Colrain Classic: Leicester, Massachusetts, June, 2019

Barred Owl Retreat, Leicester, Massachusetts | June 28-July 1, 2019


Where and When: The conference will be held from Friday, June 28 through Monday, July 1,  at the beautiful Barred Owl Retreat, a 15-room, 1920′s colonial home located just outside the city of Worcester, Massachusetts, in the town of Leicester. The retreat’s lovingly landscaped acreage hosts an orchard, a brook, two ponds and an abundance of wildlife including herons, beavers, otters, deer, and of course, barred owls. The property abuts a secluded 114-acre nature preserve so on the grounds one might feel away from it all, yet Barred Owl Retreat is just four miles from downtown Worcester.



Plan to arrive on Friday, October 5, between 4 and 6 pm. Dinner is at 7 pm, after which introductions and preparation for the next day take place.  The conference ends on Monday, October 8, at 11 am.


Here, you will work with poet-editor-educators Joan Houlihan and Gabriel Fried.

_dsc3823medCROPJoan Houlihan is the author of five books of poetry, most recently, Shadow-feast (Four Way Books). Her poetry has been anthologized in The Iowa Anthology of New American Poetries (University of Iowa Press) and The Book of Irish-American Poetry-Eighteenth Century to Present (University of Notre Dame Press). She is a contributing critic for the Contemporary Poetry Review, associate editor for Tupelo Quarterly, and author of a series of essays on contemporary American poetry archived online at She has taught at Columbia University, Smith College and Emerson College and she currently teaches in the Lesley University Low-Residency MFA Program and as Professor of Practice at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. Houlihan is founder and director of the Colrain Poetry Manuscript Conference.

gabeGabriel Fried has been poetry editor at Persea Books since 2001. Founded in 1975, Persea is a small literary house based in New York City. It has remained independently owned and operated since its inception. Fried’s first collection of poems, Making the New Lamb Take, was named a Best Book of 2007 by Foreword magazine and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. His second book, The Children are Reading is now available from Four Way Books. His poems have been published individually in the American Poetry Review, American Scholar, Gettysburg Review, Kenyon Review, Paris Review, and elsewhere. Fried currently teaches in the graduate creative writing program at the University of Missouri and Sierra Nevada College.


How to Apply

Before you apply, please visit our Conference Criteria page to make certain this conference is right for you. Once you understand the nature and goals of the conference, please submit an application.

Conference Fee

Following successful application, the registration fee is $1,425.00. This includes:

  • Tuition
  • Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and beverages on all days (contact us regarding any special needs).


Nearby accommodations are available starting at $50 per night.  You will need to contact them and make arrangements. Some suggestions below:

The Heartwell House.  2.4 miles from Barred Owl

A big, gorgeous house also used for yoga and meditation retreats. 6 rooms available, some double. Very reasonable and highest rating through airbnb.

The Red Maple Inn in Spencer. 7 miles from Barred Owl.

This is a lovely inn with indoor and outdoor sitting areas. It is pricey but they have two rooms that could be shared to cut down on the cost. One is the suite which has two separate bedrooms, one with twin beds one with a queen and they share a bath in between. They also have The Cottage room that is attached to the house that has two somewhat separate sleeping areas and a kitchen. Mention that you are attending the Barred Owl Writer’s retreat and they will take 10% off. A large breakfast at the time you request is included (though you will also have a continental breakfast served at the Barred Owl).

Courtyard Marriott: Downtown Worcester 4-5 miles from Barred Owl. Near art museum and dining. Ask for the Clark University rate or the AAA discount. Rooms $115-$129.00. Phone: 508-363-0300

Spenser Country Inn. 5.5 miles from Barred Owl. They have three rooms in the main Inn for $65.00/night. The yellow room is large with 2 single beds and could easily be shared.

NOTE: They also have 6 rooms in an adjacent building for $55.00 night, but the quality is lesser. We recommend asking for rooms in the main Inn for $65.00/night.

How to Get Here

Barred Owl is located at 88 Marshall Street, Leicester, MA, only 20 minutes from downtown Worcester and 15 minutes from the Worcester Regional Airport (Flights at the Worcester Airport are limited. Logan Airport in Boston is 40 minutes away if necessary for your flight plans).

Amtrak and buses arrive in Worcester where you can easily take a taxi to the retreat.

Contact Info:

Phone: 978.897.0054

Refund Policy: Refund up to 4 weeks prior, less 15% processing fee. Colrain Conferences reserves the right to cancel this conference without penalty, liability limited to a full refund of registration fees.