Disobedient Futures – Call for Spec Lit & Art Submissions – Deadline: February 14, 2019

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop welcomes submissions of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, mixed-genre work, plays, and screenplays on the topic of “Disobedient Futures” for our new speculative literature anthology. Writers are encouraged to imagine what the future cultures of America and the world might look like, and submit their work on the following topics:

Disobedient Women: How might women, feminists, female-identifying, and/or non-binary individuals disobey and reconfigure our understandings of power and femininity and masculinity in the future?

Disobedient Tribes: What if Americans found a way to subvert racial categories and challenge tribalism and cultures of fear? How might tribes disobey the rules of the game and create new types of community identities and cultural bridges?

Disobedient Class: Could Americans in the future overcome systems of class oppression and capitalist gluttony? How might individuals in the future subvert class hierarchies?

Disobedient Futures: Tell us what the future cultures of America and the world have in store. How might the emerging generations of today and tomorrow reconfigure today’s value systems, challenge today’s modes of violence, oppression, and power, and create new visions of society? Give us your best speculative writing which explores the possibilities and disruptions of disobedient futures.

Writers are welcome to submit utopian, dystopian, parallel history, futuristic, alternative reality, speculative essay, and even purely speculative fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and theatre. Optimistic and pessimistic tales of the future are welcome in equal measure, but gratuitous violence and discrimination are not. Poetry submissions should be 3-5 pages in length. Prose submissions can be 10-20 pages in length.  Excerpts from longer works with synopses are welcome. Visual art related to these categories of Disobedient Futures is also welcome.  Submit your retelling of the future today!

Submit your work at cww.submittable.com || Deadline: February 14, 2019

Summer in Paris 2018 Writing Retreat: Day Three

The morning of Friday, July 27 began with the first session of guest faculty member Kathleen Spivack’s “Memory and Memoir” workshop. Kathleen’s class focused on how writers can work with memory, nostalgia, the other, and ourselves and explored the role of memory in writing.

In the afternoon the group traveled to Musée d’Orsay for Diana Norma Szokolyai‘s workshop, “Ekphrasis: When Writing Confronts Visual Art.” Prior to the ekphrasis workshop, writers were asked to ponder several questions: How does writing about visual art combine both creative and critical processes? How can we use ekphrasis to jumpstart our own creative process?  How can ekphrasis help us explore the emotional world and perspectives of the Other? And how does ekphrasis reveal deeply personal and internal reflection by examining a creation external to ourselves? In addition to these musings, participants also wrote poems inspired by various pieces of art.

The day ended with more explorations around Paris, individual writing time, and preparations for Kristina Marie Darling’s class on “Prose Poetry and Micro-Fiction,” Rita Banerjee’s class on, “Flaneurs, Essays, and Provocateurs,” and a trip to Versailles.

Apply by Friday, June 15 for our 2018 Summer Retreats in Paris and Granada!

Applications close this Friday, June 15, for our 2018 Summer Writing Retreats in Paris, France and Granada, Spain. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to study with award-winning faculty in an inspiring and supportive community of writers. Scholarships are available. Apply today!


Summer in Paris

Our Paris retreat will be held from July 25-July 30 with faculty Kathleen Spivack, Kristina Marie Darling, Rita Banerjee, and Rita Banerjee. Students will stay in the heart of the Montparnasse neighborhood, enjoy classes in a beautiful Moroccan-themed room with an open-air courtyard, and take literary tours of Paris.



Memory/Memoir (with Kathleen Spivack)

We will be working with memory, memoir, the other, and ourselves as we explore the role of memory in our writing. We will focus on new work or, if you prefer, working on projects you bring to the class.

How can we use memory? Where do fact and fiction collide? What is a memoir and where exactly do we focus? How do we locate ourselves in our writing and where do we find the starting place and point of view? There are many ways of approaching memory/memoir in our writing and we will explore a few of them.

Prose Poetry and Micro-Fiction with (Kristina Marie Darling)

In this course, we will focus on prose poetry, meaning prose that draws from the extensive tradition, formal repertoire and literary devices that readers associate with poetry. We will work toward a set of drafts that enact the full range and diversity inherent in this exciting literary form. Questions we will address in this class include: How can poets effectively and economically use the tools of fiction in their craft? What formal variations on the prose poem are possible? How can prose poems complement work written in more traditional poetic forms? Readings will include work by Rochelle Hurt, Carol Guess, Kerri Webster, Joanna Ruocco, Jenny Boully, Sarah Vap, G.C. Waldrep, Suzanne Scanlon, and other writers as determined by student interest.

Grants, Residencies, & Publication (with Kristina Marie Darling)

This workshop will walk students through the basics of writing convincing and persuasive applications to fellowships, residencies, grants, and other opportunities.  We will begin with a discussion of strategies for researching those professional opportunities that best fit one’s chosen project. We will also address such topics as crafting personal statements, writing compelling project proposals, choosing the writing sample, and compiling your dossier as a whole.  Students will leave the workshop with a packet of resources for researching residencies and grants, as well as sample application materials and strategies for effectively presenting their own writing to selection committees.

Ekphrasis: Writing Confronts Visual Art (with Diana Norma Szokolyai)

The word “ekphrasis” comes from the Greek, referring to a literary response to a visual scene, or more commonly, a work of art. By engaging in the imaginative act of reflecting on the action of a work of visual art, the writer expands the meaning of the art. After reading literary examples and holding a discussion about applying the practice of ekphrasis to our own writing, our classroom will be one of the most beautiful museums in Paris: The Musée D’Orsay.

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 John McPhee to Richard Rodriguez to David Shields to Teju Cole and Lauren Elkin redefine the environment they inhabit and create a space for electric art.


Summer in Granada

Our Granada retreat will run from August 1-August 6 with faculty Tim Horvath Diana Norma Szokolyai, and Rita Banerjee. Intellectual, diverse, and artistic, Granada will always have creative opportunities and events to experience. No matter how you choose to spend your time, this city is full inspiration. The retreat offers multi-genre workshops, as well as craft seminars and time to write.

CWW-Granada2018Schedule (2)

Leyendo Intensamente: Reading Spanish Language Literature (in Translation) as a Writer (with Tim Horvath)

It is a given that writers must learn to read closely, with attention to nuance and craft, to unravel the methods by which other writers have managed to tell stories effectively and adapt them for their own purposes. In this class, we’ll focus on contemporary writers in Spanish. Beginning with now-canonical figures like Borges, Valenzuela, and Cortázar, we’ll look at the history of mid-twentieth century literature in Spanish, and explore how social and political conditions shaped the dissemination of that literature through the Western world. We’ll then look at how today’s writers are both continuing and radically transforming that tradition in light of contemporary issues. In particular, we’ll examine writers such as Valeria Luiselli, Andrés Neuman, Cristina Rivera Garza, and Samanta Schweblin, each of whom bends narrative, language, and thus our understanding of reality itself. We’ll also explore the fraught, infinitely rich topic of translation, discussing its complexities and the ways that understanding the innumerable decisions involved in bringing a work into another language can shed light on the act of “translating” any experience or concept from mind or world onto the page, i.e. writing itself.

The Poetry of Flamenco (with Diana Norma Szokolyai)

In this class, we will explore the fantastically concise and heel-­to-­floor transmission of passion through the lyrics of flamenco music. Packed with intense rhythms, rhymes, and imagery to match the intensity of the music, flamenco songs are a form of poetry developed by Romani people to express the deepest human experiences of love, death, and oppression. We will examine symbols and structures in the poetry of flamenco, learning the distinctions between siguiriya, tango, playera, soleá, and carcelera. Complementary to the class, we will visit an authentic flamenco performance and get a tour of the Museo Cuevas del Sacromonte, where Romani people have traditionally lived in cave dwellings and practiced the art of flamenco.

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.

Celebrate the Pre-Launch of CREDO with the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop, C&R Press, and Women’s National Book Association at AWP 2018!

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is delighted to celebrate the pre-launch of CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing at the Spontaneous Reading Party, at the AWP 2018 Conference in Tampa, Florida.

SPONTANEOUS READING PARTY presented by C&R PressWomen’s National Book Association and Cambridge Writers’ Workshop will take place on Friday, March 9 from 7-11 pm at the historic The Centre for Women Hyde Park Mansion. The party will featuring readings from C&R Press authors and CREDO Contributors, and will feature a full bar and food.  The location for the party is less than one mile from the AWP Convention Center.

To register for free tickets to the Spontaneous Reading Party, please register via Eventbrite here.

From C&R Press, readers include: Brian LeungKristina Marie Darling, Earl Braggs, Katie RoginSybil BakerLaura Catherine BrownAriel FranciscoValerie TomaselliBrenna Womer, Erik Rasmussen and more.

From the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop, we’re proud to feature our CREDO contributing authors Rita BanerjeeAlexander Carrigan, Janine Harrison, Kevin McLellan,  Nell Irvin PainterAnca L. Szilágyi, and Diana Norma Szokolyai at the Spontaneous Reading PartyRead more about our featured CREDO authors below! Authors will be reading in the following order:

Rita Banerjee is the author of Echo in Four Beats (Finishing Line Press, February 2018), the novella “A Night with Kali” in Approaching Footsteps (Spider Road Press, 2016), and the chapbook Cracklers at Night (Finishing Line Press, 2010). She received her doctorate in Comparative Literature from Harvard and her MFA from the University of Washington. Her writing appears in the Academy of American PoetsPoets & Writers, Nat. Brut.The ScofieldThe Rumpus, Painted Bride Quarterly, Mass Poetry, Hyphen Magazine, Los Angeles Review of BooksElectric Literature, VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, and elsewhere. She is the Executive Creative Director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop, editor of CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing, and the judge for the 2017 Minerva Rising “Dare to Speak” Poetry Chapbook Contest, and is currently working on a novel, a documentary film about race and intimacy in the United States and in France, and a collection of essays on race, sex, politics, and everything cool.  Banerjee teaches at Ludwig-Maxmilian University of Munich in Germany. Banerjee is author of the essays “CREDO” and “Rasa: Emotion and Suspense in Theatre, Poetry and, (Non)Fiction,” in CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing (C&R Press, May 2018).

DianVersion 2a Norma Szokolyai is author of Parallel Sparrows (honorable mention for Best Poetry Book, 2014 Paris Book Festival), Roses in the Snow (first runner­up, Best Poetry Book, 2009 DIY Book Festival), and a feminist rewriting of a classic fairytale for Brooklyn Art Library’s The Fiction Project, entitled Beneath the Surface: Blue Beard, Remixed. Szokolyai’s poetry and prose has been published in MER VOX Quarterly, VIDA Review, Quail Bell Magazine, The Boston Globe, Luna Luna Magazine, Up the Staircase Quarterly, and has been anthologized in Other Countries: Contemporary Poets Rewiring History, Teachers as Writers & elsewhere. Her edited volume is CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos & Sourcebook for Creative Writing (C&R Press, 2018). She’s founding Executive Artistic Director of Cambridge Writers’ Workshop. Szokolyai is author of Introduction, and the essay “What’s At Stake?” in CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing (C&R Press, May 2018).

Nell Painter is the Edwards Professor of American History, Emerita, at Princeton University and author of several books including Sojourner Truth, A Life, A Symbol, The History of White People, and Standing at Armageddon: The United States: 1877-1919. In additiona to a Ph.D. in history from Harvard University, she holds a BFA from Mason Gross School of the Arts and an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, both in painting. Her art school memoir is entitled Old In Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over. Painter’s essays, “Leaving My Former Life” and “You’ll Never Be A Painter!” appear in the Manifesto section of CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing (C&R Press, May 2018).

Maya SonenbergMaya Sonenberg is the author of the story collections Cartographies (winner of the Drue Heinz Prize for Literature) and Voices from the Blue Hotel.  26 Abductions, a chapbook of her prose and drawings was published in 2015 by The Cupboard, and her newest chapbook of prose and photographs, After the Death of Shostakovich Père, won the PANK [Chap]book contest and will appear in 2018. Other fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Fairy Tale ReviewWeb ConjunctionsDIAGRAM, New Ohio ReviewThe LiterarianLady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Hotel Amerika, and numerous other journals, both in print and online. Her writing has received grants from the Washington State Arts Commission and King County 4Culture. She teaches in the creative writing program at the University of Washington. Sonenberg is the author of “Beyond The Plot Triangle” in CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing (C&R Press, May 2018).

Anca L. Szilágyi’s debut novel is Daughters of the Air. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming from Los Angeles Review of BooksElectric Literature, and Lilith Magazine, among other publications. She is the recipient of the inaugural Artist Trust / Gar LaSalle Storyteller Award, a Made at Hugo House fellowship, and awards from the Vermont Studio Center, 4Culture, the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, and the Jack Straw Cultural Center. The Stranger hailed Anca as one of the “fresh new faces in Seattle fiction.” Originally from Brooklyn, she currently lives in Seattle with her husband. Find her on Twitter @ancawrites. Szilagyi is the author of “Summer-Inspired Writing Prompts,” in CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing (C&R Press, May 2018).

Alexander Carrigan is the Communications and PR manager for the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop and has been with the organization since 2014. He is currently a news copy editor for Rare.us. He has had fiction, poetry, reviews (film, TV, and literature), and nonfiction work published in Poictesme Literary Journal, Amendment Literary Journal, Quail Bell Magazine, Luna Luna Magazine, Rebels: Comic Anthology at VCU, Realms YA Literary Magazine, and Life in 10 Minutes. He lives in Alexandria, VA. Carrigan is the author of “First Person Perspective Flash Fiction Prompts” in the Exercises section of CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing (C&R Press, May 2018).

Janine Harrison, M.A., M.F.A., poet, nonfictionist, and fiction writer, teaches creative writing at Purdue University Calumet and leads the nonprofit organization, Indiana Writers’ Consortium.  Her work has been published or is forthcoming in A&UVeils, Halos, and Shackles (Kasva Press, 2016); and other publications. She is currently finishing her first poetry collection, The Weight of Silence.  Janine lives with husband, fiction writer Michael Poore, and daughter, Jianna, in NW Indiana. Harrison’s essay, “In Ink: Tattoo Images and Phrases,” appears in the Exercises section of CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing (C&R Press, May 2018).

Kevin McLellan is the author of Ornitheology (The Word Works, 2018), Hemispheres (Fact-Simile Editions, 2018), [box] (Letter [r] Press, 2016), Tributary (Barrow Street, 2015), and Round Trip (Seven Kitchens, 2010). He won the 2015 Third Coast Poetry Prize and Gival Press’ 2016 Oscar Wilde Award, and his poems appear in numerous literary journals. Kevin lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. McLellan’s essay, “Attributes: A Prompt,” can be found in the Exercises section of CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing (C&R Press, May 2018).

CWW Recommends: Reading for Resistance – Winter 2017

hannaharendt-onrevolutionIn this volatile political and moral climate, reading can serve as a refuge. However, as I continue to amplify my acts as the agent of change I know myself to be, I’m using my reading as both weapon and armor—a constantly expanding and empowering force. That being said, please take this list of recommendations for post-Inauguration reading not as comprehensive but as communal—to add onto continuously over the next four years. One of the best catalysts for vigilance, after all,  is awareness. We at the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop invite you to challenge your boundaries, listen to the myriad voices around you—and share with us. We’d love to learn more about what you’re reading to nourish and charge your own acts of resistance. In the meantime, many thanks to Emily Smith, Alexander Carrigan, Diana Norma Szokolyai, Anna-Celestrya CarrRita Banerjee and Shannon Sawyer for sharing their suggested reads for the resistance.

AM Ringwalt, Curator

The Grass Dancer by Susan Powersusanpowergrassdancerbig
(Recommended by Emily Smith)

Susan Power honors the the Dakota Sioux in this novel of magic and dreams through a retelling of tribal stories, which are often haunted by the dead. Power is an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Tribe and a descendant of Sioux Chief Two Bears. While Power is a highly regarded writer, she also has a background in law; using her degree, she founded the American Indian Center in Chicago, which offers relief and education services to one of America’s largest Native American populations.


plague-of-dovesThe Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich
(Recommended by Emily Smith)
Although Louise Erdrich’s novel was published in 2009, its central narrative is fit for contemporary news. The story opens on an act of racism in mid-century North Dakota: after a white family is found murdered, a group of men hang three American Indian men and one boy. The real villain goes unpunished.
The novel is a Pulitzer-Prize finalist that unfolds a century later from the perspective of multiple family members a la The Sound and the Fury. By the close of the novel, it’s clear that suppressing injustice has resounding consequences, even generations later.

38447The Handmaid’s Tale
by Margaret Atwood

(Recommended by Alex Carrigan)

Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel from 1985 is still relevant today, as women are policed for their bodies and their autonomies, usually being mistreated under the guise of “religious freedom” or underlying misogyny in various social and political institutions. The novel follows Offred, a woman who has had her name, her family, and her body taken by a totalitarian theocracy that only values her for her fertility. The book is equal parts speculative fiction and horror, one that can terrify both women and men with its protagonist’s incredible voice and its raw look at a world that seems imaginary but rings close to home. With an upcoming miniseries adaptation airing on Hulu in April, more people are sure to discover The Handmaid’s Tale and see how its depiction of religious extremism, misogyny, women’s health rights, and bodily autonomy compare and contrast to our new government.

cover_bad_feministBad Feminist by Roxane Gay

(Recommended by Alexander Carrigan)

Bad Feminist is a collection of essays by black feminist author and teacher Roxane Gay. In it, she discusses issues of race, politics, sexuality, literature, media, and Scrabble tournaments, all while keeping her clever voice and personality. This was a book that made me laugh, tear up, and pay attention to various sections of society that I don’t often read about. It speaks to those who are often disenfranchised, and does so in a way that makes it easy to read and enjoyable at the same time.

The Boston Review and Black Ocean Press
(Recommended by AM Ringwalt)

Screen Shot 2017-01-22 at 8.28.29 PM.pngIt’s crucial to support literary presses, particularly these two Boston-based ones, in anticipation of Donald Trump’s inauguration. Both the Boston Review and Black Ocean Press are committed to “our shared commitment to the rights and values essential to a democracy” (see Greater Boston Writers Resist, which took place on January 15, 2017 at the Boston Public Library).

It’s worth noting, too, that in his poignant farewell address, Barack Obama warned against numbing ourselves to the “battle of ideas” essential to politics —and a creative life—in “selective sorting of the facts,” the sectarianism inherent in having news sources catered to one particular political viewpoint versus another (take Fox versus PBS, for example), the rise of social media catering to each member’s biases and the tendency of popular news sources to operate on omission. Obama said, “. . . increasingly we become so secure in our bubbles that we start accepting only information, whether it’s true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that is out there.”

So, as a challenge to both myself and everyone reading this, consider these two literary presses in conjunction with media and art that challenges your ethos. If you’re anything like me, you’ll likely appreciate presses like the Boston Review and Black Ocean even more after immersing yourself in other perspectives.

In the wake of the election, the Boston Review continued the call for defending independent nonprofit publishing. In recent publications, the journal asserted that “poetry is a counterattack” and began curating literary works representative of “Global Dystopias.” On December 15, 2016 the Boston Review published an article by Vivian Gornick entitled “Feeling Paranoid,” a piece not dissimilar from Obama’s farewell address. Gornick writes, “the struggle of any society—but especially one that calls itself a democracy—is to honor the existence of those not like ourselves.” The Boston Review shares texts like Race Capitalism Justice and Poems for Political Disaster, a collection of “both new poems and selections from the Boston Review archive that record, refract, subvert, or otherwise respond to political trauma, catastrophe, or terror—both here at home and abroad.” The Harvard Book Store and Boston Review will host an evening of readings from Poems for Political Disaster at the Cambridge Public Library on January 30, 2017; I invite you to join me there.

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Black Ocean Press boasts a catalog of innovative poetry, featuring works by Elisa Gabbert and Tomasz Salamun, among many other crucial voices. The press recently opened a brick-and-mortar space in Somerville, Massachusetts. Janaka Stucky, poet and founder of Black Ocean, describes the space aptly in a December issue of the Boston Globe, as a “‘third space’ — a space neither the home space nor the work space. ‘In the discourses of dissent,’ Stucky says, ‘the third space is where the oppressed plot their liberation.’” In 2016, Black Ocean supported resistance camps at Standing Rock by having all of its proceeds on “Black Friday” be sent onto Standing Rock in protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline. With books—and an overall ethos—as artfully constructed as they are dissenting, Black Ocean Press proves to be a necessary ally in anticipation of the Inauguration. Stucky will join me for CWW Presents on February 3, 2017, too, where he will share his poetry alongside musician Audrey Harrer and Fawn,  my folk duo. 

51totttrsjl-_sy346_We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
(Recommended by Diana Norma Szokolyai)

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie explores what “feminism” means today. This eloquent book-length essay examines not only outright discrimination, but the subtle ways that inequality is made manifest through our institutionalized behaviors. The author balances philosophical pondering with humor and offers a nuanced explanation of the gender divide. Using her own experiences in both the U.S. and in her native Nigeria, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie shows how sexism is harmful not only for women, but for men as well. This is a good read for these times when leaders are normalizing sexism. It is a rally cry to continue the fight for what our feminist predecessors have fought for in the previous century.
411zkErhn2L.jpgThe Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
(Recommended by Diana Norma Szokolyai)

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick is a novel & T.V. series based on the book that creates a time-shifting alternate history, exploring what might have happened if FDR was assassinated in 1936 and the Nazis won WWII. Twenty years into the future, the Nazis and the Japanese Empire have taken over the U.S., and instead of the free spirit of the 1960s, we see the grim atmosphere of a fascist state. The Resistance is alive and carries on subversive activities, having some cells on both of the occupied halves of the country, as well as in the Neutral Zone, which is geographically in the Midwest. The characters are artfully complex, and their moralities are tested against the backdrop of this harsh world. We hear familiar songs and see cultural icons appropriated by those in power, and these similarities are just as eerie as the differences from the actual historical reality. Moreover, this world takes a look at how we Americans became Nazis, whether through passive acceptance, by conscious choice or by force.

51wNIH14zyL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgNews From Nowhere
by William Morris
(Recommended by Anna Celestrya Carr)

William Morris’ novel is a combination of science fiction and utopian socialism. The narrator Guest awakens in a future society based on common ownership and democratic control of the means of production. In this society, there is no private property, no big cities, no authority, no monetary system, no divorce, no courts, no prisons, and no class systems. In the story, Morris’ belief is that all work should be creative and pleasurable defeating the most common criticism of socialism of the supposed lack of incentive to work in a communistic society. It is easy to find novels based on dystopian societies,News From Nowhere is not a perfectly written work but with too few utopian stories to choose it is an interesting read that focuses on beauty.

411pTaHocLL._SX260_.jpgIt’s Not Easy Being Green: And Other Things to Consider
by Jim Henson
(Recommended by Anna Celestrya Carr)

Sometimes we all need a reason to smile. It’s Not Easy Being Green is a delightful collection of quotes from and inspired by Jim Henson. Funny, sweet and uplifting it is a fantastic way to take a break from all the chaos.

“I believe that we can use television and film to be an influence for good; that we can help to shape thoughts of children and adults in a positive way. As it turned out, I am very proud of some of the work we’ve done, and I think we can do many more good things.” – Jim

51XfilV9rJL._SY346_.jpgQueer: A Graphic History
by Meg-John Barker and Julia Scheele

(Recommended by Shannon Sawyer)

CWW is Looking for a Graphic Design Intern

Graphic Design Internship

Hours: 5-10 hours per week (NYC or remote commuting)
Duration: 1 year (renewable)
Deadline & Guidelines: Applications are due January 18, 2017. Submit a cover letter, resume and portfolio online to cww.submittable.com.

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop, Inc. seeks interns for our creative media team.

Responsibilities include:

  • Attending regular meetings with the executive board
  • Designing clear and engaging graphic communications for print and web. This will include logos, branded promotional items, web site and social media graphics, posters, flyers, and other marketing materials as needed
  • Basic HTML coding
  • Researching creative inspiration
  • Reading and following art and design news

Ideal candidates:

  • Proficient in Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop and InDesign)
  • Basic knowledge of HTML
  • Knowledge of Illustrator
  • Experience producing content on a timely basis
  • Possess energy, enthusiasm, sense of humor, people skills, creativity
  • Have organizational skills, strict attention to detail, & ability to meet deadlines
  • Interest or experience in publishing

Address the following questions in your cover letter:

  1. What makes you excited about interning with the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop?
  2. How will your skills help us as an organization?
  3. What skills do you hope to gain from your experience with the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop?

Please also include a portfolio with 3-5 posters, flyers or other marketing material samples you have previously completed.


* This is an unpaid internship but course credit or Federal Work Study hours and course credit may apply.  Please inquire about details at directors@cambridgewritersworkshop.org

Ploughshares Blog: “On Questioning Narrative Sequence” by Emily Smith, CWW Managing Ed. Intern


At the Contemporary Museum of Art in Montreal, Ragnar Kjartansson’s “The Visitors” plays on nine screens in a dark theater. Each screen features a single musician set to the backdrop of a room in a chateau, which is in disrepair: one woman in a pale lace dress plays cello with a French door open to the outside gardens, one man plays guitar in a claw foot bathtub. All nine musicians chime in to sing: “Once again, I fall into my feminine ways.” In the theater, museum-goers experience all nine screens at once: a simultaneous narrative. In a second theater, which exhibits Kjartansson’s “World Light,” four screens play different scenes from a Halldor Laxness novel at the same time. In the same moment, viewers watch a woman pull on her dress and stockings in the morning, while across the room she fights with her future lover. The presentation of “World Light,” a Nordic story told in its entirety in one moment, calls into question the sequencing of narrative—that is, that a narrative should be read from beginning to end, or that those components should be separate at all.

Read more.

August 19 – A Literary Rendez-vous & Mis-Translations at the Château de Verderonne

Today was the penultimate day of our yoga & writing retreat at the Château de Verderonne.  After early morning yoga & breakfast, the morning kicked off with one last writing seminar.  Norma and I taught a class on “Manuscript Revision and Publication Strategies.”  We reviewed different techniques for revising poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and theatre pieces, gave an overview of the magazine submission process, and discussed how writers could put together and edit book-length manuscripts and query their book projects to agents, presses, and publishers.  After class, we had a nice afternoon break.  Some writers continued to work on their own projects in small groups, while others took one last tour of the French countryside and/or decided to make one last meal together.  With fresh tomatoes from the Verderonne greenhouse, Gina made a killer tomato sauce for spagetti which was based on a family recipe.  Norma chipped in with some delicious and garlicky hummus, and an onion-egg fry.  I made chili-seasoned baked potatoes, and Megan made some awesome butter-herb pasta.  In the afternoon, participants joined Elissa for one last yoga session together.  Elissa shared some great massage techniques and aromatherapy oils with everyone.  And then we sat down to eat our home-made snacks and then snuck out to glam up for our big night out!

After classes ended, we were invited to have apéros and hors d’oeuvres with Monsieur and Madame Marié de l’Isle at their residence, the Château de Verderonne, our lovely 17th century castle with towers dating from 1450.  The foundation for the castle was laid on the edge of the town, Liancourt in Picardy, in the early 11th century, and the castle had been rebuilt in many styles from Medieval to French Classical in the years that followed.

M. Marié began the evening by pointing out the gorgeous modern paintings of the château, many of which are currently housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.  He also told us how his father had been at designer for the 16th-18th Century French Art Exhibit in the Met in the 1960s.  After enjoying the château’s galleries and gorgeous mote-side garden views, M. Marié showed us some rare books from the Château de Verderonne 17th century library collection.  One of the books contained beautiful maps of the original château, its original French classical gardens, and later English garden editions.  The book also contained information about surrounding châteaus and monuments in the Picardy region of France.

He then toasted all our lovely and talented writers on the retreat, and that’s when the fun began.  All the writers had prepared two short poems to present to Monsieur and Madame Marié de l’Isle .  The poems were inspired by Norma’s writing prompt from her class, “Shadow, Light, and the Crepuscular.”  Each writer had to find an evocative object on the grounds of the Château de Verderonne, study it in bright illumination and then in near darkness, and then write two pieces based on how the object was perceived in these two very different frames of light.  Some writers chose to produce OULIPO-inspired Snowball poems about their objects, while other opted for a more narrative approach.  Monsieur and Madame Marié de l’Isle seemed to enjoy all wonderful writing produced about evocative objects at the Château de Verderonne.  They also enjoyed Norma’s art-instillation of the light-and-shadow poems and will be adding the collection to the permanent library at the château.

After drinks and poetry, M. Marié continued the tour of the grand château.  He told us about Claude-Adrien Helvétius, a French Enlightenment thinker who had been one of the founding contributors to Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d’Alembert’s Encyclopédie in the 18th century, had housed his personal library at the Château de Verderonne.  Helvétius’s daughter, Geneviève Helvétius, had lived at the Château de Verderonne with her husband, and had collected her father’s books there.  Helvétius’s wife, Anne-Catherine de Ligniville, maintained one of the most well-known literary salons in the 17th century, and in her salon, Madame Helvétius frequently hosted Voltaire, Diderot, Fontenelle as well as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Napoléon Bonaparte.  In addition to his contributions to the Encyclopédie, Helvétius was known for publishing De l’espirit (Of the Spirit), a text exploring atheism, egalitarianism, psychology, and intelligence.  Helvétius’s text was so controversial that the book was condemned by the Paris Parlement and La Sorbonne, and burned by the Catholic Church for being so subversive and atheistic.  The library is currently being renovated but would soon display Helvétius’s full collection of tomes and papers again.  In addition to these papers, many of the original manuscripts for the original plays performed during the 16-18th centuries at the Château de Verderonne’s still-standing classical French theatre will also be on display in the new renovated library.

After a tour of the library and the front rooms of the château, M. Marié took us on a tour of the château’s attic and bell tower.  On the top floor, we found beautiful slate-blue painted rooms for visiting courtesans complete with antique-clawed bathtubs and large French windows.  We also saw some spectacular views of the château’s surrounding grounds from the top floor.  Then off we went to the bell-tower, which was used to announce dinner and other import occasions to visitors and staff at the château for centuries.  The hike up the bell tower was steep and a little precarious, and once we let go of our vertigo and climbed onto the small gazebo on the roof, we could see miles and miles of the château’s lush green country estates.  Standing at the center of the center of the bell tower of the Château de Verderonne, one could almost look back, far back to a time when château gracefully straddled the imaginary town line between Liancourt and Rosey.  One could see, from up here, how the tree-lined pathways branched out from the focal point of the château in perfect perpendicular lines.  And one could imagine French luminaries and encyclopédistes walking across the château’s stage, as visiting courtesans like Marie-Antoinette roamed through the château’s hidden rooms and endless green gardens.

Dreaming of courtesans, country actors, and classical writers, we enjoyed one last dinner together with the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop group.  And then after dinner, we sat down for one last salon game, and played “Mis-tanslations,” a literary game based on Robert Lowell’s idea of purposefully mis-reading and mis-translating a foreign-language text.  Writers read out loud famous texts from medieval and classical French, Swahili, Hebrew, Romani, Bengali, Hungarian, Tagalog, and Mandarin, and our job was to decipher what these poems and essays were saying in English.  Some of the writing produced evoked the sounds and emotions of each read piece while others highlighted how mis-translations could play with both sense and non-sense simultaneously.  Overall, we had some very interesting new interpretations of Montaigne, Baudelaire, Macbeth, Roma and Hebrew folk songs, Bengali modernist poetry, “I’m a Little Teapot,” Jack Kerouac, and Hungarian Roma verse.

Rita Banerjee, Cambridge Writers’ Workshop’s Creative Director

August 18 – Watercolors and Writing Workshops at the Château de Verderonne

After our morning yoga, Elissa treated us to a watercolor class to teach us to paint the château, but the rain had other plans. So we worked on color blending in the blue salon, under the gaze of the plaster unicorn head mounted to the wall like a prize, until the sun peered out. We want to control the water-paint ratio! Not you, Nature!

We started indoors until the weather sorted itself out

Water, water everywhere: we started indoors until the weather sorted itself out

Christine has an impressive array of paints!

The color wheel: Christina has an impressive array of paints!

Mixing colors like pros

Color theory: mixing colors like pros

Before everyone settled in though, I had this moment with a butterfly who landed on the table to die, or rest in peace.

The butterfly between states

The butterfly between states

Luckily the rain stopped just in-time. The sky wasn’t perfectly clear, but the looming clouds cast a writerly mood over the grounds and our paintings– pensive, reflective, and changeable. Elissa showed us how to measure angles, notice parallel lines, approximate perspective, and patiently build the Château de Verderonne in paint upon our papers.

Elissa and Stephanie perfect their pieces on the grassy slope

Elissa and Stephanie perfect their pieces on the grassy slope

It's more fun to paint together

It’s more fun to paint together


The painters at work

The painters at work

Rita and Elissa's artist hand

Rita and Elissa’s artist hand

Maybe there's still a bit of rain to contend with

Maybe there’s still a bit of rain to contend with

Mr. Marie was pleased with our work– he seems to genuinely love how many writers and artists are inspire by his beautiful home. The Château de Verderonne has a long tradition of hosting artists dating back to the days of Marie Antoinette, and probably earlier too. Between the ancient theatre and the castle itself, there’s plenty of space for the magic of creation.

Mr. Marie with Nannie and her painting. I love his look of fatherly pride!

Mr. Marie with Nannie and her painting. I love his look of fatherly pride!

Between class and workshop, I took a stroll around the grounds and realized that sunny skies are lovely, but overcast and threatening to rain is where all the real drama is. When I found this tiny green spider on the white rose, I remembered the butterfly from earlier, and then this sonnet, “On Design” by Robert Frost:

A green spider on a rose against a stormy sky

A green spider on a rose against a stormy sky

“I found a dimpled spider, fat and white,

On a white heal-all, holding up a moth
Like a white piece of rigid satin cloth—
Assorted characters of death and blight
Mixed ready to begin the morning right,
Like the ingredients of a witches’ broth—
A snow-drop spider, a flower like a froth,
And dead wmgs carried like a paper kite.

What had that flower to do with being white,
The wayside blue and innocent heal-all?
What brought the kindred spider to that height,
Then steered the white moth thither in the night?
What but design of darkness to appall?–
If design govern in a thing so small.”

We had all been wondering since we got here, why are we all here? Why this specific group of people at this specific time and place? We wondered about fate, free-will, and chaos. If we were destined to meet, to collide with our stories and poems, to influence each other, to remember each other, or if it was all a happy accident. What design of writing to appease?–If design govern in a thing so sweet.

Red Heart

Red Heart

“Your thorns are the best part of you.” –Marianne Moore, “Roses Only”

"Your thorns are the best part of you." --Marianne Moore, "Roses Only"

“Your thorns are the best part of you.” –Marianne Moore, “Roses Only”

“You do not seem to realize that beauty is a liability rather than an asset…” -Marianne Moore, “Roses Only”

"You do not seem to realize that beauty is a liability rather than an asset..." -Marianne Moore, "Only Roses"

“You do not seem to realize that beauty is a liability rather than an asset…” -Marianne Moore, “Only Roses”

I watched the bees visiting the petunias

bee in flower bees in flower 2 bees in flower

My wander through the rest of the garden darkened as I neared the gate–

gardens3 flowers greenhouse2 gate gate2

The greenhouse beckoned with colored glass and ripe tomatoes

greenhouse tomato

Little did they know, fat and content upon the vine, what would become of them tomorrow…

Gina teaches me how to make her famous marinara

Gina teaches me how to make her famous marinara

The rain had made good on its threat, but no walk is complete without snuggling a baby chick at the chicken coop


The old doghouse beside the coop

How can anything be so adorable and sweet?

How can anything be so adorable and sweet?

Janet looking lovely among the hens

Janet looking lovely among the hens

And then it was time for our last workshop. Some of us revised projects from the last workshop while others brought new material. I have to say, workshop, even the best ones, can be exhausting, but I felt rejuvenated after ours– there were so many fresh perspectives that prospect of revision felt promising, exciting, and full of possibilities.

Janet and Stephanie prepare for workshop

Janet and Stephanie prepare for workshop with tea and work to share

Yoga coaxed us out of our seats and revived our writer-backs.




Warrior II

we earned this

We earned this

At the end of the day, how could I help but be happy with the work we had done? Already we had completed three workshops, snuggled many chicks, painted a castle, visited Paris and Chantilly, and learned so much from craft talks and classes… and the retreat wasn’t even quite finished. Every morning and every night I would look out my window and feel thankful for the present moment and our lucky constellation of writers in this ephemeral place.

– Jessica Reidy, CWW Fiction Instructor

Looking out my window

Looking out my window