We are excited to announce our Paris Writing Retreat Schedule. Here are our class descriptions:
Surrealism in Paris and Beyond
(with Diana Norma Szokolyai)
In this class, we will look at the birth of the Surrealist Movement in Paris about 100 years ago and how it turned into an international artistic, intellectual and political movement. Sometimes, the best ideas come from conflict, and indeed, there were rival surrealist groups who both claimed to be continuing the revolutionary work initiated by the poet Guillaume Apollinaire. Why was this idea worth fighting over? What impact did it have on the world? We will explore the texts of the Surrealist Manifestos, as well as learn about key figures of the movement like André Breton, Yvan Goll, Dora Maar, Louis Aragon, Salvador Dalí, Tristan Tzara, René Magritte, Frida Kahlo, Pierre Reverdy, Méret Oppenheim and more. Since we will be staying in Montparnasse, where many writers and artists lived, we will have the unique opportunity to walk in their paths and visit cafés where they met and exchanged ideas. We’ll examine how surrealism is relevant today and read some contemporary writers who are inspired by surrealism, like Ada Limón and Adam McOmber. Writers will also try their hand at surrealist writing exercises meant to cross the bridges between dreams and reality and go beyond rational thought into the subconscious. Tip: I recommend reserving tickets for The Dalí Paris museum and the special 2023 immersive exhibition of Chagall at l’Atelier des Lumières if you want to continue to explore the world of surrealism during our stay in Paris.
Writing the Moment through Food
Paris is a feast for the senses, and it’s especially known for its cuisine and variety of food markets. In this class, we will explore how we write about food. We will practice the art of bringing the senses to the page. I will share my process of writing about food for my poetry manuscript Five Feasts, which explores the ways in which food connects the poet to culture, place and family history. Food is a way to understand a partially forgotten past, providing a map to ancestors through the senses. Food can connect us to place and transform space by evoking our memories. Food can mend and heal silenced and oppressed histories through the boldness of spices and magic of sauces melding in particular ways that empower identities. We’ll discuss the weight of conversations in kitchens, the ritual of food as gift, the terrain of what is unsaid around the table, and how food triggers memory. We’ll also discuss the work of poetry duo Adobo Fish Sauce as well Grace M. Cho’s Tastes Like War and more!
Flâneurs, Essays, and Provocateurs (with Rita Banerjee)
An essay is an attempt. A trial. A test. In this class, we will explore how evocative essays are attempted and constructed. We will explore how being a flâneur and an essayist are intimately combined. And we will study how essayists from Montaigne to James Baldwin to Lauren Elkin to Edmund White to David Shields to Yoko Tawada redefine the environment they inhabit and create a space for electric art.
What Makes a Memoir? (with Rita Banerjee)
How do we write about the most significant moments of our lives with discernment, vulnerability, brevity, and style? What are the elements of a compelling, candid, and author-driven memoir? How can we make both the speakers and the characters introduced in a memoir more complex, human, and intriguing? In this class, we’ll explore how writers such as Richard Rodgriguez, Michelle Zauner, Mary Karr, Jo Ann Beard, Carmen Maria Machado, and others have created emotionally evocative, culturally specific, provocative, and accessible memoirs, and how we might find a way to map our lives and the characters who have formed them with honesty, nuance, and imagination on the page.
Apply by June 1st to join us from July 19-25. Looking forward to seeing you all there!