Summer in Paris 2018 Writing Retreat: Day Six

July 30 was the final day of the Summer in Paris 2018 writing retreat. Faculty and writers shared their work and discussed their writing goals for the future. The week was fueled by each individual’s creativity, collaboration, and exploration of the city around us. We ended the week feeling inspired and grateful to our new community of fellow writers.

We will bring all of the creative energy and inspiration from our Paris to our August retreat in Granada, Spain.

Summer in Paris 2018 Writing Retreat: Day Five

Sunday, July 29, was the last full day of our Summer in Paris writing retreat. In the morning, Kristina Marie Darling led the group in her second workshop of the week: “Grants, Residencies, and Publication.” Kristina shared her insights on applying for grants and residencies as well as submitting work to a range of publications. Kristina addressed topics such as compiling a writing dossier, choosing writing samples, and crafting personal statements. Writers left the workshop with a packet of resources to help them research residency and publication opportunities as well as well as sample application materials and strategies for effectively presenting their own writing to selection committees.

In the afternoon Kathleen Spivack held her second “Memory and Memoir” workshop where students continued to explore how memory could be used in writing. Where do fact and fiction collide? What is a memoir and where exactly do we focus? How do we locate ourselves in our writing, and where do we find the starting place and point of view? These are a few of the questions that guided the class discussion and writing.

 

That evening the group visited Puces de Clignancort, the largest Parisian outdoor flea market. Puces de Clignancort is an open air market filled with clothing, antiques, books, music, and art and can be found in the 18th arrondissement.

Summer in Paris 2018 Writing Retreat: Day Four

Saturday, July 28, was a full day for our retreat faulty and participants. In the morning our guest faculty member Kristina Marie Darling taught her “Prose, Poetry, and Micro-Fiction” workshop. This course focused on prose poetry, meaning prose that draws from the extensive tradition, formal repertoire and literary devices that readers associate with poetry. Questions explored in class included: How can poets effectively and economically use the tools of fiction in their craft? What formal variations on the prose poem are possible? And how can prose poems compliment work written in more traditional poetic forms? Students ended the class with drafts of their own prose poetry or micro-fiction.

In the afternoon, CWW director Rita Banerjee held her workshop “Flâneurs, Essays, and Provocateurs.” Before meeting for Rita’s workshop, the participants were given a writing assignment where they were asked to spend 30 minutes “flaneusing or flaneuring” around Paris or Versailles in order to observe as much as they could about the people, places, animals, things, order, disorder or culture they were saw around them. These observations and experiences were then translated into a central question or thought that then became the beginning of an essay. Students were then asked to write until they found a solution to their central question or until they discovered an epiphany hiding in their work.

Following Rita’s workshop, faculty and writers traveled to Versailles where they explored the palace and gardens of the Chateau de Versailles. The Chateau de Versailles is perhaps best known as the residence of Louis XIV, who installed the Court and government at Versailles in 1632. Versailles is considered one of the greatest achievements of French 17th century art. The group ended their evening with an illuminated fountain and firework show in the gardens.

Summer in Paris 2018 Writing Retreat: Day Three

The morning of Friday, July 27 began with the first session of guest faculty member Kathleen Spivack’s “Memory and Memoir” workshop. Kathleen’s class focused on how writers can work with memory, nostalgia, the other, and ourselves and explored the role of memory in writing.

In the afternoon the group traveled to Musée d’Orsay for Diana Norma Szokolyai‘s workshop, “Ekphrasis: When Writing Confronts Visual Art.” Prior to the ekphrasis workshop, writers were asked to ponder several questions: How does writing about visual art combine both creative and critical processes? How can we use ekphrasis to jumpstart our own creative process?  How can ekphrasis help us explore the emotional world and perspectives of the Other? And how does ekphrasis reveal deeply personal and internal reflection by examining a creation external to ourselves? In addition to these musings, participants also wrote poems inspired by various pieces of art.

The day ended with more explorations around Paris, individual writing time, and preparations for Kristina Marie Darling’s class on “Prose Poetry and Micro-Fiction,” Rita Banerjee’s class on, “Flaneurs, Essays, and Provocateurs,” and a trip to Versailles.

Summer in Paris 2018 Writing Retreat: Day Two

The morning of Thursday, July 26 began with a workshop led by CWW directors Rita Banerjee and Diana Norma Szokolyai. The workshop focused on CREDO: An Anthology Of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing, which CWW released in May. The anthology creates a bridge from the philosophical to the practical, presenting a triad of creative writing manifestos, essays on the craft of writing, and creative writing exercises.

Following the workshop, instructors and participants had some writing time to work on their personal projects and gather inspiration while exploring the city.

That evening, Rita was the featured Reader at Paris Lit Up at Culture Rapide. Paris Lit Up is a non-profit community organization that aims to intensify collaborative artistic practices through community events, performance and publication. Rita read from her new poetry collection Echo in Four Beats (Finishing Line Press, March 2018) and CREDO (C&R Press, May 2018). She also shared excerpts from her new collection of essays on race, sex, politics, and everything cool, and her novel-in-progress about a Tamil-Jewish family in crisis during a post-authoritarian regime. 

Norma and several CWW participants also shared their work during the event as part of the open-mic portion of the event. The CWW has loved going to open-mic events in Paris in the past, and this evening was no exception.

With that, the second day came to a close, with everyone continuing to work on their projects and preparing for tomorrow’s workshops, where our guest faculty member Kathleen Spivack will start the day with her workshop, “Memory & Memoir.”

Summer in Paris 2018 Writing Retreat: Day One

Wednesday, July 25, marked the first official day of our 2018 Summer Writing Retreat in Paris! The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop directors and faculty prepared for the arrival of writers and scouted the neighborhood for the group.

 

During their exploration, Rita Banerjee and Diana Norma Szokolyai enjoyed galettes from La Crêperie Bretonne and stumbled upon a poem on Blvd Edgar Quinet.

 

Paris faculty, Kristina Marie Darling and Kathleen Spivack, arrived and instructors and participants had an orientation and luncheon together on the patio at La Baraka (authentic Moroccan restaurant.)

Following dinner, the group paid a visit to Amorino for some gelato and settled in at Hôtel Denfert-Montparnasse, home of the retreat for the next week.