https://vcfa.edu/center-for-arts…/center-fellowships/. About the fellowship, our Artistic Director says: “I am honored to accept the Center for Arts + Social Justice Fellowship from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, which will support my book of Romani poetry in translation. I am a first-generation American of Romani Hungarian heritage, and I am translating the work of Romani poets such as Alexandre Romanès, Magda Szécsi, and Bronislawa Wajs (a.k.a. Papusza), many of whom have not yet been translated into English. Poetry can be a powerful vehicle to bear witness to authentic Romani stories that need to be told. History gives us evidence for the forced exodus of Roma from India, 500+ years of Romani slavery, and the Porajmos (genocide of Roma during WWII). Today, many Romani people are disenfranchised and continue to suffer from systemic and targeted racism. Meanwhile, the ‘G*psy’ image in pop culture has largely been written by non-Roma. Romani scholar Ian Hancock writes about how this is problematic and has resulted in the emergence of a fictitious ‘G*psy’ stereotype. Even in the face of oppression, the Romani people have remained resilient and have a vibrant and rich culture with a shared language and traditions that have endured centuries. Reading Romani poetry in translation is invaluable to our development of more multi-faceted perspectives and part of the work of anti-bias education. Personally, I agree with Edith Grossman’s assessment in her book Why Translation Matters, that ‘Translation always helps us to know, to see from a different angle, to attribute new value to what once may have been unfamiliar. As nations and as individuals, we have a critical need for that understanding and insight. The alternative is unthinkable.’” www.diananorma.com | Twitter: @DNSwrites | Instagram: @DianaNormaWrites
Thank you to everyone who joined the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop at AWP 2017 in Washington D.C. We wanted to let all our new writers and readers know about the upcoming deadlines for our Spring and Summer 2017 writing retreats.
The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Spring in New Orleans Writing Retreat will take place from March 23-26, 2017, and will coincide with the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival. Known for its Spanish and French architecture, live jazz, cajun food, and street festivals, New Orleans offers an inspirational and one-of-a-kind environment for creative writers. During the retreat, we will be staying in the lovely Algiers Point neighborhood, just a short ferry ride away from the Historic French Quarter. Our retreat features multi-genre workshops, as well as craft seminars and time to write. The faculty includes award-winning writers Dipika Guha, Emily Nemens, Rita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai. Genres include playwriting, nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. The deadline to apply is February 25th, 2017.
The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Spring in Portland Writing Retreat will take place from April 22-24, 2017. While you’re in the home of writers Cheryl Strayed and Ursula K. Le Guin, feel free to go bicycling and explore the terrain, hike, or relax at local cafes for people watching—no matter how you choose to spend your time, this city is full inspiration. We will be staying in the Alberta Arts District during the retreat, an area that is sure to inspire our participants and help them create. The retreat offers multi-genre workshops, as well as craft seminars and time to write. The faculty includes award-winning writers Adam Reid Sexton, Kerry Cohen, Rita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai. Genres include fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. The deadline to apply is March 15th, 2017.
And the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Summer in Granada Writing Retreat will take place from August 2-6, 2017. Located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains in Andalucía, Granada is one of the gems of Spain and has inspired writers from Washington Irving to Salman Rushdie to Ali Smith. Let the old city stimulate your writing with its winding streets, Moorish history, and evocative landscapes. Work on your existing manuscript, or look to the beauty and warmth of Granada to inspire all-new projects. During the retreat, we will be staying at the Hotel Guadalupe, just a short walk from the Alhambra. The retreat offers multi-genre workshops, as well as craft seminars and time to write. The faculty includes award-winning writers Tim Horvath, Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich, Rita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai. Genres include fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. The deadline to apply is March 15th, 2017.
Looking forward to seeing you this Spring and Summer.
In solidarity, and writing,
Cambridge Writers’ Workshop
Bazodee: a state of dizziness or confusion often used with regards to love or infatuation. In other words, caught up in a magical moment. I experienced this last week when I attended the international premier of Bazodee at the Playstation Theater, in the heart of Time’s Square.
Bazodee is a film combining the styles of a Bollywood musical, the American rom-com and the cultural aspects of the Caribbean. Dubbed “Trini-wood” by members of the cast. The story is of Anita Panchouri (Natalie Perera), the dutiful Indian daughter of a deep-in-debt businessman (Kabir Bedi), who is about to marry a family friend and wealthy Londoner (Staz Nair) when a chance encounter with a local singer, Lee de Leon (Soca music star Machel Montano in his film debut) sets things askew. After failing to become internationally known as a musician in London, Lee returns home to Trinidad disheartened. In search of a muse, Lee agrees to perform at the engagement party for both families. Unable to deny their mutual attraction, and with the excitement of Carnival approaching, Anita must now choose between the answer to her family’s financial prayers and the possibility of real love.
Bazodee stars legendary soca and calypso artist Machel Montano, along with internationally acclaimed actor Kabir Bedi, Staz Nair, Natalie Perera, and scene stealers Valmike Rampersad, Cindy F. Daniel and Chris Paul Smith.
Representing the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop (CWW), I stood in line next to Roger Paperno, the director of the music video “I Forget,” one of the original songs written for the film. The line attending the premiere extended to Broadway and down the block. The pre-show reception continued past 7:30pm while people filled the theatre. In attendance were television, print and online media from several South Asian countries as well as from Europe and the US that covered the red carpet as Machel Montano and other main actors arrived.
Susanne Bohnet, CEO of Serafini Pictures and Producer of Bazodee, opened the night with “We at Serafini Pictures, we are here to bring you relevant stories from a view point which has nothing in common with the white supremacy of Hollywood. We believe to honor who we are and to celebrate who we are. Our films will feature in the leading rolls Africans, African Americans, Asians, West Indians, Latinos, the LGBT community and everybody who we feel deserves a strong voice and an authentic viewpoint. Bazodee is a passion project of many; it’s a film we’re very proud of.”
Directed by Todd Kessler, former show runner and a co-creator of Blue’s Clues. The cinematography captured the atmosphere of Carnival and the striking beauty of Trinidad and its people. The film boasts a full cast of people of color. Every actor in Bazodee is authentic, and their actual background is close, if not identical, to the background of the character they are playing. Most of the actors in the film are Trinidadian, which I found refreshing as compared with the standard Hollywood whitewashed rom-coms.
The film was a labor of love that was in development for 10 years. It was written by Claire Ince, who is an alumna of the 2015 Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Spring in Newport, RI Writing Retreat, where she workshopped the script. All of us at the CWW are so proud of her and happy to see such a worthwhile project come to fruition. I, myself am an alumna of the 2016 CWW Spring in Newport Writing Retreat, so it was a unique experience to be able to attend the event as a fellow CWW Newport alumna.
The film is a universal love story, one could say a bit cliché, but set against the backdrop of Carnival on the vivid, colorful islands of Trinidad and Tobago, it becomes fresh. The film’s themes include unity and honesty triumphing in the face of adversity. The story has potential to be a serious drama exploring the struggle of an inter-racial/cultural relationship and the sacrifice Anita experiences for the sake of her family. However, Bazodee has a lightheartedness throughout.
Watching the film, I realized that as an Indigenous woman, I’ve never been in a theater that had an audience almost completely of people of color. It was incredible to witness the audience react to and connect with a film that was made predominantly for them. Sitting in the theater, there was a dialogue between the screen and the people. I believe there is a real sense of freedom when people are able to see themselves represented in media. The small moments of female friendships had the women in the audience cheering. Scenes that were written for the audience were a riot. One man yelled out “informer!” at a confrontational point of the movie.
The on-screen chemistry between Montano and Perera was believable and they looked good together. The most impressive performance was from UK-based Trini actor Valmike Rampersad. His creepy, uptight, lurking, always suspicious character Nikhil provided the gravity and suspense to the film. He was as charming off screen as he was villainous onscreen.
Soca is the heartbeat of the film. The music felt like another character throughout the story. Most of the musical numbers were taken from Montano’s discography reinterpreted and remixed for film. Passionate and beautiful. The film is a good introduction to soca music.
The most obvious flaw in the film was with the editing. There were some continuity issues, and there were points that could have been brought up earlier in the film that would have made the ending more authentic. However, that didn’t stop the film from being entertaining and becoming a valued part of Trinidad’s filmography. The premiere ended with an after party and special live performance by Machel Montano and Friends.
Bazodee opens in movie theaters across the United States on August 5, 2016.
—Anna-Celestrya Carr, CWW Media (Audio/Visual) Development Intern
Today, we continued to admire the many wonders of the city. Some of us enjoyed visiting Parc Güell, the park designed by Gaudí as a feast for the senses. Others visited la Sagrada Familia, Gaudí’s cathedral that started construction in 1882 and is still being built. They expect to finish within 15-20 years, so maybe some of us will plan to go back to see it! In the afternoon, Bret Anthony Johnston taught the second part of his Straight Outta Character Class, focusing on point of view this time. In the evening, we went out to dinner as a group to Teatro Principal on Las Ramblas and enjoyed our gazpacho while watching an amazing flamenco show. Tomorrow, we are off to France, so adios Barcelona. It’s been fun!
Today, we enjoyed some free writing time in the morning after eating the breakfast of kings at our amazing hotel. Some of us took a dip in the rooftop pool, and others continued to explore the city. In the afternoon, Bret Anthony Johnston wowed everyone with his amazing class, Straight Outta Character: Plot. The class proved useful to all of us and gave us some great, practical tips for structuring our stories. In the evening, we shared an incredibly delicious meal at Thali Indian Restaurant. We shared a plethora of tasty, small dishes like chana masala, palak paneer, and butter chicken.