CWW Interview with Bret Anthony Johnston, Harvard Director of Creative Writing and our Barcelona & South of France Fiction Instructor

baj-bio-pic-2This year, our Barcelona & South of France Writing Retreat will take from July 18 – 26, 2016.  At the retreat, we’ll be hosting a wide variety of craft of writing seminars, creative writing workshops. One of our featured faculty members, Bret Anthony Johnston, sat down to speak with Cambridge Writers’ Workshop’s Emily Smith for an interview.  Johnston is the author of Remember Me Like This (2014) and the Director of Creative Writing at Harvard University. Read the interview below, and be sure to register for our Summer in Barcelona & South of France Writing Retreat by March 15, 2016!

Emily Smith: In “Don’t Write What You Know,” you point to a quote from Tim O’Brien’s “Good Form” about “story-truth” and “happening-truth.” I immediately thought of Faulkner’s attempts at truth-telling in The Sound and the Fury – that is, his attempt at objectivity through non-traditional narrative and perspective. How do you think truth functions in your own writing? 

Bret Anthony Johnston: Thanks for these good questions, Emily.  As a fiction writer, I’m far more interested in emotional truth than quantifiable fact.  Another way to say that might be that I’m more swayed by authenticity than accuracy.  And yet, of course, there’s a paradox here because fiction, unlike fact or lived experience, has the burden of believability.  Fiction has to be rendered with such care that its “truth” is unassailable.  Lived experience can be, and often is, utterly unbelievable, but fiction lives and dies by far stricter standards.  Fiction answers to a higher truth—or at least aspires to one.  There is, I believe, something deeply comforting in that reality.

ES: Your book Remember Me Like This has been described as “an exploration of human morality” and a “moral mystery.” In a New York Times review of the book, Eleanor Henderson wrote that your novel was a reminder of the ethics of narration. Does narrative have an obligation to be moral?18112175

BAJ: First off, Eleanor Henderson is a saint, and I feel so lucky that my book made its way to her.  I also feel like I owe her a house or a pony or an island.  I couldn’t have asked for a better reader or review and I remain incredibly grateful.

The question of morality is nuanced and probably unanswerable, especially in the space we have here.  It’s equally possible that the question is more for the reader than the writer.  I will say that I have zero interest in judging my characters; in many ways, doing so feels unforgivable.  I don’t think of characters as being moral or immoral, good or bad, X or Y.  Really, the word ‘or’ feels too limiting, too judgmental, in my thinking about narrative.  I’m interested in reading and writing narratives where there is no “or”, but where “and” and only “and” prevails.  I want complexity in characters, in stories.  I want capaciousness.  I want to give the readers a full spectrum of experience, so if they choose to pass judgment on the characters or view a narrative through a lens of morality, they have enough context to do so.  The writer’s job is to present questions not answers.

corpus-christi-pbES: Many of your stories are set in Texas. Aside from growing up in Corpus Christi, what do you think continues to draw your stories back to the state?

BAJ: One of the things we spend a lot of time talking about in my workshops is the notion that place forms and informs character, action and, of course, story.  My deeply held belief is that if a writer has access to a story, lived or imagined, then the writer is obligated to tell it, to write it.  Stories use writers to get written.  I’m interested in those stories that can only happen in a certain place; as a reader, writer, and teacher, I’m most moved by those stories that would be fundamentally different in a different location.  So far, in my own writing, those stories have taken place in Texas.  I have no agenda or goal.  I’m not at all trying to lay claim to a part of the world or stake out any kind of literary plot of land.  Rather, the stories from that place keep elbowing their way into my imagination.  They insist on being written and I feel lucky, profoundly lucky, to hear and see them.

ES: I recently finished Infinite Jest, and I know that you read during the release party for The Pale King, so I have to ask: how do you think the two books compare? There’s some discussion that The Pale King would not have been as good as Infinite Jest even if it had been completed.

BAJ: What matters to me is that Infinite Jest exists and people can access it at any time.  Likewise, I take comfort that many of his short stories and essays are in the world.  How one piece of work stacks up against another in a writer’s career is, to my mind, irrelevant.  He wrote some flat-out astonishing fiction and nonfiction. The books reward multiple readings in ways that few others do.  What more can a writer want?  What more can a reader want?  I can think of not one thing.

ES: What’s the best writing advice that you’ve personally received?

BAJ: I’ve benefited from so much advice over the years that it’s hard to choose, so I’ll just go with what first comes to mind, maybe because it’s what I’ve heard most recently.  Allan Gurganus said that when a writer has the choice between thinking or trusting her way out of a problem on the page, she should always opt for trust.  This feels so inarguably true to me that I wish I’d said it.

ES: Finally, I have to ask: you’re a skateboarding enthusiast, so what’s your favorite skateboard trick?

BAJ: The ones I’m trying to learn!

Bret Anthony Johnston is the author of the internationally best-selling novel Remember Me Like This, and author of  the award-winning Corpus Christi: Stories, which was named a Best Book of the Year by The Independent (London) and The Irish Times, and the editor of Naming the World and Other Exercises for the Creative Writer. His work appears in The Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, The Paris Review, Glimmer Train Stories, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Best American Short Stories, and elsewhere.  His awards include the Pushcart Prize, the Glasgow Prize for Emerging Writers, the Stephen Turner Award, the Cohen Prize, a James Michener Fellowship, the Kay Cattarulla Prize for short fiction, and many more. His nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times, the New York Times Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Tin House, The Best American Sports Writing, and on NPR’s All Things Considered.  A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he’s the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship and a 5 Under 35 honor from the National Book Foundation. He wrote the documentary film Waiting for Lightning, which was released in theaters around the world by Samuel Goldwyn Films. He teaches in the Bennington Writing Seminars and at Harvard University, where he is the Director of Creative Writing.

CWW Newport faculty Jade Sylvan discusses their new play, Spider Cult: The Musical

spidercultSpider Cult: The Musical, written by Jade Sylvan, our Spring in Newport, RI Writing Retreat (April 22-24, 2015) fiction faculty member, will be playing at The Oberon Theatre in Cambridge, MA, on June 24 & June 26, 2016.  There will be two shows on the night of Friday, June 24, as well as a matinee and evening performance on Sunday, June 26.

Spider Cult is Boston’s first apocalyptic lesbian sci-fi horror burlesque musical. The musical follows Scout, an orphan stripper who over the course of the story is pursued by a “crazy” cult. To learn more about the musical and keep up to date with its production, visit: www.spidercultthemusical.com.

jadesylvanJade Sylvan (they/them/their), called a “risqué queer icon” by The Boston Globe, is an award-winning author, poet, screenwriter, producer, and performing artist heavily rooted in the literary and performance community of Cambridge and Somerville, Massachusetts. Jade’s most recent book, Kissing Oscar Wilde (Write Bloody, 2013), a novelized memoir about the author’s experience as a touring poet in Paris (sponsored by a travel grant from The Foundation of Contemporary Arts), was a finalist for the New England Book Award and the Bisexual Book Award.  Other work has appeared in The Washington PostBuzzfeedThe Toast, Mudfish, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, and many other publications.  Jade has toured extensively, performing their work to audiences across the United States, Canada, and Europe.  They are currently overseeing the production of their first full-length stage play, Spider Cult: The Musical, opening June 24th, 2016 at Oberon Theater in Harvard Square.

CWW Managing Editorial Intern Emily Smith for the Ploughshares Blog: “The Place of Zines in Contemporary American Politics”

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Zines straddle the border between Fluxist market-dodgers and the reputably tainted world of self-publishing literary dropouts. The difference between a zine and that 50 Shades of Grey-inspired alien erotica novel is function and intention. A zine works as a platform for writing and art that’s too provocative, political, or honest for traditional newsstand publications. According to Barnard College, which hosts one of the primary zine databases, literary zines are not well received, and that’s because literary works already hold a predominant place in the writing world.

As we wait for the results of the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary, there’s a sense that momentum is building toward a political explosion. A quiet shuffling, for now, which appears like a whisper on the pages of political zines: the most prevalent and useful of the breed.

Read more.

The Queen of the Night, new novel by CWW Fiction Faculty Alexander Chee, debuts Feb 2

QueenoftheNightCongratulations to novelist Alexander Chee, our featured fiction faculty member on our 2016 Summer in Granada Writing Retreat, for his new novel The Queen of the Night, which debuts in bookstores on February 2, 2016! Alexander Chee will be teaching during our Summer in Granada, Andalucía, Spain Writing Retreat (July 28-Aug 5, 2016).

Alexander Chee was born in Rhode Island, and raised in South Korea, Guam and Maine. He is a recipient of the 2003 Whiting Writers’ Award, a 2004 NEA Fellowship in Fiction, and residency fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the VCCA, Ledig House, the Hermitage and Civitella Ranieri. His first novel, Edinburgh (Picador, 2002), is a winner of the Michener Copernicus Prize, the AAWW Lit Award and the Lambda Editor’s Choice Prize, and was a Publisher’s Weekly Best Book of the Year and a Booksense 76 selection.

In The Queen of the Night, Lilliet Berne is a sensation of the Paris Opera, a legendary soprano with every accolade except an original role, every singer’s chance at immortality. When one is finally offered to her, she realizes with alarm that the libretto is based on a hidden piece of her past. Only four could have betrayed her: one is dead, one loves her, one wants to own her. And one, she hopes, never thinks of her at all.

Read an excerpt from the first chapter of the novel below, and the full first chapter on Longreads:

“…I seemed a stranger to myself, a changeling placed here in my life at some point I couldn’t remem­ber, and the glass of the mirror at the entrance to the palace seemed made from the same amber of the dream that surrounded me, a life that was not life, and which I could not seem to escape no matter where I went or what I sang.

And so their celebration of me that night at the ball, sincere as it was, felt as if it were happening in the life neighboring mine, visible through a glass.

I tell you I was distracted, but it was much more than that. For I was also focused intensely, waiting for one thing and one thing only, my attention turned toward something I couldn’t quite see but was sure was there, coming for me through the days ahead. I’d had a premonition in accepting the role of Marguerite that, in returning to Paris this time, I would be here for a meeting with my destiny. Here I would find what would transform me, what would return me to life and make this life the paradise I was so sure it should be…”

Here is Chee reading an excerpt from the novel at Franklin Park Bar and Beer Garden in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

Read more here. Join Alexander Chee for his talk at the PEN/Faulkner Reading Series at Bus Boy & Poets on February 11, 2016!

New Fiction from Paris Retreat Participant G. Evelyn Lampart feat. in Poetica Magazine!

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The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is proud to announce that one of our 2015 Summer in Paris Writing Retreat participants has had her work published in Poetica Magazine!  Her story “Fuller Brush” is part of the 2016 edition of Poetica Magazine, a contemporary Jewish literature publication.

G. Evelyn Lampart is both a practitioner and a consumer of mental health services. In this  unique role, she runs an art program in the mental health clinic that served to help her heal. Evelyn is also a student at the Writers Studio in New York City. Her writing  appears in Rozlyn, an anthology, Nous 5, Dirty Chai,  R.KV.R.Y., Poetica, and is forthcoming in The Quotable.

Summer in Granada Writing Retreat (July 28-Aug 5, 2016)

Granada2016PosterJoin the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop on our summer writing retreat to the cultural oasis of Granada, Spain. 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.

The retreat offers the opportunity for writers of all genres and levels to work alongside award-winning authors & editors to hone their craft and expand their writing skills, while working on new or existing projects. Our Andalucían writing retreat will take place from July 28-August 5, 2015, and the cost of the workshop is $3950, which includes lodging and breakfast, a tapas tour of Granada, craft of writing seminars, and writing workshops.

The retreat will be held at the Hotel Guadalupe (Paseo de la Sabica, 30, 18009 Granada, Spain). Faculty includes David Shields (fiction, book-length essay), Alexander Chee (fiction), Rita Banerjee (poetry, fiction), and Diana Norma Szokolyai (poetry, nonfiction).

In addition to workshops and lessons, participants can opt-in for daily yoga lessons, which help soothe the mind and body by creating opportunities for personal exploration and inspiration. Please note that this yoga/meditation opt-in will only be added to the writing retreat by popular demand (if enough writing retreat participants sign up for it). Taught by CWW’s very talented yoga instructor Elissa Lewis, our yoga classes focus on both the structural and spiritual and can be personalized according to any physical demands you may have.

If you’d like to join us in Granada, please apply online at cww.submittable.com by March 15, 2016, and include a $5 application screening fee, along with a writing sample of either five pages of poetry or ten pages of prose. (Due to limited seats, early applications are encouraged, but check for rolling admission after deadline, depending on availability).

applyDeadline: March 15, 2016

Featured Faculty:

David ShieldsDavid Shields is the internationally bestselling author of twenty books, including Reality Hunger (named one of the best books of 2010 by more than thirty publications), The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead (New York Times bestseller), and Black Planet (finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award). Forthcoming from Knopf in February 2017 is Other People: Takes & Mistakes. The recipient of Guggenheim and NEA fellowships, Shields has published essays and stories in the New York Times Magazine, Harper’s, Esquire, Yale Review, Village Voice, Salon, Slate, McSweeney’s, and Believer. His work has been translated into twenty languages.

chee

Alexander Chee was born in Rhode Island, and raised in South Korea, Guam and Maine. He is a recipient of the 2003 Whiting Writers’ Award, a 2004 NEA Fellowship in Fiction, and residency fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the VCCA, Ledig House, the Hermitage and Civitella Ranieri. His first novel, Edinburgh (Picador, 2002), is a winner of the Michener Copernicus Prize, the AAWW Lit Award and the Lambda Editor’s Choice Prize, and was a Publisher’s Weekly Best Book of the Year and a Booksense 76 selection. In 2003, Out Magazine honored him as one of their 100 Most Influential People of the Year. His essays and stories have appeared in Granta.com, Out, The Man I Might Become, Loss Within Loss, Men On Men 2000, His 3 and Boys Like Us. He has taught fiction and nonfiction writing at the New School University, Wesleyan University, Amherst College, and the Fiction program at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He lives in New York City and blogs at Koreanish.

RitaBanerjeeRita Banerjee received her doctorate in Comparative Literature from Harvard and her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington.  Her writing has been published or is forthcoming in the Los Angeles Review of BooksElectric Literature, VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, AWP WC&C Quarterly, Queen Mob’s Tea House, Riot Grrrl Magazine, Poets for Living Waters, The Monarch Review, The Fiction Project, Quail Bell Magazine, Jaggery, Catamaran, The Crab Creek Review, The Dudley Review, Objet d’Art, Amethyst Arsenic, Vox Populi, Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure, Chrysanthemum, and on KBOO Radio’s APA Compass in Portland, Oregon.  Her first collection of poems, Cracklers at Night, was published by Finishing Line Press and received First Honorable Mention for Best Poetry Book of 2011-2012 at the Los Angeles Book Festival, and her novella, A Night with Kali, is forthcoming from Spider Road Press in 2016.  Creative Director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop, she is currently working on a novel and a book of lyric essays.

DianaNormaDiana Norma Szokolyai is a writer/interdisciplinary artist/educator and Executive Artistic Director of Cambridge Writers’ Workshop. Based in Brooklyn, NY, 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 published in Quail Bell Magazine, Lyre Lyre, The Fiction Project, The Boston Globe, Dr. Hurley’s Snake Oil Cure, 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 original research in Paris for two years. She is currently at work on three books and recording an album of poetry & music.

Elielissalewis.jpegssa Lewis is the Yoga & Arts Coordinator of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop. She began her journey with yoga in 2006, when she moved to France and made the practice part of her daily routine. She saw yoga as a lifestyle, not only a class, helping her to clear her mind and have more compassion for herself and others. In 2010 she moved to New York and completed her teacher training at Laughing Lotus, a creative, soulful yoga studio that teaches the student to ‘move like yourself.’ She’s taught private and group classes in Manhattan and Brooklyn ever since. Visit her website for informative yoga sequences and information.

Spring in Newport, Rhode Island Writing & Yoga Retreat (April 22-24, 2016)

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Join us April 22-24, 2016 in Newport, Rhode Island for our annual Spring in Newport Writing & Yoga Retreat!  Our Newport retreat offers the opportunity for writers of all genres and levels to work alongside award-winning authors & editors to hone their craft and expand their writing skills, while working on new or existing projects. Famous for its seafood and coastline, Newport is rife with writing inspiration. During free sessions in the afternoon, take a mansion tour of gilded-era Newport, visit the Newport Museum, listen to some Newport jazz classics, or just relax beside the ocean watching the sailboats, and let the stunning location influence your writing.

The retreat will be held at our Cape-Cod Style Bungalow (located at 350 Old Mill Ln., Portsmouth, RI 02871). There will be limited lodging at the house proper, and additional lodging at The Mainstay Hotel and Conference Center (151 Admiral Kalbfus Rd, Newport, RI 02840).  During the retreat, writers will learn craft techniques alongside award-winning authors such as Jade Sylvan (fiction), Diana Norma Szokolyai (poetry, nonfiction), and Elissa Lewis (yoga, meditation). 

Daily creative writing workshops, lodging, craft of writing seminars, daily yoga and meditation classes, a welcome lunch, and a farewell brunch are included in the $650 tuition. With shared lodging, the price of the retreat is $475. Please send us an email to inquire about partial attendance. There are limited seats for this workshop, so apply early! 

If you’d like to join us in Newport, please apply online at cww.submittable.com by March 15, 2016  with a ten page sample of prose or five page sample of poetry, and a $5 application screening fee. (Due to limited seats, early applications are encouraged, but check for rolling admission after deadline, depending on availability).

applyDeadline: March 15, 2016

Featured Faculty:

jadesylvan

Jade Sylvan (they/them/their), called a “risqué queer icon” by The Boston Globe, is an award-winning author, poet, screenwriter, producer, and performing artist heavily rooted in the literary and performance community of Cambridge and Somerville, Massachusetts. Jade’s most recent book, Kissing Oscar Wilde (Write Bloody, 2013), a novelized memoir about the author’s experience as a touring poet in Paris (sponsored by a travel grant from The Foundation of Contemporary Arts), was a finalist for the New England Book Award and the Bisexual Book Award.  Other work has appeared in The Washington PostBuzzfeedThe Toast, Mudfish, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, and many other publications.  Jade has toured extensively, performing their work to audiences across the United States, Canada, and Europe.  They are currently overseeing the production of their first full-length stage play, Spider Cult the Musical, opening June 24th, 2016 at Oberon Theater in Harvard Square.

DianaNormaDiana Norma Szokolyai is a writer/interdisciplinary artist/educator and Executive Artistic Director of Cambridge Writers’ Workshop. Based in Brooklyn, NY, 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 published in Quail Bell Magazine, Lyre Lyre, The Fiction Project, The Boston Globe, Dr. Hurley’s Snake Oil Cure, 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 original research in Paris for two years. She is currently at work on three books and recording an album of poetry & music.

elissalewis.jpegElissa Lewis is the Yoga & Arts Coordinator of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop. She began her journey with yoga in 2006, when she moved to France and made the practice part of her daily routine. She saw yoga as a lifestyle, not only a class, helping her to clear her mind and have more compassion for herself and others. In 2010 she moved to New York and completed her teacher training at Laughing Lotus, a creative, soulful yoga studio that teaches the student to ‘move like yourself.’ She’s taught private and group classes in Manhattan and Brooklyn ever since. Visit her website for informative yoga sequences and information.

Kathleen Spivack Launches Novel at Harvard Book Store

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Join Cambridge Writers’ Workshop faculty member Kathleen Spivack at the Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, MA for the launch of her new book Unspeakable Things. The short reading, book signing, and party will take place on Saturday, January 31 at 2 p.m.

6odLzoK-ReQPwOcvZbfWrdFOulc08fdeMOZ6m28nwOUKathleen Spivack is the author of A History of Yearning, winner of the Sows Ear International Poetry Prize 2010, first runner up in the New England Book Festival, and winner of the London Book Festival; Moments of Past Happiness(Earthwinds/Grolier Editions 2007); The Beds We Lie In (Scarecrow 1986), nominated for a Pulitzer Prize; The Honeymoon (Graywolf 1986); Swimmer in the Spreading Dawn (Applewood 1981); The Jane Poems (Doubleday 1973); Flying Inland (Doubleday 1971); Robert Lowell and His Circle (2011) and a novel, Unspeakable Things. She is a recipient of the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award 2010, the 2010 Erica Mumford Award, and the 2010 Paumanok Award. Published in numerous magazines and anthologies, some of her work has been translated into French. Other publications include The New Yorker, Ploughshares, The Atlantic Monthly, Poetry, Massachusetts Review, Virginia Quarterly, The Southern Review, Harvard Review, The Paris Review, The Kenyon Review, Agni, New Letters, and others. Her work is featured in numerous anthologies. She has also won several International Solas Prizes for “Best Essays.”

CWW Managing Editorial & Communications Intern Emily Smith for The Ploughshares Blog: Infinite Jest as Performance Art

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I was at Punta della Dogana in Venice when I first saw Ryan Trecartin’s Center Jenny. The movie was projected on the wall and brooded over Lizzie Fitch’s sculptures: lawn chairs and picnic benches chained to golf course-quality grass like a scary garden party. The film itself follows a group of sorority sisters with psychedelic skin to the soundtrack of breaking glass; their dialogue is alien English, merely clusters of Internet sound bites. The narrative is still in disconnect no matter how many times I watch the film, not quite something that can be revealed without its own consent, by which I mean that Center Jenny is content in control of itself and aware of its own audience—it’s not just video art, or something to be absorbed, but performance art. The same can be said for David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest.

Read more.

Happy New Year, Writers! -♥️- Cambridge Writers’ Workshop

HappyNewYear2016-CWW

Happy New Year 2016 from the directors, staff, and board of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop!  We hope you’re all as excited for 2016 as we are!  We’re planning a delightful, productive year for our writers and artists with plenty of opportunities to travel, write, practice yoga, and network, and we’re looking forward to seeing you at our retreats, workshops, readings, and literary fest events in 2016!

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop had a wonderful year in 2015.  Over the last twelve months, we’ve had a chance to hold retreats and readings across America and the world, meet exciting writers, yoga practicioneers, and artists, and have found new ways to inspire our own writing.  Our year began with the Brooklyn Yoga, Aromatherapy, & Writing Workshop. We restored our minds with invigorating yoga, learned about Essential Oils, and inspired out writing. In February, we joined the 2015 Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. At AWP 2015, we got a chance to promote CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos & Sourcebook for Creative Writing, advertise our new literary internships, and discuss our Summer Writing Retreats in Granada, Spain and Paris, France, as well as our Spring Writing Retreat in Newport, Rhode Island. We also hosted our second AWP event at Boneshaker Books. At our Books & Bones event, there were featured readings from authors such as  Alex CarriganJonah KruvantDena Rash GuzmanLeah UmanskyAnca SzilagyiMicah Dean HicksMichele NereimBianca StoneJessica PiazzaJess BurnquistSheila McMullin, and Brenda Peynado.

After AWP 2015, we were off to our first annual Spring Writing Retreat in Newport, Rhode Island. We were joined by award-winning and internationally-renowned authors such as Kathleen Spivack and Stephen Aubrey, in addition to CWW directors Rita Banerjee and Diana Norma Szokolyai, and CWW yoga instructor Elissa Lewis. The event was a chance for writers to spend a long weekend in historic Newport and near the beach, participating in writing workshops (such as Aubrey’s workshops on theater and Spivack’s workshops on developing manuscripts) and craft of writing seminars, yoga classes, and cultural tours of the historic Newport village. We liveblogged the entire event as well, sharing dozens of photos from our trip while also allowing our writers to share their thoughts on the experience.

During the summer we hosted our Summer in Granada and Summer in Paris Writing Retreats. In Paris, we explored the city and all of its historical, literary, and romantic charm. The retreat included craft of writing seminars and creative writing workshops, literary tours of Paris, daily yoga and meditation classes, and one-on-one manuscript consultations. We were also joined by Guggenheim Fellowship recipient and New York Times bestselling author David Shields, who taught workshops about collage, appropriation, and collaboration. CWW directors Rita Banerjee and Diana Norma Szokolyai taught workshops on stakes and building character, and also led workshops for participants to share their work and use the Liz Lerman method for critiquing writing. We live blogged our Paris retreat on our website, so feel free to check it out and see our workshops, as well as our excursions to Shakespeare and CompanyVersailles and Au Chat Noir. We were really happy to experience this with all of our participants, who traveled from all over the U.S, as well as England and Australia, to come write and explore Paris with us.

In Granada, wrote in the city’s winding streets, absorbed its Moorish history, and were inspired by its evocative landscapes. The retreat included craft of writing seminars and writing workshops and yoga classes. We were joined by Guggenheim Fellowship recipient and Pushcart Prize winner Peter Orner, who led a workshop on Spanish literature. Diana Norma Szokolyai led workshops on voice and stakes, while Rita Banerjee led a workshop on narrative development. We also live blogged this trip, so you can see all the exciting things we did on this trip, such as seeing Poeta in Nueva York and shopping for fans.

We hosted a Brooklyn Bookend Reading at Muchmore’s during The Brooklyn Book Festival. Some of the writers had emerged onto the literary scene with a bang, while others had recently published their first or second books, and had received prestigious awards in the past. The event was moderated by Diana Norma Szokolyai and included writers Rita Banerjee, Jonah Kruvant, Brandon Lewis, Elizabeth Devlin, Lisa Marie Basile, Jessica Reidy, Gregory Crosby, Matty Marks, and Emily Smith.

In November, we also hosted our annual Pre-Thanksgiving Writing & Yoga Cleanse. The two day event kicked off with yoga lessons from Elissa Lewis, followed by creative writing workshops and craft seminars from Jessica Reidy. Our Pre-Thanksgiving Writing & Yoga Cleanse was an opportunity for the participants to cleanse themselves mentally, spiritually, and creatively before the bustling holiday season.

In 2015, we continued our work on CREDO Anthology of Manifestos & Sourcebook for Creative Writing. The collection will feature personal writer manifestos, essays on writing advice, and writing exercises to help spur creativity. Our staff has greatly enjoyed critiquing and conversing with writers on this publication, and more information about publication will be announced in the upcoming year.

In 2015, we welcomed our second round of interns to the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop, and these interns include the wonderful Emily Smith, Casey Lynch, and Alyssa Goldstein, all of whom have helped the CWW greatly this year. They’ve helped manage our social media and written up posts about our events, shown their talent for graphic design and corresponding with writers and hosts in French, Spanish, and English, and have provided much valuable assistance on our retreats and literary events this year.  We’re excited to have Emily, Casey, and Alyssa, on our team, and we can’t wait to show you what they’ve helped us plan for 2016!

This was also a good year for our individual staff members getting published. CWW co-director Rita Banerjee had her poetry published in Quail Bell MagazineRiot Grrrl Magazine, and The Monarch Review. Her interview with CWW visiting professor and Guggenheim Fellowship recipient David Shields was published in Electric Literature. CWW co-director Diana Norma Szokolyai reported for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts on”The Defensive Male Writer.”  CWW Executive Board Member Jessica Reidy‘s “Why the Pyres are Unlit” was released in Drunken Boat’s Romani Folio and her poetry was nominated by The Poetry Blog for “Best of the Net.” Managing Intern Alex Carrigan had his work published in Strike! and Quail Bell Magazine and Managing Intern Emily Smith became a Contributing Blogger for Ploughshares.

While 2015 proved to be a very exciting year for all of us, our staff is quite ready to move on to our next round of exciting events. The CWW will once again table at AWP in Los Angeles from March 30-April 2, 2016, and will be announcing our AWP Reading in downtown Los Angeles shortly!

Join us April 21-24, 2016 for our second annual Spring in Newport, Rhode Island Writing Retreat. Our Newport retreat offers the opportunity for writers of all genres and levels to work alongside award-winning authors & editors to hone their craft and expand their writing skills, while working on new or existing projects. In the past, faculty has included internationally renowned author and writing coach Kathleen SpivackStephen Aubrey, Diana Norma Szokolyai, Rita Banerjee, and Elissa Lewis.

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Summer in Narbonne & Barcelona Writing Retreat will take place July 18-26, 2016. The retreat offers participating writers of all genres and levels to work alongside award-winning authors and editors. Participating writers will hone their craft and expand their writing skills, while working on new or existing projects.  There will also be time to explore the city of Barcelona, Spain and the beaches of Narbonne, France.  Our past France retreats have included David Shields, Diana Norma Szokolyai, Rita Banerjee, Jessica Reidy, and Elissa Lewis as faculty members.

And from July 28-August 5, 2016, join the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop on our summer writing retreat to the cultural oasis of Granada, Spain. 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. Or, indulge in delicious Andalucían cuisine and traditional Arab baths. Work with world-renowned authors on your manuscript, or look to the beauty and warmth of Granada to inspire all-new projects.  In our past Granada retreat, faculty has included Peter Orner, Rita Banerjee, Diana Norma Szokolyai, and Elissa Lewis.

We hope you are all as excited for our 2016 events as we are.  Information on our upcoming 2016 retreats and readings will be going live in January 2016!  If you have any questions we may not have answered, you can email us at info@cambridgewritersworkshop.org, and for inquiries, please email the CWW Directors, Rita Banerjee and Diana Norma Szokolyai, at directors@cambridgewritersworkshop.org.  You can also follow us on FacebookTumblr, and Twitter for more information and updates on any of these events. We look forward to making 2016 a year full of creativity, writing, and renewal, so join us as we make 2016 rock!

— Emily Smith & Alex Carrigan, CWW Managing Interns