wflogoWelcome to the Asheville Wordfest 2020 Schedule. Some more descriptions will arrive soon. Some changes will occur. Please check back on occasion. This is a living document.

The Basic Sketch

Friday 7-9: Readings on the Rooftop

Saturday  Workshops 9-10:30, 11-12:30, 3:00-4:30, 5-6:30

Saturday Keynote 1-2:30

Saturday Night 7-9 Readings on the Rooftop

Sunday Workshops 9-10:30, 11-12:30, 3:00-4:30, 5-6:30

Sunday Keynote,  1-2:30: Bettie Council,  Aisha Adams, Michael Hayes, Phyllis Utley

Sunday Readings on the Roof:  4-6 pm

Friday Evening 6-8 p.m.

The Whole Story


5:30-6:30 A Walk in the Elder and Sage Garden

Clare Hanrahan will lead us on a gentle stroll through the garden the community has created and tended downtown, because a parking lot makes an excellent garden.

7-9 p.m. Battery Park Hotel Rooftop Ballroom

Writers on the Roof: Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle, Zaina Arafat, Lori Horvitz,  Eric Tran with special guest Shobana Bhalchandra presenting sacred Hindu dance, from Chennai, India



Workshops at LR: 9-10:30


232 Trevor Lewis/ Emotionally sensitive? It’s really a gift!

Trevor Lewis

Most empaths grew up out there on our own feeling different and misunderstood … but no longer. Empaths are starting to find each other and provide the support to each other that has been missing in the mainstream world that has never understood who we really are. And, as we are finding each other, we are starting to find ourselves. Empaths are the future of humanity – “Homo Empathicus”. We have the emotional connectivity and the intuitive abilities that point to the direction that the human species is evolving into. And as we take our place at the front of this trend, we each have to work out how to harness these powers that so many of us have called a curse. Instead we get to embrace them as a blessing.  Come to this workshop to learn how this liability of empathic sensitivity is truly an asset.

234 Lori Horvitz/  Writing the Unspoken: Truth and Consequences of Breaking the Silence


Personal narratives that reveal uncomfortable truths about difficult subjects such as trauma, various types of abuse, illness, and family dysfunction seem highly vulnerable to risking various forms of backlash. We will address both the radiant liberations and real-life risks and outcomes of writing narratives that break silences and reveal raw, volatile, and vulnerable truths about personal/communal trauma, mental or physical illness, and dysfunctional family dynamics. We will discuss our own reluctance to write about our lives, and complete a five-part writing exercise. You will leave with the beginnings of a poem/or memoir.

236 Lisa Wagoner/  Changing Up Your Life After 50: Nature, Manifesting, Magick and More


The good news is we are living in a time where our perceptions of age are changing. What we do and accomplish is evolving. We have amazing examples and role models of those who achieve amazing things, start over, and turn their life around after the age of 50. It’s an age to celebrate, get excited about, plan for, change, experience, and savor. This workshop is for those who feel that glimmer of excitement about their age, those who want to feel that way, and those who are unsure of what steps they can take in their life to change things.

315 Aisha Adams “Entrepreneurial Accelerator for Writers”


Aisha Adams is a social media influencer with a heart for community economic development. Through her personal platform Nappy Thoughts (, Aisha has been a resource to individuals and families healing themselves from mental, emotional, and physical trauma. Her written work has appeared in publications like The Asheville Citizen Times, The Asheville Grit, and The Final Call. Aisha has a BA in English with a concentration in creative writing. She has a Masters in Post-Secondary and Adult Education. Aisha is also the founder of Aisha Adams Media Group. Description of the Entreprenuerial Accelerator for Writers is forthcoming.

Workshops 11-12:30

232: Lisa Sarasohn/ Poetry as the Practice of Empathy


Kindness emerges as we recognize ourselves in each other: a practice of empathy. Kindness becomes enduring as we embody forbearance and patience: a centered presence. In this workshop we’’ll enlist breath, gesture, and image to support poem-writing as a bodysoul experience of mutuality and reciprocity. Come prepared to breathe, reflect, connect, and conjure words onto paper.

234: Isabella Serene/The Story of Climate Change: a people problem with a community solution

4LuxeHousePhotographic (1000 of 1)-4

In this workshop, we will discuss the intersectionality of climate justice and the importance of covering different perspectives when it comes to educational story telling. I will teach how to incorporate personal relevance and relatability for the reader into an environmental justice story through character building and concrete details. I hope to give others the tools needed to hone their skills and voices so they can spread knowledge, awareness, and empathy for the things that matter in a way that matters. These techniques and awareness of the scale and complexity of the issue will improve the ability of the writer to create a reality for the reader that evokes the caring and empathy necessary for driving positive change towards an equitable and sustainable future for all

234: Jackelin Trevino/ Word from the Rio Grande Valley


I am holding a vision of facilitating a writing workshop which can use guided contemplation and reflections on the borderlands as an anzalduian concept to encourage participants to traverse the borders within themselves, perhaps emboldening them to take greater social action to redefine borders of all kinds.


Lunch Keynote in LR boardroom/  Decolonizing Writing: Cara Forbes Charlene Hunt.  Aaliyah Swimmer, Arvis Locklear Boughman


Writers of the Cherokee and Lumbee Nations present a discussion on contemporary Native American writers, their own writing, and principles of representation for non-Native writers. More description forthcoming.

Workshops at LR: 3:00-4:30

Patio of Boardroom Andrew Weatherly/ Listening to Spirits


We are natural beings just as much as every animal and plant.  We are spiritual beings just as animals, plants, rivers, clouds, and the sky are.  Let’s feel into those relationships for inspiration and listen to what they tell us. There will be times here where you ‘hear’ ideas.  Listen.  Deeply listen.  Is it your mind or is it more than just your mind.  This is an opportunity to go deeper than your mind.  I encourage you to listen deeper for the connections we all share as beings present in this moment.  As writers we can all string words together.  Open up and become a vessel for what is being said all around us by the non-human beings.

236 Julyan Davis/ Deciding How to Tell a Story: How Subject Matter Determines Approach


Story or a Painting? When presented with something you wish to say, you can select from a variety of approaches. Julyan Davis will share his process for deciding between writing and painting, accompanied by his own images and words.

234 Phyllis Utley

Phyllis_IMG_0987 (1)

Description Forthcoming

232 Meta Commerse Women’s Word Medicine:  Reuniting through Poetry


One of my early, most beloved teachers taught me this adage.  Where there’s life, there is hope and healing. When women begin to pause, look, listen and express the things we feel, the painful emotions we’ve been slow to express, when we use poetry to express our anger, fury, or even our rage, the door to life itself swings open to us.  That’s when we find ourselves better able to create and develop new, more self-loving habits.  In this creative writing workshop, we will practice pausing, looking, listening, and, through group-based poetics, begin exploring, addressing, and healing this very old wound. Women:  Join Meta Commerse for this compelling story medicine workshop.  Come prepared to hear, write, share a poem, and shed at least some of the strategic garment that hides our hearts and creates the illusion of a power hungry, hardedged persona many women wear, sometimes unconsciously.  What better time to break our long-held silence and liberate ourselves?

315 Aisha Adams/ Entrepreneurial Accelerator for Writers


Aisha Adams is a social media influencer with a heart for community economic development. Through her personal platform Nappy Thoughts (, Aisha has been a resource to individuals and families healing themselves from mental, emotional, and physical trauma. Her written work has appeared in publications like The Asheville Citizen Times, The Asheville Grit, and The Final Call. Aisha has a BA in English with a concentration in creative writing. She has a Masters in Post-Secondary and Adult Education. Aisha is also the founder of Aisha Adams Media Group. Description of the Entreprenuerial Accelerator for Writers is forthcoming.

Workshops at: LR 5-6:30

232 Tania Rochelle/ Poetry as Survival: Processing Trauma Through the Writing and Revision of Poems.

As seen on a Sussex Directories Inc site

In his book Poetry as Survival, Gregory Orr explains the importance of putting our traumatic experiences into words and how poetry is a great vehicle to accomplish that. With poetry, two important things happen: First, we shift the crisis to a bearable distance from us, moving it into the symbolic world of language, and second, we get the satisfaction of making and shaping the models of our situations rather than passively enduring them. We get to triumph over our history. This workshop will give participants the basic tools necessary turn the chaos of traumatic events into the order of poetry, a physical and mental exercise that simultaneously processes emotions. We will examine the most important components of building poems: metaphor, imagery, music, diction, syntax, and tone—and follow with a look at the important role revision plays.

234 Marlisa Mills: Surviving Cultural Grief: Transforming Fear, Loss, and Hopelessness through Authored Activism


Storytelling is the oldest method of therapy. Grief is a universal condition which permeates our lives and can either be seen and utilized as a tragedy which crushes our spirits or as a push toward transformation which enhances our souls.
In this workshop, we will explore the ways in which storytelling, be it verbal, written poetry or prose, journaling, or dramatic, has become increasingly identified as perhaps the most effective way of mitigating the losses and resulting emotional responses we experience. We will look at the history of grief “treatment,” our cultural reluctance to deal with loss and grief, and the ways we can journey through bereavement by telling its story, again and again. Whether used as a personal tool for transformation or in guiding others through the grief journey, this session will help us all in remembering who we are, where we’ve come from, and where and how we will carry on in the face of life’s impermanence.  

Boardroom: Larry Cammarata/ The Body, Spiritual Values, and Remembering


The body is a vehicle for generating and expressing your highest spiritual values. Some wisdom teachers say that the body contains the spirit, while others say that the spirit contains the body. In the Buddhist tradition, mindfulness of the body is one of four major dimensions of remembering—an active process of cultivating healthy body awareness and actions while attending to and redirecting actions that can potentially harm the body. Other dimensions of remembering include mindfulness of the mind, mindfulness of feeling tones (satisfactory, unsatisfactory, and neutral), mindfulness of the mind, and mindfulness of mental objects that support or hinder the process of waking up and ultimately being free from self-imposed suffering and distress. While talking about the body can begin the process of cultivating awareness, the wisdom of the body is greatly supported by the practice of gentle mindful movement.

315 Aisha Adams Entrepreneurial Accelerator for Writers


Aisha Adams is a social media influencer with a heart for community economic development. Through her personal platform Nappy Thoughts (, Aisha has been a resource to individuals and families healing themselves from mental, emotional, and physical trauma. Her written work has appeared in publications like The Asheville Citizen Times, The Asheville Grit, and The Final Call. Aisha has a BA in English with a concentration in creative writing. She has a Masters in Post-Secondary and Adult Education. Aisha is also the founder of Aisha Adams Media Group. Description of the Entreprenuerial Accelerator for Writers is forthcoming.

Saturday Night

7:30-9 pm: Rooftop Reading in Battery Park Hotel Rooftop Ballroom

Glenis Redmond and Lamar Wilson

cropped-4aa028cd-85bf-4abf-9a42-d7cfb5fde8d5.jpeg    Lamar


Workshops at LR: 9-10:30

Boardroom Scott Doc Varn: Preserving a Picturesque American Project

232 Juan Sanchez-Martinez Poetry on Water

Juan Sanchez-Martinez

I will share a couple of stories about my involvement with different Indigenous organizations and movements that protect water through art and literature, i.e the Indigenous World Forum on Water and Peace, Idle no More, and Standing Rock. We will read some poems from the anthology Indigenous Message on Water (2014.)  In community exchange, we will hold dialogue about the poems. I will invite participants to reflect on local issues in which water is at risk. Together we will explore the subject of  land recognition. Based on the poems read and the topics that have arisen in the conversation, participants will write verses/offerings for the clean water, or verses/medicine for the sick water.

234 Heather Wood Buzzard

Description and Photo forthcoming.

236  Lisa Soledad-Almaraz/ Eartheart Alive: A Heart Awakening Journey Honoring Nature and our Ancestral Connections for a Deeply Inspired Present

LSA earth 2.1

In this multifaceted reading/presentation/workshop/discussion we will share the experience of embodying heart-centered energy by acknowledging, honoring and integrating our past for a revivified present. We will explore how magnifying a grounded sense of loving awareness positively affects us and others on a practical level. We will do this through poetry, a presentation, experiential exercises and a discussion to follow. This session offers ways to empower and support us as individuals while sharing a deep sense of global connection, synergy, and support. We face daunting challenges in our communities during this final decade of opportunity to make urgent and profoundly needed changes to our current model of civilization. We will gather strength as we delve into our ancient roots, both ancestral and those of the natural world. Together, we will weave threads of continuity across time into the present with a vision of cultivating a community of earth stewards and thus a new outcome for the future. This workshop is intended to help us each ignite a spark of enduring inspiration so that we may more completely fulfill our purpose, passion, and reasons for being here.

Workshops 11-12:30

Boardroom: Sara Eisenberg/ Introduction to Radical Inclusion


Our stories of race and gender divide us from ourselves even before they divide us from one another. Radical Inclusion teaches a simple nondual meditation. We learn how to listen as our inner Storytellers assert their Truths, shout and talk over one another, question and critique, timidly mumble, or suffer in silence. As we call in each of these voices, we begin to see the Story-Maker behind the curtain of our identity who runs the show. This skill-based practice works with our own inner system of biases and preconceptions, deeply engages our integrity, power, honesty, and kindness and renders us more trustworthy to address systemic injustices in the world.  Take this practice home. It will support you whether you feel an urgency to show up and take action in the world, are worn out with the effort, or dont know where to start. Meditation, reflection, writing, and discussion. Introduction to Radical Inclusion workshops are funded in part by a grant from The Foundation for Nonduality, based on the work of Jason Shulman, and the Max Kagan Family Foundation. 

232: Michael Hayes: Umoja


Description Forthcoming

234: Jenna Jaffe/ Writing Chants for Ourselves, Our Planet, Our Collective Creativity and Healing


We will begin with a brief introduction on the history of chanting and how simple prayers with accompanying melodies have been woven into faiths (ex. Hindu, Jewish, Sufi, Christian, Pagan) and indigenous peoples (ex. North American, African, South American) of the world for thousands of years. Musical examples will be given and group singing will commence so that participants can be inspired to create their own chants. There is no previous experience in music or writing necessary for this workshop. The workshop space will be physically, emotionally, and spiritually safe for the freedom of creating and opening. I will have handouts of chant examples as well as meditations, steps for creating, starter prayers, as well as chant categories for participants to take with them. All materials for writing in the workshop will be included. I will encourage people to use handmade, environmentally friendly, locally made writing products. As a visual artist, I will have my blank journals available for purchase. Participants will be able to create their chants in these journals or on natural paper provided.

236: Janell Agyeman/ Writer or Author: Getting Published Makes the Difference (A Workshop for Writers Who Want to Publish Their Books)

Janell Walden Agyeman 2018

The overall intention of the 90-minute workshop is to encourage basic understanding of the promotion-centric mindset expected of any writer who intends to publish their work in today’s highly competitive marketplace.  It will be presented through a 40/60 mix of lecture-presentation and interactive activity. More concretely, participants will come away from this workshop with key content elements to include in any query letter or basic marketing copy they will need to compose when seeking to publish their books.  While there are numerous ways to promote a book, every writer should clearly understand and describe the value of their book for the intended reading audiences and be able position their book in the marketplace.  With this awareness, regardless of the publishing path a writer eventually pursues, they can most effectively convince others to support their publication efforts. In this way, a writer assumes the role of author—the published writer—and is fully invested in creating and disseminating their literary work.  

Lunch Keynote in Boardroom: 1-2:30

Spotlight on Equity

Bettie Council,  Aisha Adams, Michael Hayes, Phyllis Utley

Bettiemichael-hayesPhyllis_IMG_0987 (1)Aisha

Workshops at LR: 3-4:30

DeBorah Ogiste Creating a Personal Ceremony


Move your sacred pain into an awakening of your joyful flow. In this session you will be led to recognize the sacredness of your pain and create a ceremony to allow you to work through the levels of your sacred pain and transmute that which is  held in your Chakras and your muscle memory. Your ceremony will be just that, Yours,  to use whenever you desire.  

232 Judith Toy:  Poetry as a Path to the Divine

Judith with long hair

The tender words we said to one another Are stored in the secret heart of heaven: One day like rain they will fall and spread, Andour mystery will grow green over the world.   –Rumi

A hands-on poetry workshop for seekers–non-poets and poets alike. We will enter the silence to become one body, to access the light of the divine, We will quiet our minds, shake out our brains, listen to three spiritual poets, and finally write and share our work. Inspiration guaranteed! Instructions to students: bring a journal and writing implement.  

234 Lori Horvitz; Finding the Power and Voice Behind Your Real Life Stories


In this workshop you will come up with a list of story ideas, and from this list, you’ll focus on drafting a short memoir/narrative poem for the page and/or the stage. We will start with some timed writing exercises that will help you focus in on the crux of a story. You’ll continue to develop your narrative with further writing exercises, and through sharing in small groups. Everyone will walk away with an understanding of voice, pacing and imagery for their piece, along with the most captivating angle to focus on. At the end of the workshop, you will have the opportunity to read your work aloud.

236 Eric Tran and Alyse Bensel/Portraits of Grief: Poetry as Witness, Elegy, and Healing


As poets and professionals, Alyse and Eric have extensive experience in working with grief. Alyse is a professor of English at Brevard College. Her debut book of poetry is a biography of Maria Sibylla Merian, a naturalist and illustrator, whose life was marked by loss: she became distant from religion the more she became ensconced in science; her divorce from her husband; her changing landscapes of home. Alyse’s poems both celebrate and mourn Merian’s life and journey through a variety of forms and topics.  

6-8 Sunday Reading on the Roof

Phyllis Utley, Barbara Gravelle, Aisha Adams, Juan Sanchez-Martinez, Laura Hope-Gill, and Julyan Davis

Phyllis_IMG_0987 (1)Aisha

Laura Hope-Gill

Juan Sanchez-MartinezJulyan

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