Amherst: June 22-24, 2018

ComposedA weekend of embodied writing practice + harnessing the creative alchemy of mind, body, and heart

When: June 22-24, 2018  

Where: The Nacul Center, Amherst, MA

What: Short guided meditations, writing prompts and periods of freewriting punctuated by sharing, laughing, and eating! Summer beauty and (optional) yoga sessions round out a weekend that will leave you feeling seen, connected, grounded, and creatively restored.

Who: Anyone who enjoys writing as a practice and longs for the gift of time to breathe, write, connect, and just be.

“A truly incredible experience.”
– Nicki Gilbert

I grew up a stone’s throw from the Emily Dickinson Homestead. I used to write late at night, gazing out the bedroom window, feeling like the only person in the world.

Writing is such a solitary experience in many ways, and the gradual process of finding my writing community continuously surprises and amazes me. Much of how I connect with others occurs online–and opportunities to meet face to face with others, feel precious and few. That’s why I created the Unfurl retreats in 2015 and continue to offer them each summer, when the Pioneer Valley is at its most glorious.

“There was a feeling of profound permission being together in person that astounded me, really. The level of trust and truth and the total beauty of everyone’s words filled me. That’s a very special state of being.”
– Lisa Moskowitz Sadikman

Whether you’ve already found “your people” or are longing to deepen or make new connections with others who appreciate the dual practices of yoga and mindfulness, come spend a weekend in a beautiful space just a short walk from Amherst Center, to listen to your own voice and benefit from the practices of showing up, moving your hand and body, opening your heart, and seeing what happens when you do.

“By the end, my creative juices were flowing.”
– Shelly Hatch Kastner

writing, writing retreats, Amherst
Photo by Cara Paiuk


* The retreat begins at 5:00pm on Friday and ends around noon on Sunday.

* The cost includes continental breakfast both mornings, a catered lunch on Saturday, and a beautiful custom notebook for your words. Jena’s three books will be for sale during the weekend. Cost does not include dinners.

* Optional gentle yoga Saturday and Sunday mornings, as well as short meditations that will relate to our writing themes.

* Plan on a delicious group dinner out Friday night to celebrate your arrival and the beginning of our time together.

* For other meals, there are many local restaurants, cafes, markets, and farmstands in Amherst and nearby Northampton.

* A variety of prompts and timed writing exercises will provide opportunities to write indoors and out in the gardens. Expect bursts of writing interspersed with languorous periods of reading our work out loud and and reflecting on each other’s words and stories in a space free of judgment and pressure.

* Morning yoga, meditation, and chanting will be taught by Miv London. These classes are completely optional. In addition, Miv will offer a short talk about the role of mindfulness meditation in the creative process, and integrate short meditations into our writing times throughout the weekend.

“I could go on and on with positive feed back as your workshop was a 10+.” ~ Kathleen Budreski

“There was no sense of competition or exclusion. It was a very inclusive, nurturing, safe, but not sappy or precious, space. It was seamless.” ~ Allison Tyler

Swimming Optional :)
Unfurlers at Puffer’s Pond

* Please note: This is NOT a writing “workshop” in the traditional sense. We will not be witnessing more than critiquing each other’s words. No previous writing or meditation/yoga experience necessary — just an open mind and heart, and a sense of humor!

$379 for returners
$429 for newcomers
$499 includes a private 1:1 coaching session with Jena, before or after the retreat

Choose from the following:

How to Register
Choose from the drop-down menu, and fill out the form at the end of this page.

“Unfurl was a gift on so many levels. Touching the minds and hearts of fellow writers, face to face, in a warmly supportive setting was truly food for the soul at a time when I needed it most. I appreciated the pause in my routine and the opportunity to immerse myself in the company of like-minded, open-hearted women who are on a similar writing journey. Your generosity of spirit and the beautiful way you hold space for writers, both online and off, is extraordinary.” ~ Sue Ann Gleason

Payment Plans, Cancellations + Refunds

* Installment plans available; just use the form below to contact me and discuss.

* There is a six-person minimum and 12-person maximum for each retreat. If the minimum has not been met  by 14 days before the retreat, the retreat will be cancelled and you will receive a full refund.

* If you cancel after registering more than 14 days before the retreat begins, you will receive a refund minus a $150 nonrefundable deposit. If you cancel less than 14 days before the retreat, you will forfeit the entire registration fee.

“By the end of the weekend I felt that these women were my sisters, my best friends, even though our ages spanned three generations. Our inner critics were banished from the outset, and for the remainder of the weekend we basked in a sea of kindness, generosity and love that nurtured and supported our writing in a way I’ve rarely experienced. In the end we openly and shamelessly proclaimed ourselves writers.”
– Miv London

Lodging within walking distance:
University Lodge
Lord Jeffrey Inn
Allen House B&B
Emily’s Amherst B&B
Wilbur Homestead
Air B&B (rooms in local homes)
Find other nearby hotels here

June 2016 Unfurlers visiting the Emily Dickinson Museum
Unfurlers visiting the Emily Dickinson Museum

Flying: Bradley in Hartford, CT is about a 50-minute drive from Amherst. Logan (Boston) is under two hours away.
Train: The Amtrak “Vermonter” has a stop in nearby Northampton (station code is NHT).
Driving: Amherst is approximately 3.5 hours from NYC and under two hours from Boston.

“My only complaint is that it was too short.”
– Emily Cox Sinagra

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“I spent the last weekend in June at Jena Schwartz’ s Unfurl Writing Retreat which included yoga,  walking meditation, a beautiful emotional and physical atmosphere,  wonderful colleagues and lots of writing, listening and opening to the power of writing practice.  If you are looking for a direct line to finding a way into your writing and beginning again,  check out Jena’s work as she invites you to join her in writing to find out what you need to say. The weekend launched me into a summer of writing, and tuned me into folks who need to put words together on paper.” ~ Nancy Mildrum

“After dipping my toe into Lake Jena slowly for a while, I finally dove in, head-first, by registering (and showing up!) for Unfurl 2016. I’m so glad I did. There is a certain magic to the practice of showing up in person, in connecting with the energies of other women and of giving yourself wholly to a new experience. Jena’s ability to lovingly nurture our inner voices is a true gift. She gently coaxes our truest voice onto paper through thoughtful prompts, stories and poems. To me, Jena is like a Jewish matchmaker of writers. She brings together a universe of writers in all stages and phases of the writing life and helps them find solidarity, acceptance and a renewed faith in writing…together.” ~ Chrissy Boylan

About your guides

Jena Schwartz is a poet, promptress, and writing coach whose work weaves together a passion for language, poetry, and storytelling with a devotion to community-building based on kindness, connection, and inclusivity. She began leading online writing groups in 2014, and has since worked with hundreds of people around the world. Jena has a BA in Russian Studies from Barnard College, an MFA from Emerson College, and advanced training with the Coaches Training Institute. In addition to blogging for over 10 years, she has self-published three collections of poetry and creative nonfiction. She is fiercely committed to LGBTQ rights, intersectional feminism, the Black Lives Matter movement, and writing as a form of #resistance. She lives in Amherst, MA with her rockstar wife Mani, and kids, Aviva and Pearl.

Miv London, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, therapist, meditation instructor, and yoga teacher. She worked as a psychologist at UVM Counseling and Psychiatry Services from 1994 to 2015, where she founded and coordinated the UVM Mind-Body Wellness Program. She has practiced and taught meditation in the Shambhala Buddhist tradition since 1999 and completed her yoga teacher training at Laughing River Yoga in 2012. She has studied with Amy Weintraub, and is a certified Level 1 LifeForce Yoga Practitioner. She is currently in private practice as a psychotherapist in Burlington, VT.