Day 6: Bienvenue en France! CWW Barcelona & South of France Writing Retreat

Early Saturday morning, we checked out and said adios to Barcelona. We took the high-speed bullet train to Narbonne, France, a charming canal city in the region of Languedoc Roussillon. In just a two hour commute through the beautiful Pyrenees mountains, we arrived in what was once a bustling ancient Roman city, on the trade route to Spain.  In parts of the city, you can see the Roman via Domitia, the ancient cobblestone road carved out from several layers under the current roads.

We settled into our rooms at the Hotel Novotel Narbonne Sud and while some of us went for a swim in the pool, others enjoyed a nice walk into town, where we ate a delicious meal and discovered a beautiful cathedral. Some of us went to bed dreaming of the Horreum, an ancient network of subterranean tunnels and passageways that dates back to 1 B.C.


Day 5: CWW Barcelona & South of France Writing Retreat

Today, we continued to admire the many wonders of the city. Some of us enjoyed visiting Parc Güell, the park designed by Gaudí as a feast for the senses.  Others visited la Sagrada Familia, Gaudí’s cathedral that started construction in 1882 and is still being built. They expect to finish within 15-20 years, so maybe some of us will plan to go back to see it! In the afternoon, Bret Anthony Johnston taught the second part of his Straight Outta Character Class, focusing on point of view this time.  In the evening, we went out to dinner as a group to Teatro Principal on Las Ramblas and enjoyed our gazpacho while watching an amazing flamenco show.  Tomorrow, we are off to France, so adios Barcelona. It’s been fun!


Day 4: CWW Barcelona & South of France Writing Retreat

Today was a full academic day.  We started off the day with Heidi Pitlor’s illuminating class “Surprise Me,” where we learned about how to create interesting twists and surprises in our writing. We also reflected on what editor’s look for and did an exercise wherein we created our ideal literary magazine.  Then, we found ourselves exploring writing with vulnerability in Lily Hoang’s class on essays, The Self on Trial: or, an Experiment in Forms.  (Setting flame to our secrets on the streets of Barcelona, anyone? shhh!) In the afternoon, we met one on one for our manuscript consultations in various corners of the Amister Art Hotel and really delved into the inner workings of our individual manuscripts. It was a very productive day, to say the least!

In the evening, a group of us enjoyed visiting Casa Batllo, one of Antoni Gaudí’s masterpieces of architecture.  A mushroom fireplace for lovers’ trysts, complete with a bench for two, and a bench for a chaperone.  Wonderland-like gardens and staircases that make you feel as though you are descending 1,000 leagues under the sea with Jules Verne.  Walls that seem to be carved from tree trunks.  A building that appears to have sprung organically from Mother Nature and hardened with icing and sweets. This is the magic of Gaudí.


Day 3: CWW Barcelona & South of France Writing Retreat

Today, we enjoyed some free writing time in the morning after eating the breakfast of kings at our amazing hotel.  Some of us took a dip in the rooftop pool, and others continued to explore the city.  In the afternoon, Bret Anthony Johnston wowed everyone with his amazing class, Straight Outta Character: Plot.  The class proved useful to all of us and gave us some great, practical tips for structuring our stories.  In the evening, we shared an incredibly delicious meal at Thali Indian Restaurant.  We shared a plethora of tasty, small dishes like  chana masala, palak paneer, and butter chicken.




Day 2: CWW Barcelona & South of France Writing Retreat

After a delicious breakfast, Diana Norma Szokolyai started off the day by teaching Spatial Poetics, where we discussed the works of Francis Ponge, Flaubert, Tolstoy, and several contemporary authors.  We also looked at Jean Michel Verret’s murals and imagined what murals we would paint on the walls of the monuments of Barcelona.  Then, Rita taught her class on Science: Fiction, where we discussed theories and effective methods of world building. The afternoon was spent writing and visiting the city in small groups or on our own.  Some of us found a cute “bruncherie” called “Ugot,” where we had the most delicious cakes and teas, got silly with the pink flamingo wallpaper, and got some writing done.



Bienvenidos a Barcelona! The CWW Barcelona & South of France Writing Retreat Day 1

Our writers arrived between yesterday and today, and we have all enjoyed settling into the Hotel Amister Art Hotel, which has original artwork all throughout the hotel to inspire our imaginations. Some of us have already spent some time strolling around and admiring the amazing architecture. After orientation, we enjoyed sharing some tapas and sangria while we talked about our favorite books and our own literary projects.

CWW Creative Director, Rita Banerjee, Appointed Executive Director of KUNDIMAN

ritabanerjee-smWe are thrilled to announce that our Executive Creative Director, Rita Banerjee, has been appointed as the new Executive Director of Kundiman, a New York-based organization dedicated to providing a nurturing space for Asian American writers. Kundiman, an organization founded by poets Sarah Gambito and Joseph O. Legaspi in 2004, “offers a comprehensive spectrum of arts programming that gives writers opportunities to inscribe their own stories, transforming and enriching the American literary landscape. Kundiman sees literature not only as vehicle for cultural expression but also as an instrument for political dialogue and self-empowerment.”

The Kundiman Executive Board cites Rita’s expertise in Non-Western and Asian American literatures and the international scope of modern South Asian literatures, as well as her language fluency in Bengali as integral to her position at Kundiman, and in the international literary scene. Rita will officially step into this role in September 2016. Please join us in congratulating Rita, as well as supporting all that Kundiman does.  Read the full announcement on Rita’s new appointment here.

Announcing New Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Faculty

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is delighted to announce that Heidi Pitlor and Laura van den Berg will be joining us as full faculty on our upcoming retreats and workshops, and that Lily Hoang and Frederick-Douglass Knowles II will be our newly appointed Summer 2016 Teaching Fellows.  More about our new faculty and teaching fellows and their talented work in fiction, editing, publishing, nonfiction, poetry, and performance can be found below:

49zoqdckHeidi Pitlor received her B.A. from McGill University in Montreal and her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Emerson College. She eventually became an editor and later a senior editor at Houghton Mifflin (now Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). She has been the series editor of The Best American Short Stories since 2007. Her writing has appeared in such publications as Ploughshares, The Huffington Post, and Labor Day: True Birth Stories by Today’s Best Women Writers.

LauraCandidPhotoLaura van den Berg was raised in Florida and earned her M.F.A. at Emerson College. Her first novel, Find Me, published by FSG last yearwas selected as a “Best Book of 2015” by NPR, Time Out New York, and BuzzFeed, among others. Find Me was longlisted for the 2016 International Dylan Thomas Prize. She is also the author of two collections of stories, What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us (Dzanc Books, 2009) and The Isle of Youth (FSG, 2013). What the World was a Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection and shortlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. The Isle of Youth was named a “Best Book of 2013” by over a dozen outlets, including NPR, The Boston Globe, and O, The Oprah Magazine; a finalist for the Frank O’Connor Award; and received The Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts & Letters and the 2015 Bard Fiction Prize. Laura lives in Brooklyn with her husband and dog, and she is currently at work on a new story collection and a new novel, both forthcoming from FSG. Beginning in the fall of 2016, she will be a Briggs-Copeland Lecturer in Fiction at Harvard.


Lily Hoang is the author of five books, including A Bestiary (winner of the inaugural Cleveland State University Poetry Center’s Nonfiction Contest) and Changing (recipient of a PEN Open Books Award). With Joshua Marie Wilkinson, she edited the anthology The Force of What’s Possible: Writers on Accessibility and the Avant-Garde. She is Director of the MFA program at New Mexico State University. She serves as Prose Editor at Puerto del Sol and Editor for Jaded Ibis Press.

Frederick-Douglass Knowles IIFDK is a poet, educator and activist involved in community education and the performing arts. He has competed on two National Poetry Slam Teams and served as the 2011 Connecticut Slam Team coach. His works have been featured in Poems on the Road to Peace: A Collective Tribute to Dr. King Volume 2Peabody Museum of Natural History by Yale University Press, The East Haddam Stage Company of Connecticut, The 13th Annual Acacia Group Conference at California State University, Folio –a Southern Connecticut State University literary magazine, Lefoko –a Botswana, Southern Africa Hip-Hop magazine and Fingernails Across the Chalkboard: Poetry and Prose on HIV/AIDS from the Black Diaspora by Third World Press. Frederick-Douglass is currently an Assistant Professor of English at Three Rivers Community College where he infuses English Composition with social injustice.

Please give a warm welcome to our new CWW Faculty!  We’re excited to have such wonderful writers join our team!

~ Cambridge Writers’ Workshop

Announcing our New Media (Audio / Visual) Development Intern: Anna-Celestrya Carr

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is delighted to announce our new Media (Audio/Visual) Development Intern, Anna-Celestrya Carr. A participant on our 2016 Spring in Newport Retreat, Anna-Celestrya will be helping our group develop new audio and video projects for our website.

Anna-CelestryaAnna-Celestrya Carr is a Metis/Anishinaabe artist, filmmaker, writer, dancer and speaker.  She graduated from both the Vancouver Film School and the National Screen Institute’s New Voices program in Canada. While at NSI she created Dreamcatcher: A short dramatic fantasy of Aboriginal mythology.  In 2012 she created Tik-A-Lee-Kick, an honest and candid telling of a young Aboriginal woman’s perspective on the role of the Little People funded by the Video Pool Aboriginal Media Art Initiative. She has previously attended the University of Manitoba School of Art.

Anna-Celestrya has worked for the National Film Board of Canada and Urban Shaman Contemporary Aboriginal Art Gallery.  In 2009, she received the Sybil Shack Human Rights Youth Award for her work on violence against women.  She was one of the core organizers for the RebELLEs Pan-Canadian Young Feminist Gathering, attended by over 350 young women from across Canada on May 20 -23, 2011. Later that year she represented RebELLEs as an attendee of the 8th World March of Women International meeting in Quezon City, Philippines from November 20th to 25th, 2011.  In 2012, she received the YMCA-YWCA Women of Distinction Award in Public Awareness and Communications for her continuing work.  She became one of Ace Burpee’s 100 most fascinating Manitobans, a distinction given out yearly by a beloved and influential radio host.

Anna-Celestrya focuses her creative energy on her Aboriginal roots and on advancing the rights of Aboriginal women in North America. She has worked with many organizations and institutions to promote human rights and peace. The artwork that she is best known for is The Men’s Banner Project. This work is a combination of interactive performance and installation, about which she also lectures.

The Men’s Banner Project is an award winning visual, performance and interactive based artwork. Through her art Anna-Celestrya asks men to make the promise not to use their hands in violence against women, not to ignore or tolerate the violence they witness. The banner is a tool to begin dialogue, show support and build a stronger community through art. She is not an organization, she’s an artist and this is part of her body of work.  To her art is answering a question. Trying to solve a problem. The Men’s Banner Project is her response to the missing and murdered women from the Aboriginal Community. She felt compelled to do something artistic and interactive. She noticed that there are many actions, organizations and campaigns run by women for women. She needed to involve men in a positive way.

This year Anna-Celestrya will be launching two blogs, one documenting her 9 years of work with the Men’s Banner Project and another dedicated to her writing, art and adventures with her family. 

Please give a warm welcome to Anna-Celestrya Carr!  We’re excited to work with her this year!

– Cambridge Writers’ Workshop

Soundtrack for Jade Sylvan’s “Spider Cult: The Musical” now available on Bandcamp!

SpiderCultSoundtrackCongratulations to CWW Instructor and talented playwright, Jade Sylvan, for a raucous performance of their play, Spider Cult: The Musical, at the American Repertory Theatre in Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA this past weekend!  The play was produced by Jane Doe, choreographed and directed by Fem Bones, and featured dance performances by the Slaughterhouse Sweethearts.  Catherine Cappozi (a.k.a. AxeMunkee) played electric guitar and composed the soundtrack for Spider Cult.  We’re proud to announce that the original soundtrack for Spider Cult: The Musical is now available on Bandcamp for those who couldn’t make it out to Cambridge, MA to see the play this weekend.  And a big hurrah for Jade Sylvan and the wonderful cast and crew of Spider Cult who brought down the house at the Oberon Theatre on Sunday!