Executive Creative Director
Rita 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 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, in Approaching Footsteps (Spider Road Press), released in November 2016. 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 currently working on a novel, a book on South Asian literary modernisms, and a collection of lyric essays.
Executive Artistic Director
Diana Norma Szokolyai is a writer and Executive Artistic Director of Cambridge Writers’ Workshop. 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 recently reviewed by The London Grip and published in Quail Bell Magazine, Lyre Lyre, The Fiction Project, The Boston Globe, Dr. Hurley’s Snake Oil Cure, The Dudley Review 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 research on Romani writers in Paris. She is currently at work on three books and recording an album of poetry & music.
Yoga & Arts Coordinator
Elissa Lewis is the Yoga & Arts Coordinator of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop. She began her journey with yoga in 2006, when she moved to France and made the practice part of her daily routine. She saw yoga as a lifestyle, not only a class, helping her to clear her mind and have more compassion for herself and others. In 2010 she moved to New York and completed her teacher training at Laughing Lotus, a creative, soulful yoga studio that teaches the student to ‘move like yourself.’ She’s taught private and group classes in Manhattan and Brooklyn ever since. Visit her website for informative yoga sequences and information.
Visiting Writing Faculty
Stephen Aubrey is a Brooklyn-based writer, editor, dramaturg, lecturer, storyteller and recovering medievalist. His writing has appeared in Publishing Genius, Commonweal, The Brooklyn Review, Forté, Pomp & Circumstance, and The Outlet. He is also a co-founder and the resident dramaturg and playwright of The Assembly Theater Company. His plays have been produced at The Ontological-Hysteric Theater, The Flea Theater, The Collapsable Hole, The Brick Theater, Symphony Space, the Abingdon Theater Complex, UNDER St Marks, The Philly Fringe and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where his original play, We Can’t Reach You, Hartford, was nominated for a 2006 Fringe First Award.
Alexander Chee is the author of the novels Edinburgh and The Queen of the Night, forthcoming from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in February of 2016. He is a contributing editor at The New Republic, and an editor at large at VQR. His essays and stories have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, Tin House, Slate, Guernica, NPR and Out, among others. He is winner of a 2003 Whiting Award, a 2004 NEA Fellowship in prose and a 2010 MCCA Fellowship, and residency fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the VCCA, Civitella Ranieri and Amtrak. He has taught writing at Wesleyan University, Amherst College, the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Columbia University, Princeton University and the University of Texas – Austin. He lives in New York City, where he curates the Dear Reader series at Ace Hotel New York.
Kerry Cohen is the author of 10 books, including the bestselling Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity and Girl Trouble: An Illustrated Memoir, her most recent book, which came out October 2016. Kerry is faculty at the Red Earth Low Residency MFA program and is a practicing counselor. She lives with her family in Portland, Oregon.
Dipika Guha was born in Calcutta and raised in India, Russia and the United Kingdom. She is 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 plays include The Art of Gaman (Berkeley Rep Ground Floor ’16, KILROYS LIST ’16, Relentless Award Semi-Finalist), I Enter the Valley (Theatreworks New Play Festival ’16, Southern Rep New Play Festival‘16), Mechanics of Love (Crowded Fire Theatre, Upcoming: Two by For, NYC) and Blown Youth (Wallflower Theatricals, UK). She is currently working on Yoga Play, a commission for South Coast Repertory Theatre, a translation of Merry Wives of Windsor for Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s PlayOn Project and a play for the McCarter Theatre’s Princeton Slavery Project. Most recently her work has been developed at Playwrights Horizons, Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, Roundabout Underground, McCarter Theatre’s Sallie B. Goodman Residency, New Georges, Shotgun Players, the Sam French Off Off Broadway Short Play Festival, Southern Rep, 24 Hour Plays on Broadway and the Magic Theatre amongst others. Dipika is currently a visiting artist at the Schell Center for International Human Rights at Yale Law School and a resident playwright at the Playwrights Foundation. MFA: Yale School of Drama under Paula Vogel. Dipika will be a Hodder Fellow in Playwrighting at Princeton University from 2017-2018.
Lily Hoang is the author of five books, including A Bestiary (winner of the inaugural Cleveland State University Poetry Center’s Nonfiction Contest) and Changing (recipient of a PEN Open Books Award). With Joshua Marie Wilkinson, she edited the anthology The Force of What’s Possible: Writers on Accessibility and the Avant-Garde. She is Director of the MFA program at New Mexico State University. She serves as Prose Editor at Puerto del Sol and Editor for Jaded Ibis Press.
Tim 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.
Bret Anthony Johnston is the author of the internationally best-selling novel Remember Me Like This, and author of the award-winning Corpus Christi: Stories, which was named a Best Book of the Year by The Independent (London) and The Irish Times, and the editor of Naming the World and Other Exercises for the Creative Writer. His work appears in The Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, The Paris Review, Glimmer Train Stories, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Best American Short Stories, and elsewhere. His awards include the Pushcart Prize, the Glasgow Prize for Emerging Writers, the Stephen Turner Award, the Cohen Prize, a James Michener Fellowship, the Kay Cattarulla Prize for short fiction, and many more. His nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times, the New York Times Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Tin House, The Best American Sports Writing, and on NPR’s All Things Considered. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he’s the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship and a 5 Under 35 honor from the National Book Foundation. He wrote the documentary film Waiting for Lightning, which was released in theaters around the world by Samuel Goldwyn Films. He teaches in the Bennington Writing Seminars and at Harvard University, where he is the Director of Creative Writing.
Frederick-Douglass Knowles II is a poet, educator and activist involved in community education and the performing arts. He has competed on two National Poetry Slam Teams and served as the 2011 Connecticut Slam Team coach. His works have been featured in Poems on the Road to Peace: A Collective Tribute to Dr. King Volume 2, Peabody Museum of Natural History by Yale University Press, The East Haddam Stage Company of Connecticut, The 13th Annual Acacia Group Conference at California State University, Folio –a Southern Connecticut State University literary magazine, Lefoko –a Botswana, Southern Africa Hip-Hop magazine and Fingernails Across the Chalkboard: Poetry and Prose on HIV/AIDS from the Black Diaspora by Third World Press. Frederick-Douglass is currently an Assistant Professor of English at Three Rivers Community College where he infuses English Composition with social injustice.
Jonah Kruvant is one of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop’s NYC area program organizers, a writer, English teacher, and student of the world. Jonah Kruvant received his Bachelor’s degree from Skidmore College, his Master’s degree in Teaching from Fordham University, and his MFA degree from Goddard College. His debut novel, The Last Book Ever Written, was published by PanAm Books, and his work has appeared in Digital Americana, On the Verge, and LIMN Literary and Arts Journal.
Rebecca Lindenberg is the author of LOVE, AN INDEX (McSweeney’s Poetry Series, 2012). Her poetry, essays, and criticism appear in POETRY, The Believer, Smartish Pace, DIAGRAM, Mid-American Review, Denver Quarterly, Iowa Review, among many others. She’s the recipient of generous grants from the National Endowment of the Arts and the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Foundation, and residencies from the MacDowell Arts Colony and the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. She holds a Ph.D. in Literature & Creative Writing from the University of Utah. She lives, writes, and teaches in northern Utah.
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.
Emily Nemens is coeditor and prose editor of The Southern Review, a literary quarterly published at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Her editorial work has been featured in Writer’s Digest, draft: a journal of process, and on LeanIn.org, and her selections from The Southern Review have recently appeared in Best Mystery Writing 2016 and Best American Nonrequired Reading 2015. She studied art history and studio art at Brown University, and before moving to Louisiana to pursue an MFA in creative writing at LSU, she lived in Brooklyn and worked in editorial capacities at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Center for Architecture. Alongside her editorial work, Emily maintains active writing and illustration practices. Her fiction and essays have recently appeared in The Gettysburg Review, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and n+1, and she is working on a linked story collection about spring training baseball. As an illustrator she’s collaborated with Harvey Pekar on a Studs Terkel anthology, painted miniature portraits of all the women in Congress, and recently published her first New Yorker cartoon. Follow her at @emilynemens.
Peter Orner is the Chicago-born author of two novels, Love and Shame and Love (Little, Brown 2011) and The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo (Little, Brown, 2006) and two story collections, Esther Stories (Houghton Mifflin 2001/ Little, Brown 2013 with a forward by Marilynne Robinson) and Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge (Little, Brown, 2013). Orner’s fiction and non-fiction has appeared in the New York Times, the Atlantic Monthly, Granta, The Paris Review, McSweeney’s, Tin House, and has been anthologized in Best American Stories and twice won a Pushcart Prize. Orner was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship (2006), as well as the two-year Lannan Foundation Literary Fellowship (2007-2008). He is also the editor of two books of non-fiction from McSweeney’s/ Voice of Witness, one about immigration in the U.S., and the other about Zimbabwe, and is currently working on a new volume set in Haiti. A film version of one of Orner’s stories, “The Raft” with a screenplay by Orner and the film’s director, Rob Jones, is currently in production and stars Ed Asner. He has also been awarded the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Goldberg Prize for Jewish Fiction, the California Book Award, and the Bard Fiction Prize. Orner has taught at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the University of Montana, Bard College, and is currently a professor in the MFA program at San Francisco State University as well as a member of the fiction faculty at Warren Wilson College. He lives in Bolinas, California where he’ also a member of the volunteer fire department.
Jessica Piazza is the author of two full-length poetry collections from Red Hen Press: Interrobang–winner of the AROHO 2011 To the Lighthouse Poetry Prize and the 2013 Balcones Poetry Prize – and Obliterations (with Heather Aimee O’Neill, forthcoming), as well as the chapbook This is not a sky (Black Lawrence Press.) She holds a Ph.D. in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Southern California and is currently a contributing editor for The Offending Adam and a screener for the National Poetry Series. She is the co-founder of Bat City Review in Austin, TX and Gold Line Press in Los Angeles, and she teaches for the Writing Program at USC and the online MFA program at the University of Arkansas at Monticello. In 2015 she started the “Poetry Has Value” project, hoping to spark conversations about poetry and worth. Learn more jessicapiazza.com or poetryhasvalue.com.
Heidi Pitlor received her B.A. from McGill University in Montreal and her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Emerson College. She eventually became an editor and later a senior editor at Houghton Mifflin (now Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). She has been the series editor of The Best American Short Stories since 2007. Her writing has appeared in such publications as Ploughshares, The Huffington Post, and Labor Day: True Birth Stories by Today’s Best Women Writers.
Srikanth Reddy is the author of the poetry books — Facts for Visitors, which received the 2005 Asian American Literary Award for Poetry, and Voyager, which selected for the New Yorker and NPR’s best-of-the-year in poetry lists — both published by the University of California Press. A scholarly study, Changing Subjects: Digressions in Modern American Poetry, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press as well. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the doctoral program in English at Harvard University, Reddy is currently an Associate Professor of English at the University of Chicago.
Jessica Reidy earned her MFA in Fiction at Florida State University and a B.A. from Hollins University. Her work is Pushcart-nominated and has appeared in Narrative Magazine as Short Story of the Week, The Los Angeles Review, Arsenic Lobster, and other journals. She’s a staff-writer and the Outreach Editor for Quail Bell Magazine, Managing Editor for VIDA: Women in the Literary Arts, Art Editor for The Southeast Review, and Visiting Professor for the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop retreats. She teaches creative writing and is a certified yoga instructor and Reiki Master. Jessica also works her Romani (Gypsy) family trades, fortune telling, energy healing, and dancing. Jessica is currently writing her first novel set in post-WWII Paris about Coco Charbonneau, the half-Romani burlesque dancer and fortune teller of Zenith Circus, who becomes a Nazi hunter. You can learn more at www.jessicareidy.com.
Adam Reid Sexton teaches writing at Yale University, where he is a Lecturer in the English Department, a Critic on the faculty of Yale’s School of Art, and a Silliman Residential College Fellow. He has taught writing at Columbia University and the New School, and he has lectured at the Folger Shakespeare Library, the University of Pennsylvania’s Kelly Writers House, and the University of Alabama, where he delivered the Hudson Strode Lecture in the Age of Shakespeare. Sexton is the author of Master Class in Fiction Writing: Techniques from Austen, Hemingway and Other Greats, and with a team of graphic artists, he has adapted four of Shakespeare’s tragedies as manga (Japanese-style graphic novels). His anthology Rap on Rap was acquired by Harvard’s W.E.B. Dubois Institute for African and African American Research, while Desperately Seeking Madonna is in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Library and Archive. Sexton’s fiction, essays, and reviews have been published in the Bellevue Literary Review, the Mississippi Review, and Off Assignment, as well as the Boston Phoenix, the New York Times, and the Village Voice. For four years Sexton curated a reading series at KGB Bar in New York City. He has been interviewed on writing and literature by the New York Times, the Washington Post, Time, and npr.com, and one of his classes was broadcast on BBC Radio.
David Shields is the internationally bestselling author of twenty books, including Reality Hunger (named one of the best books of 2010 by more than thirty publications), The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead (New York Times bestseller), and Black Planet (finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award). Forthcoming are War Is Beautiful (powerHouse, November 2015), Flip-Side (powerHouse, March 2016) and Other People (Knopf, 2017). The recipient of Guggenheim and NEA fellowships, Shields has published essays and stories in the New York Times Magazine, Harper’s, Esquire, Yale Review, Village Voice, Salon, Slate, McSweeney’s, and Believer. His work has been translated into twenty languages.
Ian Singleton has written fiction, poetry, book reviews, translation, and essay for journals such as Conte, Ploughshares, Fringe, Prick of the Spindle, Midwestern Gothic, Fiddleblack, and Asymptote. His first book, Cussing, a story collection, is forthcoming (Aqueous Books, 2015). He holds an MFA in Fiction from Emerson College and a BA in Creative Writing and Comparative Literature, with a minor German, from the University of Michigan, where he won a Hopwood Award for Fiction in 2004. Er kann Deutsch. Он говорит по-русски.
Kathleen Spivack is the author of A History of Yearning, winner of the Sows Ear International Poetry Prize 2010, first runner up in the New England Book Festival, and winner of the London Book Festival; Moments of Past Happiness (Earthwinds/Grolier Editions 2007); The Beds We Lie In (Scarecrow 1986), nominated for a Pulitzer Prize; The Honeymoon (Graywolf 1986); Swimmer in the Spreading Dawn (Applewood 1981); The Jane Poems (Doubleday 1973); Flying Inland (Doubleday 1971); Robert Lowell and His Circle (2011) and a novel, Unspeakable Things. She is a recipient of the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award 2010, the 2010 Erica Mumford Award, and the 2010 Paumanok Award. Published in numerous magazines and anthologies, some of her work has been translated into French. Other publications include The New Yorker, Ploughshares, The Atlantic Monthly, Poetry, Massachusetts Review, Virginia Quarterly, The Southern Review, Harvard Review, The Paris Review, The Kenyon Review, Agni, New Letters, and others. Her work is featured in numerous anthologies. She has also won several International Solas Prizes for “Best Essays.”
Jade 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 Post, Buzzfeed, The 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.
Laura van den Berg was raised in Florida and earned her M.F.A. at Emerson College. Her first novel, Find Me, published by FSG last year, was selected as a “Best Book of 2015” by NPR, Time Out New York, and BuzzFeed, among others. Find Me was longlisted for the 2016 International Dylan Thomas Prize. She is also the author of two collections of stories, What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us (Dzanc Books, 2009) and The Isle of Youth (FSG, 2013). What the World was a Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection and shortlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. The Isle of Youth was named a “Best Book of 2013” by over a dozen outlets, including NPR, The Boston Globe, and O, The Oprah Magazine; a finalist for the Frank O’Connor Award; and received The Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts & Letters and the 2015 Bard Fiction Prize. Laura lives in Brooklyn with her husband and dog, and she is currently at work on a new story collection and a new novel, both forthcoming from FSG. Beginning in the fall of 2016, she will be a Briggs-Copeland Lecturer in Fiction at Harvard.
Writing Instructor Applications:
The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop periodically seeks instructors to teach creative writing courses the areas of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, mixed-genre, and playwriting. Candidates with MFAs, professional writing and teaching experience, and a strong publication history are preferred. Applicants may teach in Cambridge, MA, New York, or abroad. If you are interested in teaching at the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop, please send us an email or check out our Submittable page for Open Application periods.