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Sandhill Writers Retreat - About

Sandhill Writers Retreat - About

    The Sandhill Writers Retreat Notice:

    We regret to announce that the 2020 Retreat has been cancelled. Those who have already registered will be issued a refund in full. We expect to return next year and hope to bring in most, if not all, of the current faculty.  Please stay turned for future announcements. 

    Thank you for your support and interest in the Sandhill Writers Retreat. Keep writing and stay safe!

    Gianna Russo, Angel Jimenez and John David Harding

    Sandhill Writers Retreat logo - green, Saint Leo UniversityRenewing the Writer in You

    Friday, May 15 - Saturday, May 16, 2020

    Sandhill Writers Retreat, image of attendees at the faculty reading

    The Eighth Annual Sandhill Writers Retreat is our biggest yet! The retreat takes place on the beautiful, serene University Campus, located in rural Saint Leo, Florida, approximately 35 miles north of Tampa. Based on participant feedback over the years, the retreat has grown from one day to two, with the addition of select master classes and this year, for the first time, a reading by celebrated veteran writer and award-winning poet Brian Turner (Here, Bullet; Phantom Noise; My Life as a Foreign Country). What a way to kick off Central Florida's most popular writers retreat!

    Master Classes

    On Friday afternoon we offer master classes in poetry, fiction, nonfiction and writing for veterans taught by Saint Leo Creative Writing faculty and suitable for experienced writers. Acceptance is determined through manuscript submission and limited to six participants per class. Each master class will include expert craft talks and a writing workshop that focuses on a discussion of your work.

    Image of poet Brian Turner

    "A Night with Brian Turner"

    This year, for the first time, a reading by celebrated veteran writer and award-winning poet Brian Turner (Here, Bullet; Phantom Noise; My Life as a Foreign Country).

    Full-Day Retreat

    Our full-day retreat on Saturday features up to sixteen hands-on writing classes in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, writing for veterans, environmental writing and publishing. Classes will focus on lessons in craft and imaginative exercises that lead to new works and new skills. Also included are a faculty reading and book signing, and an optional lunch-time open reading for participants. A very limited number of private one-on-one manuscript consultations is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

    Retreat classes are led by a nationally-acclaimed faculty. Along with Brian Turner, visiting faculty include naturalist, memoirist and earth advocate Susan Cerulean (Coming to Pass: Florida’s Coastal Islands in a Gulf of Change); award-winning poet Yolanda Franklin (Blood Vinyls); creative nonfiction writer Bob Kunzinger (A Third Place: Notes in Nature); Saint Petersburg Poet Laureate Helen Pruitt Wallace; and novelist and founder of Writers in Paradise Sterling Watson (The Committee).

    These outstanding writers will be joined by Saint Leo writing faculty members Steve Kistulentz (Panorama; Little Black Daydream); Patrick Crerand (The Paper Life They Lead); veteran writer Brooke King (War Flower: My Life after Iraq); award-winning poet Anne Barngrover (Brazen Creature) and retreat director and founder of YellowJacket Press Gianna Russo (One House Down; Moonflower).

    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, service-members, and the general public are all invited to attend.


    Hotel Accommodations available at:

    More About Saint Leo University

    Saint Leo University is a 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

    THANKS to Our Partners and Supporters

    Dr. Mary Spoto,
    Vice President of Academic Affairs

    School of Arts and Sciences
    Dr. Heather Parker, Dean

    Department of Language Studies and the Arts
    Dr. Chantelle MacPhee, Chair

    Office of Military Affairs and Services
    Dr. Ernest (Luke) McClees, Director

    Master of Arts in Creative Writing,
    Dr. Steve Kistulentz, Director

    Cannon Memorial Library,
    Dr. Doris Van Kampen-Breit, Director

    Jennifer "Megan" Orendorf,
    Administrator of Events and Special Programs


    • Excellent in every way: welcoming, informal yet serious, generous-spirited, enjoyable.
    • It didn’t meet my expectations – it exceeded them! All the sessions were led by writers who provided valuable guidance and shared expertise.
    • It was engaging and inspirational. . . . I really appreciate your willingness to undertake such an ambitious project each summer and your ability to accomplish it so perfectly.
    • Every year it keeps getting better.
    • This was my third year and all have been marvelous!
    • The retreat exceeded my expectations in both scope of topic and quality of instruction. Instructors were well prepared and gave valuable exercises.
    • Interactive, welcoming, challenging.
    • The Retreat promised renewal and delivered.
    • I wrote more today than ever before in my life and received the kind of supportive feedback I’d wondered if I’d ever get.
    • Great speakers, good mix of lecture and exercises, good opportunities to socialize with fellow writers.
    • [The Retreat] gave me new ways to approach writing. The faculty was welcoming and encouraging.
    • I expected quality-based teaching – I got it. I expected down-to-earth, accessible content – I got it. I expected friendly, supportive, and insightful criticism – I got it.
    • Good variety and low-key. A nice break from the usual stress of conferences and workshops.
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    Saint Leo University
    33701 State Road 52
    Saint Leo, FL 33574



    Contact Gianna Russo, at