Happy Halloween Costume Contest!

Dear writers, readers, and creative artists!

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop wishes everyone out there a very frightening, eery, and Happy Halloween!  May your #Halloween be filled with ghosts, goblins, creepy monsters, and lots of strange undead things.  In the spirit of Halloween, we’re running a little #contest.  Please tweet us your best Halloween costumes @CamWritersWkshp, and best-dressed will win a free retreat day at our Nov 22/23 Pre-Thanksgiving #Yoga & #CreativeWriting Cleanse in New York!  You have until November 2 to send us your best #Halloween or #DayoftheDead costumes!  Costumes can be from the present year or any year prior.  Just tweet us your pic, your first name, costume pic, and where your pic was taken @CamWritersWskhp by November 2, 2014 and follow our contest on #BestHalloweenCostumes !!

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!

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: cww.submittable.com

Rita Banerjee teaches Character Development Workshop at the Munich Readery – October 12


Character Devleopment & Playing with Persona Workshop
Sunday, October 12, 2014 * 14:00-16:30
The Munich Readery, Augustenstraße 104, 80798 München

Femme fatales, gumshoe detectives, star-crossed lovers, wicked stepmothers, wise fools, empathetic anti-heroes: dynamic and archetypal characters can be key to making a good story or lyrical piece tick and pulling in the reader deeper into your creative work. In this workshop, we will discuss how dynamic and archetypal characters can help structure stories, propel narratives forwards, and how they can provide interesting ethical dilemmas and emotional spectrums to narratives and verse. We will learn about the building blocks of creating strong, unforgettable characters, and learn how playing with persona can help liberate nonfictional stories and lyrical poems. So if you’re currently working on a short story, novel, screenplay, theatre play, lyrical essay, memoir, or poem which has a strong and unique character at is heart, come stop by the Munich Readery on Sunday October 12 for our next creative writing workshop led by Rita Banerjee, Cambridge Writers Workshop’s Creative Director. Workshop fee: €25. To register, send an email to store@themunichreadery.com by October 8.

Rita 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 Chrysanthemum among 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 on HER KIND by VIDA: Women in Literary Arts and on KBOO Radio’s APA Compass in Portland, Oregon.

LitCawl Manhattan: Literary Masquerade – Sept 13, 8pm – presented by the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop


Featured in Time Out New York!  

Literary Masquerade

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop hosts a literary masquerade with writers and performance artists Gregory Crosby, Diana Norma Szokolyai, Jonah Kruvant, Elizabeth Devlin, Rita Banerjee, and Nicole Colbert. Original readings and performances will be intermingled with musings on masks from Pessoa, Kierkegaard, Descartes, Dickinson, de Beer, and more. There will be masks. There will be libations. There will be paint and skin.  Join us at LitCrawl Manhattan.

SAT.  SEPTEMBER 13 * 8:15 p.m.
One Mile House, 10 Delancey St., NY, NY 10002

Gregory Crosby is the author of the chapbook Spooky Action at a Distance (2014, The Operating System); his poetry has appeared in numerous journals, including Court Green, Epiphany, Copper Nickel, Leveler, Sink Review, Ping Pong, & Rattle. In 2002, as a poetry consultant to the City of Las Vegas, he was instrumental in the creation of the Lewis Avenue Poets Bridge, a public art project in downtown Las Vegas. His dedicatory poem for the project, “The Long Shot,” was subsequently reproduced in bronze and installed in the park, and was included in the 2008 anthology Literary Nevada: Writings from the Silver State (University of Nevada Press). He is co-editor of the online poetry journal Lyre Lyre and currently teaches creative writing at Lehman College, City University of New York.

Diana Norma Szokolyai is a writer/performance artist/educator. She teaches 9-12 year-olds in a Montessori learning environment, and is also Artistic Director of Cambridge Writers’ Workshop, where she teaches and organizes writing and yoga retreats for adult writers. She is author of the poetry collections Parallel Sparrows (honorable mention for Best Poetry Book in the 2014 Paris Book Festival) and Roses in the Snow (first runner-up Best Poetry Book at the 2009 DIY Book Festival). She has poetry forthcoming in the anthologies The Highwaymen NYC Annual # 2 and Other Countries: Contemporary Poets Rewiring History and has also had her fiction, essays, and poetry published in The Fiction Project, Lyre Lyre, The Boston Globe, Dr. Hurley’s Snake Oil Cure, and Always Wondering, among others. She performs with Parallel Sonic, ChagallPAC, and the Brooklyn Soundpainting Ensemble.

Elizabeth Devlin is a modern day renaissance woman, if not composing music for the solo, autoharp wielding, singer-songwriter act, ELIZABETH DEVLIN, she can be found crafting Illustrations/Graphi¬cs at DEVLIN DESIGN AND ILLUSTRATION, playing electric bass and singing as front woman for Brooklyn based rock band, VALVED VOICE, or curating a fresh new line-up for the THE HIGHWAYMEN NYC, a Brooklyn based, monthly, poetry reading series that meets on the full moon.

Rita 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 Chrysanthemum among 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 on HER KIND by VIDA: Women in Literary Artsand on KBOO Radio’s APA Compass in Portland, Oregon.

Jonah Kruvant is a writer, teacher, and student of the world. He received his Bachelor’s degree from Skidmore College, his Master’s degree in Teaching from Fordham University, and his MFA degree in Creative Writing from Goddard College. After living abroad in four different countries, Jonah settled in New York. The Last Book Ever Written is his first novel. Visit his website at www.jonahk.net.

Nicole Colbert (“Harlequin Loves Columbine”) teaches English at Kingsborough Community College-CUNY. She takes fiction writing classes with Rachel Sherman in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn. Her non-fiction work, including interviews & reviews, has appeared in the Village Voice, Park Slope Reader, and New York Spirit Magazine. As a former dancer and choreographer, she still enjoys performing. She is the proud mother of two very creative children.

On Traveling Alone (And Happening to be a Woman)

Originally posted on the fancy delight:

As I type this, I am alone in my quaint little hotel room in Hotel Le Regent in Paris, hearing my own typing in the keyboard, my own asthmatic breath, and absolutely nothing else. I bask in my solitude, appreciating the silence that accompanies it. I could blast on my iTunes or Spotify playlist, turn on the TV and watch French news, or open the window to eavesdrop on my Parisian neighbors and hear how they argue, but I choose not to. Sometimes all you need is a little peace and quiet. The sunlight peeking in through the curtain is tempting me to go outdoors, but my feet are tired from all the walking, and my stomach is punishing me for all the crêpes, duck fat and exotic sea snails I’ve been stuffing it with the past few days. So I will sit here instead and write.

Hotel Le Regent along Rue Dauphine, a highly recommended hotel for solo female travelers :) Hotel Le Regent…

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Gypsy in Paris: novel research and Jazz Manouche at L’atelier Charonne in Quail Bell Magazine

Originally posted on jessica reidy:

I’m so excited that my Paris Gypsy Jazz bar travelogue is in Quail Bell Magazine. I just came back from a fantastic work/play adventure that began in the much re-blogged Cambridge Writers’ Workshop‘s infamous Yoga and Writing Retreat at the Château de Verderonne in Picardy, France, at which I was both a participant and a visiting professor. That then transitioned beautifully into about a week of solo research in Paris. The only way I could think to express this experience was sampling my journal, gushing over the most wonderful little Gypsy Jazz bar, L’atelier Charonne, and putting in a little Paris-photo gallery for this little piece. I know I can’t do it justice, but it was nice to take a shot at it. I was also lucky to see a bunch of friends in France– Gina La Piana, Antonia Alexandra Klimenko, the CWW femme fatales 

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August 20 – Bon Voyage, Mes Amis!

August 20 marked the very last day of the 2014 Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Yoga & Writing Retreat at the Château de Verderonne.  The day started early for me at 5:30 am with me bidding adieu to our wonderful and talented intern, Meghan Tilley, as she when to catch her flight at Charles de Gaulle Airport.  By 8 am, all of our terrific writers, artists, and yoga-philes sat down at the great table in the Château de Verderonne hunting lodge to have one last breakfast together.  Our writers would be returning home to the US, the Philippines, the UK, and Germany after this all-too-short and productive retreat.  Breakfast was bittersweet as we all said our fond farewells, exchanged emails, and promised to keep in touch with our writing partners and workshop groups.  We chose November 20 as our first post-retreat rendez-vous date when all of our 2014 retreat participants would meet via Skype to exchange their writing and update us on the projects we had begun at the Château de Verderonne.  Participants began to make their way to the train station and airport around 11 am.  Some writers would be staying a few days extra in Paris while others would do a short tour of Europe before they returned home.

After 11 am, only a few of the participants and instructors remained at the Château de Verderonne.  We thanked Gina & Jessica for their incredibility generosity and fierceness of spirit, which brought a of light and great humor to the retreat.  We walked around the blooming flower gardens and lush green estates of the château one more time together, remembered our meetings on the trampoline, the incredible meals we had made together, and all the writing that was produced on the trip.  We made a pact to not only keep in touch, but to keep each other posted on our creative projects, and to most of all, keep on writing.  The creative energy at the end of the trip was tangible.  And after spending the afternoon working on our own writing and art, Norma, Elissa, and I joined Monsieur and Madame Marié de l’Isle for one last dinner at the château.  Over apéritifs and a wonderful home-cooked meal, we spoke of our favorite French authors and thinkers, the luminaries who had graced the Château de Verderonne, and the exciting plans for the château’s future.

Returning to our rooms late in the evening when the fog and mist had settled over the château’s gardens, we enjoyed one last midnight discussion together, and then rested for the next day we would be heading off to Paris!  In Paris, we met up with Jessica and Antonia Alexandra Klimenko, a celebrated member of SpokenWord Paris and one of the most renowned English-language poets currently living in Paris.  Together, we enjoyed a to-die-for Morrocan meal complete with mouth-watering tajines, delicious couscous, and hot mint tea at La Baracka in Paris.  A black cat with green eyes watched us overhead as we enjoyed our dinner together.  Then we visited L’altelier Charonne which was featuring Jazz Manouche and Tzigane music.  Two of the musicians were of Roma descent and the third was Italian, and together they blended French classical music styles, bossa nova, and traditional Gypsy music themes together beautifully.  After the concert, Jess and Norma had a chance to chat with the Roma musicians as well.

After the amazing concert, we noticed an unmarked building with gorgeous electric lights, dark curtains, and an assortment of odd mid-century modern furniture inside.  The place was actually a tavern called Bar Sans Nom (A Bar With No Name), and as the owner later described it to us, the place purposefully lacked a marquee sign and any exterior indication that it was a bar at all.  In this way, the tavern could be magical.  Hard to spot the first time, and even harder to find the second.  The dark velvet walls seemed to invite.  And sitting there in the middle of old television sets, typewriters, pianofortes, and hard-metal fans, it was easy to wonder if this place was really real, or rather, if it was something we had imagined to entertain one last evening together.

–  Rita Banerjee, Cambridge Writers’ Workshop’s Creative Director

August 19 – A Literary Rendez-vous & Mis-Translations at the Château de Verderonne

Today was the penultimate day of our yoga & writing retreat at the Château de Verderonne.  After early morning yoga & breakfast, the morning kicked off with one last writing seminar.  Norma and I taught a class on “Manuscript Revision and Publication Strategies.”  We reviewed different techniques for revising poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and theatre pieces, gave an overview of the magazine submission process, and discussed how writers could put together and edit book-length manuscripts and query their book projects to agents, presses, and publishers.  After class, we had a nice afternoon break.  Some writers continued to work on their own projects in small groups, while others took one last tour of the French countryside and/or decided to make one last meal together.  With fresh tomatoes from the Verderonne greenhouse, Gina made a killer tomato sauce for spagetti which was based on a family recipe.  Norma chipped in with some delicious and garlicky hummus, and an onion-egg fry.  I made chili-seasoned baked potatoes, and Megan made some awesome butter-herb pasta.  In the afternoon, participants joined Elissa for one last yoga session together.  Elissa shared some great massage techniques and aromatherapy oils with everyone.  And then we sat down to eat our home-made snacks and then snuck out to glam up for our big night out!

After classes ended, we were invited to have apéros and hors d’oeuvres with Monsieur and Madame Marié de l’Isle at their residence, the Château de Verderonne, our lovely 17th century castle with towers dating from 1450.  The foundation for the castle was laid on the edge of the town, Liancourt in Picardy, in the early 11th century, and the castle had been rebuilt in many styles from Medieval to French Classical in the years that followed.

M. Marié began the evening by pointing out the gorgeous modern paintings of the château, many of which are currently housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.  He also told us how his father had been at designer for the 16th-18th Century French Art Exhibit in the Met in the 1960s.  After enjoying the château’s galleries and gorgeous mote-side garden views, M. Marié showed us some rare books from the Château de Verderonne 17th century library collection.  One of the books contained beautiful maps of the original château, its original French classical gardens, and later English garden editions.  The book also contained information about surrounding châteaus and monuments in the Picardy region of France.

He then toasted all our lovely and talented writers on the retreat, and that’s when the fun began.  All the writers had prepared two short poems to present to Monsieur and Madame Marié de l’Isle .  The poems were inspired by Norma’s writing prompt from her class, “Shadow, Light, and the Crepuscular.”  Each writer had to find an evocative object on the grounds of the Château de Verderonne, study it in bright illumination and then in near darkness, and then write two pieces based on how the object was perceived in these two very different frames of light.  Some writers chose to produce OULIPO-inspired Snowball poems about their objects, while other opted for a more narrative approach.  Monsieur and Madame Marié de l’Isle seemed to enjoy all wonderful writing produced about evocative objects at the Château de Verderonne.  They also enjoyed Norma’s art-instillation of the light-and-shadow poems and will be adding the collection to the permanent library at the château.

After drinks and poetry, M. Marié continued the tour of the grand château.  He told us about Claude-Adrien Helvétius, a French Enlightenment thinker who had been one of the founding contributors to Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d’Alembert’s Encyclopédie in the 18th century, had housed his personal library at the Château de Verderonne.  Helvétius’s daughter, Geneviève Helvétius, had lived at the Château de Verderonne with her husband, and had collected her father’s books there.  Helvétius’s wife, Anne-Catherine de Ligniville, maintained one of the most well-known literary salons in the 17th century, and in her salon, Madame Helvétius frequently hosted Voltaire, Diderot, Fontenelle as well as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Napoléon Bonaparte.  In addition to his contributions to the Encyclopédie, Helvétius was known for publishing De l’espirit (Of the Spirit), a text exploring atheism, egalitarianism, psychology, and intelligence.  Helvétius’s text was so controversial that the book was condemned by the Paris Parlement and La Sorbonne, and burned by the Catholic Church for being so subversive and atheistic.  The library is currently being renovated but would soon display Helvétius’s full collection of tomes and papers again.  In addition to these papers, many of the original manuscripts for the original plays performed during the 16-18th centuries at the Château de Verderonne’s still-standing classical French theatre will also be on display in the new renovated library.

After a tour of the library and the front rooms of the château, M. Marié took us on a tour of the château’s attic and bell tower.  On the top floor, we found beautiful slate-blue painted rooms for visiting courtesans complete with antique-clawed bathtubs and large French windows.  We also saw some spectacular views of the château’s surrounding grounds from the top floor.  Then off we went to the bell-tower, which was used to announce dinner and other import occasions to visitors and staff at the château for centuries.  The hike up the bell tower was steep and a little precarious, and once we let go of our vertigo and climbed onto the small gazebo on the roof, we could see miles and miles of the château’s lush green country estates.  Standing at the center of the center of the bell tower of the Château de Verderonne, one could almost look back, far back to a time when château gracefully straddled the imaginary town line between Liancourt and Rosey.  One could see, from up here, how the tree-lined pathways branched out from the focal point of the château in perfect perpendicular lines.  And one could imagine French luminaries and encyclopédistes walking across the château’s stage, as visiting courtesans like Marie-Antoinette roamed through the château’s hidden rooms and endless green gardens.

Dreaming of courtesans, country actors, and classical writers, we enjoyed one last dinner together with the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop group.  And then after dinner, we sat down for one last salon game, and played “Mis-tanslations,” a literary game based on Robert Lowell’s idea of purposefully mis-reading and mis-translating a foreign-language text.  Writers read out loud famous texts from medieval and classical French, Swahili, Hebrew, Romani, Bengali, Hungarian, Tagalog, and Mandarin, and our job was to decipher what these poems and essays were saying in English.  Some of the writing produced evoked the sounds and emotions of each read piece while others highlighted how mis-translations could play with both sense and non-sense simultaneously.  Overall, we had some very interesting new interpretations of Montaigne, Baudelaire, Macbeth, Roma and Hebrew folk songs, Bengali modernist poetry, “I’m a Little Teapot,” Jack Kerouac, and Hungarian Roma verse.

- Rita Banerjee, Cambridge Writers’ Workshop’s Creative Director

August 18 – Watercolors and Writing Workshops at the Château de Verderonne

After our morning yoga, Elissa treated us to a watercolor class to teach us to paint the château, but the rain had other plans. So we worked on color blending in the blue salon, under the gaze of the plaster unicorn head mounted to the wall like a prize, until the sun peered out. We want to control the water-paint ratio! Not you, Nature!

We started indoors until the weather sorted itself out

Water, water everywhere: we started indoors until the weather sorted itself out

Christine has an impressive array of paints!

The color wheel: Christina has an impressive array of paints!

Mixing colors like pros

Color theory: mixing colors like pros

Before everyone settled in though, I had this moment with a butterfly who landed on the table to die, or rest in peace.

The butterfly between states

The butterfly between states

Luckily the rain stopped just in-time. The sky wasn’t perfectly clear, but the looming clouds cast a writerly mood over the grounds and our paintings– pensive, reflective, and changeable. Elissa showed us how to measure angles, notice parallel lines, approximate perspective, and patiently build the Château de Verderonne in paint upon our papers.

Elissa and Stephanie perfect their pieces on the grassy slope

Elissa and Stephanie perfect their pieces on the grassy slope

It's more fun to paint together

It’s more fun to paint together


The painters at work

The painters at work

Rita and Elissa's artist hand

Rita and Elissa’s artist hand

Maybe there's still a bit of rain to contend with

Maybe there’s still a bit of rain to contend with

Mr. Marie was pleased with our work– he seems to genuinely love how many writers and artists are inspire by his beautiful home. The Château de Verderonne has a long tradition of hosting artists dating back to the days of Marie Antoinette, and probably earlier too. Between the ancient theatre and the castle itself, there’s plenty of space for the magic of creation.

Mr. Marie with Nannie and her painting. I love his look of fatherly pride!

Mr. Marie with Nannie and her painting. I love his look of fatherly pride!

Between class and workshop, I took a stroll around the grounds and realized that sunny skies are lovely, but overcast and threatening to rain is where all the real drama is. When I found this tiny green spider on the white rose, I remembered the butterfly from earlier, and then this sonnet, “On Design” by Robert Frost:

A green spider on a rose against a stormy sky

A green spider on a rose against a stormy sky

“I found a dimpled spider, fat and white,

On a white heal-all, holding up a moth
Like a white piece of rigid satin cloth—
Assorted characters of death and blight
Mixed ready to begin the morning right,
Like the ingredients of a witches’ broth—
A snow-drop spider, a flower like a froth,
And dead wmgs carried like a paper kite.

What had that flower to do with being white,
The wayside blue and innocent heal-all?
What brought the kindred spider to that height,
Then steered the white moth thither in the night?
What but design of darkness to appall?–
If design govern in a thing so small.”

We had all been wondering since we got here, why are we all here? Why this specific group of people at this specific time and place? We wondered about fate, free-will, and chaos. If we were destined to meet, to collide with our stories and poems, to influence each other, to remember each other, or if it was all a happy accident. What design of writing to appease?–If design govern in a thing so sweet.

Red Heart

Red Heart

“Your thorns are the best part of you.” –Marianne Moore, “Roses Only”

"Your thorns are the best part of you." --Marianne Moore, "Roses Only"

“Your thorns are the best part of you.” –Marianne Moore, “Roses Only”

“You do not seem to realize that beauty is a liability rather than an asset…” -Marianne Moore, “Roses Only”

"You do not seem to realize that beauty is a liability rather than an asset..." -Marianne Moore, "Only Roses"

“You do not seem to realize that beauty is a liability rather than an asset…” -Marianne Moore, “Only Roses”

I watched the bees visiting the petunias

bee in flower bees in flower 2 bees in flower

My wander through the rest of the garden darkened as I neared the gate–

gardens3 flowers greenhouse2 gate gate2

The greenhouse beckoned with colored glass and ripe tomatoes

greenhouse tomato

Little did they know, fat and content upon the vine, what would become of them tomorrow…

Gina teaches me how to make her famous marinara

Gina teaches me how to make her famous marinara

The rain had made good on its threat, but no walk is complete without snuggling a baby chick at the chicken coop


The old doghouse beside the coop

How can anything be so adorable and sweet?

How can anything be so adorable and sweet?

Janet looking lovely among the hens

Janet looking lovely among the hens

And then it was time for our last workshop. Some of us revised projects from the last workshop while others brought new material. I have to say, workshop, even the best ones, can be exhausting, but I felt rejuvenated after ours– there were so many fresh perspectives that prospect of revision felt promising, exciting, and full of possibilities.

Janet and Stephanie prepare for workshop

Janet and Stephanie prepare for workshop with tea and work to share

Yoga coaxed us out of our seats and revived our writer-backs.




Warrior II

we earned this

We earned this

At the end of the day, how could I help but be happy with the work we had done? Already we had completed three workshops, snuggled many chicks, painted a castle, visited Paris and Chantilly, and learned so much from craft talks and classes… and the retreat wasn’t even quite finished. Every morning and every night I would look out my window and feel thankful for the present moment and our lucky constellation of writers in this ephemeral place.

– Jessica Reidy, CWW Fiction Instructor

Looking out my window

Looking out my window

August 17 – Suspense, Experiments, and Secret Passageways au Château de Verderonne

We had a beautiful day that started off with delicious French pastries from a local pastry shop. Yum.  Rita taught a craft of writing seminar in the morning on using Rasa theory to create emotion and suspense in theater and fiction.  Everyone practiced creating emotionally charged scenes in their narratives.  In the afternoon, I taught a class where we learned about traditional and contemporary French poetry.  We even tried our hand at experimenting with some OULIPO (Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle) writing experiments.

In the early evening, Monsieur Marié de l’Isle took us on a walk to the ice house, one of the oldest in France.  We learned that in the days before freezers and refrigerators, people would harvest ice in the winter, storing it in a deep hole they constructed underground, called the ice house.  Ice was very expensive and enjoyed by royals and the nobility as a treat.  After a walk through the woods, we carefully ventured down the ivy and thorn covered stone steps, holding hands, taking care not to step on the slugs and precious escargot!  Then, we walked through a dark tunnel guarded by many spiders and stared down into the depths of what looked like an oubliette.  It was eerie to imagine the ice stored here centuries ago, people navigating their way here with oil lamps to scrape nature’s simple delicacy for some rich man’s table.

Then, on our way back, we saw a hideout called a “muche” in the old Picard language.  Now gated, these underground dwellings served as temporary shelters and storage cellars when military raids would plague the region.  It was a very interesting walk, and we were all inspired by the mystery in the air whilst exploring these secret passageways and ivy-grown tunnels long forgotten.

- Diana Norma Szokolyai, Cambridge Writers’ Workshop’s Artistic Director