CWW Artistic Director Norma Szokolyai for VIDA: Report From The Field – The Defensive Male Writer

There are so many very important articles on the victimization of women in society.  And this is not one of them. Nope. This is an altogether different take—this is about when the male writer feels threatened by the empowered female writer.  Is it because he does not understand her?  Is it because she does not fit his mold of the iconic “writer” model, complete with a tweed jacket and dark-rimmed glasses, and —of course—a penchant for craft beer?  It could be one of many reasons, including the simultaneous exoticizing and diminution of women who write.

Being a female and a writer has its interesting twists (I purposely am not saying “woman writer” or “female writer” because we rarely make the distinction “man writer” or “male writer”).  Women need to have their voices heard, but they don’t need their voices to be ghettoized into a special bookstore category of “women’s writing.”  This suggests that men’s writing is the default and that women’s writing is some sort of sub-category, or—worse—something that happens far off on the exotic island where women write, certainly not on the main continent of male writing.

I am one of the founders and Executive Artistic Director of a literary organization, the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop.  We have been leading writing workshops and retreats since 2008, and coincidentally, the founding co-Director and Executive Creative Director, Rita Banerjee, also happens to be female.  We are always surprised when, occasionally, people assume that we are a women’s-only organization simply because the directors are women.  Something tells me the same would not apply if the directors were male.  In fact, we have a balanced ratio of men and women on our executive board and our summer writing retreat in Paris this summer, for instance.  Also, there are men as well as women who serve as our faculty members on our retreats. The anthology that several members of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop are editing, CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing, also has a balanced representation of genders.

Flamenco

Image by Bill Tyne

When we share about our programs, we mostly get positive responses.  However, sometimes we get some strange responses (mainly from male writers) that show a distinctly defensive tone. Could it be that they somehow feel threatened?  Their responses never cease to amuse the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop team.  Recently, we shared about our writing retreats in Paris and Granada on a community forum.  One of the responses was to our Granada Writing Retreat Poster (which prominently features a painting of a female flamenco dancer) from the group moderator (a middle-aged male writer who shall remain un-named). He wrote,

 “Yeah, we do Flamenco dancing here all the time. You don’t need to go to Spain.” Later, there was a sardonic joke about how his “more serious” writers’ group would vote on “whether to have a Flamenco dance-off or to drink beer…I believe the beer vote carried the day.”

There are several problems I have with ridiculing a female Flamenco dancer image.  Is it the figure of a powerful female dancer, or the Romani (Gypsy) heritage that is being mocked?  The commenter assumes that this image cannot be associated with serious writing. What of Lorca and countless other writers who have been inspired by Flamenco and Andalucia?  The thing that strikes me is that this same commenter had nothing to say of the iconography of a lighthouse on our Newport retreat poster or the Eiffel Tower on our Paris retreat poster, which was also posted to the forum.  But the female Romani Flamenco dancer on our Granada poster…for him, this seemed an easy target!  I am going to make a suggestion—one that, I admit, makes an assumption.  I am going to assume that he simply could not process the power of this image, and perhaps it even threatened his limited world view. Yes, the body of a beautiful woman of color dancing can exist in a non-sexualized context—in the context of a serious writing workshop, with serious faculty committed to the writing process.

This same commenter completely wrote-off the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop program, citing a desperate comparison that his writing group was not for the likes of us, not “for aspiring writers” but rather “a real-world writer’s workshop now in its tenth consecutive year, moderated by two professional, multi-credentialed, traditionally published authors. I’m one of the moderators…the other is best-selling author, XX. We meet every Monday evening at 7 PM from 10 PM in XX.”  I immediately saw that this man, this apparently well-established writer (of low-brow thrillers and graphic novels) was feeling defensive!  I thought that perhaps he saw the CWW as a competitor, so I immediately took the higher road and apologized for infringing on his territory, writing “We apologize for the postings. We misunderstood and thought your group was an open platform for the community of writers to post. Just FYI, we are also a professional writers’ workshop that has been meeting regularly for the past eight years and hosting retreats for the past four years, with best-selling faculty members such as David Shields, Kathleen Spivack, and Peter Orner, etc. Please accept our apologies. Now that we understand the nature of your group, we see why posting other opportunities (that may be competition to your model) poses a problem. It won’t happen again! Best regards, Diana Norma and the CWW Team.”

Publically, on the forum, he accepted my apology, but in a private message to me he wrote: “Well…since our workshops focuses on actually producing work rather than retreats, there’s really not that much competition.”  More defensiveness covered in seeming nonchalance. Poor man, I thought. Did he not know what a retreat could do for a writer?  So many of us writers are holders of day jobs, with family responsibilities.  A retreat, as any serious writer would know, can afford the necessary space and time to complete a project and move our writing goals forward.  Many of our writers have finished novels, poetry manuscripts, screenplays, and more on our retreats.

Another male writer ridiculed the yoga component to our retreats, asking, “Why yoga? What does it have to do with writing?” He questioned the seriousness of the workshop, but later expressed that he really wasn’t that flexible.

That being said, I want to be clear that I’m not generalizing about the attitude of all male writers.  Many are sane and perfectly normal human beings, of course.  Some are on our faculty (such as David Shields, Peter Orner, and Steve Aubrey).  We recently had one commenter from another writing group out in Portland who said that they wished their writing group had yoga, like ours, saying “That would probably help us a lot.”

If you’re reading this and thinking…hmm…I need a writing retreat myself, we are offering scholarships to serious writers in three categories (Diversity, Student, and Parent) for our Paris (July 22-30) and Granada Writing Retreats (August 3-10).  Apply at cww.submittable.com

Recommended Reading: Celebrating the LGBT+ Community in Literature

In honor of the US Supreme Court’s decision to on June 26 to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states, here are a few literary works that celebrate the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. – Emily Smith, Curator

“Brokeback Mountain” appears as a short story in Annie Proulx’s Close Range: Wyoming Stories. It follows the sexual tension between two ranch hands, Ennis del Mar and Jack Twist, as they care for sheep at a seasonal grazing range. The two finally share an intense night in an isolated tent on the range, then carry on with their lives. Despite both marrying women and starting families, Ennis and Jack sporadically reunite over the course of twenty years. Reflecting on the story, Proulx mused that it explores the difference between who people think they are and what befalls them.

The fairy tale of Peter Pan is retold in Sassafras Lowrey’s Lost Boi – a world in which the orphaned, abandoned and runaways find common ground. Most importantly, the lost bois are trans* kids who were abandoned by their parents or by the failed social services system. In this retelling, Peter Pan is the savior of transgender children. Lowrey, a transgender author, has noted that the story works as part of the transgender civil rights movement in reclaiming mainstream and cultural touchstones.

In Nancy Garden’s controversial novel Annie on My Mind, Annie and Liza meet during a rainy day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and instantly become friends. Though Liza goes to a private school in an upscale neighborhood and Annie attends a public school “far uptown,” the two grow close and eventually fall in love. Because the book was written for young adults and many copies reside in public school libraries, it is often criticized by parents. During one incident, copies of the book were actually burned; however, the novel is so popular that’s it’s never been out of print.

The Hours, a novel by Michael Cunningham, explores the lives of three different women in three different time periods who are affected by Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. The first is Woolf herself, the second is a closeted housewife reading Mrs. Dalloway in 1949, and the third is socialite and bisexual Clarissa Vaughan who plans a summer party in 2001. The story structure mimics Woolf’s famous stream-of-consciousness style in that the narratives of each woman often flow into each other in unpredictable ways.

Nightwood is a Modernist novel by Djuna Barnes and one of the first to ever explicitly portray gay sex. The story follows Robin Vote and the characters that fall in love with her: her husband Baron Felix Volkbein, as well as her lovers Nora Flood and Jenny Petherbridge. It becomes increasingly obvious throughout the novel that Robin will never settle down, instead radically favoring polyamory. Many of the characters often seek out advice from Matthew O’Connor, a transgender medical student who acts as more of a spiritual doctor than a physical one.

Truman Capote’s Other Voices, Other Rooms is a Southern Gothic that follows the life of Joel Harrison Knox and his experience on an isolated Mississippi plantation. Joel struggles to come to terms with his sexual identity, but finds acceptance to be a liberation and not a surrender.

In 1970, Audre Lorde published Cables to Rage, which featured one of her most famous poems: “Martha.” The poem detailed Lorde’s experience coming out as a lesbian and the recovery of a former lover following a car crash. In the poem, Martha’s family arrives and the narrator sends them away, since both women have sacrificed their traditional family lives to have a relationship with each other. The poem also appeared in Coal.

One of Gertrude Stein’s most notable works on sexuality is “Lifting Belly,” which originally appeared in Bee Time Vine and again in The Yale Gertrude Stein. The substantial poem was heralded as a “lesbian classic” and a gift to women who love women. The poem is most notable for its unabashed approach to lesbian eroticism; however, much of the poem consists merely of dialogue between two women.

Giovanni’s Room focuses on the life of an American man in Paris, especially his relationship with an Italian bartender named Giovanni who works at a gay bar. The tragedy, written by James Baldwin, is remembered by the narrator on the day that Giovanni is executed in France. The novel is often lauded for its complex examination of gay and bisexual men; Baldwin himself was an inspiring gay rights figure, since he was considered the leading literary voice of the civil rights movement.

The Dream of a Common Language is a collection of poetry written by poet and activist Adrienne Rich. The book was published in 1976 following Rich’s announcement that she identified as a lesbian; the second section, “Twenty One Love Poems,” addresses love between two women and the cultural need to recognize that love as valid. Rich’s poems also discuss the alienation and disintegration of lesbian relationships in a social climate that regards them as shameful.

Report From The Field: The Defensive Male Writer | VIDA: Women in Literary Arts

DNS:

Our Executive Artistic Director, Diana Norma Szokoyai, has a new Op Ed in VIDA called “The Defensive Male Writer.”

Originally posted on DIANA NORMA SZOKOLYAI:

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 12.39.39 AM
I’d like to thank the editors at VIDA: Women in the Literary Arts for publishing my Op-Ed “The Defensive Male Writer.”

You can read it here:

Report From The Field: The Defensive Male Writer | VIDA: Women in Literary Arts.

And here are a couple of excerpts:

Being a female and a writer has its interesting twists (I purposely am not saying “woman writer” or “female writer” because we rarely make the distinction “man writer” or “male writer”).  Women need to have their voices heard, but they don’t need their voices to be ghettoized into a special bookstore category of “women’s writing.”  This suggests that men’s writing is the default and that women’s writing is some sort of sub-category, or—worse—something that happens far off on the exotic island where women write, certainly not on the main continent of male writing.

Yes, the body of a beautiful woman of color…

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The Munich Readery Presents “An Evening with Peter Orner” – June 30, 2015 * 8 – 9 pm

peter-ornerAn Evening with Peter Orner
Moderated by Rita Banerjee
The Munich Readery * 8 – 9 pm
Augustenstr. 104, Munich, Germany

The Munich Readery is proud to host Guggenheim fellow and American fiction writer, Peter Orner on Tuesday June 30 for “An Evening with Peter Orner.”  Orner be reading from the novel Love and Shame and Love as well as from the story collection, Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge.  “I am very happy about coming back to Munich, a city I’ve always admired for its sense of calm, its architecture, food, and kind people. It’s a city I also love to wander around in and have been happily lost on its streets a number of times….” – Peter Orner

Peter Orner is an American writer and the author of four books of fiction. His first book, Esther Stories was a Finalist for the Pen Hemingway Award and Winner of the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and has been recently re-issued with a new introduction by Marilynne Robinson. His novel, The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo, set in Namibia, has been translated widely, including in German by Hanser. Love and Shame and Love, Orner’s second novel, has also recently been published in German by Hanser. Orner’s most recent book, a collection of stories, Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge was named a New York Times Editor’s Choice Book last year. Orner has also published two books of non-fiction, a book on immigration in the U.S. and another about political violence in Zimbabwe. Orner is a Guggenheim Fellowship recipient, and has taught at The University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Bard College, The University of Montana, and teaches in the MFA Program at San Francisco State University. He lives in Bolinas, California where he is a proud member of the Bolinas Volunteer Fire Department.

The deadline to sign up for the Summer in Granada & Summer in Paris Writing Retreats is today!

It’s finally here: the deadline for our summer writing retreats.

During the Summer in Paris Writing Retreat, participants will have the opportunity to learn alongside award-winning writers like David Shields (nonfiction, book-length essay), Diana Norma Szokoloyai(poetry, nonfiction), Rita Banerjee (poetry, fiction), and Jessica Reidy(fiction, poetry). Yoga will be led by Elissa Lewis (yoga, meditation).

Classes include:

  • Brevity, Collage and Collaboration (3 classes)
  • Workshop on the Evocative Object
  • Literary Taboo: Playing With the Five Senses
  • Anaïs Nin & the Art of Journaling

As part of the Paris retreat, David Shields will also be reading at Shakespeare & Company in Paris on July 23. The retreat is not one to be missed!

***

During the Summer in Granada Writing Retreat, participants will learn from award-winning writers like Peter Orner (fiction, nonfiction), Rita Banerjee (poetry, fiction), Diana Norma Szkoloyai(poetry, nonfiction), and Jessica Reidy (fiction, poetry). Yoga will be led by Elissa Lewis.

The retreat will take place from August 3-10, 2015 at the Hotel Guadalupe. The cost of the retreat is $2950, which includes lodging, craft of writing seminars and writing workshops, yoga classes, room cleaning, and breakfast. Optional add-ons include reiki healing and aromatherapy sessions.

Classes include:

  • Storytelling Techniques in Short Fiction & Novels
  • A Tiny Survey of Spanish Prose in Translation: From Cervantes to Lorca to Ana Maria Matute to Javiar Cercas…
  • Workshop on the Evocative Object
  • Literary Taboo: Playing With the Five Senses
  • Your Voice
  • Flamenco: Rhythm as Meaning in Poetry & Prose
  • Lorca’s Gypsies: Blood of the Archetype

Apply by midnight tonight at cww.submittable.com.

Video: Learn More About Granada, Andalucía, Spain & Apply to Our Summer in Granada Writing Retreat

In this video, European travel expert Rick Steves explores Granada, Andalucía, Spain. He catches Flamenco dancing in a public park, feasts on paella, admires stunning views of the Alhambra, and travels through the history of Granada’s Gypsy (Roma) culture and Moorish roots. It’s no wonder that Granada is an international destination and the location of one of our summer writing retreats!

The Summer in Granada Writing Retreat will take place at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains in Andalucía, Granada, which is one of the gems of Spain and has inspired writers from Washington Irving to Salman Rushdie to Ali Smith.

The retreat offers the opportunity for writers of all genres and levels to work alongside award-winning authors & editors like Peter Orner (fiction, nonfiction), Rita Banerjee (poetry, fiction), Diana Norma Szkoloyai (poetry, nonfiction), and Jessica Reidy (fiction, poetry). Yoga will be led by Elissa Lewis.

The retreat will take place from August 3-10, 2015. The cost of the retreat is $2950, which includes lodging, craft of writing seminars and writing workshops, yoga classes, room cleaning, and breakfast. Optional add-ons include reiki healing and aromatherapy sessions.

The retreat will be held at Hotel Guadalupe on Paseo de la Sabica in Granada, Spain.

If you’d like to join us in Granada, please apply online at cww.submittable.com by June 15, 2015, and include a $5 application screening fee and a 5-page writing sample. (Due to limited seats, early applications are encouraged, but check for rolling admission after deadline, depending on availability).

applyDeadline: June 15, 2015

Summer in Granada Writing Retreat

Summer in Granada Writing Retreat

Featured Faculty:

Peter OrnerPeter Orner Chicago born Peter Orner’s fiction and non-fiction has appeared in the New York Times, the Atlantic Monthly, Granta, The Paris Review, McSweeney’s, The Southern Review, The Forward, The San Francisco Chronicle,andPloughshares. Stories have been anthologized in Best American Stories and twice won a Pushcart Prize. Orner was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship (2006), as well as the two-year Lannan Foundation Literary Fellowship (2007-2008). A film version of one of Orner’s stories, “The Raft” with a screenplay by Orner and the film’s director, Rob Jones, is currently in production and stars Ed Asner.  Esther Stories (Houghton Mifflin/​ Mariner, 2001) was awarded the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Goldberg Prize for Jewish Fiction, and was a Finalist for the Pen Hemingway Award and the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Award. Esther Stories was a 2001 New York Times Notable Book.

RBRita Banerjee is a writer, and received her PhD in Comparative Literature from Harvard University. She holds an MFA in Poetry and her writing has been published in Poets for Living Waters, The New Renaissance, The Fiction Project, Jaggery, The Crab Creek Review, The Dudley Review, Objet d’Art, Vox Populi, Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure, andChrysanthemumamong other journals. Her first collection of poems,Cracklers at Night, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2010 and received First Honorable Mention for Best Poetry Book at the 2011-2012 Los Angeles Book Festival. Her novella, A Night with Kali, was digitized by the Brooklyn Art-house Co-op in 2011. She is a co-director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop, and her writing has been recently featured onHER KIND by VIDA: Women in Literary Arts and on KBOO Radio’s APA Compass in Portland, Oregon.

DianaNormaDiana 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, andHuman 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.

25ugmblJessica Reidy earned her MFA in Fiction at Florida State University and a B.A. from Hollins University. Her work is Pushcart-nominated 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 the Outreach Editor for Quail Bell Magazine, Managing Editor for VIDA: Women in the Literary Arts, Art Editor for The Southeast Review, and Visiting Professor for the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop retreats. She teaches creative writing and is a certified yoga instructor and Reiki Master. Jessica also works her Romani (Gypsy) family trades, fortune telling, energy healing, and dancing. Jessica is currently writing her first novel set in post-WWII Paris about Coco Charbonneau, the half-Romani burlesque dancer and fortune teller of Zenith Circus, who becomes a Nazi hunter. You can learn more at www.jessicareidy.com.

ElissaLewisElissa 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 websitefor informative yoga sequences and information.

Writer Camp by Allison K Williams (via Brevity’s Nonfiction Blog)

Emily Smith:

We love your thoughts on writers’ camp and productivity. Thanks for mentioning us!

Originally posted on BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog:

Writers meeting informally in the library at Atlantic Center for the Arts Writers meeting informally in the library at Atlantic Center for the Arts

When I’m at a residency, I get up very early, usually around four. I don’t go on social media, or argue in comments sections. I lie in bed and think about what I’m working on for a little while, then get up and brush my teeth in silence instead of with podcasts. I go to whatever place I’ve made “my” place (at Atlantic Center for the Arts it is this small and beautiful library, pictured right), and write until the sun comes up. Then I have coffee and cereal, then write some more.

Around noon it’s naptime. Sometimes there’s a class in the afternoon, or I meet with another writer to discuss our work, or there’s lunch with other writers around a big table. Dinner is cooked by someone else–in fact, I do not have to plan a…

View original 581 more words

Last Chance to Join Our Summer Writing Retreats in Granada & Paris!

The deadline is approaching for your last chance to join our Summer in Granada and Summer in Paris Writing Retreats. Apply by June 15, 2015 (rolling submissions) at cww.submittable.com.

Summer in Granada Writing Retreat:

Join the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop on our summer writing & yoga retreat to the cultural oasis of Granada, Spain. Located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains in Andalucía, Granada is one of the gems of Spain and has inspired writers from Washington Irving to Salman Rushdie to Ali Smith.

The retreat offers the opportunity for writers of all genres and levels to work alongside award-winning authors & editors like Peter Orner (fiction, nonfiction), Rita Banerjee (poetry, fiction), Diana Norma Szkoloyai (poetry, nonfiction), Jessica Reidy (fiction, poetry) and Elissa Lewis (yoga, meditation).

Our Andalucían writing retreat will take place from August 3-10, 2015, and the cost of the workshop is $2950, which includes lodging, craft of writing seminars and writing workshops, yoga classes, room cleaning, and breakfast. Optional add-ons include reiki healing and aromatherapy sessions.

The retreat will be held at Hotel Guadalupe on Paseo de la Sabica in Granada, Spain.

Course Descriptions:

Storytelling Techniques in Short Fiction & Novels (with Peter Orner)
One way to see the difference between a short story and a novel is to compare a single pang in one’s heart with the tragedy (and potential triumph) of one’s whole life. It’s all a matter of how you feel the pain (and the joy). A story is complete, not a word wasted, and therefore remorseless. Read a great story and there it is—right now—in your gut. So often stories go off the rails because they lack the immediate intensity – even if this intensity is quiet – that a good story needs. No silver bullet, as each and every story is different, but in this mini-workshop, we’ll discuss the mystery of why certain stories have such a profound impact, talking about such intangibles as compression, momentum, and tension. We’ll look at among other writers, the stories of the great Japanese writer, Kawabata, who is able to do so much in so few words in what he calls “Palm of the Hand” stories, and Grace Paley who likewise, in just a few sentences, could capture a distinct universe. We’ll also discuss story openings. Writers will leave at least a handful of their own stories in progress.

A Tiny Survey of Spanish Prose in Translation: From Cervantes to Lorca to Ana Maria Matute to Javiar Cercas… (with Peter Orner)
To give a sense of Spanish literature through the ages, we’ll be reading a mini-anthology of Spanish writers beginning with excerpts from Don Quixote, arguably the first modern novel, and one that remains a touchstone of wildly provocative literary innovation. From Cervantes, we’ll look at more contemporary works, including the well-known plays of Lorca, as well as lesser known, but equally compelling stories and novels of Ana Maria Matute and Javiar Cercas.

Workshop on the Evocative Object (with Diana Norma Szokolyai and Rita Banerjee)
Enjoy searching for and discovering evocative objects in your surroundings, and tell their stories through lyrical descriptions that will thrill the reader.

Literary Taboo: Playing With the Five Senses (with Rita Banerjee)
Learn to play a literary game that will keep you on your wordsmithing toes. You will have to think of new ways to write about subjects, while avoiding clichés!

Your Voice (with Diana Norma Szokolyai)
Whether preparing for a literary reading or recording your poetry with musicians, it is important to develop your own voice because it is the vehicle for your words. In these sessions, you will connect with your inner voice to bring it outward, learning how to better create a bond between you and your audience.

Flamenco: Rhythm as Meaning in Poetry & Prose (with Jess Reidy)
Flamenco is a rich musical tradition grown out the Romani tradition that flourished in Spain—and as Flamenco is rooted in the Romani oral tradition of story-telling, the various musical forms are rich with meaning, just by virtue of their rhythm and structure. In this class, I’d like to examine and listen to two or three popular Flamenco forms and try some writing exercises in which we employ these rhythmic techniques and try to use the meaning of the form to enhance our own content. As writers, we have an intuitive sense of rhythm—the iamb is the beat of the human heart. But many writers are not aware of the semantics of rhythm, for example, what it means when there is a rest after a series of beats, both to the untrained ear and the informed reader. I’d love to have a couple of pre-recorded or live-music demonstrations, one in which we write our impressions of a song, and the other in which we write our own words to the beat of the song. Similarly to the above course, some cultural and historical will be helpful to the students, but depending on whether I teach both classes and/or which course comes first, I will of course tailor my contextualizing.

Lorca’s Gypsies: Blood of the Archetype (with Jess Reidy)
Lorca, in many ways the voice of Granada, also gives voice to the Romani people, albeit in a limiting fashion, curtailed by the mold of archetype. I get emails from many writers struggling to write out of their own demographics, despite their best intentions to be inclusive in their fiction and poetry with respect to gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and socio-economic status. This becomes especially complicated for writers working in poetry, fantasy, magical realism, The Fantastic, etc. In this class, we will examine how Lorca creates a simpatico between the speaker and the Roma—both outsiders, both struggling hardship, and both living life through art and trades—and how he plays on the Gypsy archetype to build metaphors for the pain of love, war, and fate. But we will also consider the reductive aspects of Lorca’s Gypsies—the Roma represent that which is primitive, natural, decorative, and functional—with the intention of learning how to write three-dimensional characters in both poetry and fiction who have their own meaningful stories to tell. In other words, we will learn how to give blood to the archetype. We will touch on the historical-political context of Lorca’s poetry, the Franco regime, as well as the history of the Romani people in Spain, to explore the importance of research and specificity in writing, and to better acquaint ourselves with the strongest parts of Lorca’s work and the more problematic aspects. We will also discuss the difference between exotic clichés and writing that is grounded in human experience, regardless of genre.

Featured Faculty:

Peter OrnerPeter Orner Chicago born Peter Orner’s fiction and non-fiction has appeared in the New York Times, the Atlantic Monthly, Granta, The Paris Review, McSweeney’s, The Southern Review, The Forward, The San Francisco Chronicle, andPloughshares. Stories have been anthologized in Best American Stories and twice won a Pushcart Prize. Orner was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship (2006), as well as the two-year Lannan Foundation Literary Fellowship (2007-2008). A film version of one of Orner’s stories, “The Raft” with a screenplay by Orner and the film’s director, Rob Jones, is currently in production and stars Ed Asner.  Esther Stories (Houghton Mifflin/​ Mariner, 2001) was awarded the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Goldberg Prize for Jewish Fiction, and was a Finalist for the Pen Hemingway Award and the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Award. Esther Stories was a 2001 New York Times Notable Book.

RBRita Banerjee is a writer, and received her PhD in Comparative Literature from Harvard University. She holds an MFA in Poetry and her writing has been published in Poets for Living Waters, The New Renaissance, The Fiction Project, Jaggery, The Crab Creek Review, The Dudley Review, Objet d’Art, Vox Populi, Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure, and Chrysanthemumamong other journals. Her first collection of poems,Cracklers at Night, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2010 and received First Honorable Mention for Best Poetry Book at the 2011-2012 Los Angeles Book Festival. Her novella, A Night with Kali, was digitized by the Brooklyn Art-house Co-op in 2011. She is a co-director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop, and her writing has been recently featured onHER KIND by VIDA: Women in Literary Arts and on KBOO Radio’s APA Compass in Portland, Oregon.

DianaNormaDiana 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.

25ugmblJessica Reidy earned her MFA in Fiction at Florida State University and a B.A. from Hollins University. Her work is Pushcart-nominated 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 the Outreach Editor for Quail Bell Magazine, Managing Editor for VIDA: Women in the Literary Arts, Art Editor for The Southeast Review, and Visiting Professor for the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop retreats. She teaches creative writing and is a certified yoga instructor and Reiki Master. Jessica also works her Romani (Gypsy) family trades, fortune telling, energy healing, and dancing. Jessica is currently writing her first novel set in post-WWII Paris about Coco Charbonneau, the half-Romani burlesque dancer and fortune teller of Zenith Circus, who becomes a Nazi hunter. You can learn more at www.jessicareidy.com.

ElissaLewisElissa 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 websitefor informative yoga sequences and information.
Summer in Paris Writing Retreat:

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Summer in Paris Writing Retreat will take place July 22-30, 2015 in France. The retreat offers participating writers of all genres and levels to work alongside award-winning authors and editors like David Shields (nonfiction, book-length essay), Diana Norma Szokoloyai (poetry, nonfiction), Rita Banerjee (poetry, fiction), Jessica Reidy(fiction, poetry), and Elissa Lewis (yoga, meditation).

If you’re serious about writing and want to soak in some exquisite French culture this summer, join our retreat in Paris! Tuition is $2950, which includes lodging in central Paris, daily creative writing workshops and writing seminars, one-on-one manuscript consultations, daily breakfast, daily yoga and meditation classes, and a walking tour of literary Paris.

Course Descriptions:

Brevity (with David Shields)
Lecture. Exegesis. In-class writing/critique.
A sustained argument for the excitement and urgency of literary brevity in a hyper-digital, post-religious age; a rally for compression, concision, and velocity; and a meditation on the brevity of human existence. We are mortal beings. There is no god. We live in a digital culture. Art is related to the body and to the culture. Art should reflect these things. Brevity rules.

Collage (with David Shields)
Lecture. Exegesis. In-class writing/critique.
The novel is dead; long live the anti-novel, built from scraps./I’m not interested in collage as the refuge of the compositionally disabled. I’m interested in collage as an evolution beyond narrative./A great painting comes together, just barely. /It may be that nowadays in order to move us, abstract pictures need if not humor then at least some admission of their own absurdity-expressed in genuine awkwardness or in an authentic disorder./These fragments I have shored against my ruins./Collage is the primary art form of the twenty-first century.

Collaboration (with David Shields)
Lecture. Exegesis. In-class writing/critique.
A class on kinds of collaboration: collaboration with yourself, with your own material, with other texts, with other people, and the world in general. I’ll talk for a while about the kinds of collaboration I’ve done and ask people in the class to bring in an idea for how they might collaborate on their next project.

Workshop on the Evocative Object (with Diana Norma Szokolyai and Rita Banerjee)
Enjoy searching for and discovering evocative objects in your surroundings, and tell their stories through lyrical descriptions that will thrill the reader.

Literary Taboo: Playing With the Five Senses (with Rita Banerjee)
Learn to play a literary game that will keep you on your wordsmithing toes. You will have to think of new ways to write about subjects, while avoiding clichés!

Anaïs Nin & the Art of Journaling (with Jessica Reidy)
The great novelist Anaïs Nin kept a journal throughout most of her life and filled volume upon volume with a rich record of her personal, professional, and creative life (most of which was lived in Paris). She wrote far more volumes of her journals than novels, and after encouragement from other friends and writers she published excerpts of her journals. And while Nin feared that her journal consumed her, she also knew that it was the channel and source of her creativity. Creativity teacher and filmmaker Julia Cameron insists that, no matter the type of artist you are, daily journaling is an essential part of the artistic process. In this class, we will read and discuss some of the inspiring advice from Nin and Cameron, and try out a few different journaling techniques, invention exercises, and the practice of self-awareness and setting achievable goals. We will also practice using the journal as a ‘safe space’ for new writing projects, and a scrapbook or canvas for different ways of approaching a piece of writing (collage, drawing, etc).

Featured Faculty:

jUSEu2sSo4RfT2C6eSXb6-plQPuQlknv-LggVh9tpUsDavid Shields is the internationally bestselling author of twenty books, including Reality Hunger (named one of the best books of 2010 by more than thirty publications), The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead(New York Times bestseller), and  Black Planet(finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award). Forthcoming are That Thing You Do With Your Mouth(McSweeney’s, June 2015),War Is Beautiful (powerHouse, September 15),Flip-Side (powerHouse, January 2016) and Other People (Knopf, February 2017). The recipient of Guggenheim and NEA fellowships, Shields has published essays and stories in the New York Times Magazine, Harper’s,Esquire, Yale Review,Village Voice, Salon, Slate, McSweeney’s, andBeliever. His work has been translated into twenty languages.

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.

rb1-e1425855638846Rita Banerjee is a writer, and received her PhD in Comparative Literature from Harvard University. She holds an MFA in Poetry and her writing has been published in Poets for Living Waters, The New Renaissance, The Fiction Project, Jaggery, The Crab Creek Review, The Dudley Review, Objet d’Art, Vox Populi, Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure, and Chrysanthemumamong other journals. Her first collection of poems,Cracklers at Night, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2010 and received First Honorable Mention for Best Poetry Book at the 2011-2012 Los Angeles Book Festival. Her novella, A Night with Kali, was digitized by the Brooklyn Art-house Co-op in 2011. She is a co-director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop, and her writing has been recently featured onHER KIND by VIDA: Women in Literary Arts and on KBOO Radio’s APA Compass in Portland, Oregon.

Jessica Reidy earned her MFA in Fiction at Florida State University and a B.A. from Hollins University. Her work is Pushcart-nominated 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 the Outreach Editor for Quail Bell Magazine, Managing Editor for VIDA: Women in the Literary Arts, Art Editor for The Southeast Review, and Visiting Professor for the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop retreats. She teaches creative writing and is a certified yoga instructor and Reiki Master. Jessica also works her Romani (Gypsy) family trades, fortune telling, energy healing, and dancing. Jessica is currently writing her first novel set in post-WWII Paris about Coco Charbonneau, the half-Romani burlesque dancer and fortune teller of Zenith Circus, who becomes a Nazi hunter. You can learn more at www.jessicareidy.com.

ElissaLewisElissa 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 websitefor informative yoga sequences and information.

Jessica Reidy in The Missouri Review on ‘Gypsy’ Stereotypes

Paris and Granada Instructor Jessica Reidy sometimes gets requests for interviews from writers who are working on pieces featuring a Romani (Gypsy) character.  Jessica is a writer of mixed-Romani heritage and also works her family trades: dancing, energy healing, and fortune telling, and she always declines these kinds of interviews centered on divulging her life story for another person’s creative work.  In her Missouri Review essay, “Esmeralda Declines an Interview” she explains why she finds these interview requests problematic and tackles the issue of ethnic stereotypes.

Check out Jessica’s upcoming classes on the CWW summer writing retreats, Lorca’s Gypsies: Blood of the Archetype in Granada, Spain and Anaïs Nin & the Art of Journaling in Paris, France.  Admissions are rolling apply at: cww.submittable.com

JessReidy2Jessica Reidy attended Florida State University for her MFA in Fiction and holds a B.A. from Hollins University.  Her work is Pushcart-nominated 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 the Outreach Editor for Quail Bell Magazine, Managing Editor for VIDA: Women in the Literary Arts, Art Editor for The Southeast Review, and Instructor for the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop retreats.  She is a freelance writer and editor, a yoga instructor, and also works her Romani (Gypsy) family trades, fortune telling, energy healing, and dancing.  Jessica is currently writing her first novel set in post-WWII Paris about Coco Charbonneau, the half-Romani burlesque dancer and fortune teller of Zenith Circus, who becomes a Nazi hunter.  Visit her online at www.jessicareidy.com.