Pride Month: CWW Manager Alex Carrigan on Washington D.C.’s Equality March

 

I recently moved to the D.C. area for a new job, and one of the things I was most excited about with the area was the opportunity to see and do new things in a large city. Living in this area, I’d be able to see concerts, films, shows of all kinds, and the sort of social activism that I normally wouldn’t see in towns I lived in before. It wasn’t that I lived in places without these events and attitudes, but they weren’t to the scale that excited me.

I wasn’t able to go to the Women’s March back in January. I was in the midst of a move, and driving up to the area was a bad idea. I had to make due with looking at photos on Facebook of people I knew who were able to go, including members of my family. The only other social event I went to was the Climate Change March, but I ended up there accidentally and felt somewhat detached.

When I heard there was a march for LGBT+ rights, I knew I had to go. I knew that no matter what, I had to go. Last year, I started openly identifying as an LGBT man, and that openness made me want to start getting involved. I began watching more queer media, I started to go to LGBT+ events, and I wanted to start expressing myself in ways that allowed me to explore different facets of myself, both heterosexual and homosexual.

Thus, I prepared for the Equality March on June 11, 2017. First was assembling my marching look. I knew there would be people in much crazier outfits that I couldn’t seek to compete with, so I settled for a shirt I got from Charlottesville Pride 2016. I had some beads I got from the Pride Parade the day before (and from other Pride/LGBT+ events in the last year or so), and I had some buttons I got from the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop’s Writers in Resistance reading at AWP 2017. I also had some nail polish for my fingers, mostly cause I like how my nails look painted, and I did eye black with some red lipstick I had, paying slight homage to Shoshanna from Inglourious Basterds.

The most important part of it all (aside from sunscreen, sunglasses, and water) was the sign. I knew I wanted a sign to carry. Signs stood out, signs get photographed in crowd shots, and they’re also just really fun to make. I wanted to make one that referenced queer media, mostly cause I’m a total nerd, but also because I knew these were the people who would understand whatever I put on there. I had spent months going back and forth on what to do. I had considered Venus Xtravaganza’s famous line “You’re just an overgrown orangutan” from the film Paris is Burning, as well as Trinity Taylor’s “I call ‘Shade!'” line from season 9 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. I knew pieces like these would be popular and seen throughout the march, but I mostly changed my mind because of my extremely limited artistic abilities. Plus, I saw someone else do the Trinity Taylor one, and they had a much better looking sign.

I finally settled on a line that wouldn’t raise any concern from the elderly, conservative neighbors in the new apartment I just moved into: “Not today, Satan!” The line was uttered by drag queen Bianca Del Rio in season 6 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. For those who don’t know, Bianca is a drag insult comic who has described herself as “Don Rickles, but in a dress, and prettier and not as old.” After winning season 6, she became one of the more known subversive comics in LGBT+ media. No one is safe at a Bianca Del Rio show. Everyone will probably be offended by a few jokes, but find themselves laughing at them anyways. Bianca Del Rio is the kind of person I admire because of her ability to say whatever she wants, make it funny, and show enough intelligence, wit, class, and soul that she ascends most insecurities and can float through the most ugly of situations with her head on right and zero fucks to give.

So naturally, she was the perfect person to emulate for this march. Also, because fire is way easier to draw than a human being.

Getting to the march, I was worried about the responses I’d get on the bus or the subway. Fortunately, everone on the bus didn’t care, and when I got to the subway, I saw more people heading to the march, so I was in good company. I even got to chat with a nice girl named Miriam on the way there. I wish I didn’t lose her upon arriving, because she was a very smart and kind person who would have been a good friend to make at the event. And after all, I had just moved to the area, so I am up for making new connections.

Once I joined the line and we started to march, that’s when the rush came in. I got a taste of it in the Climate Change March, but I really felt it here. I walked with all kinds of queer individuals from all over the country. I saw people from Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, and even from outside the country. I saw people who were calling out members of the Trump administration, such as Jeff Sessions, Betsy DeVos, and Jared Kushner.

And like me, I saw a lot of people taking various figures as icons for the march. Not only did I see other RuPaul’s Drag Race queens represented via signs, I saw signs using images of figures like Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia, The Babadook, and more. Even the sign I chose resonated with a lot of people. Not only did people ask me to let them take my picture (which allowed me to show off my Bianca Del Rio bitchface), but I also had people look at me and cheer “Not today, Satan!” to which I shouted back “Not today!”

What I also found interesting was the chosen route and how it related to the march. Along the way, we walked past the White House. I could see figures on the roof, no doubt wanting to see if anyone would go too far with the march. People would stop on the march, look out the White House, and chant things like “Shame! Shame! Shame!” The whole way, I could also see notable Washington D.C. monuments like the Washington Memorial, and the Capitol Building, which is where the march ended.

What I took away from this event (aside from a bit of sunburn) was a perfect blend of social activism, popular culture, meme theory, and historical relevance. I saw men, women, and children from all over the nation marching together for the sake of equality and to fight against a system that would try to install a travel ban and would pull out of the Paris agreement. I saw the use of images used in creative ways and to play with the idea of icons.

But what I mostly felt was proud. I felt like every person I saw with a stitch of rainbow on them was a friend. I felt so comfortable and joyous surrounded by all kinds of people who were so comfortable expressing themselves and using that expression to call for change. I saw gay couples holding hands, I say gay couples walking with their children, I saw people of various races and creeds coming together to make a stand. And through all of that, I felt so much bigger than I am, and it made me want to continue to be a part of this community. It made me want to pay attention to these matters, and it made me want to be willing to get out of my home and do something about these issues.

I really hope to do more with the D.C. gay community in the future, even if it’s just going to a drag show in the city. At the very least, I hope something like this happens again next year, because I would love more time to prepare something fun and exciting for the march.

And if anyone tries to stop me, I’ll just say “Not today, Satan! Not today.”

— Alexander Carrigan, CWW Manager

 

CWW Summer in Granada Writing Retreat Scholarship Deadline – June 20, 2017

Granada2017PosterJune6 copyWe are offering scholarships in the amount of $500 – $650 for our Summer in Granada, Spain Writing Retreat (August 2-6, 2017).  Deadline for Scholarship Applications is June 20, 2017 for Granada, Spain.*

For writers who are minorities, parents, and students. Please simply indicate your scholarship category and a one paragraph statement indicating need of financial support in your cover letter.

applyDeadline: June 20, 2017

* Apply Early, Limited Scholarships *

WRITING RETREATS with the supportive faculty of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop will take place in Granada, Spain (August 2–6) and Rockport, MA (October 13-15). Faculty for our 2017 retreats include Tim Horvath, Dipika Guha, Emily Nemens, Adam Reid Sexton, Rita Banerjee, Diana Norma Szokolyai, Kerry Cohen, Maya Sonenberg and Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich. Genres include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, playwriting, and hybrid.

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

applyDeadline: June 20, 2017

* We are extending our scholarship deadline for those who read about our Summer in Granada Writing Retreat in the Washington Post & Boston Voyager feature articles this month 🙂

CWW Spring in New Orleans Retreat Faculty & Playwright Dipika Guha Awarded Princeton Hodder Fellowship

Congratulations to our 2017 Spring in New Orleans Faculty and playwright Dipika Guha for being one of five artists selected for the Princeton Hodder Fellowship.  Hodder Fellows may be writers, composers, choreographers, visual artists, performance artists, or other kinds of artists or humanists who have, as the program outlines, “much more than ordinary intellectual and literary gifts.”

Dipika Guha will join the ranks of former fellowship recipients including novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and playwright Will Eno.  As a Hodder Fellow, Guha will be working on a play about the history of partitions, homelands, and the politics of migration.

Dipika Guha is a playwright raised in India, Russia, and the United Kingdom. She was 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 play The Art of Gaman was developed at the Ground Floor at Berkeley Rep and topped the Kilroys List 2016. Her other plays include I Enter the Valley (Theatreworks New Play Festival 2016, Ruby Prize Finalist 2016), Mechanics of Love (Crowded Fire Theatre, Two by For, SIS Productions), Blown Youth (published by Playscripts), and The Rules (San Francisco Playhouse). Recent commissions include Yoga Play for South Coast Repertory Theatre and a translation of The Merry Wives of Windsor for Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Upcoming commissions include a play for Playwrights Horizons Theatre School, the McCarter Theatre’s Princeton Slavery Project, and in collaboration with Jeremy Cohen a new play for ACT. Guha is currently a playwright-in-residence at the Playwrights Foundation and an artist-in-residence at the Orville Schell Center for Human Rights at Yale Law School.

Introducing our Spring in Portland Alumna Angie Walls’s Award-Winning “Redmonton”

Angie Walls, an alumna of our 2017 Spring in Portland Writing Retreat, has created an award-winning web series called Redmonton.  Redmonton follows four young girls who dream of leaving their small Midwest town for the big city, but life keeps getting in the way. They get a rude awakening when they find out a friend of theirs is moving to New York City, and have to come to terms with how their lives have turned out in their mid-20s, which grows with uncertainty and loss of direction.

Redmonton is the recipient of 27 prestigious film awards worldwide, including best screenwriting, direction, cinematography, women filmmakers, and ensemble cast.  For more information on Redmonton, and to watch the web series online, please visit the following:

Official Website: www.redmonton.com
IMDB Page: www.imdb.com/title/tt5181896/
Watch on YouTube: www.youtube.com/channel/UCVTCxEWBBXUq9JTmsN8eJgw
Watch on Vimeo: www.vimeo.com/channels/redmonton  

Angie Walls is a short story writer, novelist, and screenwriter who grew up in Springfield, Missouri, near the Ozarks. Many of her stories explore contemporary themes of identity, isolation, and helplessness in the Midwest. She is the award-winning screenwriter and director behind Redmonton, an original web series inspired by her hometown, and has published stories in various journals including Cutthroat, East Bay Review, Summerset Review, Halfway Down the Stairs, The Helix, Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review, The Griffin, and Stirring. Her short story “Things We Should’ve Said” received an honorable mention from Glimmer Train, and one of her essays will be published in Carve Magazine. In 2017, she will be releasing a new book of short stories, Anywhere But Here.  Angie Walls is an alumna of our 2017 Spring in Portland Writing Retreat.

CWW Recommends: Lit & Culture Scenes in Portland, OR

This April, I joined an amazing group of writers at the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop 2017 Spring in Portland Writing Retreat, hosted in the Alberta Arts District. During our brief weekend, we enjoyed an inspired writing session at the (not so) Secret Library located in the historic Heathman Hotel; an afternoon exploring Powell’s, Portland’s most well-known bookstore that occupies a full city block and boasts a collection of one million books; and a public reading from local author Paul Dage at the American legion hall on Alberta Street.

I have been lucky enough to call Portland my home for the past year. Before moving here, I spent more than a decade living on the east coast, and have found Portland to be a different kind of city. If you’ve seen Portlandia, you know what I mean. From the outside, what usually stands out is Portland’s weirdness, often compared to the likes of Austin and Pittsburgh for its quirky locals and offbeat places (a museum of vacuums, abandoned schools/banks/jails turned into bars, and a vegan strip club, just to name a few). On the inside, Portland is a gem of a city that prides itself in many things: environmental consciousness, craft brewing, and a farm-to-table ethos – local bacon jam, local salt, local ketchup, local coffee roasters, and I could go on forever. Most of all, Portland is a city of passion, arts, and community, which frequently celebrates its indie authors, publishers, and artists. So in today’s post, I’m happy to share a few recommendations on the best places to write, discuss books, and otherwise soak up the creative life here in Portland.

— Angie Walls

Mother Foucault’s Bookshop

This beloved indie bookshop sells new and used books, and proud of its bookish, low-tech environment (cash only, no cell phones, and they don’t have a website). With floor-to-ceiling wood bookshelves, a small stage, a back room for book groups, Mother Foucault’s is a great spot to get lost reading. They host several readings and events for writers, poets, and performers, including this summer’s Last Thursdays of Humanity – an open stage for storytellers to respond to the current state of America.


Literary Arts

Literary Arts is a thirty-year-old nonprofit literary center in Portland that offers valuable programs and support services for writers. They celebrate local authors with the Oregon Book Awards and Fellowship programs, offer creative writing workshops, and build community around literature through lecture series and author events. Every November, they host the city’s biggest book festival called Wordstock, an entire day of fifty on-stage readings, writer panels, pop-up signings, and book fair.

Liars’ League PDX & Backfence

In addition to poetry slams, Portland has a few groups hosting spoken word open mics. The Liars’ League originally formed in London and has spread to NYC, Hong Kong, and Portland. Every month’s event is based on a theme like “East and West” and “Willpower and Shame.” The League picks the best  short fiction and then casts actors to reach them at the live event. And in the past week, the Liars’ League PDX will be part of The Archive Project, a collaboration between Literary Arts and OPB Radio that features recordings from lit/poetry slams and other live literary events around Portland.

Rimsky-Korsakoffee House

One of my favorite writing spots, the Rimsky-Korsakoffee House is one of the oldest coffee houses in the city and is full of oddities including a coffin centerpiece and self-rotating tables. Inside a Victorian house in Southeast Portland (formerly a warehouse and industrial neighborhood that now offers hip eateries and shops), Rimsky’s is great for a late-night writing session, complete with coffee and to-die-for desserts and live classical music. According to owner Goody Cable, “the house is haunted by it former tenants, a pair of writers who bore witness to the Russian revolution.”

Crystal Ballroom

Originally built in 1914 as Cotillion Hall to host dance revivals and popular music artists during the Great Depression, the Crystal Ballroom continues to be one of Portland’s top music venues. Even after decades of changes, the building has managed to maintain its unique character, in its high ceilings, murals, chandeliers, wide-arched windows, and restored “floating” dance floor. In addition to bringing in local and national bands, the ballroom also hosts its 80s and 90s dance parties that have been drawing crowds for the past ten years.

Saturday Market

Portland’s Saturday Market has been around for nearly forty-five years, and every Saturday, Portlanders come to explore the open-air market in Old Town. This market showcases more than 250 local arts, crafts, and food vendors: handcrafted soaps, mosaic art, oil paintings, vegan bakeries, eco-friendly jewelry, and more.

First Thursdays

Originally a gathering of art collectors and dealers, this is the place to discover Portland’s thriving art scene. In the heart of the Pearl District, First Thursdays draws thousands into the area’s thirty-plus art galleries spread over eight city blocks, so you can meet local sculptors, painters, photographers, collectors, and others over wine and a shared love of art. Come summertime, the closed-off blocks come alive through live music, beer, food, and new friends.

Revolution Hall

Revolution Hall is a performing arts venue and concert hall. It’s housed in what used to be the Washington High School building in Southeast, which was abandoned after the ‘80s and later renovated as a performance venue in 2013. It’s hosted local bands from Portland’s Mississippi Studios among a variety of national and international acts – from blues to grassroots to British indie rock. While most of the calendar is filled with bands, they host other exciting events like comedy, live author events (in Feb, an Evening with Activist/Journalist Dan Savage) and live radio productions, including Cheryl Strayed’s Dear Sugar radio show and LiveWire (a popular live variety show).

Angie Walls is a short story writer, novelist, and screenwriter who grew up in Springfield, Missouri, near the Ozarks. Many of her stories explore contemporary themes of identity, isolation, and helplessness in the Midwest. She is the award-winning screenwriter and director behind Redmonton, an original web series inspired by her hometown, and has published stories in various journals including Cutthroat, East Bay Review, Summerset Review, Halfway Down the Stairs, The Helix, Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review, The Griffin, and Stirring. Her short story “Things We Should’ve Said” received an honorable mention from Glimmer Train, and one of her essays will be published in Carve Magazine. In 2017, she will be releasing a new book of short stories, Anywhere But Here.  Angie Walls is an alumna of our 2017 Spring in Portland Writing Retreat.

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

Granada2017PosterJune1st
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 http://cww.submittable.com 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_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.

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

CWW Summer in Granada Writing Retreat Faculty Alexander Chee featured in The New York Times

Last year author Alexander Chee joined the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop as our fiction instructor for our 2016 Summer in Granada, Spain Writing Retreat. Now Chee has been chosen as one of four authors to share stories of how love and travel intersect for The New York Times’s debut Love Issue. The his essay, “In Spain, Secrets and a Possible Betrayal,” Chee recounts traveling to Granada during the summer with a former boyfriend, referred to as M. in the piece. In the essay, Chee writes:

M. loved poets, wrote poetry, sometimes wrote me poems, and his favorite poets all seemed to have met violent or tragic deaths, including Lorca. The day we visited Lorca’s house in Granada, we found the whole of it kept much as it was when he was there. I noticed the roses in the vases were almost gone, ready to be replaced, while roses bloomed outside. I imagined the poet had planted them, or at least tended them, but I didn’t want to ask in case it wasn’t true. I can still see the shrug as the tour guide said, “Yes, he was the son of a wealthy man,” a detail I wrote down in my notebook, along with how we all then looked at the beautiful wooden desk that seemed like a boat. I didn’t know why the guide said that and still don’t. Just as I don’t know why a book of his poems on the desk that day was open to “Poet in New York” — his other city.

Lorca’s murder had made him Granada’s presiding ghost. If his body had vanished at the hands of fascist murderers, he was everywhere there now, his face and words on mugs, T-shirts, restaurant menus and graffiti nearly anywhere you looked.

Unlike M., I already spoke Spanish. I needed to go to Paris and London to research my second novel, so we planned a summer trip across Europe to combine our aims, beginning with me in London and Paris, where he would join me, then Granada, beginning in July and concluding in late August…

M. had chosen our apartment because it was opposite the Alhambra, the magnificent historic Moorish palace on the hill across from our neighborhood, the Albaicín. The Darro ran between us. Our roof patio was opposite a simple mirador with a fountain, where there always seemed to be people playing guitar and smoking marijuana, with whom we exchanged waves. The apartment was simple and clean, its magnificence concentrated in the patio view of the palace and the city. Each room was on a different floor off a spiral staircase, the apartment as winding as the hill it was on. We left and returned by climbing a series of winding footpaths and side streets, and if I was confused, at night, I was always able to follow the guitar music home…

M.’s days at the school began early and were long, and left to my own devices, I would write for a few hours and then walk through the side streets, where I mapped the ancient cathedrals, most of which had been mosques before the expulsion of the Muslims, and then had the traditional breakfast of bread with tomate, a fresh tomato purée on toast, and olive oil. In Granada, there are usually two kinds of olive oil on the tables to put on, it seemed, anything you ate, but especially for this.

Read Alexander Chee’s full essay on his summer spent writing in Granada here.

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.  Apply at cww.submittable.com by May 1, 2015!

CWW Alumni Aaron Graham Selected for the 30/30 Project to Support Tupelo Press

Aaron Graham, an alumni of the 2017 Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Spring in New Orleans Writing Retreat has been chosen for the 30/30 Project to benefit Tupelo Press, a literary non-profit organization. Aaron will join eight other volunteers in writing a poem a day during the month of April while raising donations to support the literary press. Other poets for the project include Alexandra Barylski, Rebecca Raphael, Pamela Murray Winters, and more. You can donate to support your favorite authors here.  To help Aaron reach his $350 goal, donate here.

Aaron Graham is a doctoral candidate at Emory University and is also the poetry editor of Muse /A Literary Journal, and Assistant Poetry Editor for The Tishman Review. He was the 2016 Cecilia Baker Memorial Visiting Fellow for Seaside Writers and a veteran who served both in Afghanistan and Iraq. His work has appeared in SAND, Rising Phoenix, The Taos International Journal of Poetry and Art, The East Bay Review, Zero-Dark-Thirty , Grist, Alternating Current, and more. His work has won numerous awards, including Seven Hills Press’s Penumbra Poetry Prize, Tishman Review‘s 2015 Poetry Contest, and Tethered by Letters’ 2017 Luminaire Award.  His 2017 chapbook, The Hurry Up and the Wait, was shortlisted for Tupelo Press’s Sunken Garden Chapbook Poetry Prize as was his Skyping from a Combat Zone, in 2016. His first full length collection, Blood Stripes, was shortlisted for the 2015 Berkshire Prize, and his “PTSD Poem #12” has been nominated for 2016’s Best of the Net.

Tupelo Press is a literary press that hosts writing conferences, readings, and a teen writer center and publishes essays, poetry, and prose from new and established writers.  You can find out more about the 30/30 Project and read some of Aaron’s daily work here.  A sample of Aaron’s poetry follows below:

Populist Agrarian Mar a Logo Blues

Bernie’s in the basement preaching cost controls on medicine
I’m spiting on the pavement trying to undermine the government.
Fat man in a little coat named Priebus got me laid off.
Paul Ryan say he’s got a plan to pay the nation’s debt off.

Look out Flynn, they gonna learn your sin.
Got a presidential win, now the real work begins.
Sell your souls on Election Day Putin already got away.
Daniel Boon’s in dark a room with a wire tap and Mike Flynn,
saying the cure to all our ills are tariffs and immigration bans.

Better get Dick, get Bill get someone to write a healthcare a bill
Train of thought jumped a rail en route to replace and repeal.
The POTUS tweets because his ego’s frail so public will is gonna fail.
Try hard, leave scared, Sessions will be disbarred
Send out the national guard for the protest on your front yard
down at Mar a Log Steve Bannon’s your Iago

Don’t wanna look dumb
you better hire some
better writers to try
to cover up your scandals
collusion with white vandals
your race relations plan is
Steve Harvey on every channel.

–Aaron Graham

Reminder: Upcoming Deadlines 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 our first 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.  First 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.

applyFirst Deadline: March 5, 2017

Cambridge Writers’ Workshop 2017 Writing Retreats – Deadlines Approaching!

granada2017postermarch15final

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.

apply

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

apply