Come Write With Us in Istanbul, Turkey
May 11-16, 2012
Learn, Become Inspired, Build a Bridge to Another Culture
Writing It RealTiny LightsYesim Cimcoz

Writing Istanbul Writers’ Conference
May 12 – 16, 2012 in Istanbul, Turkey with
Sheila Bender, Yeşim Cimcoz and Susan Bono
Optional 3-Day Trip Extension to Ephesus May 17-20

Susan Bono, editor of Tiny Lights, and Sheila Bender, publisher of Writing It Real, are joining Yesim Cimcoz of the Writing Istanbul Project in guiding poets and writers of personal experience in writing and touring the amazing city of Istanbul. We have an optional add-on trip following the workshop for those who want to see more of Turkey. Spouses, friends and partners are welcome to join us in activities surrounding our writing groups work.

For Writing Istanbul, we have a fabulous residence in the old city to stay in, cafes to meet in, tours and in-city transportation arranged as well as help booking your room and airport pick up and drop off.  The three-day add-on trip will be a wonderful customized tour  easy to book.

During our time in Istanbul, we’ll be touring, writing, and meeting together, in groups led by our three instructors and aided by Turkish members of the Writing Istanbul project. We’ll meet all together, too, for workshops, sharing writing, and learning about personal writing in Turkey.

Some of our special activities include a whirling dervishes performance, a visit to a hamam (a Turkish bath), and a celebration dinner cruise down the Bosphorus.

Yesim, Susan and Sheila are very excited and hope you join us!

Kadikoy Market on the Asian Side
Rug Bazaar

Inside the Blue Mosque

Our Conference Agenda

This taste of Istanbul is not touristy. It allows participants a true feel for the day-to-day life of the city, while including important historical and civic sites.

First Night. Friday

Workshop opening in the residence cafe of Rooms Galata;  Faculty and participant introductions and meet our Writing Istanbul guides

Day 1, Saturday
09:00 – 11:00  Turkish breakfast and workshop
11:15 – 13:30  Walk through Taksim Beyoğlu and Galata
13:30 – 14:30  Meet for Lunch
14:30 – 16:30  Writing and Sharing at the Residence Cafe.
16:30 – 19:00  Free time
19:30 – 22:30  Dervishes show
More links: Beyoğlu Galata

Day 2, Sunday
09:00 – 10:00  Breakfast at the residence, writing workshop
10:00 – 11:45  Visit Hagia Sofia Mosque
11:45 – 12:45  Visit the Underground Cistern
13:00 – 14:00  Meet for Lunch
14:00 – 16:00  Writing and Sharing
16:30 – 17:45  Back to residence
Evening FREE   Options and guidance available for those who want to go out on their own
More links: Sultanahmet, the “Old City”

Day 3, Monday
09:00 – 10:00  Breakfast at the residence, writing workshop
10:00 – 10:45  Boat ride to Kuzguncuk on Asian Side
10:45 – 13:00  Walk around Kuzguncuk
13:00 – 14:00  Meet for Lunch
14:00 – 16:00  Writing and Sharing
16:30 – 17:45  Back to residence by boat
16:30              Hamam

Day 4, Tuesday
09:00 – 10:00  Breakfast at the residence and workshop
11:15 – 10:45  Go to the Grand Bazaar
10:45 – 13:30  Walk and shop around Grand Bazaar
13:30 – 14:30  Meet for Lunch (place to be announced)
14:30 – 15:00  Back to residence
15:30 – 18:30  Meet  Turkish author and share writing
19:30 – 21:00  Boat Cruise Dinner

Optional Add-on Trip

Day 1 – Pergamon

After breakfast, hauntingly beautiful Pergamon. Among the impressive structures of this city, dating from 399 B.C., we will see the Altar of Zeus, Temple of Dionysus and the 200,000 volume library which was surpassed only by that found in Alexandria at the time. The Asclepieum of Pergamon was a famous health center where methods of treatment included blood transfusions, music therapy and meditation. Dinner and overnight in Kusadasi

Day 2 – Kusadasi / Ephesus

After breakfast, drive to Selcuk Town, we visit the House of Virgin Mary on top of Mt. Coressos. Then our memorable visit to Ephesus will begin as well as viewing one of the Seven Churches of Revelation, the Temple of Artemis (One of the Seven Wonders of Antiquity) and Selcuk Museum ( Artemisia Museum ). Dinner and overnight in Kusadasi.

Day 3 – Pamukkale

After breakfast, drive to Pamukkale to view the extraordinary formations of travertine and walk around the ancient city of Hierapolis, the Monument and Thermal Baths and the magnificent Necropolis, house of the dead. Year-round swimming is possible in the natural hot spring waters. Return to Kusadasi for overnight.

The tour ends at Izmir Airport for your flight back to Istanbul or to your home, depending on your reservations.

Cost: About $400 USD

Includes: Hotel accommodations, many meals and the entrance fees, English speaking guide, private bus, service charge, tips for hotels and restaurants, V.A.Tax.

Net Cost Does Not Include: Domestic Air Tickets (Istanbul/Izmir, Izmir/Istanbul), personal expenses, alcoholic and soft drinks with meals, tips to driver and guide, baggage handling at the airports.

Faculty Bios

Yesim CimcozYesim Cimcoz is a writing coach and founder of the Writing Istanbul project.  She writes on her website that “every month for one and a half years I found myself walking through the streets of Istanbul with sometimes 20 sometimes 30 women, and a few men 🙂 as we let our senses open up, allowing us to remember the Istanbul of our childhood and weave it into the İstanbul of our today. We wrote. There were no judgments, no rights and no wrongs. No one said, you can’t write a story like that….no one said this is how a poem should sound… we let the city touch us and allowed the stories in us to pour out.”

Susan BonoSusan Bono is a writing teacher, freelance editor, and founder (in 1995) of Tiny Lights: A Journal of Personal Narrative and its online counterpart. She serves on the advisory boards of the Mendocino Coast Writers’ Conference and Petaluma Readers Theatre. She co-founded The Writer’s Sampler series for the Sebastopol Center for the Arts and currently co-hosts the quarterly Speakeasy literary readings at Aqus Café in Petaluma.

Her writing has appeared in publications such as Sheila Bender’s Writing & Publishing Personal Essays, the St. Petersburg Times, the Petaluma Argus Courier, and Passager Magazine.

Sheila BenderSheila Bender founded Writing It Real in 2002 and has helped hundreds of people who write from personal experience get started, continue, finish and publish, if that is their desire. Her many books on writing include Writing and Publishing Personal Essays and Creative Writing DeMystified. Her memoir is A New Theology: Turning to Poetry in a Time of Grief.  She is a frequent presenter at writing conferences including the Whidbey Island Writer’s Conference and Field’s End as well as those she sponsors through Writing It Real. She maintains a position as adjunct faculty member at Pima College in Tucson, AZ.

Become Inspired,
Make Friends
You will have a magical time with us visiting one of the world’s most fascinating cities. The place where East meets West, Istanbul has been a crossroads of civilization for over 2,000 years. Join us for a writing adventure  with Turkish writing compatriots.

Our conference is limited to 20 attendees. Please take a look at the itinerary and fees and see if you can join us. Then email Sheila Bender or email Susan Bono, and we’ll help you though the enrollment and booking process.

Plan on arriving in Istanbul on May 11 (we’ll help you arrange airport transport to our residence hotel). If you are going on the three-day add-on trip, you will be returning to the US or traveling to your next destination on May 20th.

Things to Know
  • Turkey is politically stable.
  • You do not need to wear a head scarf. Western dress is acceptable.
  • Turkish food is delicious and flavorful but not spicy.
  • The water is safe to drink.
  • No special immunizations are necessary.
  • In tourist areas, many Turks speak some English; our Turkish guides and assistants speak English and Turkish.
  • 100 New Turkish Lire equals approximately $60
Our Workshop Fee of $475 Includes:· Daily writing instruction
· One traditional Turkish


· A four-hour dinner cruise
of the Bosphorus
· Four lunches
· Whirling Dervishes show

· Bus service and guided
tours around the city

· Hagia Sophia entrance fee
· Cistern entrance fee

Your stay at the Rooms Galata, which includes a continental breakfast and supplies a kitchen for preparing food, will come to about $400 dollars per person.

Your airfare varies, of course, depending on where you are flying from. To the best of our calculations, you can make this trip with airfare for about $2,100 or, with the add-on, about $2600 dollars.

More information on the add- on trip is coming soon. We are finalizing tours with our provider. In the meantime, you can decide if you will be leaving Istanbul with the add- on group on May 17th, flying home that day from Istabul or traveling on to other places. May 20th will be your return date from Izmir or Istanbul, if you are coming with us on the add-on trip. Stay tuned!

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