CWW Presents: Fertile Ground for Celebration at the Democracy Center, Cambridge, MA – May 5, 2017 * 7-9 pm

CWW Presents: Fertile Ground for Celebration
7 p.m. – 7:45p.m. Literary Readings/Performances

– intermission & book/album signing-
8 p.m. – 9 p.m. Musical Performances

Join us for a night of creative writing & music by and for diverse voices from NYC to Boston! Our evening will feature lyrical readings and musical performances by Matthew Wallenstein, Rita BanerjeeErini S. Katopodis, Sounds in Bloom (Diana Norma SzokolyaiDennis Shafer), Fawn (Anne Malin Ringwalt and Will Johnson) and Elizabeth Devlin, and will take place at the Democracy Center in Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA.

Tickets are available for pre-purchase in advance on Eventbrite, and will be available for purchase at the door starting at 6:30 PM. Sliding scale: $5-10. Your ticket helps us support the artists and the Democracy Center.

Here’s more about our performers:

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Matthew Wallenstein‘s writing has been published by the University of Chicago, the University of Maine Farmington, Bowling Green Sate University and others. He lives in a small Rust Belt town. “Tiny Alms,” his new release, covers a range of topics from growing up in poor rural New Hampshire to mental illness to the deportation of his wife. It is his first book and was Published by Permanent Sleep Press.

 

 

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.  Her edited volume, CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing, will release in March 2018.  She is currently working on a novel, a book on South Asian literary modernisms, and a collection of lyric essays.

Erini S. Katopodis is a Greek-American poetry, fiction, and music writer from Los Angeles, CA. She’s graduating from Emerson College with a BFA in Fiction this May. Erini loves her music to be dreamy, folky, and intimate, with a touch of the strange, and loves making new sounds with new people. Performing with her are Shelby Marnett and Rob Luzier.

 

 

 

Sounds in Bloom (Diana Norma Szokolyai & Dennis Shafer)

Parisian literary life and contemporary art & music laid the groundwork and inspiration for Sounds in Bloom, a poetry-music-movement-art ensemble co-founded by poet Diana Norma Szokolyai & saxophonist Dennis Shafer in 2006. The Boston Globe has called their work “avant-garde.” Originally participating in David Barne’s Spoken Word nights in Paris and featured by Paris Soirees Salons, Sounds in Bloom now performs in NY, Boston and & Paris. Some places they have performed include The Firehouse Space, Pete’s Candy Store, Barbès, The Boston Conservatory, The Outpost, Theatre Salle Edmond Michelet, and the Cité International des Arts.

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Fawn is Will Johnson and Anne Malin Ringwalt. Combining elements of banjo, guitar, ukulele, synth and poetry, the duo explores the often-ignored spaces between pre-established genres. Fawn’s debut EP, “Neither Dog Nor Car,” was released on November 5, 2016, and their first music video, for “Good Earth,” premiered on NPR’s All Songs Considered TV in January 2017.

 

 

 

Elizabeth Devlin, with her haunting combination of lilting voice and enchanting Autoharp, is a self-produced NYC singer- songwriter. Devlin defies traditional musical structure with many of her songs, building miniature narratives and magical worlds where characters, fantasies and time collide. Devlin has toured nationally, internationally, & performs in venues throughout NYC’s 5 boroughs. “Orchid Mantis,” her newest full-length album, was released in February 2017 at Sidewalk Café’s Winter Anti-folk Festival in NYC.

CWW Recommends: Reading for Resistance – Winter 2017

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

AM Ringwalt, Curator

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

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

 

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

38447The Handmaid’s Tale
by Margaret Atwood

(Recommended by Alex Carrigan)

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

cover_bad_feministBad Feminist by Roxane Gay

(Recommended by Alexander Carrigan)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Recommended by Shannon Sawyer)

In Solidarity – From the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Signed,

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

January 20, 2017

All Songs Considered: Poet & CWW Intern AM Ringwalt’s Folk Duo Fawn feat. on NPR

AM Ringwalt, our Programming & Development intern, saw her folk duo’s debut music video premiere on NPR’s All Songs Considered this morning.

Ringwalt and her partner Will Johnson, also known as Fawn, were described as “only 21-years old but [they] sound like they’ve been making music together for decades.” NPR’s Anna Marketti notes the video’s “recurring themes of religion, relationships, trauma, and tradition.”

The music video for “Good Earth” was largely a collaboration with Ringwalt’s peers from Emerson College, namely Nydia Hartono, Ariana Anderson, Hunter Dimin and Saoli Nash.

Fawn’s debut EP, “Neither Dog  Nor Car,” is available on their Bandcamp. Be sure to see them live at CWW Presents from 7-10 pm on Friday February 3, 2017 at Boston’s Church of the Covenant.  Tickets can be purchased for CWW Presents: Faun in Boston on Eventbrite.

CWW Grant Writing & Program Development Intern AM Ringwalt’s Folk Duo Featured on Sound of Boston

wwaibGrant Writing & Programming Intern AM Ringwalt recently recorded a single and a five-song EP at The Soul Shop in Medford with her partner Will Johnson. The Cambridge Writer’s Workshop is thrilled to announce that the single, “The Good Earth,” premiered exclusively on Sound of Boston earlier this month. The song is now available for free download on Fawn’s Bandcamp page.

Fawn, Ringwalt and Johnson’s duo, combines elements of banjo, guitar, ukulele, synth and poetry in exploration of the often-ignored spaces between pre-established genres. Neither Dog Nor Car, the duo’s debut EP, will be released in early November.

From Sound of Boston:

Johnny Cash’s version of “The Good Earth” is jaunty and playful, with guitar, strings, and percussion chugging along beneath Cash’s rich, resonant vocals. Fawn takes a different approach, opening with Ringwalt’s delicate voice and Johnson plucking along a nearly stagnant bass line. Fawn adds a heaviness to “The Good Earth,” exploring the depth of the song’s lyrics. “I’ve traveled far and traveled wide/I’ve seen a lot of things./But looking back on all the years/I don’t know what they mean,” Ringwalt sings, adding pauses and drawing out the refrain Cash hurries through.

The duo adds a profundity to the lyrics by taking the time to enunciate each word, with the bass pushing back to support its weight. “This song is a prayer, a celebration of Cash, and, to the best of our knowledge, one of the few (if not the only) female-voiced versions of this song,” said Fawn in a press release.

On Shaping and Reshaping: In Conversation with Z.G. Tomaszewski

4fb29487fe4c6c7af8c349366222f9e1Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Grant Writing & Programming Intern AM Ringwalt recently sat down to chat with Z.G. Tomaszewski, a poet and musician living in Grand Rapids, to discuss his writing. Check out the interview below.

 

Z.G. Tomaszewski and I met last summer in Missoula, Montana, at a small retreat organized by our long-time mentor Chris Dombrowski. During our time together, Z.G. was deeply influenced by readingand sharingthe work of Li-Young Lee. At our nightly dinners and campfires, he would ofteneither by memory or with book in handrelay bits of gleaned wisdom. When I learned that Z.G.’s manuscript All Things Dusk had been selected by Li-Young Lee as the winner of the Hong Kong University International Poetry Prize, I knew how much this honor meant to him.

The reader of All Things Dusk ought to take heart in Li-Young Lee’s assertion: “These visionary poems suggest that every world is manifold worlds, that mundane experience is saturated with the sacred if we practice using the heart’s and soul’s eyes to look and see. In this book, the world is measured by the heart’s scale and the soul’s rule, and the result is a beautiful human singing.” I certainly did. I, taken by the blurb and the mission of Z.G.’s literary work, desired to learn more.

Last month, Z.G. and I found ourselves back in Dombrowski’s Montana, this time at the 406 Writers’ Workshop’s Beargrass Retreat. The retreat, which successfully aims to “gather some of the West’s most celebrated and promising writers at this storied ranch for four days of readings, workshops, craft talks, and generative writing opportunities that connect writers of all experience levels with self and place,” was a conduit for our friendship to grow and long-awaited discussions of our respective creative work to come to fruition. This interview began over email and ultimately came together by way of more campfire talks. It came to a bittersweet conclusion over jasmine green tea at Missoula’s Caffe Dolce, right before Z.G. turned to the mountains of Glacier National Park.

Z.G. and I share a deep love for Michigan. Born within bicycling distance of its lake, he lives in Grand Rapids as a self-proclaimed poet-rambler, handyman, and musician, as well as co-director of Lamp Light Music Festival and a founding member of Great Lakes Commonwealth of Letters. I, too, spend my summers on Lake Michigan by way of Petoskey. Naturally, my first question centers around that magical lake.

AM Ringwalt: In “Summer Song of Lake Michigan,” you write, “Who could resist / the temptation of centering oneself?” Do you consider the act of centering to be spiritual, or something else?

Z.G. Tomaszewski: Sure, the act of centering is at once spiritual and practical. It’s a tuning into the logos of the world. Don’t get me wrong, I like being tilted, leaning over, scaling the range, but there’s a return inherent in me backing away from polarity. Balance. Moderation. Picture a buoy.

AMR: How does the temptationthat tilting, leaning over, scaling the range, and final backing away from polarityinform your creative process?

ZGT: For one thing, temptation seems never-ending. I’m intrigued by its nature, its place in eternity. I often think that temptation is not just lusting for something else, craving the other, but an end in and of itself. Or am I speaking about desire? Desire fills moments of forgetting, wanting to be shattered and rebuilt. These are two trimmings from a cloud I cannot quite grasp yet. All I know is that when temptation is quieted I am hollow of impulse for a moment. What’s great about temptation is not always relieving it, but seeing what we are and are not capable of, and then learning to be disciplined accordingly. And thus our shortcomings are windows into the soul of how to be whole, with and without.

AMR: Had All Things Dusk already been selected as the winner of the Hong Kong University International Poetry Prize, since it’s dated back to 2014?

ZGT: I did not know All Things Dusk had been chosen by Li-Young Lee at that time. It wasn’t until a week after returning home from the big sky state that I received the acceptance letter from Hong Kong University Pressit was probably in the mail and I tapped into that wave of energy headed my way! I remember I had with me Book of My Nights while we were there in Missoula. Chris Dombrowski saw I was reading it and asked if I ever read the book of collected interviews with Li-YoungI had not. He let me borrow it for a spell, I read most of it then and there.

AMR: Fascinating. Did your perception of the manuscript change during or after Montana? If so, how? If not, how did Montana solidify your pre-conceived notions of the text?

ZGT: I recall the premonition I had while in Montana that I was “on the cusp of something big.” I felt a breakthrough was happening, but I wasn’t certain what exactly. I can surely say that I was not thinking about All Things Dusk during that week. Instead, prior to coming out [to Montana], I was focused on a second full volume: fixing it up and tearing it down. I wrote a handful of new poems while at the initial retreat, brought them back, continued to hammer out the second manuscript. I knew what I had in All Things Dusk should not be touched, lest it break off and sink altogether. It was the work being done on a new volume that informed me I had completed something and needed to continue moving away.

AMR: It’s important to trust in such premonitions. Speaking of: you have a chapbook forthcoming from Finishing Line Press (congrats!) called Mineral Whisper, which I understand you wrote inand inspired byCounty Clare, Ireland. What called you there?

ZGT: I traveled to Ireland first during the Summer of 2012 and then revisited the following Spring of 2013. Somehow I was invited by Thomas Lynch, given a chance to stay in his ancestral cottage in Moveen, minutes walking and at cliff’s edge on the Atlantic coast. Pastures for miles, centuries, lifetimes. The polychromatic palate of grays and greens! I have been called to places that I have trouble voicing why I was called there. It’s elemental. A deeper knowing that gets lost to language. Reclaiming this through poetry—that’s one reason I keep writing. An act of archaeology: uncovering the spirit, brief invisible bit of consciousness, bringing forward awareness of what pulls us onward, elsewhere.

AMR: Can you pinpoint the moment of the chapbook’s inception?

ZGT: Mineral Whisper was composed in large during my first stay in Ireland. I wrote most of the poems during that time (minus the beginning two weeks, in which I was studying the place, not able to write, not wanting to hurry speech, needing to adapt to the land, its vibrations) and found upon coming home that there was far too much cohesion to let them lay alone, scattered, in notebooks, in drawers. So, when I ventured back I brought all the poems with me (every one had been edited by this point) and found a thread pretty soon after unpacking. The sequence came together without much difficulty. I had a lot of space and time to focus on it.

The precise moment: Waking early one morning, rain, looking out the window and seeing a white horse perfectly framed, the window wavy and it seemed a unicorn was standing there looking in. I was working on the title poem at that moment. I trusted what passed between us as a sign.

AMR: Back to the first premonition! The poems of All Things Dusk deal with uncovering memory. Is this uncovering part of centering, or something else entirely?

ZGT: Memory is the brain’s faculty of most efficiently processed stimuli, compacted and stored for easy access, but always failing. In some fashion it’s like gravity, we know it by its ever-presence, or its absence. Voice is the flashlight by which we explore the caverns of the mind. Memory thick with stalagmites, impassable trenches.

AMR: How does memory shape your poetic voice?

ZGT: Sometimes we can walk right up to an experience and blind it or be blinded by it, touch it, but most often we’re steering our light past a bend, watching the beam curve and break off, so we reach (or not) into the dark and imagine the connecting details. Poetry is connectivity even if it’s by way of deranging the senses.

AMR: I see the narrator of these poems as a dexterous force, particularly through the recurrence of direct relationships with the earth and with the metallic (“I take the scythe, sharpen its blade”). These themes, of course, are only made more evident in “Again, My Grandfather Chops Wood.”

An aside: I’m reminded of Galvinwho is with us at Beargrassespecially his poem “Coming into His Shop from a Bright Afternoon.” I noticed, in my research, that Dombrowski actually interviewed Galvin about this very poem in an old issue of Orion.

In the poem, Galvin writes about shaping the earth. Your poetry is, in many ways, the spiritual manifestation of the physical shaping the earth. How (and why) do you aim to shape, to reshape?

ZGT: Yes, I like that: “the spiritual manifestation of the physical shaping the world.” And I value that poem of Galvin’s, it’s in a similar vein as Seamus Heaney’s “Digging.” I am fond of the inner-workings of the world and our connections in it. Like the pagan and cold mountain poets I find that the truer, more lasting realizations in my life have been by observing and then learning how to participate within it. The materials of language are no different to me than a landscape, its ecosystem. I see something beautiful, sometimes I touch it, maybe take it with me, sometimes I leave it, mostly I leave it.

Anything can be a poem, but not everything is one. It’s a matter of wading out into the water, not just staring at it, and then, now you’re in the river, you cast, and cast again, who really knows what the catch will be. In other words, I have no other aim than to go out into the world and it seems I simply tend to reshape the world in reflection of the way it has shaped me.

Z.G. Tomaszewski‘s writing has appeared in RHINO, diode and Inverness AlmanacMineral Whisper will be released December 9, 2016 from Finishing Line Press.

New Poetry from CWW Intern AM Ringwalt in Banshee and Hobart

AM Ringwalt, our Grant Writing & Programming Intern, recently saw her poems “Of Your Dark” and “Apocalyptic” published in Banshee and Hobart.

Banshee, a Dublin-based literary journal, has been featured in the Irish Times due to its focus on innovative and accessible work. Edited by three women under the age of 30, Banshee is an inherently feminist and political literary force.

Hobart, an American literary journal, releases poetry, fiction and nonfiction on a daily basis, proving quantity and quality are not mutually exclusive categories.

To read Ringwalt’s “Apocalyptic,” please visit Hobart. 

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Ringwalt with her partner and bandmate, Will Johnson.

AM Ringwalt is a Boston-based writer and musician (Fawn). Her words also appear in Rogue Agent, The Grief DiariesVinylWhole Beast Rag and DUM DUM Zine: Punks and Scholars. “Like Cleopatra,” Ringwalt’s debut poetry chapbook, was published in 2014 by dancing girl press. Fawn’s first single, “The Good Earth,” will premiere this fall, and will be followed shortly thereafter by their debut EP, entitled “Neither Dog Nor Car.”

 

Registration for CWW Fall 2016 Cambridge, MA Creative Writing Workshops Open!

CCAEClasses1

Registration for the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Fall 2016 Craft of Writing Seminars & Creative Writing Workshops is now open on the Cambridge Center for Adult Education website!  Our featured faculty this fall includes Jade Sylvan, Rita Banerjee, Laura van den Berg, and Diana Norma Szokolyai.  Information on classes, meeting times, and faculty are listed below.  Courses are $40 each and those who register for 5 or more classes will receive a 10% discount on registration.  Two kinds of classes will be offered this fall at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education (56 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA): craft of writing seminars and writing workshops.  In craft of writing seminars, students will learn about a particular craft issue, study and discuss examples of contemporary creative writing, and will do an in-session writing prompt.  For creative writing workshops, students will bring in new and in-progress creative work to be reviewed and critiqued during class.

Since 1938, The Cambridge Center for Adult Education has offered the most diverse menu of courses to adults in Cambridge and surrounding areas, and it aims to give people the opportunity to explore their interests and nurture their talents and potential.  We’re proud to collaborate with the CCAE!

Location:  

Cambridge Center For Adult Education
56 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA

Time:

Saturdays, 10 am – 1 pm, September 10 – December 10, 2016

Schedule:

September 24:
“Science : Fiction – Building Literary Worlds”

with Rita Banerjee (craft of writing seminar)

In this seminar, we will explore how the fabric and rules of literary worlds in realist and speculative fiction are created. By examining the parameters of social and behavioral codes, human interactions and psychology, and the materiality of worlds, we’ll explore that volatile space where truth and lie meet, where conflicts crystallize, and where storytelling disturbs and delights. If you’re currently at work on a short story, novel, screenplay, theatrical play, lyrical essay, memoir, or narrative poem which has a unique literary world at its heart, or if you want to explore your craft through this lens, please join us at the CCAE.

October 8:
“Revision Strategies for All Genres”
with Jade Sylvan (writing workshop)

Writing is a process of discovery, which means first and second drafts are not always the strongest. In this writing workshop, we will revisit drafts of all genres in radical and unusual ways in order to make them their best.

November 5:  
“Time in the Short Story”
with Laura van den Berg (craft of writing seminar)

In craft of writing seminars, students will learn about a particular craft issue, study and discuss examples of contemporary creative writing, and will do an in-session writing prompt.

November 12:
“Spatial Poetics”

with Diana Norma Szokolyai (craft of writing seminar)

In this craft of writing seminar, we will examine how theories in spatial poetics apply to the structure of our writing.  Using literary theory, elements of visual design, sociological paradigms, and our imaginations, we will explore the concept of spatial form in our narratives as it relates to concrete and abstract places and spaces.

December 3:
“Emotion and Suspense in Theatre, Poetry, and (Non)Fiction”

with Rita Banerjee (craft of writing seminar)

Plato argues that human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.  And before staging Kalidasa’s The Recognition of Śākuntalā, the director challenges his actress-lover: “As though in a painting, the entire audience has had their emotion colored through your melody.  So now—what shall we perform to sustain the mood?”  In this class, we will explore how creating vivid emotional worlds between characters and within storylines can build suspense, sustain drama, and lure the reader deeper in.

December 10:
“Writing Yourself Naked”

with Jade Sylvan (writing workshop)

From nonfiction memoirs to poetry, from sci-fi to fantasy, it can be hard to wade through all of our associations, defenses, and unconscious belief systems to find what we really want to say.  Through a series of writing and personal reflection exercises, we will begin to slough off the layers of social, environmental, and biological noise to excavate the core of our authentic voice.

Featured Faculty:

LowRes-DSC_0340-Edit-2Jade 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.

RitaBanerjeeRita Banerjee is the Executive Director of Kundiman and the Creative Director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop. 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 The Rumpus, Los Angeles Review of Books,Electric 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(Spider Road Press), is forthcoming in October 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 and book of lyric essays.

Laura van den Berg
LauraAuthorPhoto 
is the author of the novel Find Me, longlisted for the 2016 International Dylan Thomas Prize an selected as a best book of 2015 byTime Out New York and NPR, and two story collections What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us and The Isle of Youth, both finalists for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. Her honors include the Bard Fiction Prize, the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Jeannette Haien Ballard Writer’s Prize, a Pushcart Prize, and an O. Henry Award, and her fiction has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories. She has taught fiction at institutions including Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University, the Warren Wilson M.F.A. Program for Writers, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. At present, Laura is a Briggs-Copeland Lecturer in Fiction at Harvard University and lives in Cambridge, MA, with her husband and dog.

Diana Norma Szokolyaidiananorma 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.

For more information on the curriculum, including instructor biographies, please visit: Cambridge, MA Fall 2016 Creative Writing Workshops & Craft of Writing Seminars.

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

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

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

Cambridge, MA Fall 2016 Creative Writing Workshops & Craft of Writing Seminars!

CCAEClasses1

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is proud to announce our new series of creative writing workshops and craft of writing seminars in partnership with the Cambridge Center for Adult Education in Cambridge, MA!  The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is thrilled to return to Cambridge and to offer an exciting range of courses for our Boston-area writers.  Our featured faculty this fall includes Jade Sylvan, Rita Banerjee, Laura van den Berg, and Diana Norma Szokolyai.  Information on classes, meeting times, and faculty are listed below.  Courses are $40 each and those who register for 5 or more classes will receive a 10% discount on registration.  Two kinds of classes will be offered this fall at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education (56 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA): craft of writing seminars and writing workshops.  In craft of writing seminars, students will learn about a particular craft issue, study and discuss examples of contemporary creative writing, and will do an in-session writing prompt.  For creative writing workshops, students will bring in new and in-progress creative work to be reviewed and critiqued during class.

Registration for our Fall 2016 creative writing workshops and craft of writing seminars will open on the Cambridge Center for Adult Education website on July 27, 2016!  Since 1938, The Cambridge Center for Adult Education has offered a most diverse menu of courses to adults in Cambridge and surrounding areas, and it aims to give people the opportunity to explore their interests and nurture their talents and potential.  We’re proud to collaborate with the CCAE!

Location:  

Cambridge Center For Adult Education
56 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA

Time:

Saturdays, 10 am – 1 pm, September 10 – December 10, 2016
(Registration is now open on the CCAE Website!)

Schedule:

September 10:
“What’s At Stake in your Poetry, Fiction, & Nonfiction Manuscripts?”
with Diana Norma Szokolyai (writing workshop)

September 24:
“Science : Fiction – Building Literary Worlds”

with Rita Banerjee (craft of writing seminar)

October 8:
“Revision Strategies for All Genres”
with Jade Sylvan (writing workshop)

November 5:  
“Time in the Short Story”
with Laura van den Berg (craft of writing seminar)

November 12:
“Spatial Poetics”

with Diana Norma Szokolyai (craft of writing seminar)

December 3:
“Emotion and Suspense in Theatre, Poetry, and (Non)Fiction”

with Rita Banerjee (craft of writing seminar)

December 10:
“Writing Yourself Naked”

with Jade Sylvan (writing workshop)

 

Featured Faculty:

LowRes-DSC_0340-Edit-2Jade 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.

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 Rumpus, 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 has been featured 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 October 2016.  Creative Director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop, she is currently working on a novel and a book of lyric essays.

Laura van den Berg
LauraAuthorPhoto 
is the author of the novel Find Me, longlisted for the 2016 International Dylan Thomas Prize an selected as a best book of 2015 by Time Out New York and NPR, and two story collections What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us and The Isle of Youth, both finalists for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. Her honors include the Bard Fiction Prize, the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Jeannette Haien Ballard Writer’s Prize, a Pushcart Prize, and an O. Henry Award, and her fiction has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories. She has taught fiction at institutions including Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University, the Warren Wilson M.F.A. Program for Writers, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. At present, Laura is a Briggs-Copeland Lecturer in Fiction at Harvard University and lives in Cambridge, MA, with her husband and dog.

Diana Norma Szokolyaidiananorma 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.