Happy New Year 2018 -💖- the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop!

Happy New Year 2018 from all of us here at the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop! We are looking forward to another year filled with inspiring workshops and retreats, readings and book launches and a variety of other ways to connect with new and old CWW writers and artists. Thank you to all of our CWW participants, teachers, friends and all of you who helped make this year creatively productive and inspiring.

2017 was a wild ride but looking back on the events of the past year we are overwhelmingly grateful for the ways we were able to connect with new and old friends through writing and art. Over the past year CWW held retreats and workshops in Europe and the United States, put the finishing touches on our anthology that is being published in 2018, and connected with other writers at readings and events throughout the country. We started the year off at the AWP Conference in Washington, DC where we hosted “Writers In Resistance.” Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich, Emily Nemens, Jensen Beach, Tim Horvath, Rita Banerjee, Diana Norma Szokolyai, Alex Carrigan and Anna-Celestrya Carr read their original work at Upshur Street Books and it was a wonderful night of reading and community.

In March we held our Spring In New Orleans Writing Retreat where Dipika Guha, Emily Nemens, Rita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai led workshops on character development, storytelling and writing in the lyric register. We produced new work, shared our goals and expanded our writing community with new friend and new teachers. Because we were there during the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival, participants were able to take advantage of literary New Orleans in a very special way. We had such a wonderful time in New Orleans we’re doing it again! Stay tuned for details on our Spring 2018 New Orleans Writing Retreat.

From New Orleans it was on to our Spring in Portland Writing Retreat in April. Adam Reid Sexton, Kerry Cohen, Rita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai led workshops in fiction, non-fiction and poetry. We held sessions at the Secret Library in the historic Heathman Hotel, spent an afternoon exploring the famous Powell’s bookstore and attended a reading by local author Paul Dage. In our short weekend, we managed to get a feel for this amazing city and can’t wait to go back. Check out CWW alum Angie Walls Portland recommendations!

For our next retreat we headed abroad to Granada, Spain in the Andalucia region. Tim HorvathAlexandria Marzano-Lesnevich, Rita Banerjee and Diana Norma Szokolyai led workshops on character development, poetry, memoir, writing from the senses and translation. We enjoyed flamenco performances, visited the Roma caves of Sacromonte, enjoyed the delicious food and drink the region had to offer. It was a magical trip and we can’t wait to go back this August. Details coming soon! To get taste of what a CWW writing retreat is like check out Diana Norma Szokolyai’s poetic musings on the Granada 2017 retreat.

Our Harvest Creative Writing Retreat in Rockport, MA was our final writing retreat of 2017. We stayed in Gloucester, MA right by beautiful Wingaersheek Beach and took full advantage of our settings. When we weren’t in workshops led by Maya Sonenberg, Rita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai, we were taking walks on the beach, enjoying the Rockport Harvest Festival and visiting nearby Salem to take advantage of their October Haunted Happenings. We are planning another New England retreat for 2018, but in the meantime, enjoy Alex Carrigan’s Rockport columns to get a sense of this fantastic weekend.

In addition to our retreats we hosted readings and performances in Boston and Cambridge throughout the year. Some of our readers and performers who joined us throughout the year were Fawn (Will Johnson and Anna Malin Ringwalt) Neil Sanzgiri, Audrey Harrer, Janaka Stucky, Matthew Wallenstein, Rita Banerjee, Sounds in Bloom (Diana Norma Szokolyai and Dennis Shafer), Erini S. Katopodis and Elizabeth Devlin. We also were excited to host our second annual fall writing series at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education. Janaka Stucky, Megan Fernandes, Frederick Douglas Knowles II and Diana Norma Szokolyai taught workshops on haiku, poetry in the age of terror, the power of hip-hop, writing in the lyric register, Black Mountain and New York Poetry School and how to craft compelling characters.

2017 was also the year we began production on our forthcoming podcast, Contact Zones, a series of interviews featuring artists from all mediums all over the world sharing their artistic process and how they related to the world in order to explore how art reverberates after its creation. Our media interns, Anna-Celestrya Carr and Shannon O. Sawyer, are readying the first season of Contact Zones, and we can’t wait to share it will you.

And in between all of the retreats, classes, readings and performances we were writing, editing and dreaming about CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing. CREDO comes out in March 2018 and we could not be more excited to share it with you! But we didn’t do it alone. Our agent, Natalie Kimber, at The Rights Factory, and our publishers John Gosslee and Andrew Sullivan at C&R Press deserve huge thanks! As do our writers! Kazim Ali, Forrest Anderson, Rita Banerjee, Lisa-Marie Basile, Jaswinder Bolina, Stephanie Burt, Alex Carrigan, Sam Cha, Melinda Combs, Thade Correa, Jeff Fernside, Ariel Francisco, John Guzlowski, Rachel Hanel, Janine Harrison, Lindsay Illich, Douglas Jackson, Christine Johnson-Duell, Caitlin Johnson, Jason Kapcala, Richard Kenney, Eve Langston, John Laue, S.D. Lishan, Ellaraine Lockie, Amy MacLennan, Kevin McLellan, E. Ce. Miller, Brenda Moguez, Peter Mountford, Nell Irvin Painter, Robert Pinsky, Kara Provost, Camille Rankine, Jessica Reidy, Amy Rutten, Elizabeth Sharp McKetta, David Shields, Lillian Slugocki, Maya Sonenberg, Kathleen Spivack, Laura Steadham Smith, Molly Sutton Kiefer, Jade Sylvan, Anca, Szilagyi, Diana Norma Szokolyai, Marilyn Taylor, Megan Tilley, Suzanne Van Dam, Nicole Walker, Allyson Whipple, Shawn Wong, Caroll Sun Yang, Matthew Zapruder contributed the beautiful, thought-provoking pieces that make up CREDO and we are so grateful. Stay tuned for details about our CREDO book launch event in March 2018 in conjunction with the AWP conference in Tampa, FL. If you’ll be at AWP stop by and say hi!

Be sure to stick with us in 2018 for another year of incredible writing retreats in New Orleans, Paris, and Granada, Spain, fantastic readings, and a whole slew of exciting projects to come from the CWW and our friends and associates. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates on our forthcoming retreats, workshops and readings and feel free to email us with any questions at info@cambridgewritersworkshop.org. We’d love to hear from you!

May you all have a happy, peaceful and creative 2018!
Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Directors, Board, & Staff

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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