Summer in Granada, Spain Writing Retreat Class Schedule and June 1, 2017 Deadline!

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop’s 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. 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. 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-Lesnevich, Rita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai. Genres include fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.  To apply, please submit an application at by June 1, 2017.

Schedule of Classes:

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 from the Senses (with Tim Horvath)

Memorable writing often engages the senses first and foremost, immersing us in a character’s perceptions and sensations, and thus allowing us to dwell inside that character’s perspective. In this class, we’ll strive to make our writing more wholly and richly embodied by engaging the senses directly, building our abilities to depict each individually like a muscle group, and eventually intertwining them in synesthesia for the fullest effect. We explore each of the senses in turn by looking at exemplary instances where a writer is able to conjure the sense effectively.  We’ll take focused walks, taste local foods, do ekphrastic writing in museums, and attempt to capture sounds from that of traffic to flamenco guitar to the idiosyncratic grain of the individual human voice in multiple languages. This class also cuts across genres, shifting seamlessly between poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, grounding each in an embodied experience of the world. When we travel abroad, our senses are generally enlivened to begin with, and so you can think of this class as a way to translate that enhanced awareness into equally vivid words on the page.

The Storyteller’s Voice (with Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich)

Of all types of prose, personal narrative is perhaps the most inherently voice-driven. After all, the reader is essentially choosing to spend a lot of time with you, the author. Too often, the writer’s desire to be relatable on the page results in a watered-down, bland voice, when a distinctive voice is what’s needed to keep the reader engaged. (As V.S.Pritchett put it, in memoir, you get no credit for the living—it’s all in how the living’s told.) So how can you find—and sharpen—your narrative voice? Will it be crisp like Didion’s? Humorously exaggerated like Sedaris’s? Lyrically gritty like Ballantine’s? We’ll look at exceptional examples of voice in memoir and personal essays, and diagnose what makes them so successful. We’ll discuss ways to identify and amplify whatever yours is, working to make it even more distinctive. Come prepared with an essay or chapter draft to work on.

Leyendo Intensamente: Writers Reading Spanish/Latin American Literature in Translation (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 writers in Spanish and Portuguese, from canonical authors like Borges, Marquez, Valenzuela, Cortázar, and Lispector to contemporary luminaries and up-and-comers such as Eduardo Halfon, Valeria Luiselli, Javier Marías, and Laia Jufresa. We’ll swerve through techniques of developing metafiction and surrealism, magical realism, and philosophical fiction, and blending these with realism where suitable. We’ll also explore the fraught, infinitely rich topic of translation, discussing its complexities really 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.

Life Isn’t A Book Structure: Strategies for Shaping Memoir (with Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich)

Even the wildest life, recounted straightforwardly from memory, will suffer from what Sven Birkerts calls “the coma-inducing effect of ‘and then.’” Good memoirists know this. So they reach into literature’s bag of tricks and find other ways to keep the pages turning: they speed time up in some places and slow it down in others; they layer two or more threads; or perhaps they find a structure that helps evoke the book’s meaning. All these considerations are part of shifting from thinking about your life as a life to thinking about the book as a book. But how can aspiring memoirists ready themselves to make that leap? In this session we’ll discuss strategies and approaches, as well as break down the choices made by a few published memoirists as they turned memory into literature. Then we’ll do a few exercises to help free you to do the same with your own material, turning life into art.

Featured Faculty:

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’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.

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.

480540_535092196513183_901741364_nDiana Norma Szokolyai is a writer and Executive Artistic Director of Cambridge Writers’ Workshop. Her edited volume, CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing, will be released by C&R Press on March 7, 2018.  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. She also records her poetry with musicians and has collaborated with several composers including David Krebs (US), Robert Lemay (Canada), Claudio Gabriele (Italy), Peter James (UK), Jason Haye (UK), and Sebastian Wesman (Estonia). Her poetry-music collaboration with Flux Without Pause, “Space Mothlight,” hit #16 on the Creative Commons Hot 100 list in 2015. Her work has been recently reviewed by The London Grip and published in VIDA: Reports from the Field, The Fiction Project, Quail Bell Magazine, Lyre Lyre, The Boston Globe,  and elsewhere, as well as anthologized in Other Countries: Contemporary Poets Rewiring History, Always Wondering, and the International Who’s Who in Poetry 2012. She is currently at work on her next book and an album of poetry & music.

applyDeadline: June 1, 2017