Word to Action is a writing retreat centered on the theme of climate change. My friend, Cathy Wittmeyer, is the creator and host of this incredible retreat, which took place October 12-18 in Liechtenstein.
It featured poets Craig Santos Perez, Will McInerney, Kelli Russell Agodon, Richard Blanco, Enda Wyley, and Tess Barry.
It certainly isn’t easy to plan an international writing retreat in the year of 2020, with travel bans and a worldwide pandemic, but Cathy pulled it off seamlessly. I was lucky enough to help behind the scenes with social media and also attended the retreat virtually, which provided me with fresh knowledge and inspiration, but also, renewed hope.
Just after Day 1, I was speechless! I learned so much from both the featured speakers and the other participants that will carry into not only my future writing, but my way of engaging with the world.
I see a clear picture for moving forward and that picture has a lot of haze in it (a continued or new pandemic, other crises, other demands on time): behind the fog is hope that writing poems and putting them into the world will create ripples. The more of us that are out there making ripples, the harder our words will be to ignore. Poetry changes the world with a collective of small vibrations that move through one, two, or a thousand people at a time.
Check out the link to the video performance and record your carbon footprint here.
As we have seen, this year perhaps more than ever, climate change is so very real. I’m continuing to educate myself on actions big and small that I can take, and want to encourage others to do the same. That’s how those ripples will make waves of change. I’m thankful to Cathy and all those who gave their time in making this retreat one to remember.
Hopefully see you there in person in 2021!
P.S. To keep up with Word to Action, find us on Instagram here or @wordtoaction and Twitter here, or @WordtoAction20.
Looking back, 2018 was one of my craziest travel years to date. I’d just ended the last day of 2017 in Belize, spent a whirlwind long weekend in between Copenhagen, Denmark and Malmö, Sweden, a month later jetted off to Mexico with friends I’d met in Belize, spent two perfect weeks in June studying poetry in the heart of Dublin, Ireland, welcomed July in Colorado and ended it in Maine, spent my birthday in Puerto Rico, stepped back in time in Havana, Cuba in August, and that’s what brings me here: a slice of time from September to October when I was so lucky to visit two AMAZING countries: Liechtenstein and Portugal. (I ended the year by dipping into Panama City, Panama & then dipping my toes into the beaches of Curaçao, but that’s for another post.)
My friend Sarah, who I met through my friend & coworker Debra, was also a passionate traveler and was working and living in Europe at the time. We had talked about meeting up somewhere in the world, but it just felt like a far-off venture that probably wouldn’t work out. Until, it did. We both had been wanting to go to Portugal, and miraculously our schedules aligned! I took a couple days before arriving in Portugal to meet up with my friend Cathy, who I had met in my MFA program. Cathy lives in Liechtenstein with her family and had often told me of the gorgeous mountain views she saw on her early morning hikes, but experiencing it with her was another thing. Putting on our sweatshirts and shoes in the dark, we climbed up the hills, past farms and pastures, and watched the sun come over the town below.
While I was there, Cathy brought me to her son’s school to speak to the kids about poetry. I didn’t realize how nervous I would be- I have no clue how to be in front of middle schoolers, y’all. I know how important poetry is, and what it means to me, but how could I ever relate that to a group of eleven year olds? Regardless, I was so honored she had invited me.
Cathy took me to the Werdenberg Castle, showed me Vaduz and the art in Städtle, but my favorite place was her kitchen, right in the heart of her home with the big picture windows, sitting with a glass of white wine and laughing.
After our short time together, I caught a flight to meet up with Sarah, and we set out to see as much as possible in two of Portugal’s most beautiful cities, Lisbon and Porto.
We started out in Lisbon, one of the oldest cities in Europe, and it did not disappoint!
Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge Jerónimos monastery Torre de Belém pastéis de nata Tram 28/funiculars Mercado da Ribeira (market) Alfama District (hill, old town) Rossio Square/Pedro IV Square (peoplewatching, eating/drinking) the Bairro Alto (nightlife) the Padrão dos Descobrimentos LX Factory Check out all of the amazing street art, too!
OOH, we also took a day trip to Sintra/Pena Palace/Cascais, which is gorgeous and I would definitely recommend:
We packed a lot of fun into Lisbon, but nothing could prepare us for what the cobblestone streets of Portugal’s second largest city, (known for its port wine production) would lead us down…
We drank as much of the city in as we could ❤
The Cais da Ribeira/ Luís I Bridge Clérigos Tower Avenida dos Aliados Graham’s Port Lodge Teleférico de Gaia – Estação Cais de Gaia Funicular dos Guindais Croft Port Muralha Primitiva Pillory of Porto Igreja dos Clérigos Igreja do Carmo Praça de Lisboa São Bento Station (beautiful station from the 1800s) Câmara Municipal do Porto (city hall)
Full transparency, there aren’t a ton of photos from Porto due to the many glasses of wine you see pictured above.
Some memories you can’t capture 🙂 I had the time of my life with Sarah and I’m SO glad it worked out for us to cross off a bucketlist destination together.
Portugal, you’re more beautiful than I could’ve imagined. Your landscape, architecture, seafood, and of course, wine, are still spinning in my head.