From visiting writerRichard Jackson: 

"This is the best Writers' Retreat or Conference I have been to, hands down. If you are serious about your writing you need to be here-- they do it twice a year. Of course the setting is beautiful, the people helpful and gracious, the food and drink just fine. But what separates this is the work: I sat in on a poetry workshop run by Lee, Chaz and Ian and I have to say it was my idea of the ideal workshop. We didn't comb through student poems trying to fix them: that was saved for individual conferences. The first workshop looked at model poems from O'Hara to Kees, to Gregg, Berryman, Sampson, Schuyler, Fairchild and Pavese-- a pretty wide range. The point was to look at how they were put together, from several angles, and to talk about how some of those principles might be adapted to the student work. This was punctuated by some writing prompts related to the reading not to be analyzed but used as catalysts for some further versions. The second session was used to discuss isues in poetics, broadening the discussion of the first session. My experience after 30 some odd years of doing workshops is that this workshop method where model poems becomes the central focus gets far better long term results than the traditional workshop. The reason is that students begin to understand poems from a writers' point of view and they can then teach themselves how to apply that to their own work. In a traditional workshop students don't seem to get very far beyond their natural ability, because they tend to focus on the work in front of them to be "fixed." Of course this takes a lot more effort and thought on the part of the workshop leaders, and these three were willingto do that, which made this whole experience so inspiring."  Fall 2012

From visiting writer Robert Vivian:

"The River Pretty Writers Conference is one of the best kept secrets around, though I have a feeling it won't be a secret for long. Situated in a gorgeous part of Missouri, it lives up to its name--and them some. Lee Busby and his fellow Missourians know how to create a place and atmosphere where writers and poets can come together and share their passion for language even as this same passion is deepened and renewed. I can't recommend River Pretty highly enough, nor will I ever forget Dawt Mill and the river that runs alongside it, truly a place that brings out the poet in anyone."  Spring 2012


From visitng writer Michael Czyzniejewski:

"Thanks to everyone at the River Pretty Writers Retreat! Richard Jackson and Jane Hoogestraat were great to read with, and kudos to Lee Busby, Jen Murvin, Chaz Miller, Steven D. Rucker, and Rich Farrel for putting on such a great weekend!" Fall 2012

From the participants:
"I wrote my zombie story today. Five out of the five writing exercises I did in workshop made it into the story in some form or fashion. It might be the best thing I've ever written. I know for a fact it's better than it would have been if I'd spent last weekend at home. Thanks to all the faculty for everything you did in putting river pretty together. I can't say enough about what I got out of the experience." - Derek Cowsert Fall 2012
"The whole damn thing is valuable. The community, the socializing, the work, the workshops. To see other people who care about what you write and to care about other writers is invigorating. There wasn't a moment that wasn't valuable. The workshop, specifically, was the best I've ever been a part of. Rich, Steve, Jen, and Mike spoke about important craft issues regarding prose. They gave us concrete examples of these craft issues, and they had us employ this in our own writing. Nothing was frivolous or wasted. Everyone was given time, though, and care. It was respectful. It was productive. I left the workshops a better writer, and I can't imagine someone feeling differently if they were paying attention." - from the RP survey Fall 2012

"I feel like i leveled up as a writer this weekend. I learned so many things about craft and new tricks to make my writing better. I came to River Pretty kind of afraid that my skill level had completely peaked, and the stories I was writing were the best I can do. Now I know I can do better, and I know how to do better. The workshops were huge for me." - from the RP survey Fall 2012

"I just have to say that Barbara Siegel Carlson was one of the most inspiring and encouraging poets I have ever met, and I thank the RPWR for giving me the opportunity to meet her. On top of being talented, she was also very kind to me when I was trying to talk to her while deep in my cups. Thank you for that, Barbara." - Anthony Bradley, Fall 2012

"To see a master of craftsman like Richard Jackson speak is instructive enough. To see him read is to become a better writer, at least in the way you approach your goals and craft. To have a conversation with him makes these goals seem attainable. Richard Jackson was a spot on visiting writer." - from the RP survey Fall 2012
"I made a lot of new friends in these writers, which is great because I'm glad to have people to speak with about writing." - from the RP survey Fall 2012

"I greatly enjoyed the other writers whether merely through inspiration (such as the fiction writers) or being able to talk about the approach to craft from those that have greater experience, & glean some of their insights." - from the RP survey Fall 2012

"All of them are so knowledgable about what they they do that between that knowledge and sharing some of thier own work with us, we get valuable insight into how they use language as well as about craft or process. This use of language component is often "taken for granted," but is nonetheless an important point to underscore." - from the RP survey

"I love workshops in this setting where everyopne displays the same level of committment. In the classroom it is usually very uneven." - from the RP survey Fall 2012

"The instructors gave us lessons and tools to improve our writing and exercises to practice what we learned. Afterward they showed us what we were doing right and constructive criticism on what needed improvement. It was enjoyable and helpful." - from the RP survey Fall 2012

"My personal favorite aspect was being able to engage on a deep level with other writers regarding our collective craft." - from the Rp survey Fall 2012

"Favorite: feeling like a part of a very knowledgeable, talented, and supportive community of writers. I was really made to feel like I belonged in this group of people I admire greatly, and that kicked ass. Least favorite: Alcohol gives me hangovers." - from the RP survey Fall 2012

"The reading the visiting writers gave was astounding. I am a poetry student so I was particularly moved by C.D Albin and Marcus Cafagna, but I was very impressed with Robert Vivians story as well." - from the RP survey Spring 2012
"Bob's encouragement after my reading was incredible. How can you not be inspired when someone of that caliber says this is a powerful story that had them fully engaged? I can't wait for the next RP." from the RP survey Spring 2012

"I enjoyed the student reading of their work and the input by both teachers and other students and the non-judgmental approach. I also liked the encouragement that was given at all times." from the RP survey Spring 2012

"The workshop was very helpful. At first, I wasn't going to read my opener out loud and have everyone comment, because I knew it wasn't very good, but I realized (fortunately right away) that was the idea; we would learn from each other's mistakes. Even though I've started several pieces lately, I hadn't thought about openers or endings. I just wrote. So focusing on the most important parts is what I needed at this time. I'd never thought about description in the way it was presented in our workshop, too."  from the RP survey Spring 2012

"I really enjoyed my one on one conference with Chaz, I thought that it was a great experience to be able to talk with another writer about how they approach the craft and how they tackle getting out tough ideas from different points of view." from the RP survey Spring 2012