CWW Harvest Creative Writing Retreat in Rockport, MA (October 12-15, 2017)

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Harvest Creative Writing Retreat will take place from October 12-15 2017. Our Harvest Retreat offers the opportunity for writers of all genres and levels to work alongside award-winning writers to hone their craft and expand their writing skills on the shores of a luxurious ocean-side beach house.

The retreat offers multi-genre workshops, as well as craft seminars and time to write. The faculty includes award-winning writers Maya SonenbergRita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai. The cost of the retreat is $825 which includes tuition, lodging, and some meals.

If you’d like to join us in Rockport, please apply by the final deadline of September 25, 2017 (early applications encouraged, spots fill up quickly).  Please submit 5-10 pages of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, or a play with a $5 application fee, a cover letter, and references. Please also include the following in your cover letter:

1. Full Legal Name
2. Contact Information (Email, Address, Phone)
3. Age & Nationality
4. Prior Workshop Experience and Publications
5. Creative Writing Goals for the Retreat
6. Short One-paragraph Biography
7. Contact of Two Personal References (Name, Email, Address, Phone, Relationship to Applicant)

Due to limited seats, early applications are encouraged. Applications due at

applyDeadline: September 25, 2017*

* Please note that early applications are encouraged as there is limited housing in the main retreat house.

Class ScheduleCharacter 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. 

Forbidden Forms: Beyond the Plot Triangle, I & II (with Maya Sonenberg)

We often think of a story or essay as an organic thing, its form arising naturally from its content, but in this class, we will playfully turn that idea upside down, reading examples of prose using nontraditional forms, and then using forms to generate content. After a brief review of the uses and abuses of plot, we will dive into a wide variety of other forms your fiction and nonfiction can take: games, tests, verse forms, music, and a variety of inspiring forms from nonliterary nonfiction. Our first meeting will be devoted to discussion of readings and our second to group and individual writing exercises designed to show you how starting with form can help you generate new work, solve structural issues in your existing work, and dive even deeper into content.

Writing in the Lyric Register (with Diana Norma Szokolyai)

In this writing workshop, we will practice writing in the lyric register, expanding our writing into descriptive, poetic prose.  We will look intensively at writing “the moment,” slowing down and unpacking a single moment.  After examining some examples in literature, we will take to writing and revising our own pieces to unlock the lyrical qualities of a single moment.  Our aim will be to pull our readers into the emotionally charged and poetic world of our narratives.

Bake-Off (with Rita Banerjee & Diana Norma Szokolyai)

During our Harvest Retreat in Rockport, MA, we will do a 48-hour creative writing bake-off together.  The Bake-off exercise or writerly dare was popularized by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Paula Vogel and introduced to the CWW by playwright Dipika Guha. The dare is to write a narrative, play, or chapbook length collection of lyric pieces in a fixed span of time 48 hours in response to a list of shared elements. We will begin with a seminar on Friday afternoon when we’ll visit our creative writing toolbox and look at devices, forms and structures available for our use. At this meeting we’ll choose six elements to include in our writing drawn from the city of Rockport, MA, seeking inspiration from its architecture, history and myths. After the seminar you will go away and write until the next evening. On Sunday over food and drink, we will read your bake-offs together and celebrate your progress. Bake-offs are not critiqued.

Featured Faculty:

Maya Sonenberg’s first story collection, Cartographies, received the Drue Heinz Literature Prize and was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press. At the time, she was the youngest author to have received this prize. Her second collection, Voices from the Blue Hotel, appeared in 2007, and her chapbook of fiction and drawings, 26 Abductions, was published by The Cupboard in 2015. A second chapbook, After the Death of Shostakovich Père, won the 2016 PANK [CHAP]book contest and will appear in fall of 2017. Other stories and essays have appeared widely, in such journals as Fairy Tale Review, Web Conjunctions, The Literarian, New Ohio Review, and Hotel Amerika, and she has received grants from King County 4Culture and Artists Trust. She teaches in the creative writing program at the University of Washington—Seattle, and is currently at work on a book about her grandmother, Laura Ingalls Wilder (both the author and the character), and Jewish utopian settlements in the Dakotas during the late 19th century.

ritabanerjeeRita Banerjee is the Executive Creative Director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop and teaches at Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich in Germany.  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 Poets & Writers, The Rumpus, Painted Bride Quarterly, Mass Poetry, Hyphen Magazine, 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 poetry chapbook, 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, in Approaching Footsteps (Spider Road Press), released in November 2016.  Her debut poetry collection, Echo in Four Beats, which was a finalist for the Red Hen Press Benjamin Saltman Award, the Three Mile Harbor Poetry Book Prize, and the Aquarius Press/Willow Books Literature Award, will be released by Finishing Line Press on February 2, 2018.  And her edited volume, CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing, will be released by C&R Press on March 7, 2018.  She is currently working on a novel, a book on South Asian literary modernisms, and a collection of lyric essays.

Headshot.McCarrenPark,WillamsburgDiana Norma Szokolyai is a writer and Executive Artistic Director of Cambridge Writers’ Workshop. Her edited volume, CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing, will be released by C&R Press on March 7, 2018.  She is author of the poetry collections Parallel Sparrows (honorable mention for Best Poetry Book in the 2014 Paris Book Festival) and Roses in the Snow (first runner-­up Best Poetry Book at the 2009 DIY Book Festival). She also records her poetry with musicians and has collaborated with several composers including David Krebs (US), Robert Lemay (Canada), Claudio Gabriele (Italy), Peter James (UK), Jason Haye (UK), and Sebastian Wesman (Estonia). Diana Norma is a founding member of the performing arts groups Sounds in Bloom, ChagallPAC, and The Brooklyn Soundpainting Ensemble.  Her poetry-music collaboration with Flux Without Pause, “Space Mothlight,” hit #16 on the Creative Commons Hot 100 list in 2015, and can be found in the curated WFMU Free Music Archive. Her work has been recently reviewed by The London Grip and published in VIDA: Reports from the Field, The Fiction Project, Quail Bell Magazine, Lyre Lyre, The Boston Globe, Dr. Hurley’s Snake Oil Cure, The Dudley Review and Up the Staircase QuarterlyThe Million Line Poem, The Cambridge Community Poem, and elsewhere, as well as anthologized in Our Last Walk, The Highwaymen NYC #2, Other Countries: Contemporary Poets Rewiring History, Always Wondering, and Teachers as Writers.  She is currently at work on her next book and an album of poetry & music.  Diana Norma holds a M.A. in French (UCONN, La Sorbonne) and an Ed.M in Arts in Education (Harvard).


What happens after I apply?

Once you apply, you can expect to hear from us within 7-10 days and know whether you were accepted into the program. Once you are accepted, you will receive a welcome packet with detailed information regarding the program.

What is the process of paying tuition?

Once you are accepted into the program, you will need to pay a 30% tuition deposit to hold your seat within 3-5 days of acceptance. This amount is non-refundable. The remainder of tuition will be due by September 25, 2017. Our standard and preferred method of payment is PayPal invoice. You can also mail us a check. The deposit is non-refundable.

What is included in tuition?

  • creative writing workshops
  • craft of writing seminars
  • lodging in Portland
  • some meals

I’m local to Rockport. Is there a tuition only option?

Yes. For more information, please inquire at

What are accommodations like?

We will be staying near Wigaersheek Beach during the retreat, a location that will both inspire and relax participants to help them create. Writers will be staying at our nearby retreat house.