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Tutka Bay Writers Retreat – 2023

September 15, 2023 - September 17, 2023

13th annual 49 Writers Tutka Bay Writers Retreat featuring instruction by Amy E. Butcher – Applications open!

September 15-17, 2023, at Tutka Bay Lodge.

Amy Butcher is an award-winning essayist and author of Mothertrucker (Little A, 2021), a book that interrogates the realities of female fear, abusive relationships, and America’s quiet epidemic of intimate partner violence set against the geography of remote, northern Alaska. The book earned critical praise from Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, The Wall Street Journal, Good Morning America, CBS News, The Chicago Review of Books, The Oxford Review of Books, Booklist, and others. The Wall Street Journal writes that Mothertrucker is “a rattling good story” that is “shot through with poignant insights.” Publisher’s Weekly writes that the book is “tender and gripping,” writing, “[Mothertrucker] explores myriad issues with nuance and grace, including Indigenous rights, violence against women, religious hypocrisy, and environmental concerns.” Kirkus Reviews calls the book “a searching and deeply empathetic memoir,” writing, “[Mothertrucker] is a sobering reflection on verbal and psychological abuse [that] honors the healing power of female friendship and questions the nature of divinity beyond its constricting patriarchal manifestations.” Excerpts of Mothertrucker also won an Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council, with judges calling the book “well researched,” “very well-written,” and “a positive antidote to the trauma of violence against women.”

Her first book, Visiting Hours (Blue Rider Press/Penguin-Random House, 2015), earned starred reviews and praise from The New York Times Sunday Review of Books, NPR, The Star Tribune, Kirkus Reviews, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and others. Her work has been featured on National Public Radio and the BBC, anthologized in Best Travel Writing, and awarded grand prize in the Iowa Review Award as judged by David Shields. Her essays have also been awarded notable distinctions in the 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2020 and 2021 editions of the Best American Essays series. Additional essays have appeared in Granta, Harper’s, The New York Times “Modern Love” series, The New York Times Sunday Review, The Washington Post, The Denver Post, The Iowa Review, Lit Hub, Guernica, Gulf Coast, Fourth Genre, and Brevity, among others. She earned her MFA from the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Program and is the 2012-2013 recipient of Colgate University’s Olive B. O’Connor Creative Writing Fellowship in nonfiction, as well as grants and awards from the Vermont Studio Center, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, the Academy of American Poets, the Ohio Arts Council, Word Riot Inc., and the Stanley Foundation for International Research. She is the Director of Creative Writing and an Associate Professor of English at Ohio Wesleyan University and teaches annually at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival and the Sitka Fine Arts Camp in Sitka, Alaska. She splits her time between Columbus, Ohio and Alaska.

About the Tutka Bay Retreat Experience

This generative writers retreat blends craft talks, in-class writing, readings, and discussion with unstructured time to experience the immersive natural environment or concentrate further on writing. Your weekend of instruction and inspiration will take place at Tutka Bay Lodge, named by Fodor in 2012 as one of the World’s Top 100 places to stay. Tutka Bay is a remote and rugged fjord characterized by soaring mountains, secluded beaches, old growth forest, and dramatic tidal fluctuations. To get there you fly or drive to the fishing community of Homer on the Kenai Peninsula (225 miles south of Anchorage) then take a 20-minute water taxi ride across Kachemak Bay. On the way you will observe a variety of shore and water birds, and there is always the possibility of sighting sea otters, orcas, and humpbacks.

Once there, you will enjoy the full-service accommodation and renowned cuisine provided by the staff of Within The Wild. For its memorable meals, the lodge sources organic, natural, and local Alaska ingredients, often from their own gardens or foraged from nearby wild places. Our retreat facility, The Widgeon, is a whimsical crabbing boat dry-docked on a tidal lagoon just a short walk away from your well-appointed cabin.

The retreat experience begins on Friday at 1 pm, when we gather at Mako’s water taxi on Homer Spit for the trip across Kachemak Bay. A welcome session takes place at 3 pm, and your first instructional session is scheduled for 7 pm on Friday, leaving you plenty of time to settle in and explore.

After a full day on Saturday, the weekend wraps up on Sunday after the morning session and lunch. You’ll depart Tutka Bay for Homer at 2 pm, arriving by 3 pm to continue your journey home.

In addition to the daily instructional sessions with our retreat leader, you’ll enjoy the opportunity to pursue assignments in the natural setting. The schedule allows time for reflection and recreation in the form of beach walks and forest hikes, and time to work on your writing outside the classroom. You can choose to relax on the spacious ocean-side deck, soak in the outdoor hot tub, or take an invigorating sauna.

For an additional fee, you can take advantage of on-site services such as local boat tours. Cookery classes and guided hiking, sea kayaking, and boating are included at no additional fee.

Past Tutka Bay Writers Retreat Instructors include: Luis Urrea (2022), Elena Passarello (2021), Paul Lisicky (2019), Hannah Tinti (2018), Louise Erdrich (2017), Debra Magpie Earling (2016), Gary Geddes and Ann Eriksson (2015), Carolyn Forche (2014), Ron Carlson (2013), Pam Houston (2012), Dani Shapiro (2011), and David Vann (2010).

One of the best times of my life. My time spent with other writers at Tutka Bay transformed my writing.
-Chris Baron

The Tutka Bay Writers Retreat offers a rare experience in a sublime place where time and minds expand.
-Carol Richards

Retreat Fees and Eligibility
The fee for this year’s Tutka Bay Writers Retreat is $1,200 per person. The decision to increase the fee was not made lightly, and is a direct result of the rising costs of goods and services. To offset this cost, 49 Writers is offering 2 partial scholarships to this year’s retreat (see “Scholarships” below). Registration is limited to 12 people.

The Tutka Bay Writers Retreat is restricted to 49 Writers members. Non-members are welcome to apply, but if accepted, will be asked to purchase a membership. Both emerging and established writers are encouraged to apply. To join 49 Writers or renew your membership, visit www.49writers.org/join. If uncertain about your membership status, please contact us at info@49Writers.org.

Accommodations & Transportation
Participants are responsible for their own transportation to and from Homer, though we will try to facilitate opportunities for informal carpooling from Anchorage. Commercial air service between Anchorage and Homer is also available. Round-trip water taxi between Homer and the lodge is included in the registration fee. 

Retreat fees include instruction, meals, double or triple occupancy accommodations, sauna use, self-guided and guided hiking, water taxi accommodations, and more. All accommodations are in shared cabins. Lodging will be shared with fellow retreat participants, with all accommodations being double or triple occupancy. Rooming and cabin requests may be made at the time of registration, but lodge staff reserves the right to place you according to availability.

Optional Activities
Our hosts at Tutka Bay Lodge offers complimentary activities such as hiking with a guide, kayaking with a guide, a Tutka Bay boat tour, and yoga, but availability may vary. Massage and other services may be available for a fee. Registration for optional activities will be available at the beginning of the retreat.

Scholarships and DEI 
49 Writers is committed to creating inclusive programs that are open to writers of diverse backgrounds and identities. To that end, two retreat spots* will be reserved for writers from historically marginalized populations. This includes:

  • Individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups (including Alaska Natives or American Indians, African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, and Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders)
  • Individuals who identify as belonging to a historically marginalized gender identities or sexual orientations (including members of the LGBTQIA community)
  • Individuals with disabilities

Further, 49 Writers will be offering two partial scholarships in the amount of $600 each (equal to half the registration fee) for writers who can demonstrate financial need.

If you would like to be considered for either of these opportunities, please fill out the relevant sections in your application. Please note that the choice to self-identify or disclose financial information is entirely optional.
*Please note that our intention in offering these is not to limit the number of spots available to people of color, queer individuals, and individuals with disabilities. Rather, our goal is to ensure that we are creating intentional space for people who haven’t historically had equal access to writing spaces like this. Individuals who are not selected for these two spots will still be eligible for the remaining ten. 

Application and Timeline
The deadline to apply for the retreat is Friday, June 30. Applicants will receive notice of their status by July 17.
**Update** – we’ve had several spots at the retreat open up. Applications will remain open on a rolling basis until the retreat is filled. 

Click here to access the application.

Cancellation & Refund Policy
If the retreat must be cancelled because of circumstances beyond 49 Writers’ control, all fees will be refunded in full. If the retreat goes forward and you must cancel for personal reasons, fees are non-refundable unless we are able to confirm a replacement for your slot. If we are able to find a replacement, a $75 cancellation fee will be applied to the refund.


49 Writers extends deep gratitude to Kirsten Dixon and Tutka Bay Lodge for their longtime support for the Tutka Bay Writers Retreat, without which the retreat would not be possible. Kirsten is a past Board President of 49 Writers and an acclaimed author herself, and her support for Alaska’s writing community has been unfailingly steady and generous. Thank you from all of us, Kirsten!


September 15, 2023
September 17, 2023
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