Apply by Friday, June 15 for our 2018 Summer Retreats in Paris and Granada!

Applications close this Friday, June 15, for our 2018 Summer Writing Retreats in Paris, France and Granada, Spain. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to study with award-winning faculty in an inspiring and supportive community of writers. Scholarships are available. Apply today!

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Summer in Paris

Our Paris retreat will be held from July 25-July 30 with faculty Kathleen Spivack, Kristina Marie Darling, Rita Banerjee, and Rita Banerjee. Students will stay in the heart of the Montparnasse neighborhood, enjoy classes in a beautiful Moroccan-themed room with an open-air courtyard, and take literary tours of Paris.

 

CWW-Paris2018Schedule

Memory/Memoir (with Kathleen Spivack)

We will be working with memory, memoir, the other, and ourselves as we explore the role of memory in our writing. We will focus on new work or, if you prefer, working on projects you bring to the class.

How can we use memory? Where do fact and fiction collide? What is a memoir and where exactly do we focus? How do we locate ourselves in our writing and where do we find the starting place and point of view? There are many ways of approaching memory/memoir in our writing and we will explore a few of them.

Prose Poetry and Micro-Fiction with (Kristina Marie Darling)

In this course, we will focus on prose poetry, meaning prose that draws from the extensive tradition, formal repertoire and literary devices that readers associate with poetry. We will work toward a set of drafts that enact the full range and diversity inherent in this exciting literary form. Questions we will address in this class include: How can poets effectively and economically use the tools of fiction in their craft? What formal variations on the prose poem are possible? How can prose poems complement work written in more traditional poetic forms? Readings will include work by Rochelle Hurt, Carol Guess, Kerri Webster, Joanna Ruocco, Jenny Boully, Sarah Vap, G.C. Waldrep, Suzanne Scanlon, and other writers as determined by student interest.

The Fine Art of Application Writing (with Kristina Marie Darling)

This workshop will walk students through the basics of writing convincing and persuasive applications to fellowships, residencies, grants, and other opportunities.  We will begin with a discussion of strategies for researching those professional opportunities that best fit one’s chosen project. We will also address such topics as crafting personal statements, writing compelling project proposals, choosing the writing sample, and compiling your dossier as a whole.  Students will leave the workshop with a packet of resources for researching residencies and grants, as well as sample application materials and strategies for effectively presenting their own writing to selection committees.

Ekphrasis: Writing Confronts Visual Art (with Diana Norma Szokolyai)

The word “ekphrasis” comes from the Greek, referring to a literary response to a visual scene, or more commonly, a work of art. By engaging in the imaginative act of reflecting on the action of a work of visual art, the writer expands the meaning of the art. After reading literary examples and holding a discussion about applying the practice of ekphrasis to our own writing, our classroom will be one of the most beautiful museums in Paris: The Musée D’Orsay.

Flâneurs, Essays, and Provocateurs (with Rita Banerjee)

An essay is an attempt.  A trial. A test. In this class, we will explore how evocative essays are attempted and constructed.  We will explore how being a flâneur and an essayist are intimately combined. And we will study how essayists from Montaigne to John McPhee to Richard Rodriguez to David Shields to Teju Cole and Lauren Elkin redefine the environment they inhabit and create a space for electric art.

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Summer in Granada

Our Granada retreat will run from August 1-August 6 with faculty Tim Horvath Diana Norma Szokolyai, and Rita Banerjee. Intellectual, diverse, and artistic, Granada will always have creative opportunities and events to experience. No matter how you choose to spend your time, this city is full inspiration. The retreat offers multi-genre workshops, as well as craft seminars and time to write.

CWW-Granada2018Schedule

Leyendo Intensamente: Reading Spanish Language Literature (in Translation) as a Writer (with Tim Horvath)

It is a given that writers must learn to read closely, with attention to nuance and craft, to unravel the methods by which other writers have managed to tell stories effectively and adapt them for their own purposes. In this class, we’ll focus on contemporary writers in Spanish. Beginning with now-canonical figures like Borges, Valenzuela, and Cortázar, we’ll look at the history of mid-twentieth century literature in Spanish, and explore how social and political conditions shaped the dissemination of that literature through the Western world. We’ll then look at how today’s writers are both continuing and radically transforming that tradition in light of contemporary issues. In particular, we’ll examine writers such as Valeria Luiselli, Andrés Neuman, Cristina Rivera Garza, and Samanta Schweblin, each of whom bends narrative, language, and thus our understanding of reality itself. We’ll also explore the fraught, infinitely rich topic of translation, discussing its complexities and the ways that understanding the innumerable decisions involved in bringing a work into another language can shed light on the act of “translating” any experience or concept from mind or world onto the page, i.e. writing itself.

The Poetry of Flamenco (with Diana Norma Szokolyai)

In this class, we will explore the fantastically concise and heel-­to-­floor transmission of passion through the lyrics of flamenco music. Packed with intense rhythms, rhymes, and imagery to match the intensity of the music, flamenco songs are a form of poetry developed by Romani people to express the deepest human experiences of love, death, and oppression. We will examine symbols and structures in the poetry of flamenco, learning the distinctions between siguiriya, tango, playera, soleá, and carcelera. Complementary to the class, we will visit an authentic flamenco performance and get a tour of the Museo Cuevas del Sacromonte, where Romani people have traditionally lived in cave dwellings and practiced the art of flamenco.

Character Development & the Law of Desire (with Rita Banerjee)

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 each character’s desire provides interesting ethical dilemmas and emotional spectrums to narratives and verse. We will learn about the building blocks of creating strong, unforgettable characters, discuss the connection between desire and plot, and learn how playing with persona can help liberate nonfictional stories and lyrical poems.

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Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Summer 2018 Retreats featured in India’s The Hindu

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is delighted to have its 2018 Summer in Paris and Summer in Granada, Spain Writing Retreats featured in the Indian newspaper The Hindu.  In the article, Artists’ and writers’ retreat throw open doors for a creative vacation,” journalist Sujatha Shankar Kumar writes:

Accomplished writers Rita Banerjee and Diana Norma Szokolyai started the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop (CWW) in 2008 as a literary writing forum set in Cambridge. “At its heart, CWW has a bi-fold model — French literary salon and the Bengali adda,” says Banerjee, explaining how they nurture non-hierarchical, productive and liberal spaces where writers perform and debate their work. Retreats in New Orleans, Paris and Granada have morning classes and afternoon tours, as Banerjee says, “We wanted writers to get snapshots of culture.” Their upcoming retreat in Granada (August 1 to 6) has Banerjee teaching the Law of Desire (how desire creates conflict) and creating memorable characters. Tim Horvath will explore ‘the five senses’ in Spanish, and Szokolyai will impart the history of flamenco and Roma literature. The fee includes tuition, lodging, a flamenco show, a tapas tour of the city and breakfast.

Read the full article and Kumar’s review of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop here.

June 15, 2018 is the deadline to apply for the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop 2018 Summer in Paris and Summer in Granada Writing Retreats and Scholarships.  Our multi-genre faculty includesKathleen Spivack,Kristina Marie DarlingTim Horvath Rita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai.  So many sure to get in your applications at http://cww.submittable.com by then!

June 2: CREDO Workshop & Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Reading at the Grolier Poetry Festival – Harvard Sq., 1-4pm

On Saturday, June 2, the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop will celebratethe 90th Anniversary of the Grolier Poetry Book Shopat the Grolier Poetry Festival in Harvard Square. CREDOcontributing authors Kathleen SpivackKevin McLellan and the CWW’s co-director and CREDO editor, Diana Norma Szokolyai will read and perform. Diana Norma Szokolyai will also be teaching a CREDO workshop where copies of CREDO will be available for purchase. Stop by between 2:30-4:30 p.m.! Kevin McLellan will read his poetry,  Diana Norma Szokolyai will read with harpist singer songwriter Audrey Harrer accompanying. Then Audrey Harrer will perform her poetic songs on harp.

CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing will be available for purchase at a writing workshop Diana Norma Szokolyai will give at the festival at 3:30 p.m. and can also be purchased through C&R PressAmazon and Barnes and Noble.

At 6:20 – 6:40 p.m. Dennis Shafer and Diana Norma Szokolyai will perform as part of Sounds in Bloom (a poetry and music collaboration).

 

June 15: CWW Summer in Paris & Granada Writing Retreat & Scholarships Deadlines

June 15 is the deadline to apply for the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Summer in Paris and Summer in Granada Writing Retreats and Scholarships.  So many sure to get in your applications at http://cww.submittable.com by then!

Our Summer in Paris Writing Retreat will be held from July 25th – 30th, 2018 and will include poets and fiction writers Kathleen Spivack, Kristina Marie Darling, Rita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai teaching eclectic multi-genre workshops.

Situated in the heart of Paris’ Montparnasse neighborhood, amongst the fresh and popular open air markets and charming boutiques, the hotel stay is full of Parisian charm and our classes will take place in a beautiful Moroccan themed room that opens to a courtyard that can also be used by our writers.

Retreat activities will include craft of writing seminars and creative writing workshops, literary tours of Paris. If you’re serious about writing and want to soak in some exquisite French culture this summer, join our retreat in Paris!

apply

Deadline: June 15, 2018

Our Summer in Granada Writing Retreat will be from August 1st-6th, 2018 and will feature faculty members Tim Horvath, Diana Norma Szokolyai, and Rita Banerjee.

Intellectual, diverse, and artistic, this town will always have creative opportunities and events to experience. No matter how you choose to spend your time, this city is full inspiration. The retreat offers multi-genre workshops, as well as craft seminars and time to write.

For both retreats, please submit 5-10 pages of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, or a play with a $10 application fee, a cover letter, and references at cww.submittable.com. Please also include the following in your cover letter:

1. Full Legal Name
2. Contact Information (Email, Address, Phone)
3. Age & Nationality
4. Prior Workshop Experience and Publications
5. Creative Writing Goals for the Retreat
6. Short One-Paragraph Biography
7. Contact of Two Personal References (Name, Email, Address, Phone, Relationship to Applicant)

Due to limited seats, early applications are encouraged.

applyDeadline: June 15, 2018

We also have scholarships available for our retreats! If you are planning to apply for a scholarship for our 2018 Writing Retreats, please submit a retreat application above, and a separate scholarship application with the information requested below. Please indicate which scholarship you are applying for, your reasons for applying, and which retreat you would like to be considered for.

Here are the scholarships we are offering this summer:

  • Diversity Scholarship: Diversity scholarships will be offered to minorities who show a commitment to creative writing. In your one-page cover letter, please describe how our writing retreat would make a difference in your writing life. Include a short bio (150-200 words).
  • Student Scholarship: Student scholarships will be offered to students (both undergraduate and graduate, full or part time) who show a commitment to creative writing. In your one-page cover letter, please describe how our writing retreat would make a difference in your writing life. Include a short bio (150-200 words).
  • Writer/Parent Scholarship: Writers/Parent scholarships will be offered to writers who show a commitment to creative writing and are raising children (infant through college). In your one-page cover letter, please describe how our writing retreat would make a difference in your writing life. Include a short bio (150-200 words).

applyDeadline: June 15, 2018

Please email info@cambridgewritersworkshop.org if you have any questions.

Celebrating CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing’s Publication Day!

CREDO-RitaBanerjee-DianaNormaSzokolyai

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is celebrating the publication of CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing today!

CREDO (C&R Press, May 15, 2018) is edited by writers and CWW co-directors Rita Banerjee and Diana Norma Szokolyai and assistant editors Alexander Carrigan and Megan Jeanine Tilley. CREDO advocates for the empowerment of female, LGBTQ+, and other marginalized literary voices, with essays and manifestos that cover a wide range of subjects, including transgender poetics, world literature and aesthetics, collage and appropriation, and the politics of place. By presenting a triad of creative writing manifestos, essays on the craft of writing, and creative writing exercises, CREDO bridges the theoretical, political, and aesthetic perspectives on contemporary writing with practical and accessible writing advice. Our incredible CREDO contributing authors are some of the most exciting voices in contemporary poetry, fiction and non-fiction and will leave you feeling inspired.

Meet Our Contributing Authors!

Kazim Ali \ Forrest Anderson \ Rita Banerjee \ Lisa Marie Basile \ Jaswinder Bolina \ Stephanie Burt \ Alexander Carrigan \ Sam Cha \ Melinda J. Combs \ Thade Correa \ Jeff Fearnside \ Ariel Francisco \ John Guzlowski \ Rachael Hanel \ Janine Harrison \ Lindsay Illich \ Douglas Charles Jackson \ Caitlin Johnson \ Christine Johnson-Duell \ Jason Kapcala \ Richard Kenney \ Eva Langston \ John Laue \ Stuart Lishan \ Ellaraine Lockie \ Amy MacLennan \ Kevin McLellan \ E. Ce. Miller \ Brenda Moguez \ Peter Mountford \ Nell Irvin Painter \ Robert Pinsky \ Kara Provost \ Camille Rankine \ Jessica Reidy \ Amy Rutten \ Elisabeth Sharp McKetta \ David Shields \ Lillian Ann Slugocki \ Maya Sonenberg \ Kathleen Spivack \ Laura Steadham Smith \ Molly Sutton Kiefer \ Jade Sylvan \ Anca L. Szilágyi \ Diana Norma Szokolyai \ Marilyn L. Taylor \ Megan Jeanine Tilley \ Suzanne Van Dam \ Nicole Walker \ Allyson Whipple \ Shawn Wong \ Caroll Sun Yang \ Matthew Zapruder

GrolierOn Saturday, June 2, the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop will celebrate the 90th Anniversary of the Grolier Poetry Book Shop at the Grolier Poetry Festival in Harvard Square. CREDO contributing authors Kathleen Spivack, Kevin McLellan and the CWW’s co-director and CREDO editor, Diana Norma Szokolyai will read. Diana Norma Szokolyai will also be teaching a CREDO workshop where copies of CREDO will be available for purchase. Stop by between 1-4 p.m.!

CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing can be purchased through C&R Press, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Apply for our Summer 2018 Writing Retreat Scholarships!

CWW-2018ParisRetreat

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WRITING RETREATS with the supportive faculty of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop will take place in Paris, France and Granada, Spain. Our 2018 retreat faculty include Kristina Marie Darling, Kathleen Spivack, Tim Horvath, Rita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai. Genres include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, playwriting, and hybrid. Deadline for Scholarship Applications is June 15, 2018 for Paris and Granada.

Based on financial need and merit, limited scholarships of $250-$500 are available for our retreats.

If you are planning to apply for a scholarship for our 2018 Writing Retreats, please submit a retreat application above, and a separate scholarship application with the information requested below. Please indicate which scholarship you are applying for, your reasons for applying, and which retreat you would like to be considered for.

applyDeadline: June 15, 2018

  • Diversity Scholarship: Diversity scholarships will be offered to minorities who show a commitment to creative writing. In your one-page cover letter, please describe how our writing retreat would make a difference in your writing life. Include a short bio (150-200 words).
  • Student Scholarship: Student scholarships will be offered to students (both undergraduate and graduate, full or part time) who show a commitment to creative writing. In your one-page cover letter, please describe how our writing retreat would make a difference in your writing life. Include a short bio (150-200 words).
  • Writer/Parent Scholarship: Writers/Parent scholarships will be offered to writers who show a commitment to creative writing and are raising children (infant through college). In your one-page cover letter, please describe how our writing retreat would make a difference in your writing life. Include a short bio (150-200 words).

Please email info@cambridgewritersworkshop.org if you have any questions.

June 2: Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Celebrates the 90th Anniversary of the Grolier at the Grolier Poetry Festival – Harvard Sq., Cambridge, MA

On Saturday June 2, 2018, the Grolier Poetry Book Shop, the oldest poetry bookstore in the United States, will be celebrating its 90th Anniversary in Cambridge, MA. In order to celebrate 90 years of literary and intellectual activity, the Grolier will be hosting The Grolier Poetry Festival, featuring street performances, writing workshops, literary readings, food, and books in Harvard Square. The event was recently featured in The Boston Globe. The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is delighted to be featured at the Grolier Poetry Festival on May 19 in Harvard Square.  Join us for our featured readings, performances, and CREDO Workshop!  The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop’s new anthology CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos & Sourcebook for Creative Writing (eds. Rita Banerjee & Diana Norma Szokolyai, May 15, 2018) can be purchased through C&R Press, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble. Information about our events and writers are posted below:

A 90th Anniversary Celebration
June 2, 2018, 12pm–8pm

Location: Outside Plympton St,
Between Mass Ave & Bow Street
Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA
1:00-2:00pm                
Welcome and Opening Remarks, Ifeanyi Menkiti, Proprietor, Director, Grolier Poetry Book Shop
 
Poets Read
David Ferry, Kathleen Spivack, and Lloyd Scwartz and Lillian Yvonne Bertram
 
2:00–2:20pm             
Michael Mack, Performs from Hearing Voices, Speaking in Tongues 
 
2:20–2:40pm             
Jim Vrabel, performs from John Berryman’s The Dream Songs
2:40–3:35pm
Poets Read
Fred Marchand • Harris Gardner • Patrick Sylvain • Martha Collins • Ruth Lepson • Dan Tobin • Monique-Adelle Callahan • Gail Mazur

Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Group : Diana Norma Szokolyai, accompanied by Audrey Harrer, Harpist • Kevin McLellan

 3:35-4:15pm  (off stage)
Diana Norma Szokolyai leads a workshop based on CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writingthat she and Rita Banerjee edited. This newly released book will be available for purchase.

Featured Authors:

DianVersion 2a Norma Szokolyai is author of Parallel Sparrows (honorable mention for Best Poetry Book, 2014 Paris Book Festival), Roses in the Snow (first runner­up, Best Poetry Book, 2009 DIY Book Festival), and a feminist rewriting of a classic fairytale for Brooklyn Art Library’s The Fiction Project, entitled Beneath the Surface: Blue Beard, Remixed. Szokolyai’s poetry and prose has been published in MER VOX Quarterly, VIDA Review, Quail Bell Magazine, The Boston Globe, Luna Luna Magazine, Up the Staircase Quarterly, and has been anthologized in Other Countries: Contemporary Poets Rewiring History, Teachers as Writers & elsewhere. Her edited volume is CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos & Sourcebook for Creative Writing (C&R Press, 2018). She’s founding Executive Artistic Director of Cambridge Writers’ Workshop. Szokolyai is author of Introduction, and the essay “What’s At Stake?” in CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing (C&R Press, May 2018).

Kathleen Spivack’s novel Unspeakable Things was released by Knopf in early 2016. Her previous book, the memoir With Robert Lowell and His Circle: Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Elizabeth Bishop, Stanley Kunitz and Others was published by the University Press of New England in 2012. Her chapbook, A History of Yearning, won the Sows Ear International Poetry Chapbook Prize in 2010, and she recently received the Allen Ginsberg, Erika Mumford, and Paumanok awards for her poetry. Her book won the New England Book Festival and London Book Festival Prizes. Published in over 400 magazines and anthologies, Kathleen’s work has been translated into French. She has held grants from the National Endowment for the Arts; Massachusetts Artists Foundation; Bunting Institute; Howard Foundation; Massachusetts Council for the Arts and Humanities; is a Discovery winner and has been at Yaddo, MacDowell, Ragdale, Karolyi, and the American Academy in Rome. In Boston and Paris she directs the Advanced Writing Workshop, an intensive training program for professional writers. She has taught at conferences in Paris, Aspen, Santa Fe, Burgundy, Skidmore, and on the high seas, (Holland American Line). Spivak is the author of the Craft of Writing essays, “The Writing Exercise: A Recipe” and “Words As Inspiration” in CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing (C&R Press, May 2018).

Kevin McLellan is the author of Ornitheology (The Word Works, 2018), Hemispheres (Fact-Simile Editions, 2018), [box] (Letter [r] Press, 2016), Tributary (Barrow Street, 2015), and Round Trip (Seven Kitchens, 2010). He won the 2015 Third Coast Poetry Prize and Gival Press’ 2016 Oscar Wilde Award, and his poems appear in numerous literary journals. Kevin lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. McLellan’s essay, “Attributes: A Prompt,” can be found in the Exercises section of CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing (C&R Press, May 2018).

 

CWW Spring in Portland 2017 Writing Retreat Alumna Angie Walls feat. in Carve Magazine!

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is delighted to announce that our 2017 Spring in Portland, OR Writing Retreat alumna Angie Walls has been featured in the Spring 2018 issue of Carve Magazine for her essay, “Things We Should’ve Said.” A short excerpt from Walls’s essay follows below:

“Things We Should’ve Said”

Following is a brief excerpt of Angie’s essay, where she talks about her recent writing focus on Midwestern women, learning the importance of a writer’s instinct when facing rejections, and the inspiration behind “Things We Should’ve Said” (a story that was rejected by 30 journals but later earned Honorable Mention by Glimmer Train and published by East Bay Review in 2017). The whole essay is available in the Spring 2018 print edition of Carve Magazine (to purchase the issue, click here). You can still read the originally published short story online at www.theeastbayreview.com/things-we-shouldve-said-by-angie-walls/.

“Recently, I’ve been working on a couple of writing projects exploring the complicated lives of Midwestern women. Inspired by my experiences and people I knew growing up in Missouri, I wanted to capture this thin line that women walk between strength and frailty, particularly when confronted by difficult circumstances. Some of the stories expanded into a collection I’ve self published in 2018, Anywhere But Here, which meditate on the isolation of living in a small Midwestern town and feeling the urgency of escape. “Things We Should’ve Said” was born from there.”

Angie Walls is a short story writer, novelist, and screenwriter who grew up in Springfield, Missouri, near the Ozarks. Many of her stories explore contemporary themes of identity, isolation, and helplessness in the Midwest. She is the award-winning screenwriter and director behind “Redmonton,” a web series inspired by her hometown (IMDB page), and her published work has been featured in several journals including Carve Magazine, Red Savina Review, Adelaide Literary Magazine, Cutthroat, East Bay Review, Halfway Down the Stairs, The Helix, Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review, The Griffin, Stirring, and The Summerset Review. Her short story “Things We Should’ve Said” received an honorable mention from Glimmer Train. She will be releasing a new book of short stories, Anywhere But Here. To learn more, visit her website at AuthorAngieWalls.com.

CWW Spring in New Orleans Writing Retreat Alumna Deb Jannerson’s new poetry book “Thanks For Nothing” Now Available for Pre-Order

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is delighted to announce that our 2018 CWW Spring in New Orleans Writing Retreat Alumna Deb Jannerson’s new poetry book Thanks For Nothing is now available for pre-0rder on Finishing Line Press here.

“Deb Jannerson’s Thanks for Nothing is a jewel-toned, kaleidoscopic rendering of living among contemporary America’s unkindnesses. Out of pain, Jannerson creates a strange and elemental tableau. Structural inequities, phony concern, and the speaker herself morph into sinister dioramas pasted together from tainted childhood memories and the always-distressing news. The collection’s images traverse seamlessly among nature, pop-culture, mythos, and political critique. Jannerson’s alliterative and idiosyncratic rendering of firsts—persons, touches, tries—fun-houses the collection’s physics, welcoming readers in the experience of emerging, dizzy but comfortable, from a legacy of hurt.” –Jessica Morey-Collins, poet and Pushcart nominee

Deb Jannerson is the author of the acclaimed poetry collection, Rabbit Rabbit (Finishing Line Press, 2016), available wherever books are sold. Her second book of poems, Thanks for Nothing, explores the biases of personal experience, the ways in which pop culture infuses one’s personal narrative, and the far-reaching repercussions of political upheaval. Jannerson won the 2017 So to Speak Nonfiction Award for her short memoir about queer intimacy and PTSD, and the 2018 Flexible Persona Editors’ Prize for a piece of flash fiction about gruesome work injuries. More than one hundred of her stories and articles have been featured in anthologies and magazines. Deb is currently searching for a home for her middle grade fantasy novel. She lives in New Orleans with her wife and pets. Learn more at debjannerson.com.

CWW Spring in New Orleans 2018 Writing Retreat – Recap!

This spring the Cambridge Writer’s Workshop held their retreat in the vibrant city of New Orleans. The weather was amazing and felt like a breath of fresh air to all of the snow we had experienced in this unusually long winter. We stayed in a gorgeous two-story house across the river from the French Quarter in Algiers’s Point.

The retreat started with a night of games and fun during orientation which helped stir everyone’s creative side!

Classes for this retreat showcased: “Rasa: Emotion & Suspense in Theatre, Poetry, and (Non)Fiction” taught by Rita Banerjee; “What’s At Stake?” taught by Diana Norma; and a two-part course on both finding a literary agent and building a literary platform taught by special lecturer Natalie Kimber, a literary agent from The Rights Factory. The classes were as fun as they were informative and educational.

In our free time, we played a group game of Werewolf, sought out local food and drink, saw local sites, listened to jazz in the French Quarter, and most importantly wrote!

The 48-hour Writing Bake Off has become a staple of the CWW, and this trip produced some amazing work by our writers! As per the usual rules each writer had 48 hours to write around twenty pages of work while incorporating elements as chosen by the fellow writers. This Bake-Off needed to include:

  • Pastel Colored Houses
  • The Powdered Sugar from the Beignets
  • Gentrification
  • Trumpets
  • A “Big Easy” Attitude
  • “Widow-Maker” Trees

Here are some excerpts of what our writers came up with.

Gina Anderson “The Baby Sitter”

I kicked open the door. The creature looked like a Doris Day reject. It held the baby outstretched over the crib readying to extract its soul. “Unhand that child!” I demanded. I’m sure my command came out in a chirpy, garbled mess instead of low demonish.

The woman lowered her palm over the tiny chest of the babe, swaddled up in a blue blankie, as a threat. She opened her mouth up in an unnatural yawn and let out a low hum. The move shut the door behind me and blasted me against it.

The babe was silent. It made no moves to protect itself. This demon babe was rumored to have unimaginable powers. Did the creature stun it with some sort of ability unnatural to this realm?

Very well. If it was going to fight dirty, then the crutches and the pants were coming off. I quickly unwrapped my bandaged legs and feet, releasing my claws, but also thoroughly confusing the possessed creature. I picked up one of the crutches and detached one of the components that doubled as a stake. I only had two left and I only had two shots at getting it right.

The creature stretched the face of its possessed body in that yawn again, but this time it spewed a chemical mist. I coughed to prevent the toxic fumes from entering my lungs. Hey, I’m a birdie with delicate sensibilities. Damn it! These guys just kept upping the threats.

 

Adi Hernández “Untitled Bake-Off”

Julio had been off sleeping, reading, and doing just about god-knows-what those three weeks nobody could find him, and in-between it all, he would find himself staring out through the window hoping he would one day go back to what he thought he could remember life to be. Since the accident, since the weather that day long ago, since his brother’s death, he stayed in the upper room of a pastel house that had somehow managed to stay intact. He had been stuck there, paging through the same three books he hadn’t read in a while, but he was beginning to think, maybe a trip outside could spare him from having to read them all over again. They made him sick to remember again.

To remember his hometown in Managua, Nicaragua. To remember the days when he and his brother would simply drop the bags of groceries they carried home to run off to the beach at the sight of a glimmer of water. To remember the nights outside their home eating papaya and waving off the heat those summer days created. To remember his mama and papa spending nights together cooking for the rest of the family just before they would have “uninvited” guests over. To remember his brother’s laugh when he fell into the pond searching for the sea serpent that supposedly lived there. To remember them again, and to realize they were too far to offer any help like he knew they would.

“It’s what I get… I guess.” he thought to himself.

Deb Jannerson “Poems”

first sight 

the only track in my discman’s 56-sleeve carrier that mentioned new orleans was about hookers.

i slipped the disc into its wide plastic mouth anyway, lit a funk ribbon between my ears as
the seventh-circle seraphim perched back from the trolley window, uninterrupted by its muffled bass.

removed from blood context, i offered myself to the necklace-strewn widowmaker branches, to the creaky car film-reeling academic excuses, to the jester-drunk women embracing on quarter corners.

agnostic phantoms marbled my barrier, warmth wet as a lover, leaned through anthony kiedis to hiss there is something here for you to find.

8/28/05

with two more weeks until the
begrudging unlock of the ivory tower, i
regressed into the house of the soot eagle

where i unset through the ticking, then
shattered offscreen.

in a vertiginous spot of mirror-image cruelty:
it really will be a canal street! the
sourdough words would not mix with
her fault-ridden lips.

my brain disappeared, impotent.

i had left its dormant shadow on
the opposite end of the interstate, and
almost expected it to survive.

 

Gary Zeiss “Thank You for Riding with Jesus”

I rode with Jesus the other day. Ten glorious, spirit filled miles. They were fun-filled, too. Yes, I was touched by the son of God himself, and sitting in the back seat of his 2014 Blue Passat (7EAD313), I felt as if I were being whisked away from all my cares.

Jesus asked if I believed in him. How could I say no?  He was sitting there, in the flesh, right in front of me. He would move his hands and the car would turn. He would move his feet

and the car would accelerate or slow down. Of course, Jesus was right there with me, every moment of this journey.

Good thing I became a believer quickly. The 405 was in one of its usual crowding phases, and Jesus was pulling motorcycle like lane splits. Give him this — he could drive like hell. While I was in his holy presence, the day seemed to get brighter. It was if the darkness relented to the holy glory of dawn.

I definitely felt as if I was being touched by an angel — and not just any angel, but the big J. We got off the 405 at La Tijera.

Jesus laid on the horn at the driver in front of us.

No effect.

“No turn on red” I said, pointing to the sign.

“That’s for you folks, not the son of God!” he laughed, almost rear-ending the Explorer with Utah plates that was standing at the light.

I almost thought I heard him mutter a curse word or two at the careful driver in front of us. I knew just then, What Would Jesus Do in traffic?  He’d be just like one of us — pissed off

at the slow driver in front of him, impatient, and ready to honk and curse at a moment’s notice. I felt very close to Jesus at that moment.

Matthew Bargas “Credo: On Truth”

“What is truth,” Pontus Pilate asked. The answer may not be as simple as most would think. In

this day and age of fake news and real news the question is just as relevant as it ever was. Our digital technology can fabricate anything, creat compelling arguments supporting or condemning anything anything, and who is to decide what is real and what is fake.

Aside from science and math, are there any universal truths, or are all truths relative? We hold these truths to be self evident? Really? What does that mean. If life liberty and pursuit of happiness are self evident why is there so much death and destruction, so much oppression, so much misery in our world. How about the divine right of kings? That ‘truth’ was believed by everyone centuries ago. Who knows what everyone will believe in the future?

And there is this excerpt from the song, Wonderful from the musical Wicked:

“We believe all sorts of things that aren’t true. We call it history. A man is called a traitor or a liberator. A rich man is a thief or a philanthropist. Is one a crusader or an invader. It’s all in which label is able to persist. There are precious few at ease with moral ambiguities. So act as though they don’t exist.”

 

Rachel Kurasz “Widow Maker Trees”

I ran into my house and locked the door. I was fine, I just drank too much, I told myself. The wind howled, branches were scratching at my door. I went to my bedroom and laid down on the bed hoping to get a good night’s sleep and deal with the hangover in the morning. The scratching sounds continued and sounded as if they were right at my bedroom door.

I was scared, I was drunk, and I finally decided I needed to say the prayer, fuck it, being foolish was better than ending up like that poor woman’s corpse.

“As I lay me down to sleep I pray…” Shit. “As I lay me down to sleep I pray…” Fuck.

The scratches grew louder.

“As I lay me down to sleep I pray…” I was so drunk and scared that I had completely forgotten the damn prayer. I kept repeating the first line over and over again. And then I saw it. I saw a small branch crawling through the space in the door frame. I prayed faster.

All in all, it was a wonderful trip full of fun, food, and productivity! The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop’s new anthology CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos & Sourcebook for Creative Writing (eds. Rita Banerjee & Diana Norma Szokolyai, May 15, 2018) can be pre-ordered form C&R Press here!  Until next time, stay wonderful NOLA!

–Rachel Kurasz, CWW Media & Communications Intern