Writing Our Memories,
Riting Our Myth, Righting Our Lives

A Writing Retreat with Dennis Patrick Slattery

Perhaps each of us is an amalgam of several inflections: a life lived, a life remembered, and a life storied. In this trinity, memory mingles with myth in a way that the ancient Greeks called mimesis. By that they meant that imitation is something all human beings love to engage and enact, from an infant’s delight in the repetition of a simple game, to our own imagination being moved to insight by a classic work of literature, art, music or another’s narrative. Might imitation be at the heart of our myth-making impulse so, as literary theorist Louise Cowan, has written, we poetically transform the past into memory. We might think about writing as an intimate and forceful mode of remembering what we had not sufficiently shaped into a coherent form so that our lives in their entirety continue to desire both coherence and meaning.

In this writing retreat we will draw on our own re-membered life events and give them a form, in some instances for the first time, primarily through writing, but also through body movement and painting images, as well as responding to and writing poetry. In addition, we will explore brief passages from the first person narratives of discovery, Dante’s Divine Comedy and Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, to test how mimesis offers us an inroad to understanding on a profound level what has not been sculpted into coherence before.

By offering the soul various venues in which to imagine, we will both discover and create further structures of our narrative identity and its patterned presence within the larger collective myth that surrounds us. We will also explore those moments in our lives that have remained to date unlived and where we have refused the call to adventure, said “no” to life, preferred to be “called later” to its invitations and chosen to forget what may now be insisting on being re-membered.

Please leave your laptop at home and bring your journal and pen to write in cursive. Some of the writing meditations will be used from the book, Riting Myth, Mythic Writing: Plotting Your Personal Story by Dennis Patrick Slattery. Others will emerge from the two classics mentioned above as well as the stories embedded in our bodies that body movement will allow to have full expression. What will emerge in this retreat is a greater awareness of each of our own narrative truths.

Dennis SlatteryDennis Patrick Slattery, Ph.D., is core faculty in the Mythological Studies Program at Pacifica Graduate Institute, where he has taught for 18 years. He is the author, co-author, editor or co-editor of 19 published volumes, including four volumes of poetry. His poems have appeared in newspapers, magazines, journals and online publications in the United States and elsewhere. His most recent book is Riting Myth, Mythic Writing: Plotting Your Personal Story. For more information, visit

General Information

REGISTRATION: Space is limited. Register early! To register, submit the form on the webpage, or print and mail it to the Public Programs Department, Pacifica Graduate Institute, 249 Lambert Road, Carpinteria, CA 93013 or call the Public Programs Department at 805.969.3626, ext. 103. Full payment is required with your registration. An email confirmation letter will be sent within 5 days of submitting your registration.

CANCELLATION: To obtain a refund on your registration fee, send a written cancellation request postmarked no later than thirty days before the event. Tuition less a $50 processing fee will be refunded. No refunds on your registration fee will be made after that time. In the event that the program is sold out with a waitlist and we are able to transfer your registration to someone on the waitlist, we will issue you a refund less the processing fee. Any registration transfers that do not go through our office will be assessed the processing fee onsite.

For a refund on accommodations at the Ladera Lane Campus, cancellation with full refund will be accepted up to 5 days before the event. Cancellations made 1-4 days before the event will receive a 50% refund. There will be no refund for cancellation on the day of the event.

LOCATION: The workshop will be held at Pacifica Graduate Institute’s Ladera Lane Campus at 801 Ladera Lane, Santa Barbara, CA 93108. Located on 35 acres in the foothills of the Santa Ynez Mountains overlooking the Pacific Ocean, this residential retreat center provides a unique and peaceful environment for these events. This campus has lodging, dining facilities, and parking.

Pacifica’s Ladera Lane Campus
801 Ladera Lane, Santa Barbara, CA 93108
A limited number of rooms are available for participants at Pacifica’s Ladera Lane Campus:
$87 per night single occupancy (one twin or standard full size bed)
$120 per night couple occupancy (one standard full size bed; not a queen)
$132 per night double occupancy (two twin beds)
plus 10% occupancy tax
Accommodations are simple, dormitory-style rooms with a shared bath and shower. Reservations for rooms must be made through Pacifica’s Public Programs Department.  Note, there is a two-night minimum for this weekend.

Best Western Carpinteria Inn
4558 Carpinteria Avenue, Carpinteria, CA 93013; 805.684.0473

A limited number of rooms are available for participants at special rates of $169 per night plus tax. These rooms are held for our group at this special rate until three days before the program. Be sure to mention PACIFICA PUBLIC PROGRAMS to receive the special rate. Please note that Pacifica shuttles do not provide service to and from the Best Western for Public Programs

MEALS: Meals are provided to encourage ongoing dialogue and community exchange throughout the weekend. Included in your registration fee are Friday dinner; Saturday breakfast, lunch, and dinner; and Sunday breakfast and lunch. For early arrivals, the following meals are available for an additional fee: Friday breakfast ($13.00) and lunch ($19.00). All extra meals must be ordered and paid for in advance through the Public Programs Department. No other meals will be available. Pacifica’s caterers make every attempt to provide healthful meals for our guests and include organic ingredients where possible. Please indicate on the registration form if you need a special vegan, gluten free, or vegetarian meal or if you have other medical dietary restrictions.

TRAVEL: Major airlines provide service into the Los Angeles International Airport located 90 miles south of Santa Barbara and into the Santa Barbara Municipal Airport, approximately 18 miles from the Campus. Information on ground transportation to and from Santa Barbara will be included with your confirmation letter.

SCHOLARSHIPS: A limited number of financial need scholarships are available for this program. To apply, please fill out the registration form including payment information, and send a letter of request detailing your financial circumstances. Once your application has been reviewed, you will be contacted to approve processing of payment. Please note, incomplete applications will not be considered.

CONTINUING EDUCATION CREDIT: 11.5 CE credits are available for RNs through the California Board of Registered Nurses (provider #CEP 7177) and for MFTs and LCSWs (provider #PCE 2278) through the California Board of Behavioral Sciences. A $15 processing fee will be charged for each certificate requested.

DISABILITY SERVICES ON CAMPUS: It is the policy of Pacifica’s Public Programs Department to accommodate attendees with disabilities in compliance with state and federal laws and regulations. Please let us know in advance if you have special needs or require assistance due to a disabling condition while you are attending a public program. If you are accompanied by a service dog, please contact disability services directly (805.679.6124), as all animals visiting campus must have pre-approval. For additional information regarding Pacifica’s policies, visit