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Sandhill Writers Retreat

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    The Sandhill Writers Retreat at Saint Leo University

    Saturday, May 19, 2018   |   9:00A.M. - 5:30 P.M.

    The Sixth Annual Sandhill Writers Retreat will renew the writer in you. The full-day retreat will take place on the beautiful, serene University Campus, located in rural Saint Leo, Florida, approximately 35 miles north of Tampa.  The retreat will feature twelve hands-on writing classes in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and writing for veterans. A faculty of nationally-acclaimed writers/poets includes recent winner of the David Martinson-Meadowhawk Prize in Poetry and retreat favorite Michael Hettich (The Frozen Harbor, Systems of Vanishing, The Animals Among Us); fiction writer and editor John Henry Fleming (The Legend of the Barefoot Mailman, Songs for the Deaf, ed.); memoirist, novelist and PEN/Hemingway Foundation Award finalist Lisa Lanser Rose, (For the Love of a Dog, Body Sharers); poet and Zora Neal Hurston scholar Phyllis McEwen; whose poetry is featured in A Woman For Our Times: Alice Walker; and writer and poet US Army Major (Ret.) Matthew Mobley, whose work has appeared in Oh Dark Thirty Literary Review, Bridge Eight and F(r)iction Literary Journal, among others.

    These renowned writers will be joined by Saint Leo writing faculty members John David Harding, Steve Kistulentz, Anne Barngrover and Gianna Russo to guide attendees through lessons in craft and imaginative exercises that lead to new works. The retreat will also include a faculty reading and book signing, a reception, and an optional lunch-time open reading for participants.

    The Sandhill Writers Retreat is open to writers of all levels who wish to hone the craft and renew the joy of writing. Teachers, students, active and retired military and the general public are all invited to attend.

    A very limited number of private one-on-one manuscript consultations are available on a first come, first served basis for an additional fee. Manuscripts of up to 15 pages of poetry, fiction and nonfiction must be submitted to Retreat Director Gianna Russo by May 1, 2018.

    Retreat registration includes access to all activities. Both a box lunch and a one-on one-manuscript conference may be purchased for an additional charge.  All participants must be pre-registered to attend. Early registration will close on at midnight May 15, 2018.  Late registration from May 16-19, 2017, incurs an additional late fee of $15 per registrant.

    For additional information contact Director Gianna Russo at gianna.russo@saintleo.edu

    2018 Faculty

    Photo of John Henry Fleming

    John Henry Fleming


    John Henry Fleming is the author of Songs for the Deaf, a story collection; The Legend of the Barefoot Mailman, a novel; Fearsome Creatures of Florida, a literary bestiary; and The Book I Will Write, a novel-in-emails. His short stories have appeared in McSweeney’s, The North American Review, Mississippi Review, Fourteen Hills, New World Writing, and Carve. His awards include two Literature Fellowships from the State of Florida and an International Book Award for Songs for the Deaf. He directs the creative writing program at the University of South Florida, and he’s founder and advisory editor of Saw Palm: Florida Literature and Art.

    Photo of Michael Hettich

    Michael Hettich


    Michael Hettich’s most recent book, The Frozen Harbor, won the David Martinson-Meadowhawk Prize and was published by Red Dragonfly Press in 2017. Other books include Systems of Vanishing (Tampa Review Prize for Poetry, 2014), The Animals Beyond Us (New Rivers Press, 2011) and Like Happiness (Anhinga, 2010). His work has appeared in many journals, including Prairie Schooner, Ploughshares, Poetry East, Orion, Alaska Quarterly Review, and Witness.  A professor of English and creative writing at Miami Dade College, he has been awarded three Fellowships in Poetry from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, among other awards. He collaborates regularly with visual artists, musicians and fellow writers.

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    Matthew Mobley

    Writing for Veterans

    Matthew Mobley After serving 23 years as a United States Army Infantryman (11 years as a Soldier and Non-Commissioned Officer culminating as a Senior Drill Sergeant/Sergeant First Class followed by 12 years as an Infantry Officer before retiring with the rank of Major), Matt now works as a full-time writer and teacher. He is currently in residency at the Atlantic Center for the Arts as an Associate Artist under the tutelage of Poet Terrance Hayes.  His work has appeared several times in Oh Dark Thirty Literary Review, as well as Bridge Eight and F(r)iction Literary Journal, among others.  He is a graduate of North Carolina State University (B.A., English Literature) and the MFA program at the University of Tampa and is currently completing work on a Graduate Certificate in Classical and Greek History from American Military University.  When not writing, Matt spends time with his wife Sarah (in his opinion the nation’s preeminent Structural Engineer) and their dog Martha Jean. 

    Photo of Phyllis McEwen

    Phillis McEwen


    Phyllis McEwen has published poetry in various publications including Godessing Regenerated (Malta), Organica and The Tampa Review.  Her chapbook entitled Hystery and Other Women`s Tools was published by American Studies Press. Her poetry is featured in A Woman For Our Times: Alice Walker, (Praeger 2017). McEwen was selected as an artist in residence at Escape To Create (Seaside, Florida).  She was an associate in residence at the Atlantic Center For the Arts (New Smyrna Beach, Florida) and a member of Cave Canem, a national Black poetry collective.  McEwen served on the Board of Directors of Yellow Jacket Press from 2013 to 2017.

    Photo of Lisa Lanser Rose

    Lisa Lanser Rose


    Lisa Lanser Rose is the author of the memoir For the Love of a Dog (Harmony Books) and the novel, Body Sharers (Rutgers University Press), which was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Foundation Award for Best First Novel. Publications and honors include winner of the The Briar Cliff Review Nonfiction Award, winner of the The Florida Review Editor’s Award, finalist for the Frank McCourt Memoir Prize, and a 2015 Best American Essay Notable Essay. She teaches writing at USF-Saint Petersburg, fosters herding dogs, trains trick dogs, and blogs with awesome women at TheGloriaSirens.com.

    Photo of Steven Kistulentz

    Steven Kistulentz


     Steve Kistulentz  is the director of the graduate program in creative writing at Saint Leo University. He is the author of the forthcoming novel Panorama, to be published by Little, Brown & Company in early 2018, and two volumes of poetry, Little Black Daydream (University of Akron Press) and The Luckless Age (Red Hen Press), a collection which won the 2009 Benjamin Saltman Award. He holds an M.A. from the Johns Hopkins University, an MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and a doctorate from the Florida State University, where he was the Edward and Marie Kingsbury Fellow for Excellence in Thought. His short fiction has appeared in Narrative, the Mississippi Review, Crab Orchard Review, Quarter After Eight  and elsewhere. 

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    John David Harding

    The Human Library

     John David Harding teaches writing and research as a faculty member in the Cannon Memorial Library at Saint Leo University. His creative work includes publications in fiction, poetry, visual art, and nonfiction in journals such as The Pinch, monkeybicycle, and The Collagist. He coedits Lightning Key Review and Florida English, and serves as Assistant Director of Sandhill Writers Retreat.

    More About Saint Leo University

    Saint Leo University (www.saintleo.edu) is a modern Catholic teaching university that is firmly grounded in the liberal arts tradition and the timeless Benedictine wisdom that seeks balanced growth of mind, body, and spirit. The Saint Leo University of today is a private, nonprofit institution that creates hospitable learning communities wherever students want to be or need to be, whether that is a campus classroom, a web-based environment, an employer’s worksite, a military base, or an office park. Saint Leo welcomes people of all faiths and of no religious affiliation, and encourages learners of all generations. The university is committed to providing educational opportunities to the nation’s armed forces, veterans, and their families. Saint Leo is regionally accredited to award degrees ranging from the associate to the doctorate, and the faculty and staff guide all students to develop their capacities for critical thinking, moral reflection, and lifelong learning and leadership.

    The university remains the faithful steward of the beautiful lakeside University Campus in the Tampa Bay region of Florida, where its founding monks created the first Catholic college in the state in 1889. Serving more than 13,000 students, Saint Leo has expanded to downtown Tampa, to other sites in Florida and beyond, and maintains a physical presence in seven states. The university provides highly respected online learning programs to students nationally and internationally. More than 90,000 alumni reside in all 50 states, in Washington, DC, in three U.S. territories, and in 76 countries.

    Media contact: For more information, contact Jo-Ann Johnston, Saint Leo University media coordinator, (352) 588-8237 or jo-ann.johnston@saintleo.edu.

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    Saint Leo University
    33701 SR 52
    Saint Leo, FL 33574

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