Announcing Our New Editorial and Communications Interns: Miriam Francisco and Laura Whitmer!

The CWW is pleased to introduce our newest members of the team: Miriam Francisco and Laura Whitmer. In their roles as Editorial and Communications interns, Laura and Miriam will be assisting with upcoming events, retreats, publications and podcasts. Laura and Miriam are both accomplished writers and editors and we are excited to see what they have in store.

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetMiriam Francisco is a junior at the University of Michigan studying writing and English. She is a staff writer and copy editor for The Michigan Daily, U-M’s student-run newspaper. She also writes for The Michigan Journal of Political Science, focusing on social justice and domestic policy issues. Along with three colleagues from The Daily, Miriam wrote and produced a podcast series investigating the history of sexism and power in entertainment called ‘Things Men Ruined’, which can be found on iTunes. Miriam loves reading and writing both fiction and nonfiction.

Laura Whitmer 2

Laura Whitmer is a Boston-based writer who received her B.A. in creative writing from Hamilton College. She has published short stories in Mr. Ma’am and Persephone’s Daughters and was the 2018 recipient of The George A. Watrous Literary Prize. She is currently writing a novel based on her experiences working on a llama farm in Colorado

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!

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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.

 

CWW-Paris2018Schedule

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.

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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.

Celebrating Diverse Books – A Review by Anna-Celestrya Carr

I’m so happy to have the opportunity to review three picture books for the 5th Annual Multicultural Children’s Book Day. A day to learn, share, and talk about the fantastic diverse literature available for young readers. It was a joy to share these stories with my twin three-year-old boys. (Disclosure: I received the following three books from their authors to give an honest review for #MCBD2018.)

As an Indigenous woman with two little boys, finding them diverse stories is very important to me. As biracial children I want them to have books that reflect their Indigenous heritage as well as stories from as many cultural backgrounds as possible. I want my boys to have the opportunity to not only see a representation of themselves in stories but find a connection to diverse characters.

A Tall Tale About a Dachshund and a Pelican: How a Friendship Came to Be, written by Kizzie Jones, illustrated by Scott Ward and published by Tall Tales. This is a simple story about making friends regardless of differences and celebrating diversity. DachshundPelican001

This delightful flip-over bilingual English-Spanish picture book is a sequel to Kizzie Jones’ award-winning book How Dachshunds Came to Be. The illustrations are beautiful. As someone who grew up with a dachshund, I thought the artist portrayed the exuberance of Goldie the dachshund perfectly. Dog lovers will adore this story. This tale is about the excitement of a dog wanting to make a new friend. The lesson to take away is unmistakable: you can like and appreciate someone without being similar. It held the attention of both twins on our first reading. I can see it becoming a recurring book for story time. It is a charming sequel to the Tall Tale Series.

The next two picture books I have the pleasure of reviewing are Sporty Lou: Soccer King and Johnny Skip 2: The Amazing Adventures of Johnny Skip 2 in Australia written by Quentin Holmes and published by Holmes Investment & Holdings LLC.  The illustrations in both Sporty Lou and Johnny Skip 2 have a cheerfulness to them, and the bright color palette works well for both stories. It’s impressive that both books are drawn using the same style and the two little boys are completely different. The characters and background in each book are diverse.

Sporty Lou: Soccer King is a story about Lou, a spirited little boy being taught soccer for the first time. In Lou’s fantastic imagination his self-confidence is shown as he pictures a stadium full of people cheering his name. Lou’s disappointment in not being a naturally gifted player shakes that confidence. Lou’s dad wants to share this great game with him and doesn’t let Lou stay discouraged. He gently teaches and encourages Lou to persevere.

SportyLou001Lou is a little boy with dark brown hair, dark brown eyes, and cappuccino skin color. He is ethnically ambiguous and could be any nationality. It’s possible a child from any race could look at Lou and see themselves or someone familiar. He’s every child. I like the two sides we see of Lou; he pictures himself as a sports star and he’s a small boy who as he struggles, and misses finds the determination to keep trying.

Many kids who love sports will enjoy this book. But I think the lesson of perseverance in Sporty Lou is important for any child to hear. I appreciated the thoughtful way the dad taught and corrected Lou. Sporty Lou: Soccer King is an enjoyable read-out-loud book.

Johnny Skip 2: The Amazing Adventures of Johnny Skip 2 in Australia is a story about Johnny, a black little boy, and his dog Grounder who use a remarkable device to skip all over the world.  They go to Australia to explore the outback and help a kangaroo.

JohnySkip2001This story has a lot going on for a picture book and it didn’t hold my three-year-old boys’ attention. I think it would be better enjoyed by kids five to seven. This interactive adventure is an ambitious series that combines science and magic. The book teaches about the culture, language, animals, and environment of a continent. The story presents a lot of information on Australia quickly, but this causes the rhyme structure and rhythm of the text to feel forced making it difficult to read out loud. I’m interested to see what is next for both Sporty Lou and Johnny Skip 2 in their series.

Reading diversity in fiction creates empathy and understanding in real life. These three books reflect a piece of our diverse, beautiful and complicated world. I’d like to thank Kizzie Jones and Quentin Holmes for contributing their stories to Multicultural Children’s Book Day.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/18) is in its 5th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.

–Anna-Celestrya Carr, CWW Media Development Intern

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 Alumni Elizabeth Carter Wellington Publishes Circus Girl: A Novel

girlThe Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is proud to announce that alumni Elizabeth Carter Wellington has recently published Circus Girl: A Novel.

The novel takes place in 1971 and seventeen-year-old Sarah Cunningham is consumed by wanderlust. When her passion for capturing interesting subjects through her camera lens leads Sarah to a grassy lot one day, she becomes immediately mesmerized by the fascinating circus life that surrounds her. Eager to fit in and in need of a passport into a world beyond her reach, Sarah escapes her scripted suburban life, makes the circus her family, and loses her virginity to West, a handsome performer with a gift for handling wild animals. In this coming-of-age story, a restless teenager embarks on a journey of self-discovery during the 1970s after she runs away with the circus and discovers that life under a tent is as unpredictable as she is.

The book is available now in bookstores and online through Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com

headshot_bethwellingtonElizabeth C. Wellington has had a long career as a Spanish professor and college textbook editor in New England. She received her Ph.D. in Hispanic Language and Literatures from Boston University and holds a Master of Arts degree with a specialization in Latin American Studies from The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). Before entering the field of university teaching, she worked for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome. Her college language teaching experience is extensive and includes full-time positions at Wellesley, Babson, Simmons and Boston University.

“Transformations & Disobedience” – A Brooklyn Book Festival 2016 Reading

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The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is proud to announce our partnership with the Brooklyn Book Festival.  Join us our Brooklyn Book Festival 2016 Reading, “Transformations & Disobedience,” an evening of stories, poetry, and song, at Molasses Books (770 Hart Street, Brooklyn, NY 11237) on Saturday September 17!  The evening will kick off at 8 pm, and will feature readings from a wonderful array of talented writers such as Stephen AubreyRita BanerjeeMadeleine Barnes,Ellaraine LockieBen PeaseAnne Malin Ringwalt, Kate McMahonEmily SmithBianca Stone, and Diana Norma Szokolyai, along with a beautiful interludes of music from accomplished songwriters Erica Buettner and Elizabeth Devlin!

Stephen Aubrey descends from hardy New England stock. He is a Brooklyn-based writer, editor, dramaturg, lecturer, storyteller and recovering medievalist. His writing has appeared in Publishing Genius, Commonweal, The Brooklyn Review, Pomp & Circumstance, Forté and The Outlet. He is a co-founder and the resident dramaturg and playwright of The Assembly Theater Company. His plays have been produced at The New Ohio Theater, The Living Theater, The Ontological-Hysteric Theater, The Flea Theater, The Collapsable Hole, Wesleyan University, The Tank, The Brick Theater, Symphony Space, the Abingdon Theater Complex, UNDER St Marks, The Philly Fringe and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where his original play, We Can’t Reach You, Hartford, was nominated for a 2006 Fringe First Award. He is also the editor of two ‘pataphysic books, Suspicious Anatomy and Suspicious Zoology, both published by the Hollow Earth Society. He has an MFA from Brooklyn College where he received the Himan Brown Prize and the Ross Feld Writing Award and a BA with Honors from the College of Letters at Wesleyan University. He is an instructor of English at Brooklyn College and holds the dubious distinction of having coined the word “playlistism” in 2003.

ritabanerjee-smRita Banerjee is the Executive Director of Kundiman and the Creative Director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop. 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 The Rumpus, 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 (Spider Road Press), is forthcoming in October 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 and book of lyric essays.

Barnes_Headshot (1)Madeleine Barnes is a writer, visual artist, proud Pittsburgher, and graduate of the MFA in Creative Writing Program at NYU. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in places like Pleiades, Jai-Alai Magazine, Rogue Agent, BOXCAR Poetry Review, The Rattling Wall, Yew Journal, Washington Square Review, Cordella Magazine, and Pittsburgh Poetry Review. Her chapbook, The Mark My Body Draws in Light, was published in 2014. A New York State Summer Writers Institute Fellow, she was named an Emerging Writer by the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series. Aside from poetry and art, she is very interested in cheese.

ellaraine-lockieEllaraine Lockie is a widely published and awarded author of poetry, nonfiction books and essays.  Her chapbook, Where the Meadowlark Sings, won the 2014 Encircle Publication’s Chapbook Contest. Her newest collection, Love Me Tender in Midlife, has been released as an internal chapbook, in IDES from Silver Birch Press.  Other recent work has received the Women’s National Book Association’s Poetry Prize, Best Individual Collection from Purple Patch magazine in England for Stroking David’s Leg, the San Gabriel Poetry Festival Chapbook Contest win for Red for the Funeral and The Aurorean’s Chapbook Spring Pick for Wild as in Familiar. Ellaraine teaches poetry workshops and serves as Poetry Editor for the lifestyles magazine, Lilipoh. She is currently judging the Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contests for Winning Writers.

Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 5.49.21 PMErica Buettner is an American singer-songwriter from New England who moved to Europe at the age of 19. She landed in Paris, France where she studied French and literature and wrote the songs on her debut album True Love and Water over the course of a four-year stay in the City of Lights. In 2010, seeking sunnier shores, Erica moved to Lisbon, Portugal, where she is currently based. Over the summer of 2015, Pierre and Erica recently reunited in Paris to record their second full-length album together, to be released in 2016.

Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 5.52.32 PMElizabeth Devlin, with her haunting combination of lilting voice and enchanting autoharp, is a self-produced NYC singer- songwriter. Devlin defies traditional musical structure with many of her songs, building miniature narratives and magical worlds where characters, fantasies and time collide. Devlin has toured nationally, internationally, & performs in venues throughout NYC’s five boroughs. 

IMG_2265 (1)Ben Pease is a board member of the Ruth Stone Foundation and an editor of Monk Books. His first full-length collection of poems, Chateau Wichman, is forthcoming from Big Lucks Books, and more work can be found online at fugitivesofspeech.tumblr.com/works. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, the poet and artist Bianca Stone.

AMR24Anne Malin Ringwalt is a writer and musician (Anne Malin) currently studying in Boston, Massachusetts. Her words appear in Vinyl, Talking River, Rogue Agent, The Grief Diaries and DUM DUM Zine: Punks and Scholars. Like Cleopatra, Ringwalt’s debut poetry chapbook, was published by dancing girl press in 2014. She has performed throughout Boston, New York and Miami, most notably via the YoungArts Foundation (2016) and Rookie Magazine’s Yearbook Two launch at the New Yorker Festival (2014).

kateKate McMahon is a fiction writer who also moonlights as a full-time attorney. Before law school, she was chosen to participate in the selective creative writing concentration at Boston College, where she won the Cardinal Cushing Award for best short fiction and also completed a novella. Most recently, her short story “Swapped” was published in Post Road Magazine. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two small sons.

 

EmilySmithPictureEmily Smith is a Managing Editing and Communications Intern for the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop. Originally from Sarasota, Florida, she holds a BFA in Creative Writing from the New Hampshire Institute. She writes for The Ploughshares Blog and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Bustle, Brevity, Luna Luna and more.

black & white window 2 (1)Bianca Stone is a poet and visual artist, and the author of Someone Else’s Wedding Vows, and Poetry Comics From the Book of Hours. She runs the Ruth Stone Foundation & Monk Books with her husband, the poet Ben Pease in Vermont and Brooklyn.

 

 

11193261_10102624354743941_8682467326975061659_n-2Diana Norma Szokolyai is a writer and Executive Artistic Director of Cambridge Writers’ Workshop.  She is author of the poetry collections Parallel Sparrows and Roses in the Snow.  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 the Creative Commons Hot 100 list in 2015, and can be found in the curated WFMU Free Music Archive.  Szokolyai’s work has appeared in VIDA: Women in the Literary ArtsQuail Bell Magazine, Lyre Lyre, The Boston Globe, Dr. Hurley’s Snake Oil Cure, 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. 

CWW Recommends: Books for the Dog Days of Summer!

CWW-Summer2016RecommendedReading
There’s just a few weeks of summer fun left, and the Rio Olympics are underway!  The beginning of a school year is upon us but there’s still some time left to spend with some great books this August!  So here are some recommendations from the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop on what to read before hanging up the surfboard and headin’ on home 😉  Thanks to Anna-Celestrya Carr, Alex Carrigan, AM Ringwalt, David Shields, Emily Smith, and Laura van den Berg for their wonderful recommendations below!

–Alex Carrigan (Curator)

StationElevenHCUS2Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
(Recommended by Anna-Celestrya Carr)

Station Eleven is captivating and beautiful in a subtle way. I’m known to read the last page first of any book I pick up. I like having an idea of where a story is going to go. For this book I resisted looking ahead. I found myself enthralled and surprised the entire time.  Dystopian fiction has become one of my favorite genres and Station Eleven stands out in its category.

The novel opens with a famous actor having a heart attack and dying on stage while playing King Lear. That same night, there is a massive outbreak of a deadly virus called the Georgia Flu, and within weeks, 99 percent of the world’s population is wiped out. In a world decimated by a global pandemic, where the few survivors live in scattered communities without electricity, the Traveling Symphony goes from town to town in the Great Lakes region, performing Shakespeare and classical music. The story plays around with time and perspective, jumping back and forth between After the Collapse and Before the Collapse. We circle around different characters’ lives and sometimes see the same scene from a different person’s view. A gorgeous read.

91lUeBR2G1LThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
(Recommended by Alex Carrigan)

Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl is one of my favorite recent “popular” books, and a book that helped remind me how much I love modern mysteries. I heard that The Girl on the Train was similar to Gone Girl, so I checked it out. What I found was a mystery novel I had to read in one sitting, causing me to spend nearly four hours in a cafe reading the entire book one rainy Sunday afternoon. The novel follows a woman named Rachel, an unemployed, alcoholic, divorcee, who spends her train rides fantasizing about what she thinks is the perfect couple living in one house along the tracks. When the woman of the couple goes missing, Rachel discovers that she has a connection to the mystery, and through her interference comes to confront her personal demons and sees how dangerous her involvement is. Hawkins makes a very flawed and relatable protagonist in Rachel, and creates a mystery that, while maybe not the most unique, is still quite thrilling to read, and only leaves me excited for the film adaptation coming out this year.

51fS0HCyAQL._SX333_BO1,204,203,200_The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room,
The Greatest Bad Movie Ever
by Greg Sestero, and Tom Bissell

(Recommended by Alex Carrigan)

Tommy Wiseau’s The Room is one of the worst movies ever made, but has one of the most devoted fan followings ever due to how hilariously awful the film is. The Disaster Artist, co-written by one of the leads in the film (Sestero), is a tell-all that reveals how the film was made and goes into the bizarre culture surrounding it. What follows is a book that veers from painfully hilarious to just plain painful. At the heart of the story is the odd friendship between Sestero and Wiseau, which paints Wiseau as a creep, a fool, a dreamer, an enigma, an entrepreneur, and an artist all at once. What could be a book that exists to bash Wiseau for his egomania, his misogyny, and his deep misunderstanding of how to act as a person is instead a book about art itself. It shows that even the people who make bad movies are sympathetic and have dreams they want to fulfill, even if they aren’t very good at it. The books shows that everyone involved in The Room (except for maybe Wiseau depending on how you read him) deserved better, and is quite enjoyable to read after seeing the movie. It shows that even misguided passion projects can still create beautiful, inexplicable, and valued art despite every possible obstacle in the way.

Everything+I+Never+Told+You+-+Celeste+NgEverything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
(Recommended by Alex Carrigan)

Most stories that deal with mysterious deaths focus on the mystery and the investigation, but often don’t focus on the impact the death has on the victim’s family. Celeste Ng’s debut novel Everything I Never Told You follows a Chinese-American family in 1977 after their daughter is found dead in a lake. What could be a Twin Peaks-esque mystery is instead a meditation on race, gender, and loss. By focusing on a mixed race family in a small town during the late ’70’s, Ng shows how the era played into the attitudes of the characters, from the father who tries to downplay his Chinese heritage and blend in, to the mom who wants nothing more than to ensure her daughter doesn’t fall into the same mistakes she made. At the heart is the dead girl, Lydia, and it’s through her death and the time leading up to it that the reader realizes that what doesn’t matter is why or how Lydia died, but rather what her death reveals about the family and the time they lived in.

51mSJNECGyL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
(Recommended by Alex Carrigan)

When my brother read Americanah, he said Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie instantly became his favorite living writer. I recently picked up the book, and I found that he was completely justified in believing that. Americanah follows two young Nigerians, Ifemelu and Obinze, and they grow up in Nigeria and move on with their adult lives. Ifemelu travels to America for college and starts a successful blog dealing with her facing race for the first time in her life. Obinze becomes an undocumented worker in England, and his story provides a contrast to Ifemelu, who flourishes in her new environment while he finds it difficult to settle into the first world. The book taught me a lot about Nigeria in the 90’s and 00’s, and is a really good book for dealing with race relations, primarily for how non-American blacks deal with race. Adichie imbues her characters with such spirit and detailed voice that it becomes easy to see them as real people, so I have found her an author I really want to read more of in the future.

APS_24_COVER_RGBA Public Space: Issue 24
(Recommended by AM Ringwalt)

This issue of A Public Space focuses on artists creating outside of their primary mediums; Etel Adnan writes in epistolary prose about weaving and David Lynch is interviewed about his paintings. A devoted Adnan fan, I excitedly picked up this issue to absorb more of her voice. As she shares images of trees “yellow, but haloed” . . . “still [with] a green heart and golden edges, such tender vegetal icons,” I realized that summer is the time of weaving–gathering light–before colder seasons and a scarcity of unburdened hours.

PIR_cover_118_smaller_image_visual_220_331Poetry Ireland Review Issue 118: The Rising Generation
(Recommended by AM Ringwalt)

In early 2016, I lived in Dublin and worked as an intern at the Irish Writers’ Centre. While there, I fell in love with its myriad journals (Guts and Gorse to name a few). While journals with names like Poetry Ireland Review connote tradition–and thus old white men–I never read a copy until I saw their Rising Generation issue, published in sync with the centenary of the 1916 Rising. Honoring “rising” poets (new and successful in the field, not necessarily young), this issue highlights poets including Jessica Traynor (of the Centre’s A Poet’s Rising) and provides accompanying questionnaires, prompting its featured poets to extrapolate on ideas such as: “Would you rather be the poet or the poem?”

51Ec+CJgOOL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_A Year with Hafiz: Daily Contemplations
by Hafiz and Daniel Ladinsky
(Recommended by AM Ringwalt)

I first saw A Year with Hafiz on Ariana Reines’ Tumblr. Always spiritual, always prophetic, her website is a well of meditation and insight. (A recent post highlights Muhyiddin Ibn ’Arabi’s  “Our heart holds within it all forms, that our hearts created. We have made a meadow there for gazelles, children, music, dance and dreams.”) Immediately after reading Reines’ chosen excerpt, I ordered a used copy of A Year with Hafiz online. Though a devotional style book isn’t necessary to read one Hafiz poem a day, the book itself is beautiful and compiles Hafiz’s writing in a way that compliments the changing months and seasons. Starting this “devotional” in the summer has allowed me to more deliberately meditate on certain phrases each day with the freedom inherent in the season. Take May 25, for example, as a preface to the summer: “Like a great starving beast my body / is quivering, fixed on the scent of light.”

51uHU-PRXQL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_The Poet, The Lion, Talking Pictures, El Farolito, A Wedding in St. Roch, The Big Box Store, The Warp in the Mirror, Spring, Midnights, Fire & All
by C.D. Wright
(Recommended by AM Ringwalt)

C.D. Wright, described by Ben Lerner as “an utterly original American artist,” is a bright angel reminding me, time and again, how the act of writing is the act of salvation. Writing, after all, is a saving force, one that evokes internal and external revolutions. Though I was never lucky enough to meet Wright, I felt her brightness near upon the publication of The Poet, The Lion, Talking Pictures, El Farolito, A Wedding in St. Roch, The Big Box Store, The Warp in the Mirror, Spring, Midnights, Fire & All. This book, with its multitudinous worlds (the first poem, among many others, is titled “In a Word, a World”) is a manifesto of the spiritual potency of poetry. This book, at home in her canon of nonconforming literature, is a call to push boundaries beyond experimentation and into innovation. The Poet, The Lion…, published very the month of Wright’s passing, is a reminder of mortality and, beyond life (and death), the endless power of poetry.

Last Sext Cover 092815.inddLast Sext by Melissa Broder
(Recommended by AM Ringwalt)

I picked up a copy of Last Sext while on a date with my partner at the Harvard Bookstore last month. These dates always go the same–I say I won’t buy a single book and I leave with more than one. Always fodder for an empty wallet and, most importantly, for, at its best, transformative inspiration, I’m thankful that I found myself squatting in the poetry section absorbed in a copy of Broder’s book. I’ve never read a collection of poems containing cunnilingus, boring angels, clock-obsessed Americans, third eyes, centaurs, gypsies, “Me saying more and the light saying yes.” The intersections between dark and light, as they both illuminate sex, farting, hallucinating and “childhood feeling” (among countless other phenomena), remind me that darkness, too, can be an illuminating force. I urge you to read her poem “Salt,” published in Poetry in 2014. Then, I urge you to say more and get a copy or two or three of Last Sext.

41sMfxQdi6L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The Pharmacist’s Mate by Amy Fusselman
(Recommended by David Shields)

The book fluctuates wildly and unpredictably from Fusselman’s attempt to get pregnant through artificial means, her conversations with her dying father, and his WWII diary entries. I don’t know what the next paragraph will be, where Fusselman is going, until—in the final few paragraphs—she lands on the gossamer-thin difference between life and death, which is where she’s been focused all along, if I could only have seen it.

51psU3H7kSL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_Humiliation by Wayne Koestenbaum
(Recommended by David Shields)

Humiliation runs like a rash over the body of Koestenbaum’s work. Here he confronts the feeling directly and the result is an extraordinary meditation on—I don’t know how else to say it—the human condition.

 

 

 

maggienelsonThe Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
(Recommended by Emily Smith)

Maggie Nelson makes the public private in this genre-bending, poetic recollection of her pregnancy and husband Harry Dodge’s transition. Like her previous works, Nelson draws from critics like Judith Butler and Roland Barthes to explore her personal perspective on sexuality, gender, queer family making and the radical idea that motherhood never has to be equated with the loss of individual freedom.

halfformedA Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Elmear McBride
(Recommended by Emily Smith)

Although A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing was just recently published, it’s already been hailed as a classic. In this novel surrounding sexual abuse and a sister’s relation to her young brother diagnosed with cancer. Elmear McBride, who spent ten years trying to publish the novel, has been compared to James Joyce and Virginia Woolf for her experimental style, which has often been described as “electric.”

2d0d11c0-51a0-0132-0b3e-0eae5eefacd9Binary Star by Sarah Gerard
(Recommended by Emily Smith)

Sarah Gerard’s Binary Star follows the story of an anorexic young woman and her neglectful, alcoholic boyfriend. The two feed off of each other’s negativity until taking a road trip and discovering vegananarchism. The short, lyrical novel tackles diet culture and the illness that, as a result, the two love to keep company. Like its title, the novel shines bright and fast, held together by its own gravity until its shocking, explosive end.

Heartbreaker by Maryse Meijer and Barefoot Dogs by Antonio Ruiz-Camacho
(Recommended by Laura van den Berg)

978037453606051rnEnLhHyL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heartbreaker is Maryse Meijer’s debut collection, with stories following a wide variety of characters as they deal with desire, vulnerability, sex, heartbreak, and survival. Barefoot Dogs is a series of connected stories about the members of a wealthy Mexican family after the patriarch goes missing.  These collections are wildly different in style and approach, and are wildly successful in creating a singularly absorbing world for the reader to inhabit, from the first story to the last.

The Queen of the Night, new novel by CWW Fiction Faculty Alexander Chee, debuts Feb 2

QueenoftheNightCongratulations to novelist Alexander Chee, our featured fiction faculty member on our 2016 Summer in Granada Writing Retreat, for his new novel The Queen of the Night, which debuts in bookstores on February 2, 2016! Alexander Chee will be teaching during our Summer in Granada, Andalucía, Spain Writing Retreat (July 28-Aug 5, 2016).

Alexander Chee was born in Rhode Island, and raised in South Korea, Guam and Maine. He is a recipient of the 2003 Whiting Writers’ Award, a 2004 NEA Fellowship in Fiction, and residency fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the VCCA, Ledig House, the Hermitage and Civitella Ranieri. His first novel, Edinburgh (Picador, 2002), is a winner of the Michener Copernicus Prize, the AAWW Lit Award and the Lambda Editor’s Choice Prize, and was a Publisher’s Weekly Best Book of the Year and a Booksense 76 selection.

In The Queen of the Night, Lilliet Berne is a sensation of the Paris Opera, a legendary soprano with every accolade except an original role, every singer’s chance at immortality. When one is finally offered to her, she realizes with alarm that the libretto is based on a hidden piece of her past. Only four could have betrayed her: one is dead, one loves her, one wants to own her. And one, she hopes, never thinks of her at all.

Read an excerpt from the first chapter of the novel below, and the full first chapter on Longreads:

“…I seemed a stranger to myself, a changeling placed here in my life at some point I couldn’t remem­ber, and the glass of the mirror at the entrance to the palace seemed made from the same amber of the dream that surrounded me, a life that was not life, and which I could not seem to escape no matter where I went or what I sang.

And so their celebration of me that night at the ball, sincere as it was, felt as if it were happening in the life neighboring mine, visible through a glass.

I tell you I was distracted, but it was much more than that. For I was also focused intensely, waiting for one thing and one thing only, my attention turned toward something I couldn’t quite see but was sure was there, coming for me through the days ahead. I’d had a premonition in accepting the role of Marguerite that, in returning to Paris this time, I would be here for a meeting with my destiny. Here I would find what would transform me, what would return me to life and make this life the paradise I was so sure it should be…”

Here is Chee reading an excerpt from the novel at Franklin Park Bar and Beer Garden in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

Read more here. Join Alexander Chee for his talk at the PEN/Faulkner Reading Series at Bus Boy & Poets on February 11, 2016!

Kathleen Spivack Launches Novel at Harvard Book Store

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Join Cambridge Writers’ Workshop faculty member Kathleen Spivack at the Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, MA for the launch of her new book Unspeakable Things. The short reading, book signing, and party will take place on Saturday, January 31 at 2 p.m.

6odLzoK-ReQPwOcvZbfWrdFOulc08fdeMOZ6m28nwOUKathleen Spivack is the author of A History of Yearning, winner of the Sows Ear International Poetry Prize 2010, first runner up in the New England Book Festival, and winner of the London Book Festival; Moments of Past Happiness(Earthwinds/Grolier Editions 2007); The Beds We Lie In (Scarecrow 1986), nominated for a Pulitzer Prize; The Honeymoon (Graywolf 1986); Swimmer in the Spreading Dawn (Applewood 1981); The Jane Poems (Doubleday 1973); Flying Inland (Doubleday 1971); Robert Lowell and His Circle (2011) and a novel, Unspeakable Things. She is a recipient of the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award 2010, the 2010 Erica Mumford Award, and the 2010 Paumanok Award. Published in numerous magazines and anthologies, some of her work has been translated into French. Other publications include The New Yorker, Ploughshares, The Atlantic Monthly, Poetry, Massachusetts Review, Virginia Quarterly, The Southern Review, Harvard Review, The Paris Review, The Kenyon Review, Agni, New Letters, and others. Her work is featured in numerous anthologies. She has also won several International Solas Prizes for “Best Essays.”

CWW Managing Editorial & Communications Intern Emily Smith for The Ploughshares Blog: Infinite Jest as Performance Art

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I was at Punta della Dogana in Venice when I first saw Ryan Trecartin’s Center Jenny. The movie was projected on the wall and brooded over Lizzie Fitch’s sculptures: lawn chairs and picnic benches chained to golf course-quality grass like a scary garden party. The film itself follows a group of sorority sisters with psychedelic skin to the soundtrack of breaking glass; their dialogue is alien English, merely clusters of Internet sound bites. The narrative is still in disconnect no matter how many times I watch the film, not quite something that can be revealed without its own consent, by which I mean that Center Jenny is content in control of itself and aware of its own audience—it’s not just video art, or something to be absorbed, but performance art. The same can be said for David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest.

Read more.