Elizabeth Ayres has been hailed by New York magazine, the Voice of America, New York Newsday, the Village Voice and The Woodstock Times for her groundbreaking teaching methods.
A writer and charismatic workshop leader for over 40 years, Ms. Ayres has taught at New York University and the College of New Rochelle; at the New York Open Center and Ghost Ranch Conference Center; through Poets-in-the-Schools and Poets & Writers; in libraries, senior centers and other public forums. In 1990 she founded the Elizabeth Ayres Center for Creative Writing which offers writing retreats and online writing classes to a global community of aspiring writers.
Ayres is an award-winning poet and writer, author of Home After Exile, Mirror of Our Becoming, Writing the Wave and Swimming the River of Stone, as well as the audio book series Creative Writing from A to Z and the audio books in the Invitation to Wonder ‘Journey’ Series (based on Mirror of Our Becoming.) Currently she’s working on Azimuth of God: poems of absence & presence. Elizabeth holds a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Syracuse University, where she was a Cornelia Ward Fellow. Recently her work has appeared in Orion magazine; on the Burlesque Press Variety Show; on Krista Tippett’s OnBeing Blog; and in Van Gogh’s Ear.
Elizabeth has been a guest on numerous radio programs, including The Joey Reynolds Show, The Tom Pope Show, Bill Thompson’s Eye on Books, WXRK’s Sunday Magazine, WOR’s America in the Morning. She now lives in Southern Maryland, where the Potomac and Patuxent rivers meet the Chesapeake Bay. She shares the beauty, wisdom and mystery of her homeland through creative writing retreats for groups and individuals in a space devoted to evolution through creativity.
Elizabeth talks about her background as a writer
Passionate commitment shapes a zig-zag life path…
Zig. Elizabeth Ayres wins a graduate assistantship in Creative Writing to Boston University (regretfully declined), a $2,000 ‘first prize in poetry’ from the National Society of Arts and Letters (gratefully accepted), then starts grad school at Syracuse University as a Cornelia Ward Fellow.
Zag. Elizabeth gets her degree, moves to New York City, gleans the usual number of publications in small hip magazines and anthologies, gives the usual number of readings around town (including the Library of Congress). She teaches poetry in schools, libraries, senior centers, prisons and a home for unwed mothers, because the world will be a better place when people are more creative.
Zig. She’s offered a book contract by the now-esteemed small press, Hanging Loose, for her autobiography-in-verse, Mariner, What For?
Zag. Elizabeth finds God and has an epiphany: her autobiography is powerful, but it offers its readers nothing beyond the pain of a brutal childhood. There’s no hope in it, no consolation, no redeeming social value. She declines the book contract, losing her agent and her literary contacts.
Zig. Elizabeth embarks on a spiritual odyssey that takes her into a Ukrainian Catholic convent. There, she realizes that what the world needs now is more people claiming their full creative birthright.
Zag. Elizabeth leaves the convent. In 1990 she founds the Elizabeth Ayres Center for Creative Writing. The Center is committed to cultural transformation by providing for beginning writers the conditions necessary for the creative spirit to flourish. The Center grows exponentially — from 6 to 1,000 to countless thousands via the Internet. The world must be a better place! So many people are more creative!
Zig. Exhausted by teaching and administrative duties, Elizabeth develops online writing classes and moves to a remote mesa in New Mexico. She teaches on the Internet and writes up a storm. She experiments with a memoir, a novel, prose poetry, flash fiction, searching for a form that will offer readers hope, consolation, and, yes, the promise of much needed social change.
Zag. Elizabeth moves back to Southern Maryland, where she grew up. Ringing in her ears are the lines from T.S. Eliot, “At the end of all our journeying, we will return to the place of departure and know it for the first time.”
Zig. Elizabeth works on her fifth book, a collection of poetry which you can preview for free here. She writes full time and directs the work of 7 teaching associates who conduct online writing classes and writing retreats. Elizabeth leads the Herring Creek Writing Retreat and the Finding God at the Tip of Your Pen Retreat at her home in tidewater Maryland. There, visiting writers join her as she paces shell-strewn beaches to pluck words from the soft salt breeze.
Zag. As the spiritual teacher Richard Rohr says, “Infinity is not unknowable. It is infinitely knowable.
Zig. Elizabeth publishes her fifth book, Azimuth of God.
Zag. Elizabeth accepts an invitation to join the Sacred Monastery of St. Nina in Union Bridge, Maryland, a community of Orthodox Christian nuns. Prior to entering on May 1, 2017, she will be received into the Orthodox Church, taking the name ‘Photini,’ which means ‘Lightbearer.’ She bids farewell to her Center for Creative Writing, which will continue under the directorship of Stacia M. Fleegal.