CWW Pre-Thanksgiving Yoga and Writing Cleanse


This past weekend, the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop hosted a Pre-Thanksgiving Yoga and Writing Cleanse at Ashtanga Yoga Shala in Manhattan, NY. The purpose of this event was to allow participants the chance to enjoy a weekend of yoga, juice cleansing, and writing workshops before the holiday season began. With the help of yoga and juice cleansing, the participants were able to cleanse their minds and spirits, and in turn were able to focus their renewed energy on the two workshops hosted by CWW members.

The event began on Saturday, November 22. At the Shala, guests removed their shoes and moved into the yoga room to begin the cleanse. The first part of the event was forty minutes of yoga with Elissa Lewis, our yoga instructor. Elissa led the group through various yoga exercises, each designed to help circulate breathing and to eliminate any stress the participants might have been carrying before they came to the workshop.

After that, the participants were treated to a juice cleanse. CWW co-director Diana Norma Szokolyai, CWW Editorial & PR intern Alex Carrigan, and Norma’s husband, Dennis Shafer, presented three different types of organic fruit and vegetable juice for the participants to drink. They could choose between a carrot-apple-ginger mix, a carrot-celery-apple mix, or “The Hulk,” a concoction of cucumber, spinach, celery, apple, and carrot. Participants enjoyed this naturally sweet and delicious way to take in loads of nutrients and cleanse their digestive systems.

Jessica Reidy led our first workshop, titled “The Art of Withholding in Creative Writing.” This workshop was designed to have the writer use action and sensory details to convey exposition. This involved two different exercises. The first exercise was about writing about a person meeting a lover for the first time, but writing two versions.

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The first version would be writing as if you are telling a friend, the second telling your father. Jessica’s next exercise began with her having the writers draw a tarot card from a deck. The writer then had to write a piece based on the image of the card, without knowing what the card meant.

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Norma then led a workshop titled “Sense of Smell, Memory, and Narrative.” On Saturday, Norma read the famous excerpt from Proust’s Swann’s Way, and everyone relived the the exquisite “madeleine” moment, so quintessentially demonstrative of the power of the olfactory bulb to produce strong recollections.  Proust was so ahead of his time, and who knew that contemporary neuro-cognitive science would confirm what he had written so eloquently–that sense of smell is a powerful memory trigger?  She then passed along some essential oils for the participants to either rub on their hands or waft. The exercise was to take the smell and write about what memories and emotions they recalled, using the scents to get deeper into writing sensory details. These included recognizable scents like peppermint and lavender, but also included a fusion scent that Norma withheld the name of until after the writing was done. By using a scent of unidentifiable nature, the writers could pull out memories and different ideas, ranging from pieces about gardens to markets in Egypt.

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Sunday, November 23rd saw the second day of the workshop. Like before, Elissa led forty minutes of yoga, followed by a juice cleanse. Norma led the second part of her “Sense of Smell, Memory, and Narrative” workshop. This time, a wide variety of scents were laid out for the participants to choose from. They could apply some to their skin or smell them, and then choose one to write about, with the restriction of keeping the “scene” or “action” in the piece to one minutes at most. As Norma explained, studies have shown that the part of the brain that processes smell is linked to long term memory, and the memories that are recalled are usually vivid and emotionally-charged.  Norma’s unique idea for these”olfactory prompts” got the creative juices flowing for everyone, and some wonderfully rich pieces of poetry and prose were written by the participants.

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photo (15)Jonah Kruvant then led a workshop called “The Art of Revision.” Jonah’s exercise was all about how a piece can change the more you work on it, structured in three parts. The first part had the writers spend twenty minutes writing as many details about a room as they can. The second part had them write a paragraph about a person in the room, with the rule that the person had to be of a certain occupation that couldn’t be specifically stated.

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The last part was to spend five minutes writing three sentences about the person in the room, but convey their emotional state. The idea was that in each new version of the story, the writer had to choose the most important details to include and to also practice brevity.

Everyone left the workshop with something new. Some left with new juice recipes to try out, others had pieces of writing to expand upon or use in their writing projects, and some left feeling refreshed. We hope that those who came enjoyed their time and participate in another yoga and writing retreat we hold.

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Thanks to the CWW members who helped organize and run the event (from left to right: Jonah Kruvant, Elissa Lewis, Diana Norma Szokolyai, Jessica Reidy, Alex Carrigan)

Megan Tilley’s “Puddle” feat. in Quail Bell Magazine

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is proud to announce that Megan Tilley’s poem, “Puddle,” is featured in the new issue of Quail Bell Magazine.  Megan Tilley, one of the one of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop’s interns has been instrumental in planning the CWW’s upcoming Pre-Thanksgiving Yoga, Writing, and Juice Cleanse Retreat in Quail Bell Magazine (November 22-23). In the interview, the CWW shares tips on creating a creative discipline of writing, yoga, and self-care.  If you are interested in the CWW’s Pre-Thanksgiving Yoga, Writing, and Juice Cleanse Retreat, there is a limited time reduced registration fee. It will only last until Thursday, November 20th at 11 p.m., so apply now! – Jessica Reidy

by Megan Tilley

The bodies around me dream of poppies, draped half-lidded across scratchy couches. Science fiction is all that plays on the television, and I watch tin can space crafts drift in and out of stars, fingers of both hands on two different pulses to make sure there’s still life in their veins. I can feel the wet thumping through the pad of my thumb as space flashes by me and I wonder if this is how god feels.

When the azaleas are in bloom we go walking among the fires of their blooms, grass soft underfoot. Golden bourbon sings in our veins, softening in the shadows and the sunlight that shines through lazy-branched oaks. There are notches in the park from the great war, where men hung like the wind chimes on my grandmother’s porch. She drinks sweet tea like it was water from Jordan, says words so gentle they melt in your mouth like rose hips.

Summer closes. The trees bear heavy fruits, skin smooth under grasping palms. He takes a bite, juice running along his jaw, autumn sweet. We dangle our feet over rock edges, where fish dappled orange and yellow gape pink mouths wide. He says how sad it is that they their pond is all they know. I look to the north, at a horizon unsmudged by mountains, at the trees still summer-bleached forming a cup of its own, a puddle shimmering in unending sun where we swim day after day, pretending it’s the ocean.

Rita Banerjee & Diana Norma Szokolyai’s “Mis/Translations” feat. in Quail Bell Magazine

Who-LambThis month, Quail Bell Magazine will be curating and publishing a series of “Mis/Translations” poems by Rita Banerjee and Diana Norma Szokolyai.  Rita Banerjee and Diana Norma Szokolyai are the founders and directors of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop (CWW). You can read about the CWW’s upcoming Pre-Thanksgiving Yoga, Writing, and Juice Cleanse Retreat in Quail Bell Magazine. In the interview, the CWW shares tips on creating a creative discipline of writing, yoga, and self-care.  Rita also discusses the creative writing invention exercise “Mis/Translations” and how it can help kick-start your writing. Rita’s poem, “Who Lamb” was inspired by a Mis/Translation exercise at the last CWW Verderonne retreat. Norma read her own poem, “hullám/wave” in Hungarian and Rita “Mis/Translated” based entirely on the sound and feel of  words that were foreign to her.  – Jessica Reidy

by Diana Norma Szokolyai
(to be read out loud simultaneously in Hungarian & English)

Az állando hullám                                The continuous wave
igaznak hangzik                                     rings true
egymással keresztbe futó hullámok              cross sea
elmerülök a hullám sírban                       I am submerged in a watery grave
érzed?                                                   Do you feel it?
Már jön az érzelmi hullám                       The tidal wave is already coming
Az égbe nyúlik                                       It is reaching for the sky
és a felhök, gyáva mint a nyúl                   and the clouds, timid as rabbits
hallom a folyamatos hullámot                   I hear the continuous wave
beszélsz hullámositásokat                                    you are talking channelings
szeizmikus hullámok idógörbéje                time curve,
a hajadba, hullámos papirszalag             in your hair, streamers
hullám, hullám                                       wave, wave,
hullám                                                  wave

Who Lamb*
by Rita Banerjee

Who lamb.
Who’s into who lamb?
Igor likes Congo Music,
Caress my photo, who lamb.
He said Marion bring me a who lamb,

Azaleas on the bank,
Hollow as eggs
On the bank

Best who lamb with chocolate
Seismic who lamb
Igor likes to pay
For it with
Who lamb
Who lamb
Who lamb

* A “Mis/Translation” of Diana Norma Szokolyai’s poem “hullám/wave.”

Check out the on-going series of “Mis/Translations” poems by Rita Banerjee and Diana Norma Szokolyai at Quail Bell Magazine!  If you are interested in the CWW’s Pre-Thanksgiving Yoga, Writing, and Juice Cleanse Retreat (November 22-23), there is a limited time reduced registration fee. It will only last until Thursday November 20th, so apply now!

CWW Interview in Quail Bell Magazine about Yoga, Writing, Juice Cleansing, & our Pre-Thanksgiving Retreat

We are delijuiceghted that “Writing Through Holiday Stress: Cambridge Writers’ Workshop on Pre-Thanksgiving Retreat” is in Quail Bell Magazine. You’ll find our tips and tricks for cultivating our writing and self-care rituals; our perspectives on the supportive relationships between yoga, Ayurveda, juice cleansing, and creative regimen; our SPECIAL REDUCED RATE for registration (only lasts till Thursday!); more information about what the retreat entails; and even a juice recipe to get you started at home. We hope you can join us in New York this weekend, but if you can’t this is the next best thing.  Read the interview here and sign up for our retreat here!

Schedule for CWW Pre-Thanksgiving Yoga and Creative Writing Cleanse


Hello everyone! We’re about a week away from our Pre-Thanksgiving Yoga and Creative Writing Cleanse at Ashtanga Yoga Shala. We hope you’re as excited for this event as we are. There are still spots to register, which you can do here. We’ve just released our schedule for the two day event. It’s $50 a day, but you should try to come to both days.  Here’s the schedule for the weekend:

* SPECIAL OFFER: Register BETWEEN 11 p.m. Mon 11/17 & 11 p.m. Thurs. NOV. 20 for $35 /day ( or $75 for both)*

SATURDAY Nov. 22:  2pm-4 pm

*  YOGA with Elissa Lewis
*  “The Art of Witholding in Creative Writing” with Jessica Reidy
*  Raw Juice Cleanse
*  “Sense of Smell, Memory, & Narrative Part I” (includes an aromatherapy session with essential oils) with Diana Norma Szokolyai

SUNDAY Nov. 24: 2 pm-4pm

*  YOGA with Elissa Lewis
*  “The Art of Revision” with Jonah Kruvant
*  Raw Juice Cleanse
*  “Sense of Smell, Memory, & Narrative Part II” (includes an aromatherapy session with essential oils) with Diana Norma Szokolyai

Here’s some info about the people involved with the workshop:

Diana Norma Szkoloyai is author of the poetry books Roses in the Snow and Parallel Sparrows (Finishing Line Press). Her writing and hybrid art have appeared in Lyre Lyre, Dr. Hurley’s Snake Oil Cure, The Fiction Project, Teachers as Writers, Polarity, The Boston Globe, The Dudley Review, Up the Staircase, Area Zinc Art Magazine, Belltower & the Beach, and Human Rights News. Founding Literary Arts Director of Chagall Performance Art Collaborative and co-director of the Cambridge Writer’s Workshop, she holds an Ed.M from Harvard and an M.A. in French Literature from the University of Connecticut.  She is also a certified reiki healer and uses essential oils aromatherapy daily.

Norma will be leading a two part workshop over the weekend, using aromatherapy as part of her workshop “Sense of Smell, Memory, and Narrative.”

Elissa Lewis is the Yoga & Arts Coordinator of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop.  She began her journey with yoga in 2006, when she moved to France and made the practice part of her daily routine. She saw yoga as a lifestyle, not only a class, helping her to clear her mind and have more compassion for herself and others. In 2010 she moved to New York and completed her teacher training at Laughing Lotus, a creative, soulful yoga studio that teaches the student to ‘move like yourself.’ She’s taught private and group classes in Manhattan and Brooklyn ever since. Visit her website for informative yoga sequences and information. Elissa will be leading our yoga workshops at this event.

Jessica Reidy is a mixed-Romani (Gypsy) heritage writer from New Hampshire. She earned her MFA in Fiction at Florida State University and a B.A. from Hollins University. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart, and has appeared in Narrative Magazine as Short Story of the Week, The Los Angeles Review, Arsenic Lobster, and other journals. She’s a staff-writer and Outreach Editor for Quail Bell Magazine, Managing Editor for VIDA: Women in the Literary Arts, Visiting Professor for the Cambridge Writer’s Workshop retreats, and Art Editor for The Southeast Review. She also teaches yoga and occasionally still works her family trades, fortune telling and dance. Jessica is currently working on her first novel set in post-WWII Paris about Coco Charbonneau, a half-Romani burlesque dancer and fortune teller of Zenith Circus, who becomes a Nazi hunter.

Jessica will lead a workshop on Saturday titled “The Art of Withholding in Creative Writing.”

Jonah Kruvant is one of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop’s  NYC area program organizers and is also a teacher, performer, writer, and student of the world.  He used to live in Costa Rica, where he wrote a popular blog, “From Gaijin to Gringo: Living Abroad in Costa Rica.”  His writing has been published in Digital Americana, and you can read about his adventures in Latin America here:

Jonah will be leading a workshop on Sunday called “The Art of Revision.”

Alex Carrigan is from Newport News, Virginia and attended college at Virginia Commonwealth University.  He graduated this year with a degree in print/online journalism and a minor in world cinema.  He is currently an intern for the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop, as well as Staff Film Reviewer for Quail BellMagazine.  He has written articles for The Commonwealth Times and has had work featured in Luna Luna Magazine. He is also a creative writer and has had work published in Amendment Literary Journal and in Poictesme Literary Journal, of which he was a staff member for four years, two years in which he was deputy editor-in-chief.

Alex will be assisting with the running of the weekend event, ensuring everyone has all the materials and juice they need.

If you would still like to sign up, click here to learn how to sign up. You can also email us at if you have any specific questions.  Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr for more information and to learn more about upcoming events.

CWW Intern, Megan Tilley’s writing featured in Fictionvale

Our inFictionValetern, Megan Tilley, has a short story coming out in thelatest episode of Fictionvale!  She would like to thank their wonderful staff and editors for giving her this opportunity.  Megan Tilley is a recent graduate from Florida State University with a degree in Creative Writing.  She has been published in The Rectangle, The Kudzu Review, and Wiley Writer’s online podcast.  She was senior editor at Live Music Media for three years, and also edited for The Kudzu Review.  Writing and editing has always been her passion, and Megan is excited to be able to expand her experience with editing, among other things, while working with the Cambridge Writer’s Workshop.

Meet Katy Miller, our new Editing and Communications Intern

Katy PhotoWe, at the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop, are excited to announce a new member of our CWW team.  Katy is our new Editing and Communications intern from Córdoba, Spain:

Katy Miller is excited to become the latest Editing and Communications intern for CWW.  She is a recent MA graduate (Contemporary Literature) from the University of Manchester’s Centre for New Writing, where her interests included race and gender theory in post-2000 novels.  Previously interested in journalism before pursuing literary studies, Katy has been published in the Tulsa World and the Huffington Post. She is looking forward to furthering her enthusiasm for the arts with the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop and hopes to expand her editing experience and promote new writing through social media.

Cambridge Writers’ Workshop #NaNoWriMo 2014 Writing Challenge!!

nanowrimoNovember is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and our CWW staff is up for an exciting writing challenge! We have the entire month of November to write draft, sketch, and complete the first versions of our novels.  The goal is to get to over 50,000 words by November 30.  We at the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop are working on our novel projects a little bit everday.  For food for thought and writing inspiration, we’re turning into @NaNoWriMo, @NaNoWordSprints, and all the amazing writers participating in #NaNoWriMo on Twitter!  Here’s what our staff members are doing and our current word counts:

Rita Banerjee:

“I am currently working on my first novel project, a dystopian futuristic novel, which focuses on the trials and tribulations of a young female anti-hero, Mel Cassin. Her life is routine and mundane until one day her university-age brother, Lou, goes missing. This is the second person in her life who has disappeared. The first was her mother, who vanished from the Cassin family home when Mel was just a girl. Her younger brother, Lou, suspicious of the government’s involvement in the disappearance of his mother, attempted to join protests for social reform in college. It is in this moment of youthful rebellion, that Lou, too, disappears from sight, and Mel must find out what has happened to her mother and her brother, in order to understand the veils which disguise the machinations of her own government, the import of her own family and past, and the potential and ambiguity of her own individual agency.” - RB, Word Count as of 11/11: 8,568 Words

Diana Norma Szokolyai

“I am working on a novel called Last Gypsy in Paris.  Set in present day Paris, Lavinia is a teenage, Romani girl who works as an aerialist in her family’s “Old Gypsy Circus” traveling act.  She is torn between the world of the gadjé (non Gypsies) when, while attending French school, she develops passions for literature and a French boy, Julien.  Julien comes from an elitist, right wing French family who want to eradicate Gypsies from France, while Mateo, Lavinia’s father, struggles to keep the old Romani traditions alive in his family by protecting everyone he loves from the world of the gadjé.  When tragedy strikes the family circus, Lavinia must make difficult choices about her future that will ultimately effect her identity.  She is guided by her close friends Elsa, Fisco, Popo the parrot, and Mermeyí, her wise grandmother, who is a fortune teller. – DNS, Word Count as of 11/11: 9,009 Words

Alex Carrigan:

“I’m trying something really strange this month and attempting to write a Young Adult book. I know, it’s crazy. I never see YA about nerdy characters, so I’m making the main characters all members of a high school anime club. It’s a first person story from the perspective of Ashley, a high school junior and active member of the club. Her club is trying to sell anime goods at an upcoming anime convention, and Ashley is tasked to make a dating simulator video game for the table. When her best friend starts dating another guy in the club, Ashley tries to follow them on dates to use for inspiration, while also trying to push other romantic pairings around her in hopes of being able to use it for the club. Unfortunately, this does lead to some issues and causes some things to get crazy when Ashley starts to get too into those around her. I’m excited for the project since I get to make a fleshed out character with Ashley and really try to write from the perspective of an outspoken nerdy teenage girl. Plus, as an anime fan, I get to reference tons of the stuff in the story, which is always fun.” -AC, Word Count as of 11/11: 13,855 words

Jessica Reidy:

“I’m working on my novel, currently titled Zenith, about Coco, a half Romani (Gypsy) burlesque dancer and fortune teller at a Parisian circus who reluctantly becomes a Nazi hunter. Wanting clarity and guidance and without anyone else to turn to, Coco reads her own tarot cards, a forbidden act that always obscures the truth with the seeker’s own fears and desires. Coco’s target is her own uncle, Botho, a Romani man who turned traitor and set thousands of Roma to the gas chambers. And yet, Botho is the same man who spared Coco and her estranged mother, Mina, from the concentration camps, but abused his position to torture them both. While Coco makes her life at the strange and beautiful circus, Mina is living out her days in a mental institution, and keeping her identity as the famed Romani poet exiled from her community under wraps. But when Mina’s journals and her book of poetry appear on Coco’s doorstep, Coco discovers brutal family secrets and finds that she is not the only hunter in her family. Her choice between family or justice throws her own life in the balance while her desires and fears run wild among the circus.” -JR, Word Count as of 11/11: approximately 35,000 words

Megan Tilley:

“For NaNoWriMo this year, I’m working on a YA fantasy novel about the personification of Death and his familiar, a girl named Mira. It follows Mira as she gets accustomed to being Death’s familiar and the complications that come with that, including the struggle with her self identity and personal freedom, while also balancing a budding romance with her childhood friend. Urban fantasy and magical realism are my favorite genres, and I’m really excited to explore the world I’m making! I’m thrilled to be able to work with a unique character like the personification of Death, as well as the internal struggle Mira has to deal with.” – MT, Word Count as of 11/11: 24,574 words


CWW’s Artistic Director Diana Norma Szokolyai’s Poem Published in Anthology Other Countries: Contemporary Poets Rewiring History


Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Artistic Director Diana Norma Szokolyai’s poem “Sarajevo” published in groundbreaking anthology Other Countries: Contemporary Poets Rewiring History.  On December 3, the anthology launches in London! See for more info.

Originally posted on DIANA NORMA SZOKOLYAI:


When editors Claire Trévien and Gareth Prior wrote to me asking if I would like to contribute to their forthcoming anthology last July, I was thrilled to submit to such an exciting project.  The editors set out with the mission of publishing poetry that offer different perspectives on history than the main stream.  I think this is a very important volume, and I thank the editors for putting together this groundbreaking anthology.  My poem, “Sarajevo” was published, and I’m grateful to be in the company of many amazing poets (see the full list below).

The anthology features poems by James Brookes, Matt Bryden, Karen Jane Cannon, David Clarke, Ross Cogan, Sasha Dugdale, Martín Espada, Rebecca Goss, Hel Gurney, Linn Hansén, Emily Hasler, Sarah Hesketh, Holly Hopkins, Kirsten Irving, Jemma L. King, Rose Lemberg, Robin Lim, Éireann Lorsung, Hannah Lowe, Susan Mackervoy, Harry Man, Dawn Manning, Richie McCaffery, John McCullough, Michael McKimm, Lynn Pedersen…

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Pre-Thanksgiving Yoga & Creative Writing Cleanse


Join the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop presents for our second annual Pre-Thanksgiving Yoga & Creative Writing Cleanse held at Ashtanga Yoga Shala in Manhattan’s East Village!  If you’re participating in #NaNoWriMo 2014, come join us and rejuvenate your creative juices and enjoy working on your novel in a relaxing environment!

Pre-Thanksgiving Yoga & Writing Cleanse
Saturday November 22 * 2-4 pm

Sunday November 23 * 2-4 pm

Ashtanga Yoga Shala
295 E. 8th St. (Corner of Ave B.)
New York, NY 10009

Join our Pre-Thanksgiving Yoga & Creative Writing Cleanse. As the leaves are changing colors, bring some of those transformations into your life.  Before re-uniting with family for lots of heavy food and holiday affairs (along with the cheer and stress that comes along with it), treat yourself to a weekend of creative writing, yoga, and raw juice cleanses!

Pre-registered participants get a free jar of raw homemade juice (please register by November 21, 2014 to be put on the list).  Early registration encouraged by November 15, as spots are expected to fill quickly!  Drop-ins also welcome, provided there is room!

$100 for both days
$50 for a single day

Register by November 15 at: