"The Big Island Writer’s Workshop is one of the most treasured gifts of my life. The experience began in October 2017 when a friend invited me to attend one of Beth’s writing workshops in Northern California. Beth’s capacity to open us up at our core through her writing prompts is a sign of a true healer. She creates a safe and sacred space, takes you to vulnerable depths and facilitates the unveiling of your soul. The result is a raw and elegant story that you somehow managed to write...and it’s not just you, but also 7 to 10 other writers in the room who feel as if the group was brought together by destiny. I continue to write with Beth and each workshop is a revelation of the infinite messages inscripted within my being."
Anita Ahuja Winters, CA
"This will all sound hyperbolic, and I wouldn’t blame you for thinking, “Oh, another dramatic writerly type.” But trust me when I say that Beth’s workshops literally threw open the doors for my writing. The first time I attended her workshop, I went in with sweaty palms — I had never attended a workshop, and didn’t know if I had anything to say, or if I could write by hand, or if I would have the courage to read my writing to the group, and on and on – but was absolutely amazed at the how brilliantly her format works. Beth creates a safe, supportive environment, with rules that may not make sense in the beginning, but whose wisdom soon become very clear. Her prompts, her structure for the workshops, and the sheer force of her spirit all combine to create an environment that inspires deep, honest, meaningful writing. You learn to cherish your words, and they respond by blossoming in your hands. Give it a try - you’ll be amazed at what you create."
Vibha Akkaraju Palo Alto, CA
"Beth’s writer’s workshops will bring you face to face with your muse. Not just any muse, but your very own writing genie. Her skills draw from her experience as an actor, developing that unique connection with the audience. They derive from her writing career. Perhaps most important, her impeccable personal honesty and integrity calls up that same authentic voice in the group’s writing, in the individual writing.
I have been writing with Beth for several years. Her workshops hone skills like no other. Even in one single day-long experience, you emerge with your voice clear and sharp. A unique experience, worth revisiting again and again."
Gail Armand Placitas, NM
"Beth Bornstein Dunnington has a gift of getting to the core of her writers’ hearts. The Big Island Writers’ Workshop is like no other in my experience; it has a level of intimacy that is both unusual and remarkably comfortable."
Mary Artino Long Beach, CA
"I’ll never forget Beth’s second workshop held in a hotel room over the Venice Beach Boardwalk in California. I had never attended a writer’s workshop but knew in my soul that I wanted nothing more than to write my story, yet, I hadn’t a clue where to start. Fortunately and coincidentally, my BFF, Mary, too, signed up for the workshop. This phenomenal woman who knew all my sordid secrets and shenanigans would be there with me...I was so relieved. I’ll never forget my choice for the “long” prompt of the day; The Tastes of My Childhood. Feeling excessively inferior, before I read my piece back, I began to apologize for my lack of writing experience...Beth “Shushed” me. In my head I thought “WTAF this chick just shushed me...she shushed me!” And then she said “It’s not about perfect writing, it’s about finding your voice and writing YOUR story.” I almost cried and instantly knew that I arrived in the exact place I needed to be. And, beyond that, with the women who would bear witness to the first time I opened my heart, exposing a vulnerability I didn’t know existed. In my world there is nothing better than Thai food and mangoes...except Beth’s workshops."
Diana Haye Barnes Albuquerque, NM
"I have had the opportunity to participate in several of Beth's workshop and I can't begin to express the profound and transformative impact this experience has provided for me. Through the use of wildly powerful prompts, Beth creates a nonjudgmental, supportive and empowering space for her writers. With compassion and great skill Beth generates a creative environment for contemplative writing and listening. Her participants are of all ages and she welcomes both published writers and those hesitant to bring their words to paper. I am tremendously grateful to have written with Beth and eagerly wait to participate in more of her workshops."
Vicki Kulkin Beckerman West Orange, NJ
"I've had the pleasure of several face to face workshops and, most recently a number of online workshops. The unique prompts and images will take you to places you might not have imagined. And will crack you open in the best way possible. I've heard the greatest writing emerge from these sessions. Beth teaches like no one I've studied with. I always come away inspired and refreshed."
Holly Stone Cabe Port Townsend, WA
"I started attending Beth's writing workshops five years ago and I was forever altered by my first experience, which has led me to come back repeatedly every year. Led by Beth's sage and compassionate guidance, the ability to write and speak my truth in a circle of fellow writers lifted me to a higher level of expression. While I've loved the ability to focus on my writing during the workshops, the bonus is hearing the stories of all the workshop attendees. The introspection necessary for personal narrative writing can be challenging, but it's the price I pay to be inspired by their amazing stories. I am a few months away from performing a show I wrote from pieces I created in Beth's workshops. I could not realize this dream of creating my own one-woman show without her direction and support. If you are serious about telling your story, you shouldn't be asking yourself whether or not you should attend a workshop, you should be figuring out how soon. Do it NOW."
Loree Draude Palo Alto, CA
"I was invited by a friend to take part in one of Beth’s workshops in the Seattle area a few months ago. I hadn’t written since college but now that my kids were moving out and into their adult lives, I felt like I had stories of my own that wanted to be told. The workshop ended up being so inspirational and creative. Through the use of camaraderie, a safe environment and carefully selected prompts, we were all encouraged to explore our individual stories using our own personal style and to share them in a rich environment with no judgment. I couldn’t believe how the stories just poured out of me and how freeing it was to get them down on paper. I have attended three more day-long workshops online with women from around the country. Each one has been amazing. Beth has an incredible gift of bringing people together and creating an environment that’s conducive to creativity. It is such an honor to get to work with her and the talented writers that she draws into her circles. I can’t wait for the next workshop."
Katy Grainger Seattle, WA
"Beth Bornstein Dunnington’s workshops are phenomenal. Beth is all heart, all love, as facilitator, as writer, as human. Whether in person or on zoom, she creates intimate writing circles that are supportive, creative, and generative. Her prompts are inspiring. Her No feedback, No apologizing workshops are refreshing. I’m a better listener with her. I write my deeper story with her. Whether you want to start a piece that you’ll eventually publish or tap into the core of your story for your own heart, Beth’s workshops are a beautiful place to write your truth, to have your truth witnessed by other humans. I love everything about Beth and her golden heart. I’m so grateful she’s here to guide, to hold space, to shine light, to see the best in us. Come write with her. She's a heart balm. Your future self will thank you."
Anne Gudger Portland, OR
"Beth is a gifted facilitator whose workshops offer a unique type of writing experience: they are not about critiquing or helping craft a piece, but rather about mining our personal stories and bringing them to life within the safe circle of like-minded writers. In her writing groups there may be tears, there may be laughter, but there is never judgement as we share our words, our most intimate narratives. The process has inspired me, kicked me in the ass to write at times when I thought I couldn't, and along the way brought me some very treasured connections with other writers from all walks of life."
Robin Plaskoff Horton New Orleans, LA
"Once in a while the forces align and we are lucky enough to experience bliss. I feel bliss with each and every workshop I attend with Beth. Her authenticity, brilliance, intuition and sensitivity to detail and boundaries have enabled me to find my other voice ~ that of a writer. It took some time for me to claim that title ~ writer, as my own, but with Beth’s encouragement and ability to hold space for my vulnerability, messiness and ultimately the weaving of words to stories to a one woman show and now an upcoming memoir, I am finally confident in my abilities. I am willing to grow with her as I attend more workshops, for each one brings me joy and amazement. I leave knowing myself better, learning about my dear tribe’s stories and secrets while holding them close within my heart. I dig a little deeper within the recesses of my spirit, fear and soul to uncover the magic which was within me all along. I just needed Beth to show me how to open the door into the next room, where the journey continues."
Patti Linsky Valley Village, CA
"I’m going to start with the end: If you ever thought about writing down stories, thoughts, experiences from your life, then go immediately to Beth Bornstein Dunnington’s BIG ISLAND WORKSHOP and sign up. Period. No ifs, ands, or buts. Beth’s workshops are magical – YOU WILL become a writer. And in the process, you will join an amazing fellowship of writers. Beth is there to guide you. To help you. To inspire you. But it is also the amazing writers she chooses to be in her workshop. Each one handpicked...for the writing skills, well maybe, but most importantly for their LIFE skills. This environment is the most positive and loving environment a creative person can find. I’ve been taking her workshops for several years now. With Beth’s help, I wrote a one woman show and now am working on a book of my stories. I recommend Big Island Workshop without reservation. It is simply genius."
Joanna Lipari Santa Monica, CA
“There are people who teach writing and people who inspire writers. Beth is an exemplar of the latter. You must use your head to write of course; Beth models how to use your heart as well, a capacity that she possesses—and shares—in great measure. Don’t miss the chance to write with her."
Jessica Lipnack San Francisco, CA
"Beth's workshops have created a safe space for me to not only authentically be myself, but also for me to write my story unfiltered. She takes the time to get to know everyone in the group, so the prompts are specific to the individuals who attend. The speak backs in the group have challenged me to grow in a way that I ask myself if something I wrote is clear, necessary, and or true as I know it. From the workshops I have attended I have started working on a new collection of work and I am excited to see where her workshops take me."
Nastashia Minto Portland, OR
"This workshop has enabled me to realize my dream to write. Beth's facilitation is a magical mixture which draws out my inner artist, helps me connect to my core, and allow me to commit my story to paper. I find that each session brings me deeper into my truth, and memories of past, experiences in the present and musings on the future gain more clarity. It is with great gratitude I am honored to recommend The Big Island Workshop. Thank you, thank you, thank you Beth!"
Sharon Novins Boston, MA
"Bethʻs writing workshops are a joy to participate in. Her skillful facilitation builds a safe container which allows for an intimate sharing and witnessing among writers. This fellowship and the generous spirit of the community she cultivates inspires me as a writer to go deep and to freely explore my stories and manifest them in words. To find and then speak those words is a kind of liberation, (illumination) of the deep currents and stories that build my life."
Amanda Rieux Kamuela, HI
"The Big Island Writers' Workshop was conceived and orchestrated by my dear friend from Emerson College in Boston, my friend of 38 years, Beth Bornstein Dunnington. She now lives in Hawaii. Her workshop made its way to a small street and into a typical ranch house in Los Angeles, on a radiant sunny day in 2013. My house. This unsuspecting group of mostly women and a few men, with all levels of experience as writers and from equally fascinating backgrounds, was about to experience something quite special: the woman with the fiery red hair and the creative energy of a hurricane who would inspire and delight us and guide us into the world of wonderful words. She gave us the gift of imagery, and through this process we began to use our minds and hearts to express our own exhilarating stories. We all have stories to uncover and a deep yearning to tell them... to be heard and find our voice in a surprising and meaningful way. We all have something to say. This was the gift. The journey into writing---and writing by hand, as there are no computers in her workshop---has been a joy for me. I found an outlet that became a remarkable road for me to travel. All the creativity I had discovered in my acting was now accessible to me once again through my writing, with the beauty of finding my own words through a guided tour, led by my accomplished friend. I’ve been in Beth's Workshop for 7 years now. It has been a complete obsession of mine. I have honed my writing skills, found my strengths in the genres I enjoy working in, and, as a bonus, I have met so many wonderful and gifted women. Beth is a multitalented individual, facilitating her writing groups with creativity and imagination. She is also a dramaturg, teacher, editor and producer and a very talented performer. I am working on a one woman show as a result of Beth’s workshops that she will be directing, and also a book. This has been pure joy."
Harriet Robinson Woodland Park, CO
"I had no inkling of the treasure chest of tales I would discover hidden in the crevices of my history, nor of the journeys I would take into the lives of so many phenomenal women when I first entered Beth's sanctuary of storytelling. Writing a memoire of my years living and traveling in Asia was a dusty dream sitting inside journals on my bookshelf. I can say with full conviction that Beth's workshops were the catalyst that revitalized my vision of crafting the gems of those years into a book. The potent power of reading my own words aloud, the space that is given to this vulnerable act, and then hearing the other women speak my story back to me are the enchanting ingredients of Beth's nourishing workshop. As Beth taps us with her magic wand, we enter a carefully created world of weaving words where her feminine force of nurture, comfort and acceptance build a safe nest for each woman to kindle her own voice and pull stories from the depths of her past.'
Heather Rose Kamuela, HI
"I've been writing with Beth Bornstein Dunnington for over four years and yet it feels as if I've always done so. Her workshops were my first experience writing in a group with a facilitator. From the very first prompt she's been able to help mine the stories that live and breathe in me. I was amazed at what I wrote as a result of her incredibly intuitive prompts. Even more than the prompts is the magic of her writing circles! They are circles of healing and containers for all that pours forth in our words, sentences, and expressions. It's the joy, the heartache, the magnificent, the mundane, the traumas and the triumphs. She is the facilitator, the cheerleader and caretaker of it all. Beth's workshops imprint upon your soul and keep you coming back for more. The pieces I've written in her circles are ways of coming home to myself again and again. She is a Way Shower and Friend of the stories." Tammi Scott San Diego, CA
"Beth’s writing workshops are wonderful and intimate. Not only do you get to write with a small group of other talented writers, but you get to know yourself, your voice in a profound unique way. After a long time writing spoken word poetry, I found myself writing narrative for the first time. I found this experience incredibly challenging but also tremendously healing. Whether you are a published author or a novice, you owe it to yourself to attend one of Beth’s workshops and find power to your story, your truth."
Sara Tedlow Lewiston, ME
"In Beth’s writing workshops, I’ve found home. A place to release my voice, full throttle, and be heard and treasured. I’ve been a facilitator of retreats and workshops for over two decades. It’s often a challenge to find a space in which I can fully drop the role or mindset of facilitator and just show up, write, and enjoy. With Beth, I feel the freedom to do that. I know she’s got it, beautifully. She holds a group, a time together, with so much skill and grace, and her love for the writers in the room is palpable. With a blend of reverence and delight, Beth infuses her workshops with a generosity of spirit and an abundance of inspiration. She takes the simple—prompts, writing in community, sharing words out loud and being actively witnessed & listened to—and makes it sublime. With each workshop I attend, I find my words deepening and my heart expanding. I find so much room to play. I laugh hard, I cry hard, I write hard, and somehow Beth makes all of that easy. Don’t miss the chance to write with her. She’s a gift, and she’ll remind you that you are, too."
Jen Violi Portland, OR
"I've taken several workshops (in person and online) and Beth brings a grounded but lighthearted energy to a room - allowing for deep writing that you did not realize was inside you. She has just enough ground rules to create a container and just enough wild freedom to let your words emerge. Whether you have only kept a single diary over decades, or published many books, her work is for everyone."
Kendra Wagner Seattle, WA
Submit here if you'd like to write a testimonial about your experience in Beth's writers' workshops or retreats.