Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Spring in New Orleans Writing Retreat (April 13-16, 2018)

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Spring in New Orleans Writing Retreat will take place from April 13-16, 2018.  Known for its Spanish and French architecture, live jazz, cajun food, and street festivals, New Orleans offers an inspirational and one-of-a-kind experience for writers.  Our retreat features multi-genre workshops, as well as craft seminars and time to write.

The faculty includes award-winning writers & a top NYC literary agent: Rita BanerjeeDiana Norma Szokolyai, and Natalie Kimber. All genres welcome. Genres include playwriting, nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. The cost of the retreat is $1200, which includes tuition, lodging, and some meals.

If you’d like to join us in NOLA, please apply by March 20, 2018 by submitting 5-10 pages of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, or a play with a $10 application fee, a cover letter, and references at Please also include the following in your cover letter:

1. Full Legal Name
2. Contact Information (Email, Address, Phone)
3. Age & Nationality
4. Prior Workshop Experience and Publications
5. Creative Writing Goals for the Retreat
6. Short One-paragraph Biography
7. Contact info of Two Personal References (Name, Email, Address, Phone, Relationship to Applicant)

Due to limited seats, early applications are encouraged. Applications are due March 20, 2018.


Deadline: March 20, 2018

Schedule of Classes:



Finding a Literary Agent

This class will cover the ins and outs of finding and partnering with a literary agent for attaining your publishing goals. We will cover things like how to prepare your manuscript and write a query letter that sings, what to expect from your author-agent relationship, agency best practices and questions to ask potential agents, how to research they industry to find a great match, and finally, how to handle those pesky pass letters and what to expect from the positive response letters and interest in your work!

Building Your Literary Platform

In the publishing industry today, having a literary platform to shape your writer career is essential to continued success. We will discuss various ways to build and improve one’s platform from publishing in literary journals or writing for online publications, building a following on social media, to collaborating with your community near and far to create compelling content that will help you share your work with a broad audience. Class participants will shape and format a chosen short work for submission to journals or prizes, as well as create a realistic plan for the coming months in which to practically and actively grow one’s platform as a writer.

What’s at Stake?

A piece of writing is more compelling when the reader can sense what is at stake. In this class, we will explore how we can clarify the risks, desires, ambitions, and investments of our characters, speakers, speakers and narrators. We will examine the central, driving force of a piece of writing and learn to identify what is at stake based on four spheres: the personal, the professional, the social, and the political. This is a multi-genre workshop, applicable to poetry, nonfiction, fiction, and drama.

Emotion and Suspense in Theatre, Poetry, and (Non)Fiction

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. Whether you’re currently working on a short story, novel, screenplay, theatrical play, lyrical essay, memoir, or narrative poem this class will help you craft a unique emotional landscape.

The Bake-Off

Inspired by Dipika Guha’s bake-off at last year’s NOLA retreat,  we will do a multi-genre bake-off. A bake-off is traditionally a playwriting exercise or writerly dare popularized by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Paula Vogel, .  The dare will be launched at the beginning of the retreat, and writers will be given a set of parameters, shared elements, and a fixed span of time to complete a piece of writing. We will unpack a writerly toolbox and look at devices, forms and structures available for our use.

Featured Faculty:

Natalie Kimber is an Associate Literary Agent at The Rights Factory, and started her career in publishing as an assistant to Muriel Nellis at Literary and Creative Artists Inc., and later worked at Georgetown University’s Booklab, where she developed academic and trade book proposals, fiction titles, and edited books for New Academia PublishingShe joined with The Rights Factory in 2014, helping the Toronto based agency expand its operations in New York.  She represents a wide array of writers in the adult trade fiction and nonfiction space, and particularly favors books that showcase truly creative writing and books that unveil meaningful new ways to see the world and ourselves in it. She currently lives in Weehawken, NJ, overlooking the Hudson River and Manhattan, where she founded the Weehawken Writers and Artists Studio with a view to help creatives of all kinds collaborate, learn, and share their creative process through workshops and events.

ritabanerjeeRita Banerjee is the Executive Creative Director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop and editor of CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing  (C&R Press, May 2018).  She is the author of the poetry collection Echo in Four Beats (Finishing Line Press, February 2018), which was a finalist for the Red Hen Press Benjamin Saltman Award, Three Mile Harbor Poetry Prize, and Aquarius Press / Willow Books Literature Award, the novella “A Night with Kali” in Approaching Footsteps (Spider Road Press, 2016), and the poetry chapbook Cracklers at Night (Finishing Line Press, 2010). 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 Academy of American Poets, Poets & Writers, Nat. Brut.The ScofieldThe 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. She is an Associate Scholar of Comparative Literature at Harvard and teaches at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in Germany.  She is the judge for the 2017 Minerva Rising “Dare to Speak” Poetry Chapbook Contest, and she is currently working on a novel, a documentary film about race and intimacy, a book on South Asian literary modernisms, and a collection of lyric essays on race, sex, politics, and everything cool.

Headshot.McCarrenPark,WillamsburgDiana 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 in May 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 (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 including David Krebs (US), Robert Lemay (Canada), Claudio Gabriele (Italy), Peter James (UK), Jason Haye (UK), and Sebastian Wesman (Estonia). Diana Norma is a founding member of the performing arts groups Sounds in Bloom, ChagallPAC, and The Brooklyn Soundpainting Ensemble.  Her poetry-music collaboration with Flux Without Pause, “Space Mothlight,” hit #16 on the Creative Commons Hot 100 list in 2015, and can be found in the curated WFMU Free Music Archive. 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, Dr. Hurley’s Snake Oil Cure, The Dudley Review and Up the Staircase QuarterlyThe Million Line Poem, The Cambridge Community Poem, and elsewhere, as well as anthologized in Our Last Walk, The Highwaymen NYC #2, Other Countries: Contemporary Poets Rewiring History, Always Wondering, and Teachers as Writers.  She is currently at work on her next book and an album of poetry & music.  Diana Norma holds a M.A. in French (UCONN, La Sorbonne) and an Ed.M in Arts in Education (Harvard).  Diana Norma Szokolyai is represented by Nat Kimber (The Rights Factory).


What happens after I apply?

Once you apply, you can expect to hear from us within 7-10 days and know whether you were accepted into the program. Once you are accepted, you will receive a welcome packet with detailed information regarding the program.

What is the process of paying tuition?

Once you are accepted into the program, you will need to pay a 30% tuition deposit to hold your seat within 3-5 days of acceptance. This amount is non-refundable. The remainder of tuition will be due by March 15, 2018. Our standard and preferred method of payment is PayPal invoice. You can also mail us a check.

What is included in tuition?

  • creative writing workshops
  • craft of writing seminars
  • lodging in NOLA
  • breakfasts & some other meals
  • walking tour of downtown New Orleans and Cafe du Monde

I’m local to New Orleans. Is there a tuition only option?

Yes. The tuition-only option is $675.  For more information, please inquire at

What are accommodations like?

During the retreat, we will be staying in the lovely Algiers Point neighborhood, just a short ferry ride away from the Historic French Quarter.  Writers will be staying at our retreat house and at a hotel nearby.  Rooms at the retreat house will be provided to early registrants first.