own Foundation's Retreat scheduled for 2003. I had very little money, was trying to support my family, but I had such a yearning to write again. I applied for a place in the retreat, and made a commitment to myself that if I were to be accepted and be able to find a way to go, I would write and not ever stop again.
I applied. I was granted a scholarship to the retreat. In that unimaginable year after 9/11, I had something to look forward to again, something upon which I might pin my hopes. When I received the letter from Darlene Chandler Bassett, AROHO's founder, I was stunned, elated, overwhelmed. This was a life line that I desperately needed to recover, for respite from the unremitting sorrow and terror, for the hope that I could write again.
Gail McMeekin, a wonderful person, life coach, and author who writes about women and creativity conducted workshops designed to help women overcome obstacles to creativity. It was just what I needed.
Being at Ghost Ranch among so many creative, nurturing, strong women restored me. Gail's workshop helped me to see how I could overcome my obstacles in both pragmatic ways and in ways of the spirit and soul.
The energy at that retreat was palpable. Some miraculous things happened at the retreat, things that are difficult for me to even articulate now. Perhaps I'll tell you some of them in a later blog, but suffice it to say that the profundity of the experience is with me still, even as I sit here and write this.
My debt to Darlene Chandler Bassett and to Mary Johnson, founders of this foundation, is one that I can't even begin to know how to repay.
I fervently hope that some of you who are reading this will be able to experience even a fraction of what I did that year. I also hope that perhaps some of you who are able will consider sponsoring someone for a retreat scholarship. There are so many women writers who need this experience.
Marguerite Maria Rivas holds a Doctor of Arts and Letters from Drew University and regularly reads her poetry in New York City. Rivas's essays, articles, book reviews, and poetry have been published in The Americas Review, The Multicultural Review, and Earth's Daughters, among other publications. She is the recipient of numerous grants and awards including re-grants from The New York State Council on the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. Rivas was cited by the New York State Legislature for her contribution to the literary arts. She was the recipient of the first Marg Chandler Memorial Award from A Room of Her Own Foundation. She has been invited to read her poetry at both local literary events and at national conferences. Her chapbook, Poetry Cannot Save You, was published in 2003 with a second printing in 2005. She is currently completing her manuscript of lyric poetry, Laughter, Hope & A Sock in the Eye. In addition to writing for the page, Rivas performs improvisational verse with her group, ElektroMotif and with the jazz-fusion band, Earth People. She is an Assistant Professor of English at The City University of New York.
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