CWW Alumni Aaron Graham Selected for the 30/30 Project to Support Tupelo Press

Aaron Graham, an alumni of the 2017 Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Spring in New Orleans Writing Retreat has been chosen for the 30/30 Project to benefit Tupelo Press, a literary non-profit organization. Aaron will join eight other volunteers in writing a poem a day during the month of April while raising donations to support the literary press. Other poets for the project include Alexandra Barylski, Rebecca Raphael, Pamela Murray Winters, and more. You can donate to support your favorite authors here.  To help Aaron reach his $350 goal, donate here.

Aaron Graham is a doctoral candidate at Emory University and is also the poetry editor of Muse /A Literary Journal, and Assistant Poetry Editor for The Tishman Review. He was the 2016 Cecilia Baker Memorial Visiting Fellow for Seaside Writers and a veteran who served both in Afghanistan and Iraq. His work has appeared in SAND, Rising Phoenix, The Taos International Journal of Poetry and Art, The East Bay Review, Zero-Dark-Thirty , Grist, Alternating Current, and more. His work has won numerous awards, including Seven Hills Press’s Penumbra Poetry Prize, Tishman Review‘s 2015 Poetry Contest, and Tethered by Letters’ 2017 Luminaire Award.  His 2017 chapbook, The Hurry Up and the Wait, was shortlisted for Tupelo Press’s Sunken Garden Chapbook Poetry Prize as was his Skyping from a Combat Zone, in 2016. His first full length collection, Blood Stripes, was shortlisted for the 2015 Berkshire Prize, and his “PTSD Poem #12” has been nominated for 2016’s Best of the Net.

Tupelo Press is a literary press that hosts writing conferences, readings, and a teen writer center and publishes essays, poetry, and prose from new and established writers.  You can find out more about the 30/30 Project and read some of Aaron’s daily work here.  A sample of Aaron’s poetry follows below:

Populist Agrarian Mar a Logo Blues

Bernie’s in the basement preaching cost controls on medicine
I’m spiting on the pavement trying to undermine the government.
Fat man in a little coat named Priebus got me laid off.
Paul Ryan say he’s got a plan to pay the nation’s debt off.

Look out Flynn, they gonna learn your sin.
Got a presidential win, now the real work begins.
Sell your souls on Election Day Putin already got away.
Daniel Boon’s in dark a room with a wire tap and Mike Flynn,
saying the cure to all our ills are tariffs and immigration bans.

Better get Dick, get Bill get someone to write a healthcare a bill
Train of thought jumped a rail en route to replace and repeal.
The POTUS tweets because his ego’s frail so public will is gonna fail.
Try hard, leave scared, Sessions will be disbarred
Send out the national guard for the protest on your front yard
down at Mar a Log Steve Bannon’s your Iago

Don’t wanna look dumb
you better hire some
better writers to try
to cover up your scandals
collusion with white vandals
your race relations plan is
Steve Harvey on every channel.

–Aaron Graham

Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Presents: Fawn (Boston, MA)

A few weeks ago, the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop hosted a night of poetry and music at the beautiful Church of the Covenant for our first CWW Presents event in Boston, MA.  The Church of the Covenant offer a massive yet warm and welcoming space to all who enter. We sat in the pews amongst others gathered to appreciate art in all its forms and listened to the art of Audrey HarrerJanaka Stucky , and Fawn.

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The night was opened with Audrey Harrer, a composer, harpist, and vocalist who bridge the gap between traditional music and new technology to create haunting melodies that linger with you long after the notes have dissipated into the air. As she plays on the harp or sings during her performance, Audrey records the melodies and melds them into her work, creating harmonies and dissonances that create music that fills the space of a cathedral.

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As Audrey left the stage, Janaka Stucky stood before us. Janaka is an American poet, the founding editor of Black Ocean, and the poetry journal Handsome. He opened his performance with poetry that both commanded the attention of his audience, but turned to soft intimacy that knocked the wind out of the audience with each new poem. He talked to the audience almost conversationally at one point, and we laughed for a moment, unknowing that a conversation about mechanics would turn to poetry of an army of insects made out of his own body. His performance that evoked imagery that was both unnerving yet so personal reached into a part of people that we are almost afraid of acknowledging, the mortality of our bodies but the permanence of what we leave behind.

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The final performance of the night was by the light, melodious strings and vocals of the group Fawn, led by Anne Malin Ringwalt and Will Johnson, who released their debut EP Neither Dog Nor Car in the November of 2016. Their music, a balance struck between the strings of ukulele, banjo, and guitar is so carefully struck with synth it is seamless, yet symbiotic in its need for the other. One song performed was a version of Amazing Grace whose lyrics had been changed to a version the created a connection with the air in our lungs and its connection with the world we inhabit that nearly brought me to tears. It is the nature of their music’s composition and lyrics that brings light into turmoil and releases the tension that comes with the passage of time.

Voice is the oldest way to tell our stories, words and sounds passed down from generation to generation that linger long in memory. We are so grateful to these artists for sharing their voices and music with us, and the Church of the Covenant for giving us such a beautiful welcoming space to share the art of music with the city of Boston.

Our next CWW Presents evening will take place on Friday May 5, 2017 at the Democracy Center and will feature poetry, fiction, and music performances by Elizabeth Devlin, Diana Norma SzokolyaiErini Katopodis, and Rita Banerjee!  Stay tuned for more information on our upcoming CWW Presents evening in Cambridge, MA!

Photos by Yasmina Hilal

Shannon O. Sawyer
CWW Media Development Intern

Au revoir NOLA, je t’aime!

On Saturday, Dipika Guha brilliantly led a class unpacking the elements of a play. After an intellectual discussion about what makes up a play, we were given seven common elements to incorporate into all of our plays. Inspired by New Orleans, these included busking in the streets, a mule, and elevated cemeteries. We were given until the following morning to write a complete play, with a beginning, middle and end.  Welcoming the challenge, some of us cozied into our writing corners in our NOLA house, and others took their notebooks and pens in their pockets, setting off on the ferry to explore what inspiration the New Orleans streets had to offer.  Several of us went out to dinner at the infamous COOP’S Place, where the food is delicious and the servers are, well, let’s just say,…characters! I recommend the jambalaya (it takes five hours to make, and our server swore it was the reason that he got a job there).

On Sunday morning, we all gathered around the table and toasted to our writing with mimosas. Then, we all read through our plays, casting each other for dramatic readings.  It was truly amazing to see the depth and scope of work that could come out of a single bake off.

After we buttoned up our rooms and said our farewells on the big, welcoming porch of our historic New Orleans home, we set off with new writing goals and some new tools to apply to our manuscripts.  Those of us with some time to spare before our flights went to the French market to sift through the beautiful jewelry from around the world and taste decadent crepes and pralines.  (Recommendations: Rum Pralines and Banana-Chocolate-Peanut butter-Bacon Crepes).

On the way to the airport, I called one our trusty cabbies we had gotten to know over our time in NOLA, and he pointed out where the Voodo Lady lives, the ghost town areas of NOLA, and recounted his own story of Hurricane Katrina. I was thankful for his kindness, and for all the generosity and creativity blooming in New Orleans!

Au Revoir New Orleans, we love you, and we will be back!

–Diana Norma Szokolyai
New Orleans, March 26, 2017

Laissez les bons temps rouler! 🎶 🎉 Join our 24-hour Writing #BakeOff Live on Twitter!

Dear Writers,

Greetings from sultry New Orleans!  Our Spring in New Orleans Writing Retreat kicked off on Thursday evening with writers descending on NOLA from all four corners of North America.  After a lovely orientation, meet and greets, and a discussion of our current writing projects, we were off to dine and wine and roll our sleeves up!  On Friday, after a home-made breakfast, Rita Banerjee kicked off our writing seminars with a class on “Character Development and the Law of Desire.”  From Hamlet to Tennessee Williams to Ben Percy and Siri Hustvedt, Rita and her students investigated what made their narratives and characters really tick, the charge between dynamic and typed, masked characters, and how many names desire could take.  Writing prompts and heated exchanges abounded, followed by a break-out writing session and then a Louisiana lunch.  In the afternoon, Emily Nemens taught a wonderful class on “The Art of Storytelling,” in which she examine the interplay between visual images, sculptures, artifacts, architectures, and the maps of streets and things, with the very process of creating evocative lyrical and narrative writing.  After her seminar and prompts, our writers took a tour on the grand Mississippi, shuttling ourselves against a moody blue sky and scatting waves to the delightful and decadent French Quarter in downtown New Orleans.  There we posed as Americans in Paris in Cafe du Monde, grabbing coffee with chicory, fresh beignets, and swapping techniques about speculative fiction and narrative craft for POC. We followed through, with a walking art and historical tour of New Orleans, in which Emily Nemens guided us to the homes and haunts of literary giants such as Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, and Anne Rice, introduced us to the local visual art scenes and galleries of New Orleans, strolled us past cemeteries and cathedrals, and narrated the history of how sugarcane and slavery had helped build the lofty, neoclassical homes of the Garden District.  After toasts over roti and jerk curry at a wonderful local Caribbean restaurant, we were back home to write and plot and think.

Our second day of classes kicked off with Diana Norma Szokolyai’s class, “Writing in the Lyric Register,” in which she examined the relationship between music, writing, and improvisation.  She discussed how writers quantify the lyric register and gestures of other writers with Kazim Ali’s Anais Nin: An Unprofessional Study, and discussed how writers from the French Troubadours to Maya Sonenberg used the lyric register to structure and charge their creative work.

And in just one hour, we will be launching out 24-hour creative writing bake off with playwright and Princeton Hodder Fellow, Dipika Guha.   Dipika writes, “A bake-off is a playwriting exercise or writerly dare popularized by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Paula Vogel.  The dare is to write a play in a fixed span of time 24 hours in response to a list of shared elements. We will begin with a seminar on Saturday when we’ll visit our playwriting toolbox and look at devices, forms and structures available for our use.  At this meeting we’ll choose six elements to include in our writing drawn from the city of New Orleans, seeking inspiration from its architecture, history and myths. After the seminar you will go away and write until the next evening.  On Sunday over food and drink, we will read your bake-offs together and celebrate your progress. Bake-offs are not critiqued.”

We welcome all of our writers and readers from around the world to join our 24-hour creative writing bake-off remotely and on-line.  If you would like to participate in our 24-hour bake-off challenge, please tweet to us @CamWritersWkshp with the tag #BakeOff.  The challenge of the Bake-Off is simple: write 1 complete narrative (as a play or screenplay, a short story or novella, a novel if you dare, an essay or collection of essays, or a series of linked poems or collection) in a span of 24 hours.  Your work must have a beginning, middle, and end, and you must complete the challenge with 24 hours.  The clock starts at 1 pm Central Time on Saturday March 25, and ends exactly at 1 pm Central Time on Sunday March 26.  So join us, and tell us about your work and process with the tag #BakeOff at @CamWritersWkshp.  Happy Writing!

Et bon courage, mes amis!

Rita Banerjee
CWW Creative Director
New Orleans – 3.25.17

 

Spring in Portland Writing Retreat Class Schedule & March 25, 2017 Deadline!

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The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Spring in Portland Writing Retreat will take place from April 22-24, 2017.  While you’re in the home of writers Cheryl Strayed and Ursula K. Le Guin, feel free to go bicycling and explore the terrain, hike, or relax at local cafes for people watching—no matter how you choose to spend your time, this city is full inspiration. We will be staying in the Alberta Arts District during the retreat, an area that is sure to inspire our participants and help them create.  The retreat offers multi-genre workshops, as well as craft seminars and time to write. The faculty includes award-winning writers Adam Reid Sexton, Kerry Cohen, Rita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai. Genres include fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. The deadline to apply is March 25th, 2017.

Schedule of Classes:

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Writing in the Lyric Register (with Diana Norma Szokolyai)
In this writing workshop, we will practice writing in the lyric register, expanding our writing into descriptive, poetic prose.  We will look intensively at writing “the moment,” slowing down and unpacking a single moment.  After examining some examples in literature, we will take to writing and revising our own pieces to unlock the lyrical qualities of a single moment.  Our aim will be to pull our readers into the emotionally charged and poetic world of our narratives.

Structuring Your Short Story or Novel (with Adam Reid Sexton)
From the time of Homer to the present day, writers have provided stories with the same basic shape – narrative structure, it’s called.  Regardless of content, the result of that structure is a kind of reading machine that people feel compelled to experience from start to finish.  In this course we learn the elements of classic story structure, as well as how much those elements can be varied without damage to your short-story, novel, or memoir.  Learn how to structure stories so potential readers of your work become actual readers.

Writing Memoir Honestly (with Kerry Cohen)
Annie Lamott famously wrote, “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” If only it were that easy! In this course we will examine the many challenges of writing about other people in memoir. We will discuss some anecdotes from memoir authors, address students’ concerns about their own memoirs, and we will complete writing exercises that will allow for practice in writing about ourselves and others honestly and ethically.

Science: Fiction – Building Literary Worlds  (with Rita Banerjee)
In this class, 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.

Writing the Personal Essay (with Kerry Cohen)
Personal essays allow us to understand one another as fellow humans, to see ourselves in each other. They give us ways to know something in a new way, thereby expanding our understandings of ourselves. They are, in my mind, a key to living a self-examined life; and who wants to live another way? In this course, we will examine select essays by authors for their craft, their purpose, and their effect. Students will brainstorm ideas, write, workshop, and share their own personal essays, resulting in a polished piece by the end.

Playing with Point of View (with Adam Reid Sexton)
What’s the best point-of-view strategy to use when writing a particular work of fiction or creative nonfiction – first-person central, or third omniscient?  Second-person (“you”) – or even first person plural (“we”)?  This course breaks down the complicated, challenging topic of POV in storytelling, employing mini-lectures, in-class exercises, and short readings by contemporary masters like Jeffrey Eugenides and Lorrie Moore, to turn point of view from an obligation into an opportunity.  POV can be fun!

Featured Faculty:

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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.

 

adamsextonAdam 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.

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. 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, a book on South Asian literary modernisms, and a collection of lyric essays.

DianaNormaDiana 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.

applyDeadline: March 25, 2017

AWP Exclusive: “Writing from the Fringe: Cultivating Writing Communities on Retreats and Abroad” feat. the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop

wcc-quarterlyThe AWP WC&C Quarterly recently featured an article on the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop: “Writing from the Fringe: Cultivating Writing Communities on Retreats and Abroad” feat. the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop.”  In the the quarterly, editor Kenny Lakes writes:

Whether you just joined in 2017, or you have been with us for years, thank you for being a part of AWP. We are excited to see what the next fifty years bring.  In this issue, we hear from a Rita Banerjee, who discusses the successes Cambridge Writers’ Workshop has had building community near and far.

An excerpt from Rita Banerjee’s essay follows below:

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop (CWW) began as a creative writing community in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Formed by graduate students at Harvard University in 2008, the workshop was meant as a forum for fostering communities of dedicated writers and encouraging creative expression in the literary arts. Since the organization’s inception, the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop has been all-inclusive and open to all emerging and established writers, first in the Cambridge and Boston area, and now in Brooklyn, Manhattan, across the United States, and also abroad. Since 2008, the organization has been run by directors Rita Banerjee and Diana Norma Szokolyai.

In 2011, the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop expanded to include online creative writing courses and writing retreats. We have participated in the Mass Poetry Festival, the Brooklyn Book Festival, Brooklyn Lit Crawl, Manhattan Lit Crawl, and the AWP Conference. All writers, from amateurs to professionals, who are looking for a serious writing community, are welcome to join the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop.

In 2012, the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop hosted its first writing retreat abroad at the Château de Sacy in Picardy, France, a rural country enclave just forty-five minutes outside of Paris. The focus of the workshop was on “Writing and Eco-Living,” and during our retreat in Sacy, our participants enjoyed fresh meals from the organic potager of the Château de Sacy, daily craft of writing seminars and writing workshops, and outings around Picardy. On our retreats, our instructors and participants have hailed from Australia, the US, the UK, France, Germany, and the Philippines. At our Sacy workshop, one of our participants began writing a poetry collection inspired by gaming and also produced a second manuscript about France, WWII, and the memory of her father. Another participant produced a wonderful series of lyric essays and memoirs on fleet week, public swimming pools, and interracial relationships in 1940s Brooklyn.  On our first workshop abroad, one of our participants Gloria Rich said, Norma and Rita gave a fabulous writers’ workshop at Le Petit Sacy, France. Their knowledge, enthusiasm and caring were exemplary. I will definitely continue to take workshops with them…I was totally inspired, will continue to write and hopefully participate with them in their forthcoming programs.” …  Read Rita Banerjee’s full essay here.

Bluestockings presents A Night with Kali: A Reading by Rita Banerjee – March 12, 7pm, NYC

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A Night with Kali:
A Reading by Rita Banerjee

Bluestockings
172 Allen Street, NY 10002

Sunday March 12, 2017
7:00 – 9:30 pm

Rita Banerjee’s novella, “A Night with Kali,” in Approaching Footsteps, has just been released on Kindle Books and in Print by Spider Road Press. In Rita Banerjee’s novella, “A Night with Kali,” two people from different classes, a taxi driver called Tamal-da and his well-to-do passenger meet under unusual circumstances. Stuck together in a flood in the middle of a monsoon hitting Kolkata, Tamal entertains his bored, out-of-town passenger by telling her the story of his life. As he explains how he ended up hustling the mean streets of Kolkata, how he abandoned his rural village, and why he left his family of fishers behind, Tamal spins a tale that is both mundane and fantastic. Built on the tradition of Bengali ghost stories, Tamal’s coming-of-age tale depends as much on the supernatural as on the possibility or impossibility of human connection.

“Two novellas stand especially tall: A Night with Kali, by Rita Banerjee, begins with a taxi ride through Kolkata during a monsoon and soon develops into an entertaining story-in-a-story supernatural tale reminiscent of classic Indian literature.  In 136 Auburn Lane, novelist Donna Hillevokes a mysterious Harlem boarding house in the 1930’s, where a down-and-out woman has one final chance to rescue her pitiful existence.” -Gay Yellen

“’A Night with Kali’” by Rita Banerjee was a pair of ghost stores-within stories-within a story, set in Kolkata and the surrounding villages. The voice was distinct but unobtrusive and created a cozy familiarity with the narrator. The setting was also particularly vivid, but never got bogged down in exposition – rather, well-placed details sprinkled throughout made me feel like I’d lived in the area all my life. This was my favorite of the four, partly because it was the most upbeat. That may sound strange for a ghost story, but it works.” – MJL

Biography:

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. 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, a book on South Asian literary modernisms, and a collection of lyric essays.

Reminder: Upcoming Deadlines for Spring & Summer Writing Retreats

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is offering scholarships in the amount of $100 – $200 for our Spring and Summer Writing Retreats in New Orleans (March 23 – 26, 2017), Portland, OR (April 22-24, 2017), and Granada, Spain (August 2-6, 2017).  Deadline for our first Scholarship Applications is March 5, 2017.  Apply at http://cww.submittable.com!

WRITING RETREATS with the supportive faculty of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop will take place in New Orleans (March 23–26), Portland (April 22–24), Granada, Spain (August 2–6), and Rockport, MA (October 13-15). Faculty include Dipika GuhaEmily NemensAdam Reid SextonKerry CohenRita BanerjeeTim HorvathAlexandria Marzano-LesnevichMaya Sonenbergand Diana Norma Szokolyai. Genres include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, playwriting, and hybrid.  First scholarship applications due by March 5, 2017 at http://cww.submittable.com!

  • Diversity Scholarship
    Diversity scholarships will be offered to minorities who show a commitment to creative writing.  In your one-page cover letter, please describe how our writing retreat would make a difference in your writing life. Include a short bio (150-200 words).
  • Student Scholarship
    Student scholarships will be offered to students (both undergraduate and graduate, full or part time) who show a commitment to creative writing.  In your one-page cover letter, please describe how our writing retreat would make a difference in your writing life. Include a short bio (150-200 words).
  • Writer/Parent Scholarship
    Writers/Parent scholarships will be offered to writers who show a commitment to creative writing and are raising children (infant through college).  In your one-page cover letter, please describe how our writing retreat would make a difference in your writing life. Include a short bio (150-200 words).

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Spring in New Orleans Writing Retreat will take place from March 23-26, 2017, and will coincide with the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival.  Known for its Spanish and French architecture, live jazz, cajun food, and street festivals, New Orleans offers an inspirational and one-of-a-kind environment for creative writers. During the retreat, we will be staying in the lovely Algiers Point neighborhood, just a short ferry ride away from the Historic French Quarter.  Our retreat features multi-genre workshops, as well as craft seminars and time to write.  The faculty includes award-winning writers Dipika Guha, Emily Nemens, Rita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai. Genres include playwriting, nonfiction, fiction, and poetry.  The cost of the retreat is $750, which includes tuition, lodging, and some meals.

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Spring in Portland Writing Retreat will take place from April 22-24, 2017.  While you’re in the home of writers Cheryl Strayed and Ursula K. Le Guin, feel free to go bicycling and explore the terrain, hike, or relax at local cafes for people watching—no matter how you choose to spend your time, this city is full inspiration. We will be staying in the Alberta Arts District during the retreat, an area that is sure to inspire our participants and help them create.  The retreat offers multi-genre workshops, as well as craft seminars and time to write. The faculty includes award-winning writers Adam Reid Sexton, Kerry Cohen, Rita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai. Genres include fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.  The cost of the retreat is $750, which includes tuition, lodging, and some meals.

And the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Summer in Granada Writing Retreat will take place from August 2-6, 2017.  Located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains in Andalucía, Granada is one of the gems of Spain and has inspired writers from Washington Irving to Salman Rushdie to Ali Smith. Let the old city stimulate your writing with its winding streets, Moorish history, and evocative landscapes.  Work on your existing manuscript, or look to the beauty and warmth of Granada to inspire all-new projects.  During the retreat, we will be staying at the Hotel Guadalupe, just a short walk from the Alhambra.  The retreat offers multi-genre workshops, as well as craft seminars and time to write. The faculty includes award-winning writers Tim Horvath, Alexandria Marzano-LesnevichRita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai. Genres include fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.  The cost of the retreat is $2950, which includes tuition, lodging, and daily breakfast.

applyFirst Deadline: March 5, 2017

Spring in New Orleans Writing Retreat Class Schedule & February 25, 2017 Deadline!

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The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Spring in New Orleans Writing Retreat will take place from March 23-26, 2017, and will coincide with the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival.  Known for its Spanish and French architecture, live jazz, cajun food, and street festivals, New Orleans offers an inspirational and one-of-a-kind environment for creative writers. During the retreat, we will be staying in the lovely Algiers Point neighborhood, just a short ferry ride away from the Historic French Quarter.  Our retreat features multi-genre workshops, as well as craft seminars and time to write.  The faculty includes award-winning writers Dipika Guha, Emily Nemens, Rita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai. Genres include playwriting, nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. The deadline to apply is February 25th, 2017.

applyDeadline: February 25, 2017

Schedule of Classes:

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The Art of Storytelling & New Orleans Tour  (with Emily Nemens)
A picture’s worth a thousand words, but what if there’s words with that picture? In this workshop we’ll explore the many intersections of art and writing, by considering poetry, fiction,and criticism about and including visual arts, and then look at our own works that combine language and text. Using prompts from local art and architecture, we’ll explore the range of expression from ekphrasis to graphic narratives, and put our heads together to discover the best means of storytelling for a range of different narratives. Illustration expertise is not required, but a curiosity about visual arts and how they can be employed in literary work is necessary.

Bake-Off (with Dipika Guha)

We will gather in one of the most evocative, haunting cities in the world and together write and read out loud our ‘bake-offs’. A bake-off is a playwriting exercise or writerly dare popularized by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Paula Vogel. The dare is to write a play in a fixed span of time 24 hours in response to a list of shared elements. We will begin with a seminar on Saturday when we’ll visit our playwriting toolbox and look at devices, forms and structures available for our use. At this meeting we’ll choose six elements to include in our writing drawn from the city of New Orleans, seeking inspiration from its architecture, history and myths. After the seminar you will go away and write until the next evening. On Sunday over food and drink, we will read your bake-offs together and celebrate your progress. Bake-offs are not critiqued.

Character Development & the Law of Desire (with Rita Banerjee)

Femme fatales, gumshoe detectives, star-crossed lovers, wicked stepmothers, wise fools, empathetic anti-heroes: dynamic and archetypal characters can be key to making a good story or lyrical piece tick and pulling in the reader deeper into your creative work. In this workshop, we will discuss how dynamic and archetypal characters can help structure stories, propel narratives forwards, and how each character’s desire provides interesting ethical dilemmas and emotional spectrums to narratives and verse. We will learn about the building blocks of creating strong, unforgettable characters, discuss the connection between desire and plot, and learn how playing with persona can help liberate nonfictional stories and lyrical poems. 

Writing in the Lyric Register (with Diana Norma Szokolyai)

In this writing workshop, we will practice writing in the lyric register, expanding our writing into descriptive, poetic prose. We will look intensively at our writing, slowing down and unpacking a single moment. After examining some examples in literature, we will take to revising our own pieces to unlock the lyrical qualities in our writing. Our aim will be to pull our readers into the emotionally charged and poetic world of our narratives.

Featured Faculty:

dipikaDipika 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.

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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.

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. 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, a book on South Asian literary modernisms, and a collection of lyric essays.

DianaNormaDiana 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.

applyDeadline: February 25, 2017

Cambridge Writers’ Workshop 2017 Writing Retreats – Deadlines Approaching!

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Thank you to everyone who joined the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop at AWP 2017 in Washington D.C. We wanted to let all our new writers and readers know about the upcoming deadlines for our Spring and Summer 2017 writing retreats.

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The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Spring in New Orleans Writing Retreat will take place from March 23-26, 2017, and will coincide with the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival.  Known for its Spanish and French architecture, live jazz, cajun food, and street festivals, New Orleans offers an inspirational and one-of-a-kind environment for creative writers. During the retreat, we will be staying in the lovely Algiers Point neighborhood, just a short ferry ride away from the Historic French Quarter.  Our retreat features multi-genre workshops, as well as craft seminars and time to write.  The faculty includes award-winning writers Dipika Guha, Emily Nemens, Rita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai. Genres include playwriting, nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. The deadline to apply is February 25th, 2017.

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Spring in Portland Writing Retreat will take place from April 22-24, 2017.  While you’re in the home of writers Cheryl Strayed and Ursula K. Le Guin, feel free to go bicycling and explore the terrain, hike, or relax at local cafes for people watching—no matter how you choose to spend your time, this city is full inspiration. We will be staying in the Alberta Arts District during the retreat, an area that is sure to inspire our participants and help them create.  The retreat offers multi-genre workshops, as well as craft seminars and time to write. The faculty includes award-winning writers Adam Reid Sexton, Kerry Cohen, Rita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai. Genres include fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. The deadline to apply is March 15th, 2017.

And the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Summer in Granada Writing Retreat will take place from August 2-6, 2017.  Located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains in Andalucía, Granada is one of the gems of Spain and has inspired writers from Washington Irving to Salman Rushdie to Ali Smith. Let the old city stimulate your writing with its winding streets, Moorish history, and evocative landscapes.  Work on your existing manuscript, or look to the beauty and warmth of Granada to inspire all-new projects.  During the retreat, we will be staying at the Hotel Guadalupe, just a short walk from the Alhambra.  The retreat offers multi-genre workshops, as well as craft seminars and time to write. The faculty includes award-winning writers Tim Horvath, Alexandria Marzano-LesnevichRita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai. Genres include fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. The deadline to apply is March 15th, 2017.

Looking forward to seeing you this Spring and Summer.

In solidarity, and writing,
Cambridge Writers’ Workshop

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