Balance Writing with Yoga

Nov. 18-23


(Used with permission)

Now in its eleventh year, Clearwater Writers is a series of writing retreat and workshop programs facilitated by poet and author Paula Coomer. Previously hosted by now-retired innkeepers Jim and Ruth May at Reflections Inn on the Clearwater River in North Central Idaho, the program is on the move! We are happy to announce that our 2024 Fall Women’s Retreat: Balancing Writing with Yoga, will be hosted by the magnificent Monastery of St. Gertrude outside Cottonwood, Idaho, on the rolling hills of the Camas Prairie to the south, in their Spirit Center, a contemporary facility with private suites, several kitchens, and meeting rooms large enough to accommodate our daily yoga classes.

2024 is rife with a sense of a bright future, a feeling of a new dawning, in spite of continued strife in the world. We’ve survived a period of darkness and now must open ourselves to ways of being previously unknown to us. It is a time of renewal and of manifesting hidden potential. We are healed, we are whole, and we are ready for the next big thing. Although not affiliated with any religion, Clearwater Writers has chosen the monastery location because of its beauty, the kind and gentle spirit of its community, the terrific facilities, and because we agree with and admire the Benedictine philosophies of peace, justice, personal solitude, the dignity of work, stewardship, and the commitment to art and literature.

With this in mind, we encourage you to leave behind your worries, other commitments, and even family obligations in favor of time to focus on yourself for yourself as well as your writing life and physical being–think of this as a gift to the you of the future, to a self renewed. Not everyone is suited to spending time apart from family and daily life to focus on writing, but if you are, we can promise you the magic and transformation that comes when you allow time for contemplation, for listening to your deepest truths, and for writing.

This year’s program will be focused on generative writing. We will meet for a total of 3 afternoons in class, which will be devoted to exploring your creative potential by writing in response to various exercises designed to tease out the threads of stories from your life, memories, or pure imagination. The final session on day 4 will be focused on whatever the group decides it wants at that time.

In the mornings, we will have easy-flow yoga sessions taught by the very wonderful instructor Leslie Sena of Full Moon Yoga in Palouse, WA, who has graciously offered to lead us. Sitting in the writing chair for extended periods is difficult and even damaging to the body, and many of us are not accustomed to it. In recent, years we have decided that perhaps it is our responsibility to offer attendees the means to counter some of the negative stress that sitting too long creates.

ABOUT CLEARWATER WRITERS: Our host facility sits on the traditional lands of the Nimiipuu. We hope to honor that history by fostering a sense of peace and serenity in our community of writers and to carry the message of peace home with us. Our program was established to provide time and space away from the usual concerns to focus on furthering projects in an inspiring setting. We are dedicated to the notion that we as humans are creative beings and, as such, need significant breaks from technology and from our fast-paced lives into order to be our best selves, to do our best work, and to better serve our communities. St. Gertrude’s Spirit Center offers us all these things.

Facilitator and organizer, Paula Coomer, is a poet and literary writer and is the author of eight books of poetry and prose including Somebody Should Have Scolded the Girl, Jagged Edge of the Sky, Dove Creek, Nurses Who Love English, and Blue Moon Vegetarian, among others. Ms. Coomer’s writing has been nominated for the Pulitzer, the Pushcart, and she has been a finalist or semi-finalist for various awards. Her work has been recommended by Buzzfeed. With nearly 30 years of experience as a teacher of writing at the university and community level, Ms. Coomer is also a writing coach, an editor, a speaker at conferences, and offers creative inspiration and support for all writers, regardless of achievement, genre of focus, or ability.

Features of the 2024 FALL WOMEN’S RETREAT: Balancing Writing with Yoga

  • 5 nights in a scenic, historical, rural setting, nestled on the Camas Prairie in Idaho’s Rocky Mountain foothills
  • Beautiful, serene, private accommodations
  • Freshly prepared meals from quality ingredients
  • A maximum of 5 other writers
  • Daily afternoon generative writing sessions
  • Open mic/salon nights 4 and 5
  • Individual consults with Ms. Coomer
  • Wifi/cell signal available only in a few locations on the monastery grounds for those of us who prefer to remain off-grid
  • Check-in is at 3 p.m. on the day of your arrival.
  • Checkout is at 11 a.m. on the day of departure.
  • Please be conscious of the continuing presence of COVID in our communties. Let us know if you’ve had recent exposure and kindly wear a mask if you are experiencing illness.

Meals and Transportation

  • Attendees are welcome to bring their own meal preparations, but delicious food is provided by the monastery. You may take meals with other members of the monastic community, or you may choose to carry out or prepare your own in the Spirit Center kitchen. If you choose to eat in the dining hall, please be aware that the monastic community observes silence at breakfast.
  • Eating/shopping establishments are available in the tiny town of Cottonwood, which is 3 miles from the monastery campus; however, we encourage attendees to remain focused and not to leave the grounds. We have found that leaving the retreat setting and going into town fractures the energy of the retreat. Bring with you whatever you expect to want/need so that you don’t need to interrupt your own flow.
  • Alcohol only in moderation, please.
  • Cold storage and freezer space is also available but limited.
  • Rooms do not include refrigerators or microwaves. A coffee maker is available in the Spirit Center kitchen, as well as fresh coffee/tea and water.
  • For air transportation and car rental, contact the Lewiston-Nez Perce County Regional Airport

Application for Clearwater Writers 2024 Fall Women’s Fall Retreat and Further Details

  • Application deadline is Oct. 15, 2024
  • To inquire about the 2024 Fall Women’s Retreat: Balancing Writing with Yoga, write to Ms. Coomer at If you prefer, you may leave a message at 509-635-0444, and Ms. Coomer will get back to you.
  • Otherwise, please indicate your interest by sending a short writing sample (no more than 500 words), bio, and contact information for 2 personal references to
  • A phone/Zoom interview will also be required of first-time applicants.
  • If you have been with us for a previous retreat, a writing sample and personal references are not required, but please submit an updated bio.
  • Cost for the Fall Residency is as follows.
    • One person for 5 nights is $1200, which includes a private suite, meals, all instruction, consults with Ms. Coomer, and feedback on up to 20 pages of double-spaced writing.
    • A $100 nonrefundable deposit is due at the time of registration or by May 31, whichever is later. Please submit to PayPal at (use the Friends and Family designation when paying through PayPal, please) or mail a check to P.O. Box 205, Garfield, WA, 99130. Checks should be addressed to Paula Coomer with “Writing Retreat” in the info line.
    • Our programs fill up quickly, so please contact us as early as possible. As of this writing on May 25, 2024, we have 2 spaces available.
    • No refunds/not transferable–we are not able to offer refunds for deposits.
    • The final payment of $1100 is to be made by PayPal or check to Ms. Coomer by Nov. 1, 2024. Payment through PayPal (use the Friends and Family designation when paying through PayPal, please) can be made at or by check at P.O. Box 205, Garfield, WA, 99130. We are sorry we cannot accept cards at this time.
    • We have 1 partial scholarship available. Please feel free to inquire about this directly to Ms. Coomer at
  • Also, Ms. Coomer is offering a one-time manuscript read-through to retreat attendees (no editing) with a followup discussion over Zoom for those with book-length manuscripts. The fee for this is $450 for up to 70,000 words, which is 10% off her normal rate. If you are interested in this option, please contact Ms. Coomer at
  • For maps and more about the Monastery of St. Gertrude, go to
  • To express interest in the 2024 Fall Women’s Retreat or our April 2025 retreat in Walla Walla, WA, contact Ms. Coomer directly at
(Used with permission)