Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Summer Writing Retreat in Paris (July 22-30, 2015)


The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Summer in Paris Writing Retreat will take place July 22-30, 2015 in France. The retreat offers participating writers of all genres and levels to work alongside award-winning authors and editors. Participating writers will hone their craft and expand their writing skills, while working on new or existing projects.

There will also be time to explore the city of Paris in all of its historical, literary, and romantic charm. Situated in the heart of Paris’ Montparnasse neighborhood, amongst the fresh and popular open air markets and charming boutiques, the hotel where we will stay is full of charm and our Moroccan themed classroom will offer a wonderful oasis to practice the writing life.

Retreat activities will include craft of writing seminars and creative writing workshops, literary tours of Paris, daily yoga and meditation classes, and manuscript consultations. Optional add-ons include excursions to neighboring cities such as Versailles. If you’re serious about writing and want to soak in some exquisite French culture this summer, join our retreat in Paris! Tuition is $2950, which includes lodging in central Paris, daily creative writing workshops and writing seminars, manuscript consultations, daily breakfast, daily yoga and meditation classes, and a walking tour of literary Paris.

Faculty includes David Shields (nonfiction, book-length essay), Diana Norma Szokoloyai (poetry, nonfiction), Rita Banerjee (poetry, fiction), Jessica Reidy (fiction, poetry), and Elissa Lewis (yoga, meditation).

If you’d like to join us in Paris, please apply online at by June 15, 2015, and include $5 application screening fee and a 5-page writing sample.  (Due to limited seats, early applications are encouraged, but check for rolling admission after deadline, depending on availability).

applyDeadline: June 15, 2015

Course Descriptions:

Brevity (with David Shields)
Lecture. Exegesis. In-class writing/critique.
A sustained argument for the excitement and urgency of literary brevity in a hyper-digital, post-religious age; a rally for compression, concision, and velocity; and a meditation on the brevity of human existence. We are mortal beings. There is no god. We live in a digital culture. Art is related to the body and to the culture. Art should reflect these things. Brevity rules.

Collage (with David Shields)
Lecture. Exegesis. In-class writing/critique.
The novel is dead; long live the anti-novel, built from scraps./I’m not interested in collage as the refuge of the compositionally disabled. I’m interested in collage as an evolution beyond narrative./A great painting comes together, just barely. /It may be that nowadays in order to move us, abstract pictures need if not humor then at least some admission of their own absurdity-expressed in genuine awkwardness or in an authentic disorder./These fragments I have shored against my ruins./Collage is the primary art form of the twenty-first century.

Collaboration (with David Shields)
Lecture. Exegesis. In-class writing/critique.
A class on kinds of collaboration: collaboration with yourself, with your own material, with other texts, with other people, and the world in general. I’ll talk for a while about the kinds of collaboration I’ve done and ask people in the class to bring in an idea for how they might collaborate on their next project.

Workshop on the Evocative Object (with Rita Banerjee and Diana Norma Szokolyai)
This workshop is based on Rita Banerjee’s theories of lyrical objects and on her original object-based prompt.  Enjoy searching for and discovering evocative objects in your surroundings, and tell their stories through lyrical descriptions that will thrill the reader.

Literary Taboo: Playing With the Five Senses (with Rita Banerjee)
Learn to play a literary game that will keep you on your wordsmithing toes. You will have to think of new ways to write about subjects, while avoiding clichés!

Anaïs Nin & the Art of Journaling (with Jess Reidy)
The great novelist Anaïs Nin kept a journal throughout most of her life and filled volume upon volume with a rich record of her personal, professional, and creative life (most of which was lived in Paris). She wrote far more volumes of her journals than novels, and after encouragement from other friends and writers she published excerpts of her journals. And while Nin feared that her journal consumed her, she also knew that it was the channel and source of her creativity. Creativity teacher and filmmaker Julia Cameron insists that, no matter the type of artist you are, daily journaling is an essential part of the artistic process. In this class, we will read and discuss some of the inspiring advice from Nin and Cameron, and try out a few different journaling techniques, invention exercises, and the practice of self-awareness and setting achievable goals. We will also practice using the journal as a ‘safe space’ for new writing projects, and a scrapbook or canvas for different ways of approaching a piece of writing (collage, drawing, etc).


Featured Faculty:

jUSEu2sSo4RfT2C6eSXb6-plQPuQlknv-LggVh9tpUsDavid 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 That Thing You Do With Your Mouth(McSweeney’s, June 2015), War Is Beautiful (powerHouse, September 15),Flip-Side (powerHouse, January 2016) and Other People (Knopf, February 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, andBeliever. His work has been translated into twenty languages.

Diana Norma Szkoloyai is author of the poetry books Roses in the Snow and Parallel Sparrows (Finishing Line Press). Her writing and hybrid art have appeared in Lyre Lyre, Dr. Hurley’s Snake Oil Cure, The Fiction Project, Teachers as Writers, Polarity, The Boston Globe, The Dudley Review, Up the Staircase, Area Zinc Art Magazine, Belltower & the Beach, and Human Rights News. Founding Literary Arts Director of Chagall Performance Art Collaborative and co-director of the Cambridge Writer’s Workshop, she holds an Ed.M from Harvard and an M.A. in French Literature from the University of Connecticut.

rb1-e1425855638846Rita Banerjee is a writer, and received her PhD in Comparative Literature from Harvard University. She holds an MFA in Poetry and her writing has been published in Poets for Living Waters, The New Renaissance, The Fiction Project, Jaggery, The Crab Creek Review, The Dudley Review, Objet d’Art, Vox Populi, Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure, and Chrysanthemum among other journals. Her first collection of poems,Cracklers at Night, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2010 and received First Honorable Mention for Best Poetry Book at the 2011-2012 Los Angeles Book Festival. Her novella, A Night with Kali, was digitized by the Brooklyn Art-house Co-op in 2011. She is a co-director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop, and her writing has been recently featured on HER KIND by VIDA: Women in Literary Arts and on KBOO Radio’s APA Compass in Portland, Oregon.

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

ElissaLewisElissa 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.

22 thoughts on “Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Summer Writing Retreat in Paris (July 22-30, 2015)

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