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            Awarded "Best of Philly 2012" for Literary Activity

In 2016 The Philly Pigeon departed from how poetry slam seasons typically end.  Instead of sending a team of poets to the National Poetry Slam (NPS) we used our money and time to organize a 6-day artists' retreat.  While NPS is definitely an amazing experience, we felt the need to use our resources to create programs that elevate our poetry community in a different way. The retreat was amazing. We created, we relaxed and we built community in a beautiful cottage in rural Vermont.

This summer we are again forgoing NPS. Instead we are organizing an all-expense-paid, 6-day artists’ retreat! The top 4 poets poets from our Grand Slam Finals and 3 artists of any genre selected via our application process will join the Philly Pigeon Collective and three amazing facilitators at a private retreat in beautiful Vermont.   

The retreat gives artists an opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of city living, enjoy healthy meals made by our retreat chef, and have free time/space to create, explore, play, or simply rest. 

Participants can also take part in writing, dance, and visual arts workshops facilitated by professional practicing artists.

This year we are deepening the post-retreat commitment and experience. The top four poets from our grand slam finals and the three artists selected through our application process will form the cast of a multimedia poetry production.

The production will combine poetry, dance, music and visual art. Cast members will participate in the creation and performance of the piece under the direction of Philly Pigeon Collective member, Kai Davis.  Our first production How to Take Space was a huge success. We’re excited to build on the success of our first production by having the artists bond over the summer at the retreat and then participate in a 4 month creation and rehearsal process.  

Retreat attendees are expected to participate in the following creation/rehearsal/performance process. Rehearsals are 3-4 hours long.

  • Meet once a week in September
  • Meet twice a week in October
  • Meet 3 times a week in November and early December
  • Performance mid-December

The Philly Pigeon Collective is so excited about our direction and we hope that you are excited too. We work hard to develop and provide programs like these to serve our community but none of this would be possible without the support and love from audience members, supporters and artists like you.

Thank you to our ever growing audiences at our monthly slams, everyone who came out to How to Take Space, the poets who’ve competed, and features who’ve featured. Your commitment to creating and supporting dope performance poetry has allowed us to innovate and create work in our hometown, for all of you.

If you’re excited to attend the retreat and be apart of the cast that will put on our second ever multi-media poetry production apply here today. This year applicants will be able to attend the retreat free of cost thanks in part to The Philadelphia Cultural Fund!

To everyone reading this. Be sure to come out to our Grand Slam Finals on May 5th. You’ll get to watch a fantastic show and support one of the country’s most cutting edge performance poetry organizations.

The Philly Pigeon Artists' Retreat
In Beautiful Vermont
July 25th - 30th 2017

Cost: For poets finishing in the top four at grand slam finals $0.

There are 3 spots available to Philadelphia artists of any genre.

There is a $10 application fee.

APPLY HERE to our Fall/Winter Cast and Summer Retreat. 

What’s included:
    •    Three meals a day prepared by a chef
    •    Snacks and beverages
    •    Travel to and from the retreat site
    •    5 nights of lodging at the retreat site
    •    All workshops and activities

During the retreat we will
    •    Spend time in nature
    •    Eat delicious meals prepared by our in-house chef
    •    Attend small workshops with skilled facilitators  
    •    Create and relax in a new setting
    •    Have opportunities to collaborate

About the site
    •    Eight hours from Philadelphia 
    •    Completely private home. 20 minutes from road.

    •    Each participant will get their own bed or air mattress and linens.

    •    Sauna, creek fed pool, hiking trails, dance studio and fields
    •    Indoor and outdoor spaces to create, think and relax. 

After the Retreat

Our expectation is that all of the participants in the retreat will join The Philly Pigeon 2017 cast. The Philly Pigeon 2017 cast will work together from September through December 2017 to put on a multi-media poetry production in Philadelphia. 

Why We're Doing This

Poets who slam at The Philly Pigeon & Philadelphia Artists,

In 2017 we will not be sending the top four poets from our grand slam finals to the National Poetry Slam. Instead, the top four finishers will be invited to attend an all-inclusive, free, five night, five day artists retreat.

We love the many ways that poetry slam has shaped the art form of performance poetry. We are a slam and will continue to be one. Poetry slam encourages poets to honor the stage and the page as platforms worthy of our attention and creativity. Through random audience judging and encouraging vocal responses to poems, poetry slam has empowered audiences to be active participants in shaping an art form. Poetry Slam has allowed poets to circumvent traditional gatekeepers and instead bring their poems directly to larger and larger audiences.

We also recognize that poetry slam has its limitations. Time limits, rules against props, musical accompaniment and costumes are obvious limitations. There is also the limitation of competition. On one hand we love friendly competition and think it can bring out the best in people. However over the last 4 years of bringing poets to national slams we’ve seen how the stress of competition can tire poets’ creativity and cause poets to create work that is centered around winning.

We’re excited to host this artists' retreat for a second year as attempt to bring our performance poetry community some balance. This artists’ retreat will give the top five poets from our Grand Slam and other artists the chance to focus on their individual craft while building community. We hope to create an artists’ retreat where process and innovation are valued as much as completion.

We hope that this retreat will inspire and energize the participants and strengthen bonds that create community.  

We hope that you will continue to slam and participate in our Grand Slam Finals. If you haven’t slammed yet we hope this opportunity is exciting to you and that you will sign up to slam this season.


Kai Davis, Jasmine Combs, Jacob Winterstein
The Philly Pigeon Collective

P.S. Here are some other examples of artists retreats:

If you still want to go to the National Poetry slam we recommend our sister slam The Fuze.