Laissez les bons temps rouler! 🎶 🎉 Join our 24-hour Writing #BakeOff Live on Twitter!

Dear Writers,

Greetings from sultry New Orleans!  Our Spring in New Orleans Writing Retreat kicked off on Thursday evening with writers descending on NOLA from all four corners of North America.  After a lovely orientation, meet and greets, and a discussion of our current writing projects, we were off to dine and wine and roll our sleeves up!  On Friday, after a home-made breakfast, Rita Banerjee kicked off our writing seminars with a class on “Character Development and the Law of Desire.”  From Hamlet to Tennessee Williams to Ben Percy and Siri Hustvedt, Rita and her students investigated what made their narratives and characters really tick, the charge between dynamic and typed, masked characters, and how many names desire could take.  Writing prompts and heated exchanges abounded, followed by a break-out writing session and then a Louisiana lunch.  In the afternoon, Emily Nemens taught a wonderful class on “The Art of Storytelling,” in which she examine the interplay between visual images, sculptures, artifacts, architectures, and the maps of streets and things, with the very process of creating evocative lyrical and narrative writing.  After her seminar and prompts, our writers took a tour on the grand Mississippi, shuttling ourselves against a moody blue sky and scatting waves to the delightful and decadent French Quarter in downtown New Orleans.  There we posed as Americans in Paris in Cafe du Monde, grabbing coffee with chicory, fresh beignets, and swapping techniques about speculative fiction and narrative craft for POC. We followed through, with a walking art and historical tour of New Orleans, in which Emily Nemens guided us to the homes and haunts of literary giants such as Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, and Anne Rice, introduced us to the local visual art scenes and galleries of New Orleans, strolled us past cemeteries and cathedrals, and narrated the history of how sugarcane and slavery had helped build the lofty, neoclassical homes of the Garden District.  After toasts over roti and jerk curry at a wonderful local Caribbean restaurant, we were back home to write and plot and think.

Our second day of classes kicked off with Diana Norma Szokolyai’s class, “Writing in the Lyric Register,” in which she examined the relationship between music, writing, and improvisation.  She discussed how writers quantify the lyric register and gestures of other writers with Kazim Ali’s Anais Nin: An Unprofessional Study, and discussed how writers from the French Troubadours to Maya Sonenberg used the lyric register to structure and charge their creative work.

And in just one hour, we will be launching out 24-hour creative writing bake off with playwright and Princeton Hodder Fellow, Dipika Guha.   Dipika writes, “A bake-off is a playwriting exercise or writerly dare popularized by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Paula Vogel.  The dare is to write a play in a fixed span of time 24 hours in response to a list of shared elements. We will begin with a seminar on Saturday when we’ll visit our playwriting toolbox and look at devices, forms and structures available for our use.  At this meeting we’ll choose six elements to include in our writing drawn from the city of New Orleans, seeking inspiration from its architecture, history and myths. After the seminar you will go away and write until the next evening.  On Sunday over food and drink, we will read your bake-offs together and celebrate your progress. Bake-offs are not critiqued.”

We welcome all of our writers and readers from around the world to join our 24-hour creative writing bake-off remotely and on-line.  If you would like to participate in our 24-hour bake-off challenge, please tweet to us @CamWritersWkshp with the tag #BakeOff.  The challenge of the Bake-Off is simple: write 1 complete narrative (as a play or screenplay, a short story or novella, a novel if you dare, an essay or collection or collection of essay, or a series of linked poems or collection) in a span of 24 hours.  Your work must have a beginning, middle, and end, and you must complete the challenge with 24 hours.  The clock starts at 1 pm Central Time on Saturday March 25, and ends exactly at 1 pm Central Time on Sunday March 24.  So join us, and tell us about your work and process with the tag #BakeOff at @CamWritersWkshp.  Happy Writing!

Et bon courage, mes amis!

Rita Banerjee
CWW Creative Director
New Orleans – 3.25.17

 

Spring in Portland Writing Retreat Class Schedule & March 25, 2017 Deadline!

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The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Spring in Portland Writing Retreat will take place from April 22-24, 2017.  While you’re in the home of writers Cheryl Strayed and Ursula K. Le Guin, feel free to go bicycling and explore the terrain, hike, or relax at local cafes for people watching—no matter how you choose to spend your time, this city is full inspiration. We will be staying in the Alberta Arts District during the retreat, an area that is sure to inspire our participants and help them create.  The retreat offers multi-genre workshops, as well as craft seminars and time to write. The faculty includes award-winning writers Adam Reid Sexton, Kerry Cohen, Rita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai. Genres include fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. The deadline to apply is March 25th, 2017.

Schedule of Classes:

cww-portland2017schedule

Writing in the Lyric Register (with Diana Norma Szokolyai)
In this writing workshop, we will practice writing in the lyric register, expanding our writing into descriptive, poetic prose.  We will look intensively at writing “the moment,” slowing down and unpacking a single moment.  After examining some examples in literature, we will take to writing and revising our own pieces to unlock the lyrical qualities of a single moment.  Our aim will be to pull our readers into the emotionally charged and poetic world of our narratives.

Structuring Your Short Story or Novel (with Adam Reid Sexton)
From the time of Homer to the present day, writers have provided stories with the same basic shape – narrative structure, it’s called.  Regardless of content, the result of that structure is a kind of reading machine that people feel compelled to experience from start to finish.  In this course we learn the elements of classic story structure, as well as how much those elements can be varied without damage to your short-story, novel, or memoir.  Learn how to structure stories so potential readers of your work become actual readers.

Writing Memoir Honestly (with Kerry Cohen)
Annie Lamott famously wrote, “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” If only it were that easy! In this course we will examine the many challenges of writing about other people in memoir. We will discuss some anecdotes from memoir authors, address students’ concerns about their own memoirs, and we will complete writing exercises that will allow for practice in writing about ourselves and others honestly and ethically.

Science: Fiction – Building Literary Worlds  (with Rita Banerjee)
In this class, we will explore how the fabric and rules of literary worlds in realist and speculative fiction are created.  By examining the parameters of social and behavioral codes, human interactions and psychology, and the materiality of worlds, we’ll explore that volatile space where truth and lie meet, where conflicts crystallize, and where storytelling disturbs and delights.

Writing the Personal Essay (with Kerry Cohen)
Personal essays allow us to understand one another as fellow humans, to see ourselves in each other. They give us ways to know something in a new way, thereby expanding our understandings of ourselves. They are, in my mind, a key to living a self-examined life; and who wants to live another way? In this course, we will examine select essays by authors for their craft, their purpose, and their effect. Students will brainstorm ideas, write, workshop, and share their own personal essays, resulting in a polished piece by the end.

Playing with Point of View (with Adam Reid Sexton)
What’s the best point-of-view strategy to use when writing a particular work of fiction or creative nonfiction – first-person central, or third omniscient?  Second-person (“you”) – or even first person plural (“we”)?  This course breaks down the complicated, challenging topic of POV in storytelling, employing mini-lectures, in-class exercises, and short readings by contemporary masters like Jeffrey Eugenides and Lorrie Moore, to turn point of view from an obligation into an opportunity.  POV can be fun!

Featured Faculty:

kerrycohen
Kerry Cohen
is the author of 10 books, including the bestselling  Loose Girl:  A Memoir of Promiscuity and Girl Trouble: An Illustrated Memoir, her most recent book, which came out October 2016. Kerry is faculty at the Red Earth Low Residency MFA program and is a practicing counselor. She lives with her family in Portland, Oregon.

 

adamsextonAdam Reid Sexton teaches writing at Yale University, where he is a Lecturer in the English Department, a Critic on the faculty of Yale’s School of Art, and a Silliman Residential College Fellow.  He has taught writing at Columbia University and the New School, and he has lectured at the Folger Shakespeare Library, the University of Pennsylvania’s Kelly Writers House, and the University of Alabama, where he delivered the Hudson Strode Lecture in the Age of Shakespeare.  Sexton is the author of Master Class in Fiction Writing: Techniques from Austen, Hemingway and Other Greats, and with a team of graphic artists, he has adapted four of Shakespeare’s tragedies as manga (Japanese-style graphic novels).  His anthology Rap on Rap was acquired by Harvard’s W.E.B. Dubois Institute for African and African American Research, while Desperately Seeking Madonna is in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Library and Archive.  Sexton’s fiction, essays, and reviews have been published in the Bellevue Literary Review, the Mississippi Review, and Off Assignment, as well as the Boston Phoenix, the New York Times, and the Village Voice.  For four years Sexton curated a reading series at KGB Bar in New York City.  He has been interviewed on writing and literature by the New York Times, the Washington Post, Time, and npr.com, and one of his classes was broadcast on BBC Radio.

ritabanerjeeRita Banerjee is the Executive Creative Director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop and teaches at Rutgers University.  She received her doctorate in Comparative Literature from Harvard and her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington, and her writing appears in Poets & Writers, The Rumpus, Painted Bride Quarterly, Mass Poetry, Hyphen Magazine, Los Angeles Review of BooksElectric Literature, VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, AWP WC&C Quarterly, Queen Mob’s Tea House, Riot Grrrl Magazine, The Fiction Project, Objet d’Art, KBOO Radio’s APA Compass, and elsewhere. Her first collection of poems, Cracklers at Night (Finishing Line Press), received First Honorable Mention for Best Poetry Book of 2011-2012 at the Los Angeles Book Festival, and her novella, A Night with Kali, in Approaching Footsteps (Spider Road Press), released in November 2016. Finalist for the 2015 Red Hen Press Benjamin Saltman Award and the 2016 Aquarius Press Willow Books Literature Award, she is currently working on a novel, a book on South Asian literary modernisms, and a collection of lyric essays.

DianaNormaDiana Norma Szokolyai is a writer and Executive Artistic Director of Cambridge Writers’ Workshop. 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 also records her poetry with musicians and has collaborated with several composers. Her poetry-music collaboration with Flux Without Pause led to their collaboration “Space Mothlight” hitting #16 on the Creative Commons Hot 100 list in 2015, and can be found in the curated WFMU Free Music Archive. Szokolyai’s work has been recently reviewed by The London Grip and published in Quail Bell Magazine, Lyre Lyre, The Fiction Project, The Boston Globe, Dr. Hurley’s Snake Oil Cure, The Dudley Review and Up the Staircase Quarterly, as well as anthologized in The Highwaymen NYC #2, Other Countries: Contemporary Poets Rewiring History, Always Wondering and Teachers as Writers. Szokolyai earned her Ed.M. in Arts in Education from Harvard University and her M.A. in French Literature from the University of Connecticut, while she completed coursework at the Sorbonne and research on Romani writers in Paris. She is currently at work on three books and recording an album of poetry & music.

applyDeadline: March 25, 2017

AWP Exclusive: “Writing from the Fringe: Cultivating Writing Communities on Retreats and Abroad” feat. the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop

wcc-quarterlyThe AWP WC&C Quarterly recently featured an article on the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop: “Writing from the Fringe: Cultivating Writing Communities on Retreats and Abroad” feat. the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop.”  In the the quarterly, editor Kenny Lakes writes:

Whether you just joined in 2017, or you have been with us for years, thank you for being a part of AWP. We are excited to see what the next fifty years bring.  In this issue, we hear from a Rita Banerjee, who discusses the successes Cambridge Writers’ Workshop has had building community near and far.

An excerpt from Rita Banerjee’s essay follows below:

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop (CWW) began as a creative writing community in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Formed by graduate students at Harvard University in 2008, the workshop was meant as a forum for fostering communities of dedicated writers and encouraging creative expression in the literary arts. Since the organization’s inception, the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop has been all-inclusive and open to all emerging and established writers, first in the Cambridge and Boston area, and now in Brooklyn, Manhattan, across the United States, and also abroad. Since 2008, the organization has been run by directors Rita Banerjee and Diana Norma Szokolyai.

In 2011, the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop expanded to include online creative writing courses and writing retreats. We have participated in the Mass Poetry Festival, the Brooklyn Book Festival, Brooklyn Lit Crawl, Manhattan Lit Crawl, and the AWP Conference. All writers, from amateurs to professionals, who are looking for a serious writing community, are welcome to join the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop.

In 2012, the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop hosted its first writing retreat abroad at the Château de Sacy in Picardy, France, a rural country enclave just forty-five minutes outside of Paris. The focus of the workshop was on “Writing and Eco-Living,” and during our retreat in Sacy, our participants enjoyed fresh meals from the organic potager of the Château de Sacy, daily craft of writing seminars and writing workshops, and outings around Picardy. On our retreats, our instructors and participants have hailed from Australia, the US, the UK, France, Germany, and the Philippines. At our Sacy workshop, one of our participants began writing a poetry collection inspired by gaming and also produced a second manuscript about France, WWII, and the memory of her father. Another participant produced a wonderful series of lyric essays and memoirs on fleet week, public swimming pools, and interracial relationships in 1940s Brooklyn.  On our first workshop abroad, one of our participants Gloria Rich said, Norma and Rita gave a fabulous writers’ workshop at Le Petit Sacy, France. Their knowledge, enthusiasm and caring were exemplary. I will definitely continue to take workshops with them…I was totally inspired, will continue to write and hopefully participate with them in their forthcoming programs.” …  Read Rita Banerjee’s full essay here.

Bluestockings presents A Night with Kali: A Reading by Rita Banerjee – March 12, 7pm, NYC

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A Night with Kali:
A Reading by Rita Banerjee

Bluestockings
172 Allen Street, NY 10002

Sunday March 12, 2017
7:00 – 9:30 pm

Rita Banerjee’s novella, “A Night with Kali,” in Approaching Footsteps, has just been released on Kindle Books and in Print by Spider Road Press. In Rita Banerjee’s novella, “A Night with Kali,” two people from different classes, a taxi driver called Tamal-da and his well-to-do passenger meet under unusual circumstances. Stuck together in a flood in the middle of a monsoon hitting Kolkata, Tamal entertains his bored, out-of-town passenger by telling her the story of his life. As he explains how he ended up hustling the mean streets of Kolkata, how he abandoned his rural village, and why he left his family of fishers behind, Tamal spins a tale that is both mundane and fantastic. Built on the tradition of Bengali ghost stories, Tamal’s coming-of-age tale depends as much on the supernatural as on the possibility or impossibility of human connection.

“Two novellas stand especially tall: A Night with Kali, by Rita Banerjee, begins with a taxi ride through Kolkata during a monsoon and soon develops into an entertaining story-in-a-story supernatural tale reminiscent of classic Indian literature.  In 136 Auburn Lane, novelist Donna Hillevokes a mysterious Harlem boarding house in the 1930’s, where a down-and-out woman has one final chance to rescue her pitiful existence.” -Gay Yellen

“’A Night with Kali’” by Rita Banerjee was a pair of ghost stores-within stories-within a story, set in Kolkata and the surrounding villages. The voice was distinct but unobtrusive and created a cozy familiarity with the narrator. The setting was also particularly vivid, but never got bogged down in exposition – rather, well-placed details sprinkled throughout made me feel like I’d lived in the area all my life. This was my favorite of the four, partly because it was the most upbeat. That may sound strange for a ghost story, but it works.” – MJL

Biography:

RitaBanerjeeRita Banerjee is the Executive Creative Director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop and teaches at Rutgers University.  She received her doctorate in Comparative Literature from Harvard and her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington, and her writing appears in Poets & Writers, The Rumpus, Painted Bride Quarterly, Mass Poetry, Hyphen Magazine, Los Angeles Review of BooksElectric Literature, VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, AWP WC&C Quarterly, Queen Mob’s Tea House, Riot Grrrl Magazine, The Fiction Project, Objet d’Art, KBOO Radio’s APA Compass, and elsewhere. Her first collection of poems, Cracklers at Night (Finishing Line Press), received First Honorable Mention for Best Poetry Book of 2011-2012 at the Los Angeles Book Festival, and her novella, A Night with Kali, in Approaching Footsteps (Spider Road Press), released in November 2016. Finalist for the 2015 Red Hen Press Benjamin Saltman Award and the 2016 Aquarius Press Willow Books Literature Award, she is currently working on a novel, a book on South Asian literary modernisms, and a collection of lyric essays.

Reminder: March 5, 2017 Scholarship Deadline for Spring & Summer Writing Retreats

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is offering scholarships in the amount of $100 – $200 for our Spring and Summer Writing Retreats in New Orleans (March 23 – 26, 2017), Portland, OR (April 22-24, 2017), and Granada, Spain (August 2-6, 2017).  Deadline for Scholarship Applications is March 5, 2017.  Apply at http://cww.submittable.com!

WRITING RETREATS with the supportive faculty of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop will take place in New Orleans (March 23–26), Portland (April 22–24), Granada, Spain (August 2–6), and Rockport, MA (October 13-15). Faculty include Dipika GuhaEmily NemensAdam Reid SextonKerry CohenRita BanerjeeTim HorvathAlexandria Marzano-LesnevichMaya Sonenbergand Diana Norma Szokolyai. Genres include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, playwriting, and hybrid.  Scholarship applications due by March 5, 2017 at http://cww.submittable.com!

  • 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).

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Spring in New Orleans Writing Retreat will take place from March 23-26, 2017, and will coincide with the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival.  Known for its Spanish and French architecture, live jazz, cajun food, and street festivals, New Orleans offers an inspirational and one-of-a-kind environment for creative writers. During the retreat, we will be staying in the lovely Algiers Point neighborhood, just a short ferry ride away from the Historic French Quarter.  Our retreat features multi-genre workshops, as well as craft seminars and time to write.  The faculty includes award-winning writers Dipika Guha, Emily Nemens, Rita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai. Genres include playwriting, nonfiction, fiction, and poetry.  The cost of the retreat is $750, which includes tuition, lodging, and some meals.

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Spring in Portland Writing Retreat will take place from April 22-24, 2017.  While you’re in the home of writers Cheryl Strayed and Ursula K. Le Guin, feel free to go bicycling and explore the terrain, hike, or relax at local cafes for people watching—no matter how you choose to spend your time, this city is full inspiration. We will be staying in the Alberta Arts District during the retreat, an area that is sure to inspire our participants and help them create.  The retreat offers multi-genre workshops, as well as craft seminars and time to write. The faculty includes award-winning writers Adam Reid Sexton, Kerry Cohen, Rita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai. Genres include fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.  The cost of the retreat is $750, which includes tuition, lodging, and some meals.

And the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Summer in Granada Writing Retreat will take place from August 2-6, 2017.  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. Let the old city stimulate your writing with its winding streets, Moorish history, and evocative landscapes.  Work on your existing manuscript, or look to the beauty and warmth of Granada to inspire all-new projects.  During the retreat, we will be staying at the Hotel Guadalupe, just a short walk from the Alhambra.  The retreat offers multi-genre workshops, as well as craft seminars and time to write. The faculty includes award-winning writers Tim Horvath, Alexandria Marzano-LesnevichRita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai. Genres include fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.  The cost of the retreat is $2950, which includes tuition, lodging, and daily breakfast.

applyDeadline: March 5, 2017

Spring in New Orleans Writing Retreat Class Schedule & February 25, 2017 Deadline!

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The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Spring in New Orleans Writing Retreat will take place from March 23-26, 2017, and will coincide with the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival.  Known for its Spanish and French architecture, live jazz, cajun food, and street festivals, New Orleans offers an inspirational and one-of-a-kind environment for creative writers. During the retreat, we will be staying in the lovely Algiers Point neighborhood, just a short ferry ride away from the Historic French Quarter.  Our retreat features multi-genre workshops, as well as craft seminars and time to write.  The faculty includes award-winning writers Dipika Guha, Emily Nemens, Rita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai. Genres include playwriting, nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. The deadline to apply is February 25th, 2017.

applyDeadline: February 25, 2017

Schedule of Classes:

cww-nolaschedule2017

The Art of Storytelling & New Orleans Tour  (with Emily Nemens)
A picture’s worth a thousand words, but what if there’s words with that picture? In this workshop we’ll explore the many intersections of art and writing, by considering poetry, fiction,and criticism about and including visual arts, and then look at our own works that combine language and text. Using prompts from local art and architecture, we’ll explore the range of expression from ekphrasis to graphic narratives, and put our heads together to discover the best means of storytelling for a range of different narratives. Illustration expertise is not required, but a curiosity about visual arts and how they can be employed in literary work is necessary.

Bake-Off (with Dipika Guha)

We will gather in one of the most evocative, haunting cities in the world and together write and read out loud our ‘bake-offs’. A bake-off is a playwriting exercise or writerly dare popularized by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Paula Vogel. The dare is to write a play in a fixed span of time 24 hours in response to a list of shared elements. We will begin with a seminar on Saturday when we’ll visit our playwriting toolbox and look at devices, forms and structures available for our use. At this meeting we’ll choose six elements to include in our writing drawn from the city of New Orleans, seeking inspiration from its architecture, history and myths. After the seminar you will go away and write until the next evening. On Sunday over food and drink, we will read your bake-offs together and celebrate your progress. Bake-offs are not critiqued.

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. 

Writing in the Lyric Register (with Diana Norma Szokolyai)

In this writing workshop, we will practice writing in the lyric register, expanding our writing into descriptive, poetic prose. We will look intensively at our writing, slowing down and unpacking a single moment. After examining some examples in literature, we will take to revising our own pieces to unlock the lyrical qualities in our writing. Our aim will be to pull our readers into the emotionally charged and poetic world of our narratives.

Featured Faculty:

dipikaDipika Guha was born in Calcutta and raised in India, Russia and the United Kingdom. She is the inaugural recipient of the Shakespeare’s Sister Playwriting Award with the Lark Play Development Center, A Room of Her Own and the Hedgebrook Women Playwrights Festival. Her plays include  The Art of Gaman (Berkeley Rep Ground Floor ’16, KILROYS LIST ’16, Relentless Award Semi-Finalist), I Enter the Valley (Theatreworks New Play Festival ’16, Southern Rep New Play Festival‘16), Mechanics of Love (Crowded Fire Theatre, Upcoming: Two by For, NYC) and Blown Youth (Wallflower Theatricals, UK). She is currently working on Yoga Play, a commission for South Coast Repertory Theatre, a translation of Merry Wives of Windsor for Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s PlayOn Project and a play for the McCarter Theatre’s Princeton Slavery Project. Most recently her work has been developed at Playwrights Horizons, Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, Roundabout Underground, McCarter Theatre’s Sallie B. Goodman Residency, New Georges, Shotgun Players, the Sam French Off Off Broadway Short Play Festival, Southern Rep, 24 Hour Plays on Broadway and the Magic Theatre amongst others. Dipika is currently a visiting artist at the Schell Center for International Human Rights at Yale Law School and a resident playwright at the Playwrights Foundation. MFA: Yale School of Drama under Paula Vogel.  Dipika will be a Hodder Fellow in Playwrighting at Princeton University from 2017-2018.

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Emily Nemens is coeditor and prose editor of The Southern Review, a literary quarterly published at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Her editorial work has been featured in Writer’s Digest, draft: a journal of process, and on LeanIn.org, and her selections from The Southern Review have recently appeared in Best Mystery Writing 2016 and Best American Nonrequired Reading 2015. She studied art history and studio art at Brown University, and before moving to Louisiana to pursue an MFA in creative writing at LSU, she lived in Brooklyn and worked in editorial capacities at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Center for Architecture. Alongside her editorial work, Emily maintains active writing and illustration practices. Her fiction and essays have recently appeared in The Gettysburg Review, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and n+1, and she is working on a linked story collection about spring training baseball. As an illustrator she’s collaborated with Harvey Pekar on a Studs Terkel anthology, painted miniature portraits of all the women in Congress, and recently published her first New Yorker cartoon. Follow her at @emilynemens.

ritabanerjeeRita Banerjee is the Executive Creative Director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop and teaches at Rutgers University.  She received her doctorate in Comparative Literature from Harvard and her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington, and her writing appears in Poets & Writers, The Rumpus, Painted Bride Quarterly, Mass Poetry, Hyphen Magazine, Los Angeles Review of BooksElectric Literature, VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, AWP WC&C Quarterly, Queen Mob’s Tea House, Riot Grrrl Magazine, The Fiction Project, Objet d’Art, KBOO Radio’s APA Compass, and elsewhere. Her first collection of poems, Cracklers at Night (Finishing Line Press), received First Honorable Mention for Best Poetry Book of 2011-2012 at the Los Angeles Book Festival, and her novella, A Night with Kali, in Approaching Footsteps (Spider Road Press), released in November 2016. Finalist for the 2015 Red Hen Press Benjamin Saltman Award and the 2016 Aquarius Press Willow Books Literature Award, she is currently working on a novel, a book on South Asian literary modernisms, and a collection of lyric essays.

DianaNormaDiana Norma Szokolyai is a writer and Executive Artistic Director of Cambridge Writers’ Workshop. 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 also records her poetry with musicians and has collaborated with several composers. Her poetry-music collaboration with Flux Without Pause led to their collaboration “Space Mothlight” hitting #16 on the Creative Commons Hot 100 list in 2015, and can be found in the curated WFMU Free Music Archive. Szokolyai’s work has been recently reviewed by The London Grip and published in Quail Bell Magazine, Lyre Lyre, The Fiction Project, The Boston Globe, Dr. Hurley’s Snake Oil Cure, The Dudley Review and Up the Staircase Quarterly, as well as anthologized in The Highwaymen NYC #2, Other Countries: Contemporary Poets Rewiring History, Always Wondering and Teachers as Writers. Szokolyai earned her Ed.M. in Arts in Education from Harvard University and her M.A. in French Literature from the University of Connecticut, while she completed coursework at the Sorbonne and research on Romani writers in Paris. She is currently at work on three books and recording an album of poetry & music.

applyDeadline: February 25, 2017

Cambridge Writers’ Workshop 2017 Writing Retreats – Deadlines Approaching!

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Thank you to everyone who joined the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop at AWP 2017 in Washington D.C. We wanted to let all our new writers and readers know about the upcoming deadlines for our Spring and Summer 2017 writing retreats.

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The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Spring in New Orleans Writing Retreat will take place from March 23-26, 2017, and will coincide with the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival.  Known for its Spanish and French architecture, live jazz, cajun food, and street festivals, New Orleans offers an inspirational and one-of-a-kind environment for creative writers. During the retreat, we will be staying in the lovely Algiers Point neighborhood, just a short ferry ride away from the Historic French Quarter.  Our retreat features multi-genre workshops, as well as craft seminars and time to write.  The faculty includes award-winning writers Dipika Guha, Emily Nemens, Rita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai. Genres include playwriting, nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. The deadline to apply is February 25th, 2017.

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Spring in Portland Writing Retreat will take place from April 22-24, 2017.  While you’re in the home of writers Cheryl Strayed and Ursula K. Le Guin, feel free to go bicycling and explore the terrain, hike, or relax at local cafes for people watching—no matter how you choose to spend your time, this city is full inspiration. We will be staying in the Alberta Arts District during the retreat, an area that is sure to inspire our participants and help them create.  The retreat offers multi-genre workshops, as well as craft seminars and time to write. The faculty includes award-winning writers Adam Reid Sexton, Kerry Cohen, Rita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai. Genres include fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. The deadline to apply is March 15th, 2017.

And the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Summer in Granada Writing Retreat will take place from August 2-6, 2017.  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. Let the old city stimulate your writing with its winding streets, Moorish history, and evocative landscapes.  Work on your existing manuscript, or look to the beauty and warmth of Granada to inspire all-new projects.  During the retreat, we will be staying at the Hotel Guadalupe, just a short walk from the Alhambra.  The retreat offers multi-genre workshops, as well as craft seminars and time to write. The faculty includes award-winning writers Tim Horvath, Alexandria Marzano-LesnevichRita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai. Genres include fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. The deadline to apply is March 15th, 2017.

Looking forward to seeing you this Spring and Summer.

In solidarity, and writing,
Cambridge Writers’ Workshop

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CWW Presents: Writers in Resistance – An AWP 2017 Reading – Washington D.C.

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The Association of Writers and Writing Programs will be hosting its annual writers conference in Washington DC from February 8-11. As in past years, the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop will be present at the conference, with a table at the book fair at Table 361-T. There, we will have information about our 2017 writing retreats, our internships, publications, and a ton of other goodies.

We will also be hosting three author signings at the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Table 361-T during the AWP 2017 Conference. The schedule for author signings at our table is as follows:

Tim Horvath: Thursday February 9, 1-2 pm
Diana Norma Szokolyai: Friday February 10, 11 am-12 pm
Rita Banerjee: Saturday February 11, 11 am- 12 pm

As per tradition, we will also be hosting a reading during the conference. The CWW will be hosting a reading at Upshur Street Books on Friday February 10, 2017 from 5pm – 6:45 pm. The reading will be hosted at Upshur’s event space at Third Floor, 4200 9th St NW Washington DC 20011 (above Slim’s Diner). We have eight fabulous readers ready to present their work, including members of our executive board, faculty from our upcoming writing retreats, and some of our CWW friends. Our reading list includes the following:

ritabanerjee-smRita Banerjee
is Executive Creative Director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop and teaches at Rutgers University.  She received her doctorate in Comparative Literature from Harvard and her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington, and her writing appears in Poets & Writers, The Rumpus, Mass Poetry, Los Angeles Review of BooksElectric Literature, VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, AWP WC&C Quarterly, Queen Mob’s Tea House, Riot Grrrl Magazine, The Fiction Project, Objet d’Art, KBOO Radio’s APA Compass, and elsewhere. Her first collection of poems, Cracklers at Night (Finishing Line Press), received First Honorable Mention for Best Poetry Book of 2011-2012 at the Los Angeles Book Festival, and her novella, A Night with Kali in Approaching Footsteps (Spider Road Press), is forthcoming in November 2016. Finalist for the 2015 Red Hen Press Benjamin Saltman Award and the 2016 Aquarius Press Willow Books Literature Award, she is currently working on a novel, a book on South Asian literary modernisms, and collection of lyric essays.

beach-jensenJensen Beach is the author of two collections of short fiction, For out of the Heart Proceed, and most recently, Swallowed by the Cold. His stories have appeared A Public Space, the Paris Review, and The New Yorker. He teaches in the BFA Program at Johnson State College, where he is fiction editor at Green Mountains Review. He is also faculty in the MFA Program in Writing & Publishing at Vermont College of Fine Arts. With this family, he lives in Vermont.

 

 

Anna-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.  Shehas worked for the National Film Board of Canada and Urban Shaman Contemporary Aboriginal Art Gallery.  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.

Alex Carrigan is originally from Newport News, Virginia and currently resides in Upper Marlboro, MD.  He graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in print/online journalism and a minor in world cinema.  He is currently an managing intern for the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop, as well as a contributing writer for Quail Bell Magazine.  He has written articles for The Commonwealth Times and has had work featured in Luna Luna Magazine. He is also a creative writer and have had work published in Amendment Literary Journal, Life in 10 Minutes, Realms YA Fantasy Literary Magazine, and in Poictesme Literary Journal, of which he was a staff member for four years, two years in which he was deputy editor-in-chief.

tim_horvath_authorphotoTim Horvath is the author of Understories (Bellevue Literary Press), which won the New Hampshire Literary Award, and Circulation (sunnyoutside). His stories have appeared in Conjunctions, Fiction, The Normal School, Harvard Review, and elsewhere. His story “The Understory” won the Raymond Carver Short Story Award, and “The Conversations” earned a Special Mention in the 2014 Pushcart Prize Anthology; he is also a recipient of a Yaddo Fellowship. He teaches in the BFA and low-residency MFA programs at the New Hampshire Institute of Art, where he coordinates the Visiting Writers Series. He is currently at work on The Spinal Descent, a novel about contemporary classical composers, as well as a second short story collection.

Alexandria-Marzano-Lesnevich_MACD-15-201_414

Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich’s first book, THE FACT OF A BODY: A Murder and a Memoir, is forthcoming from Flatiron Books (Macmillan) in May 2017, as well as from publishers internationally. The book layers a memoir with an investigation into, and recreation of, a 1992 Louisiana murder and death penalty case. For her work on the book, Marzano-Lesnevich received a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and a Rona Jaffe Award, and has twice been a fellow at both MacDowell and Yaddo. Other scholarships and fellowships received include those from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Millay Colony for the Arts, Blue Mountain Center, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center, Djerassi Resident Artists Program, the Studios at Key West, Vermont Studio Center, and the Alice Hayes Fellowship for Social Justice Writing from the Ragdale Foundation. Her essays appear in The New York Times, Oxford American, Iowa Review, Hotel Amerika, The Rumpus, and the anthologies True Crime and Waveform: Twenty-First Century Essays by Women, among many other publications, and were recognized “notable” in Best American Essays 2013, 2015, and 2016. She was educated at Harvard (JD), Emerson College (MFA), and Columbia University (BA) and now teaches at Grub Street, a nonprofit writing center in Boston, and in the graduate public policy program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

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Emily Nemens is coeditor and prose editor of The Southern Review, a literary quarterly published at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Her editorial work has been featured in Writer’s Digest, draft: a journal of process, and on LeanIn.org, and her selections from The Southern Review have recently appeared in Best Mystery Writing 2016 and Best American Nonrequired Reading 2015. She studied art history and studio art at Brown University, and before moving to Louisiana to pursue an MFA in creative writing at LSU, she lived in Brooklyn and worked in editorial capacities at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Center for Architecture. Alongside her editorial work, Emily maintains active writing and illustration practices. Her fiction and essays have recently appeared in The Gettysburg Review, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and n+1, and she is working on a linked story collection about spring training baseball. As an illustrator she’s collaborated with Harvey Pekar on a Studs Terkel anthology, painted miniature portraits of all the women in Congress, and recently published her first New Yorker cartoon. Follow her at @emilynemens.

 

DianaNormaDiana Norma Szokolyai is a writer and Executive Artistic Director of Cambridge Writers’ Workshop. 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 also records her poetry with musicians and has collaborated with several composers. Her poetry-music collaboration with Flux Without Pause led to their collaboration “Space Mothlight” hitting #16 on the Creative Commons Hot 100 list in 2015, and can be found in the curated WFMU Free Music Archive. Szokolyai’s work has been recently reviewed by The London Grip and published in Quail Bell Magazine, Lyre Lyre, The Fiction Project, The Boston Globe, Dr. Hurley’s Snake Oil Cure, The Dudley Review and Up the Staircase Quarterly, as well as anthologized in The Highwaymen NYC #2, Other Countries: Contemporary Poets Rewiring History, Always Wondering and Teachers as Writers. Szokolyai earned her Ed.M. in Arts in Education from Harvard University and her M.A. in French Literature from the University of Connecticut, while she completed coursework at the Sorbonne and research on Romani writers in Paris. She is currently at work on three books and recording an album of poetry & music.

 

If you have any questions about the CWW at AWP 2017, be sure to email us at info@cambridgewritersworkshop.org

*Our poster image is licensed under  CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/  The Reader’s Bill of Rights has produced these graphics originally but is not affiliated with or endorse the CWW https://www.defectivebydesign.org/graphics http://readersbillofrights.info

CWW Recommends: Reading for Resistance – Winter 2017

hannaharendt-onrevolutionIn this volatile political and moral climate, reading can serve as a refuge. However, as I continue to amplify my acts as the agent of change I know myself to be, I’m using my reading as both weapon and armor—a constantly expanding and empowering force. That being said, please take this list of recommendations for post-Inauguration reading not as comprehensive but as communal—to add onto continuously over the next four years. One of the best catalysts for vigilance, after all,  is awareness. We at the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop invite you to challenge your boundaries, listen to the myriad voices around you—and share with us. We’d love to learn more about what you’re reading to nourish and charge your own acts of resistance. In the meantime, many thanks to Emily Smith, Alexander Carrigan, Diana Norma Szokolyai, Anna-Celestrya CarrRita Banerjee and Shannon Sawyer for sharing their suggested reads for the resistance.

AM Ringwalt, Curator

The Grass Dancer by Susan Powersusanpowergrassdancerbig
(Recommended by Emily Smith)

Susan Power honors the the Dakota Sioux in this novel of magic and dreams through a retelling of tribal stories, which are often haunted by the dead. Power is an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Tribe and a descendant of Sioux Chief Two Bears. While Power is a highly regarded writer, she also has a background in law; using her degree, she founded the American Indian Center in Chicago, which offers relief and education services to one of America’s largest Native American populations.

 

plague-of-dovesThe Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich
(Recommended by Emily Smith)
Although Louise Erdrich’s novel was published in 2009, its central narrative is fit for contemporary news. The story opens on an act of racism in mid-century North Dakota: after a white family is found murdered, a group of men hang three American Indian men and one boy. The real villain goes unpunished.
The novel is a Pulitzer-Prize finalist that unfolds a century later from the perspective of multiple family members a la The Sound and the Fury. By the close of the novel, it’s clear that suppressing injustice has resounding consequences, even generations later.

38447The Handmaid’s Tale
by Margaret Atwood

(Recommended by Alex Carrigan)

Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel from 1985 is still relevant today, as women are policed for their bodies and their autonomies, usually being mistreated under the guise of “religious freedom” or underlying misogyny in various social and political institutions. The novel follows Offred, a woman who has had her name, her family, and her body taken by a totalitarian theocracy that only values her for her fertility. The book is equal parts speculative fiction and horror, one that can terrify both women and men with its protagonist’s incredible voice and its raw look at a world that seems imaginary but rings close to home. With an upcoming miniseries adaptation airing on Hulu in April, more people are sure to discover The Handmaid’s Tale and see how its depiction of religious extremism, misogyny, women’s health rights, and bodily autonomy compare and contrast to our new government.

cover_bad_feministBad Feminist by Roxane Gay

(Recommended by Alexander Carrigan)

Bad Feminist is a collection of essays by black feminist author and teacher Roxane Gay. In it, she discusses issues of race, politics, sexuality, literature, media, and Scrabble tournaments, all while keeping her clever voice and personality. This was a book that made me laugh, tear up, and pay attention to various sections of society that I don’t often read about. It speaks to those who are often disenfranchised, and does so in a way that makes it easy to read and enjoyable at the same time.

The Boston Review and Black Ocean Press
(Recommended by AM Ringwalt)

Screen Shot 2017-01-22 at 8.28.29 PM.pngIt’s crucial to support literary presses, particularly these two Boston-based ones, in anticipation of Donald Trump’s inauguration. Both the Boston Review and Black Ocean Press are committed to “our shared commitment to the rights and values essential to a democracy” (see Greater Boston Writers Resist, which took place on January 15, 2017 at the Boston Public Library).

It’s worth noting, too, that in his poignant farewell address, Barack Obama warned against numbing ourselves to the “battle of ideas” essential to politics —and a creative life—in “selective sorting of the facts,” the sectarianism inherent in having news sources catered to one particular political viewpoint versus another (take Fox versus PBS, for example), the rise of social media catering to each member’s biases and the tendency of popular news sources to operate on omission. Obama said, “. . . increasingly we become so secure in our bubbles that we start accepting only information, whether it’s true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that is out there.”

So, as a challenge to both myself and everyone reading this, consider these two literary presses in conjunction with media and art that challenges your ethos. If you’re anything like me, you’ll likely appreciate presses like the Boston Review and Black Ocean even more after immersing yourself in other perspectives.

In the wake of the election, the Boston Review continued the call for defending independent nonprofit publishing. In recent publications, the journal asserted that “poetry is a counterattack” and began curating literary works representative of “Global Dystopias.” On December 15, 2016 the Boston Review published an article by Vivian Gornick entitled “Feeling Paranoid,” a piece not dissimilar from Obama’s farewell address. Gornick writes, “the struggle of any society—but especially one that calls itself a democracy—is to honor the existence of those not like ourselves.” The Boston Review shares texts like Race Capitalism Justice and Poems for Political Disaster, a collection of “both new poems and selections from the Boston Review archive that record, refract, subvert, or otherwise respond to political trauma, catastrophe, or terror—both here at home and abroad.” The Harvard Book Store and Boston Review will host an evening of readings from Poems for Political Disaster at the Cambridge Public Library on January 30, 2017; I invite you to join me there.

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Black Ocean Press boasts a catalog of innovative poetry, featuring works by Elisa Gabbert and Tomasz Salamun, among many other crucial voices. The press recently opened a brick-and-mortar space in Somerville, Massachusetts. Janaka Stucky, poet and founder of Black Ocean, describes the space aptly in a December issue of the Boston Globe, as a “‘third space’ — a space neither the home space nor the work space. ‘In the discourses of dissent,’ Stucky says, ‘the third space is where the oppressed plot their liberation.’” In 2016, Black Ocean supported resistance camps at Standing Rock by having all of its proceeds on “Black Friday” be sent onto Standing Rock in protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline. With books—and an overall ethos—as artfully constructed as they are dissenting, Black Ocean Press proves to be a necessary ally in anticipation of the Inauguration. Stucky will join me for CWW Presents on February 3, 2017, too, where he will share his poetry alongside musician Audrey Harrer and Fawn,  my folk duo. 

51totttrsjl-_sy346_We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
(Recommended by Diana Norma Szokolyai)

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie explores what “feminism” means today. This eloquent book-length essay examines not only outright discrimination, but the subtle ways that inequality is made manifest through our institutionalized behaviors. The author balances philosophical pondering with humor and offers a nuanced explanation of the gender divide. Using her own experiences in both the U.S. and in her native Nigeria, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie shows how sexism is harmful not only for women, but for men as well. This is a good read for these times when leaders are normalizing sexism. It is a rally cry to continue the fight for what our feminist predecessors have fought for in the previous century.
411zkErhn2L.jpgThe Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
(Recommended by Diana Norma Szokolyai)

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick is a novel & T.V. series based on the book that creates a time-shifting alternate history, exploring what might have happened if FDR was assassinated in 1936 and the Nazis won WWII. Twenty years into the future, the Nazis and the Japanese Empire have taken over the U.S., and instead of the free spirit of the 1960s, we see the grim atmosphere of a fascist state. The Resistance is alive and carries on subversive activities, having some cells on both of the occupied halves of the country, as well as in the Neutral Zone, which is geographically in the Midwest. The characters are artfully complex, and their moralities are tested against the backdrop of this harsh world. We hear familiar songs and see cultural icons appropriated by those in power, and these similarities are just as eerie as the differences from the actual historical reality. Moreover, this world takes a look at how we Americans became Nazis, whether through passive acceptance, by conscious choice or by force.

51wNIH14zyL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgNews From Nowhere
by William Morris
(Recommended by Anna Celestrya Carr)

William Morris’ novel is a combination of science fiction and utopian socialism. The narrator Guest awakens in a future society based on common ownership and democratic control of the means of production. In this society, there is no private property, no big cities, no authority, no monetary system, no divorce, no courts, no prisons, and no class systems. In the story, Morris’ belief is that all work should be creative and pleasurable defeating the most common criticism of socialism of the supposed lack of incentive to work in a communistic society. It is easy to find novels based on dystopian societies,News From Nowhere is not a perfectly written work but with too few utopian stories to choose it is an interesting read that focuses on beauty.

411pTaHocLL._SX260_.jpgIt’s Not Easy Being Green: And Other Things to Consider
by Jim Henson
(Recommended by Anna Celestrya Carr)

Sometimes we all need a reason to smile. It’s Not Easy Being Green is a delightful collection of quotes from and inspired by Jim Henson. Funny, sweet and uplifting it is a fantastic way to take a break from all the chaos.

“I believe that we can use television and film to be an influence for good; that we can help to shape thoughts of children and adults in a positive way. As it turned out, I am very proud of some of the work we’ve done, and I think we can do many more good things.” – Jim

51XfilV9rJL._SY346_.jpgQueer: A Graphic History
by Meg-John Barker and Julia Scheele

(Recommended by Shannon Sawyer)

In Solidarity – From the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop recognizes that the 2016 election failed to acknowledge climate change, racism and homophobia, and the denial of human rights therein. 2016—encompassing the presidential election, Ohio’s Heartbeat Law, the continued efforts and actions to defund Planned Parenthood and the continued acts of police brutality against people of color, at large and in Standing Rock—was a year of mourning, protesting and solidarity. Now, in 2017, the list of injustices only continues to grow, and Trump’s presidency has only just begun. We will not be complacent.

Today, on the inauguration of President Trump, we mourn for—and protest—the violent manifestations of racism in the United States, as evidenced by the murders of Terrence Crutcher, Khalid Jabara and, still, more. We mourn for—and protest—the Pulse Nightclub Shooting and the continued dehumanization, discrimination and violence against Transgender People and other members of the LGBTQIAP+ community. Considering our VP-Elect, Mike Pence’s  track record of anti-LGBTQIAP+ policies, we are afraid that the progress made for LGBTQIAP+ rights will be stripped away—that those who identify under different sexualities and genders will face discrimination under the guise of “religious freedom.” We are afraid that “law and order,” that vague but governing ethical principle in the United States, will continue to enable devastating acts of violence, particularly against people of color.

We mourn for—and protest—the minimization of climate change throughout the 2016 presidential election, both in debates and beyond to news and media coverage, as well as the devastation we have brought upon our earth and, most recently, made manifest in Hurricane Matthew and continued drought in California. We mourn for—and protest—the continued pollution of water in Flint, Michigan and the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline and its inevitable contribution to the wreckage of our earth, as well as its denial of the rights of those at Standing Rock, and the implications of the American attitude towards Native peoples therein. We understand, too, that climate change’s devastation extends beyond the United States. We won’t let the Trump deny the grave manifestations of climate change. We protest our nation’s “collective cowardice,” per Kerry Emanuel. We at the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop will do our part to support environmental organizations to ensure our concerns take constructive shape.

Similarly, the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop rejects the rise of hate crimes in the wake of the presidential election. We find it extremely disturbing that swastikas are appearing across the country and hateful acts are being committed in the name of President Trump.  Even if Trump does not openly condone these acts, the language and policies of his campaign have paved the way for racism, misogyny, anti-Semitism, and biased behavior to become disturbingly normalized.  Trump is the first president to be endorsed by the KKK, and neo-Nazis, white supremacists and members of the alt-right have all praised him.  Many supporters of Trump would change his slogan, “Make America Great Again” to “Make America White Again.” With the appointment of people like Stephen Bannon, formerly of the white supremacist Breitbart News, to Trump’s cabinet, people are realizing that the President Elect is surrounding himself with a team of people who have a history of supporting white supremacist politics.

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is a sanctuary organization that is actively anti-bias and does not discriminate against members of our community based on race, gender, sexual orientation, creed, or ethnic background.

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop will not turn away from combating climate change, racism and homophobia, and will engage in meaningful conversation with our peers to ensure that continued awareness and action persists.

We believe in art and provocation that crosses borders and challenges institutions.  Each writer, each instructor, each visionary, and each provocateur, who walks through our doors, creates, interrogates, and redefines the culture in which we live.  Our goal is to make America queer, female, multi-ethnic, immigrant, undocumented, multilingual, multicultural, heterodox, unafraid, self-aware, nonviolent, secular, and communal.  As writers, our goal is make America a welcoming, self-reflective, and dynamic location of culture. As an organization with queer, female, immigrant, multicultural and multilingual members, we welcome and accept those of different creeds and ways of life and aesthetics. We welcome and encourage all writers to express themselves through art and their unique narratives, to move culture forward just a little bit, and to be a part of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop.

Signed,

Cambridge Writers’ Workshop
Diana Norma Szokolyai, Artistic Director
Rita Banerjee, Creative Director
Emily Smith, Programming and Arts Manager
Alexander Carrigan, Managing Editorial and PR Intern
Anne Malin Ringwalt, Programming and Development Intern
Anna-Celestrya Carr, Media Development Intern
Shannon Sawyer, Media Arts Intern

January 20, 2017