SwampFire Retreat for Artists and Writers


7th annual retreat, 20-22 June 2014

Again hosted by Steve Smith at his studio and 4 Corners Gallery, SwampFire proved to be a time of creativity and relaxation. The highlight of the retreat was the Raku workshop. See the link below for the dramatic photos of red-hot pots coming out of the kiln.

Eva English's photos of the Saturday Raku workshop

Steve Smith's 4 Corners Gallery: Studio and Pottery


2014 SwampFire portraits by Eva English . . .
Reflections by the participants . . .


Andrea England

Aubade. Lake Michigan.

Blood, not blood but bog, flows
laketoward. Fisherman belittled
by erosion and high water curse
their luck. An eagle shadows our dog,
our dog oblivious to his clip, his
ears blown back by leashlessness.
My husband empties his coffee
to rescue crayfish from the tide.
We attempt a dam with sand
and plastic shovels. The eagle
laughs at us so heartily she
forgets her convocation.


Marian Plant

Reflecting on SwampFire ’14

Knowing I’m coming to SwampFire lets me let go of “trying to make time to write this summer.” Of course I weave far too many expectations of project-completions into my anticipation of the weekend. But just that I bring ideas and wishes and scraps of paper scribbled with starter thoughts centers me enough to simply write. Thank goodness.



Dawn Comer

June 22, 2014

Funny how I was late to arrive at SwampFire this year and yet I got here just in time. Just in time to draft a story, to walk out into a bean field and feel the water on the leaves, to sit and talk and listen, sharing in the flow of stories both real and imagined. On rare occasions I have cynically wondered if there ever will be a SwampFire that is just so-so, that will feel like going through the motions. But somehow SwampFire doesn’t ever operate that way. There is an ebb and flow and a moving in and out, between solitude and community, but there is always, for me, a restoration.

I have had a great many stressors this past year—failed school experiences for my son (the constant struggles) and my husband’s recent health concerns. Some days things just seem uncertain, and so overwhelming, but I keep moving—we all do, don’t we?—ever through the most uncertain and intense of times. SwampFire is a still point in the midst of all the swirl and craziness of daily life.

Ah, well. SwampFire. Happy to be here even on a year when I took 10 minutes to throw my bag together and hop in the care to come.
Until next year.


Rachel Baker

June 22, 2014

I looked forward to SwampFire this summer after having spent the first part of this year trying to focus on the habit of writing. I’m working on being content in the activity, rather than expecting perfection in the craft. As always, I was excited to do the pottery, and I love my finished raku pot. I wasn’t sure until close to the date that I could come this year, but I’m so glad I made it. Looking forward to next year!



Eva English


white clay and conversation
interrupted by the rain
dipped for copper
galvanized steel
fire that doesn’t burn but births
the devil has four legs.




Kevin Dillinger

Kevin's reflection is on its way . . .








Mary Catherine Harper

Is it possible that my seventeen-year-old self really isn’t seventeen but now somewhere past sixty? Impossible. But I’ve had a clear sign that my memory isn’t what it used to be. Coming to SwampFire this year I forgot to bring my computer charger. Had to call Dawn that first day, before she arrived, and ask her to get it from my apartment. She saved the day, brought it with her Saturday morning.



Just a lazy day at SwampFire 2014 . . . silhouette of Steve Smith







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