June 15: CWW Summer in Paris & Granada Writing Retreat & Scholarships Deadlines

June 15 is the deadline to apply for the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Summer in Paris and Summer in Granada Writing Retreats and Scholarships.  So many sure to get in your applications at http://cww.submittable.com by then!

Our Summer in Paris Writing Retreat will be held from July 25th – 30th, 2018 and will include poets and fiction writers Kathleen Spivack, Kristina Marie Darling, Rita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai teaching eclectic multi-genre workshops.

Situated in the heart of Paris’ Montparnasse neighborhood, amongst the fresh and popular open air markets and charming boutiques, the hotel stay is full of Parisian charm and our classes will take place in a beautiful Moroccan themed room that opens to a courtyard that can also be used by our writers.

Retreat activities will include craft of writing seminars and creative writing workshops, literary tours of Paris. If you’re serious about writing and want to soak in some exquisite French culture this summer, join our retreat in Paris!

apply

Deadline: June 15, 2018

Our Summer in Granada Writing Retreat will be from August 1st-6th, 2018 and will feature faculty members Tim Horvath, Diana Norma Szokolyai, and Rita Banerjee.

Intellectual, diverse, and artistic, this town 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.

For both retreats, please submit 5-10 pages of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, or a play with a $10 application fee, a cover letter, and references at cww.submittable.com. 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.

applyDeadline: June 15, 2018

We also have scholarships available for our retreats! If you are planning to apply for a scholarship for our 2018 Writing Retreats, please submit a retreat application above, and a separate scholarship application with the information requested below. Please indicate which scholarship you are applying for, your reasons for applying, and which retreat you would like to be considered for.

Here are the scholarships we are offering this summer:

  • Diversity Scholarship: Diversity scholarships will be offered to minorities who show a commitment to creative writing. In your one-page cover letter, please describe how our writing retreat would make a difference in your writing life. Include a short bio (150-200 words).
  • Student Scholarship: Student scholarships will be offered to students (both undergraduate and graduate, full or part time) who show a commitment to creative writing. In your one-page cover letter, please describe how our writing retreat would make a difference in your writing life. Include a short bio (150-200 words).
  • Writer/Parent Scholarship: Writers/Parent scholarships will be offered to writers who show a commitment to creative writing and are raising children (infant through college). In your one-page cover letter, please describe how our writing retreat would make a difference in your writing life. Include a short bio (150-200 words).

applyDeadline: June 15, 2018

Please email info@cambridgewritersworkshop.org if you have any questions.

Advertisements

Cambridge Writers’ Workshop presents Disobedient Futures – A Split This Rock Festival Reading – Friday, April 20, 2018

Disobediant_Futures_Reading-updatedIn honor of the Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation and Witness (April 19-21, 2018), the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop will be hosting its reading Disobedient Futures at the Colony Club in Washington D.C. this Friday, April 20, 2018 from 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm.  Disobedient Futures will feature readings from Rita BanerjeeAlex CarriganMarlena Chertock, and Christina M. Rau .

To get to the reading at the Colony Club, please take the Green line Metro towards Greenbelt and exit at the Columbia Heights Station, then walk to 3118 Georgia Ave NW, Washington DC 20010.

Featured Readers:

Rita BanerjeeRitaBanerjee is the editor of CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing (C&R Press, May 2018) and the author of the poetry collection Echo in Four Beats (Finishing Line Press, March 2018), the novella “A Night with Kali” in Approaching Footsteps (Spider Road Press, 2016), and the poetry chapbook Cracklers at Night (Finishing Line Press, 2010). 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 Academy of American PoetsPoets & Writers, Nat. Brut.The Rumpus, Painted Bride Quarterly, Mass Poetry, Hyphen Magazine, Los Angeles Review of BooksElectric Literature, VIDA, Objet d’Art, KBOO Radio’s APA Compass, and elsewhere. She is the Executive Creative Director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop.   She is the judge for the 2017 Minerva Rising “Dare to Speak” Poetry Chapbook Contest, and she is currently working on a novel, a book on South Asian literary modernisms, and a collection of lyric essays on race, sex, politics, and everything cool.

Alexander Carrigan is the Communications and PR manager for the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop and has been with the organization since 2014. He is currently an associate editor with the American Correctional Association. 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).

Marlena Chertock has two books of poetry, Crumb-sized (Unnamed Press, 2017) and On that one-way trip to Mars (Bottlecap Press, 2016). She lives in Washington, D.C. and uses her skeletal dysplasia and chronic pain as a bridge to scientific poetry. Her poems and short stories have appeared in Breath & Shadow, The Deaf Poets Society, Noble/Gas Quarterly, Paper Darts, Rogue Agent, Wordgathering, and more. Marlena often moderates or speaks on panels at literary conferences and festivals. She serves as the Communications Coordinator for the LGBTQ Writers Caucus. Find her on Twitter at @mchertock.

Christina M. Rau is the author of the sci-fi fem poetry collection, Liberating The Astronauts (Aqueduct Press, 2017), and the chapbooks WakeBreatheMove (Finishing Line Press, 2015) and For The Girls, I (Dancing Girl Press, 2014). Her poetry has also appeared on gallery walls in The Ekphrastic Poster Show, on car magnets for The Living Poetry Project, and in various literary journals both online and in print. She is the founder of the Long Island reading circuit, Poets In Nassau, and has read and run workshops for various community groups nationwide. She teaches English and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College where she also serves as Poetry Editor for The Nassau Review. In her non-writing life, she teaches yoga occasionally and line dances on other occasions.

Our readers Rita BanerjeeMarlena Chertock, and Christina M. Rau will also be hosting a panel during Split This Rock, entitled Fantasy As Reality: Activism & Catharsis in Speculative Writing,” which will be held at National Housing Center Room B (1201 15th Street NW, Washington, DC 20005) on Saturday, April 21 from 9-10:30 am. The Fantasy As Reality is described below:

“This panel will demonstrate how non-realist poems and prose can offer a space for political critique and empowerment. We will ask audience members about their own speculative writing and reading experiences and offer prompts to those who wish to work on similar future writing. Speculative and science fiction are often stereotyped as futuristic, extraterrestrial, and fantastical romps through universes using space travel, time travel, and super-advanced technology centered on white cis males. However, women, non-binary, and activist writers of speculative literature are purposefully subverting this stereotype, diversifying and owning the fantastical worlds that they imagine. Speculative literature, at its core, is about giving voice to ‘The Other.’ Speculative writing, in prose or poetry, focuses on not only imagined realities of the future, past, and present but also gives voice to bodies and individuals who are disabled, alien, marginalized, menial workers, and other traditionally neglected voices. Sci-fi and fantasy characters and voices can—and should—represent the underrepresented to create a sense of community as well as to challenge injustices in our real world.”

We hope to see you at some of our events at Split This Rock !

Nominate CREDO and the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop for the 2018 Saboteur Awards!

Nominations are now open for the 2018 Saboteur Awards sponsored by Sabotage Reviews!  Voting takes place here: https://form.jotformeu.com/80625273550353

And we encourage our readers and writers to nominate CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing for Best Anthology and the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop for Best Wildcard. Sabotage Reviews was founded in 2010 by Claire Trévien to “provide dynamic commentary and reviews of small-scale and ephemeral literature” with a focus on independent and small presses.

CREDO is edited by writers and CWW co-directors Rita Banerjee and Diana Norma Szokolyai and assistant editors Alexander Carrigan and Megan Jeanine Tilley. CREDO advocates for the empowerment of female, LGBTQ+, and other marginalized literary voices, with essays and manifestos that cover a wide range of subjects, including transgender poetics, world literature and aesthetics, collage and appropriation, and the politics of place. By presenting a triad of creative writing manifestos, essays on the craft of writing, and creative writing exercises, CREDO bridges the theoretical, political, and aesthetic perspectives on contemporary writing with practical and accessible writing advice.

In the manifestos, “One Memoir” and “The Body of a Poem,” we hear from the strong voices of LGBTQ+ icons Jade Sylvan and Stephanie Burt, respectively. Also from the manifestos section, David Shields declares, “I want work that, possessing as thin a membrane as possible between life and art, foregrounds the question of how the writer solves being alive. A book should either allow us to escape existence or teach us how to endure it.” Nell Irvin Painter inspires us and reminds us of the commitment it takes to dedicate our time to creating art. And Matthew Zapruder’s piece “Holding a Paper Clip in the Dark” is exquisite and hopeful, as Zapruder speaks directly to the reader, with an encouraging and inviting tone: “What do I want? I want you (reader) to look at these poems as places that feel to me private to my own experience, yet also common to all of our experiences.”

We feel that CREDO is unique in how it bridges the philosophical with the practical act of writing and also how it gives voice to established and emerging writings speaking from a variety of perspectives. CREDO is a reflection of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop’s desire to foster artistic communities and encourage creative expression in an all-inclusive environment. Since 2008 the CWW has been open to all emerging and established writers in Cambridge, MA and beyond.

Nominations close March 31, 2018! So please vote here: https://form.jotformeu.com/80625273550353  

Thank you so much for your support and being a part of our community!

Applications Open for Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Summer in Paris Writing Retreat (July 25-30, 2018)

CWW-2018ParisRetreat

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Summer in Paris Writing Retreat will take place July 25-30, 2018 in Paris, France. The retreat offers participating writers of all genres and levels to work alongside award-winning authors and editors. Participating writers will hone their craft and expand their writing skills, while working on new or existing projects.

There will also be time to explore the city of Paris in all of its historical, literary, and romantic charm. Situated in heart of Paris’ Montparnasse neighborhood, amongst the fresh and popular open air markets and charming boutiques, the hotel stay is full of Parisian charm and our classes will take place in a beautiful Moroccan themed room that opens to a courtyard that can also be used by our writers.

Retreat activities will include craft of writing seminars and creative writing workshops, literary tours of Paris. If you’re serious about writing and want to soak in some exquisite French culture this summer, join our retreat in Paris! Tuition is $3250, which includes lodging in central Paris, daily creative writing workshops and writing seminars, manuscript consultations, daily breakfast, and a walking tour of “literary” Paris.

Faculty includes internationally renowned author and writing coach Kathleen Spivack (fiction, poetry, nonfiction), Kristina Marie Darling (Poetry, Publishing), Diana Norma Szokolyai (poetry, nonfiction), Rita Banerjee (poetry, nonfiction, fiction).

If you’d like to join us in Paris, please apply online by June 15, 2018, and include $10 application screening fee and a 5-10 page writing sample of poetry or prose.  Please also include the following in your cover letter:

1. Full Legal Name
2. Contact & Address
3. Age & Nationality
4. Prior creative writing 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, but check for rolling admission after deadline, depending on availability). More information available at cww.nyc

apply

Deadline: June 15, 2018

Featured Faculty:

qpi9e9Kathleen Spivack is the author of ten books, prose and poetry (Knopf, Doubleday, Graywolf, etc).  Her most recent novel Unspeakable Things (Knopf) centers on European refugees in New York City, struggling to survive during the last years of the Second World War. Kathleen’s previous book was With Robert Lowell and His Circle: Plath, Sexton, Bishop, Rich, Kunitz and others (University Press of New England). Kathleen arrived in Boston in 1959 on a scholarship to study with Robert Lowell. Lowell introduced her to the poets of that time, who took her under their wing. This memoir centers on how these poets approached their work.

Other books include: A History of Yearning, Winner of the Sows Ear International Poetry Prize 2010, the London Book Festival Poetry Prize, and others; Moments of Past Happiness (Earthwinds/Grolier Editions); The Beds We Lie In (Scarecrow), nominated for a Pulitzer Prize; The Honeymoon (Graywolf); Swimmer in the Spreading Dawn (Applewood); The Jane Poems (Doubleday); and Flying Inland (Doubleday). She has also published in magazines and anthologies, including The New Yorker, Ploughshares, The Atlantic Monthly, The Paris Review, The Chicago Review, Poetry, Massachusetts Review, Solas Awards, and many others. Her work has also been translated into French.  Her work has been featured at festivals in France and in the United States. She performs in theatres, often with music. Kathleen is a recipient of the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award and a Discovery Winner among many others. She has also received grants from the Fulbright Commission, National Endowment for the Arts and various organizations. Her residencies include Yaddo, MacDowell, the American Academy in Rome, Ragdale, Karolyi Foundation, etc.

Since 1990, Kathleen has been a visiting professor of American Literature/Creative Writing (one semester annually) throughout the French University System. In the U.S. she directs an advanced writing program and has been named by the National Writers’ Union as “best writing coach”. Her students have published widely and won major prizes. You will too! For more information on Kathleen Spivack, please visit her website at  www.kathleenspivack.org. You can also follow her on Facebook.

Kristina Marie Darling is the author of thirty books, including Look to Your Left: The Poetics of Spectacle (University of Akron Press, 2020); Je Suis L’Autre: Essays & Interrogations (C&R Press, 2017), which was named one of the “Best Books of 2017” by The Brooklyn Rail; and DARK HORSE: Poems (C&R Press, 2018). Her work has been recognized with three residencies at Yaddo, where she has held both the Martha Walsh Pulver Residency for a Poet and the Howard Moss Residency in Poetry; a Fundación Valparaíso fellowship; a Hawthornden Castle Fellowship, funded by the Heinz Foundation; an artist-in-residence position at Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris; three residencies at the American Academy in Rome; two grants from the Whiting Foundation; a Morris Fellowship in the Arts; and the Dan Liberthson Prize from the Academy of American Poets, among many other awards and honors. Her poems appear in The Harvard Review, Poetry International, New American Writing, Nimrod, Passages North, The Mid-American Review, and on the Academy of American Poets’ website, Poets.org. She has published essays in The Kenyon Review, Agni, Ploughshares, The Gettysburg Review, Gulf Coast, The Iowa Review, and numerous other magazines. Kristina currently serves as Editor-in-Chief of Tupelo Press and Tupelo Quarterly, an opinion columnist at The Los Angeles Review of Books, and a contributing writer at Publishers Weekly.

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 in May 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).  Diana Norma Szokolyai is represented by Nat Kimber (The Rights Factory).

ritabanerjeeRita Banerjee is the Executive Creative Director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop and editor of CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing  (C&R Press, March 2018).  She is the author of the poetry collection Echo in Four Beats (Finishing Line Press, February 2018), which was a finalist for the Red Hen Press Benjamin Saltman Award, Three Mile Harbor Poetry Prize, and Aquarius Press / Willow Books Literature Award, the novella “A Night with Kali” in Approaching Footsteps (Spider Road Press, 2016), and the poetry chapbook Cracklers at Night (Finishing Line Press, 2010). 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 Academy of American Poets, Poets & Writers, Nat. Brut.The ScofieldThe 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. She is an Associate Scholar of Comparative Literature at Harvard and teaches at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in Germany.  She is the judge for the 2017 Minerva Rising “Dare to Speak” Poetry Chapbook Contest, and she is currently working on a novel, a documentary film about race and intimacy, a book on South Asian literary modernisms, and a collection of lyric essays on race, sex, politics, and everything cool.

FAQ:

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.  Please note that the deposit is non-refundable. The remainder of tuition will be due by June 15, 2018.  Our standard and preferred method of payment is PayPal invoice, which does have a service fee. You can also mail us a check to:

Cambridge Writers’ Workshop, Inc.
PO Box 380482
Cambridge, MA 02238 USA

What is included in tuition?

  • lodging in central Paris
  • daily breakfast
  • creative writing workshops
  • craft of writing seminars
  • manuscript consultation
  • a literary walking tour Paris
  • a celebratory meet-&-greet dinner with faculty


Where will the program be held?

The program will be held at Hôtel Denfert-Montparnasse, 70 rue Daguerre, 75014 Paris, France.

What if the deadline has passed?  Can I still apply?

Sometimes, we do have seats open after our deadlines have passed.  Please apply or just email us directly at directors[at]cambridgewritersworkshop.org to check whether there is still availability.

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

Parachute by Natalya Sukhonos – Book Launch

Parachute-NSCambridge Writers’ Workshop affliate and poet Natalya Sukhonoss new book of poems is a must read! Of the her new collection, Robert Pinsky writes:

“The poems of Parachute have an engaging, distinctive way of combining directness with invention: Natalya Sukhonos’s imagination is attentive.”

Natalya Sukhonos was born in Odessa, Ukraine and immigrated to New York City at the age of nine. She is bilingual in Russian and English and also speaks Spanish, French, and Portuguese. Natalya has a PhD in Comparative Literature from Harvard University and teaches in the Program for Writing and Rhetoric at Stanford University. Her poems are published by Middle Gray Magazine, Really System, Emerge Literary Journal, cahoodalodaling, Yellow Medicine Review, Empty Sink Publishing, and Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure. Sukhonos was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2015 and the Best New Poets Anthology of 2015. She lives in San Francisco with her husband Ian and her daughter Naomi. Her chapbook Parachute was published in May 2016 by Aldrich Press of Kelsay Books.

 

Unspeakable Things by Kathleen Spivack: A Review by Alex Carrigan

9780385353960Last year, the Syrian refugee crisis became a point of international discussion.  The Syrian Civil War has seen millions of Syrians displaced and fleeing into neighboring countries. In between news reports of nations closing their borders and celebrities advocating for refugee aid, we heard stories about the people who made it out. We heard about what and who they lost escaping the war zone, the challenges they faced fleeing the country, and the difficulties of starting new lives in different nations.

When I picked up the newest book from poet, educator, former CWW faculty member, and CREDO contributor Kathleen Spivack, I found myself entrenched in a different mass exodus, though one of equal gravity. Unspeakable Things, Spivack’s first novel, follows several characters who escaped World War II-Europe and are attempting to start anew in New York City. These characters include a beautiful and physically deformed former countess, her Esperanto-speaking cousin, his institutionalized wife, his granddaughter who is going through a physical and emotional crisis, a pediatrician who dabbles in genetic experiments for his Führer, and a string quartet who were driven out of their home following a disastrous concert and the loss of their little fingers. These characters influence each other’s tales, as the unspeakable events of the War continue to effect them.

Spivack’s characters are united by an almost obsessive interest in memory and the past.  Some characters are haunted by their pasts, some still bear the marks of terrible events, and others embrace the past as part of a progression. What differentiates Spivack’s characters on a thematic level is how they choose to let the past affect them–whether it will be saving, destructive, or something else.

6odLzoK-ReQPwOcvZbfWrdFOulc08fdeMOZ6m28nwOUSpivack imbues her tale with a lovely attention to music. For many of Spivack’s characters–the Tolstoi Quartet (so named because they consider Tolstoi the most universal writer, which I love), for example– music is life. These musicians once lived together, sharing beds with their instruments while their wives slept on the floor. When they lose their little fingers and the ability to play as a result, they are only concerned about steadying their instruments. Additionally, the institutionalized woman is a former concert pianist, and it is the prospect of her music that keeps her husband striving to improve her health. Spivack even gives the author’s dedication “To music, which forgives everything.”

Part of what makes Spivack’s tale unique is her use of magical realism. It is rare that a novel treats World War II via magical realism, so I was intrigued by Spivack’s use of genre. In this book, inanimate objects can react and emote, reflecting the mental and emotional states of their owners. In one chapter, the countess character spends two weeks in an affair with the mystic monk Rasputin, who then leaves his hand prints burnt onto her inner thighs. For her, the prints mark shame and sacrifice and continue to throb, burn, and react decades after the affair. For another character, the ghost of her son is a reminder of what the family lost when they fled Europe, but also a symbol for her fractured mental state.

In terms of critique, I did feel at times that Unspeakable Things lacked subtlety. While I thought that some symbols, such as Rasputin’s hand prints and the ghost son, were interesting and fitting, there were times where things were a little too on-the-nose, or too deliberately provocative. For example, we know that the pediatrician is a bad guy because he molests his child patients and has their mothers pay for checkups with their bodies, all while conducting genetic experiments to create a super race. Did we also need to see him wear lingerie and makeup while masturbating to a photo of Hitler? Probably not. There were times where I thought Spivack could have tried to work certain elements in more organically, or just removed them altogether.

Despite this, I did enjoy reading Unspeakable Things. I loved that there was always a turn when I thought I knew what was going to happen.  Overall, it reminded me of Japanese filmmaker Nagisa Oshima’s In the Realm of the Senses. Oshima’s is a film that, while extremely erotic, contains important political and social criticism and a fascinating storyline.  Additionally, I give Spivack credit for making the transition from poetry to fiction; her language and writing style are often beautiful. I hope that she continues to write novels, and I hope that she returns to certain ideas and images from this book. For those readers who want an erotic, magical historical fiction novel, with great imagery and style, Unspeakable Things is worth the read.

–Alex Carrigan, CWW Managing Intern

For more information on Kathleen Spivack and Unspeakable Things, visit her website

CWW Managing Editorial Intern Emily Smith for the Ploughshares Blog: “The Place of Zines in Contemporary American Politics”

zines-2

Zines straddle the border between Fluxist market-dodgers and the reputably tainted world of self-publishing literary dropouts. The difference between a zine and that 50 Shades of Grey-inspired alien erotica novel is function and intention. A zine works as a platform for writing and art that’s too provocative, political, or honest for traditional newsstand publications. According to Barnard College, which hosts one of the primary zine databases, literary zines are not well received, and that’s because literary works already hold a predominant place in the writing world.

As we wait for the results of the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary, there’s a sense that momentum is building toward a political explosion. A quiet shuffling, for now, which appears like a whisper on the pages of political zines: the most prevalent and useful of the breed.

Read more.

Happy New Year, Writers! -♥️- Cambridge Writers’ Workshop

HappyNewYear2016-CWW

Happy New Year 2016 from the directors, staff, and board of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop!  We hope you’re all as excited for 2016 as we are!  We’re planning a delightful, productive year for our writers and artists with plenty of opportunities to travel, write, practice yoga, and network, and we’re looking forward to seeing you at our retreats, workshops, readings, and literary fest events in 2016!

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop had a wonderful year in 2015.  Over the last twelve months, we’ve had a chance to hold retreats and readings across America and the world, meet exciting writers, yoga practicioneers, and artists, and have found new ways to inspire our own writing.  Our year began with the Brooklyn Yoga, Aromatherapy, & Writing Workshop. We restored our minds with invigorating yoga, learned about Essential Oils, and inspired out writing. In February, we joined the 2015 Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. At AWP 2015, we got a chance to promote CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos & Sourcebook for Creative Writing, advertise our new literary internships, and discuss our Summer Writing Retreats in Granada, Spain and Paris, France, as well as our Spring Writing Retreat in Newport, Rhode Island. We also hosted our second AWP event at Boneshaker Books. At our Books & Bones event, there were featured readings from authors such as  Alex CarriganJonah KruvantDena Rash GuzmanLeah UmanskyAnca SzilagyiMicah Dean HicksMichele NereimBianca StoneJessica PiazzaJess BurnquistSheila McMullin, and Brenda Peynado.

After AWP 2015, we were off to our first annual Spring Writing Retreat in Newport, Rhode Island. We were joined by award-winning and internationally-renowned authors such as Kathleen Spivack and Stephen Aubrey, in addition to CWW directors Rita Banerjee and Diana Norma Szokolyai, and CWW yoga instructor Elissa Lewis. The event was a chance for writers to spend a long weekend in historic Newport and near the beach, participating in writing workshops (such as Aubrey’s workshops on theater and Spivack’s workshops on developing manuscripts) and craft of writing seminars, yoga classes, and cultural tours of the historic Newport village. We liveblogged the entire event as well, sharing dozens of photos from our trip while also allowing our writers to share their thoughts on the experience.

During the summer we hosted our Summer in Granada and Summer in Paris Writing Retreats. In Paris, we explored the city and all of its historical, literary, and romantic charm. The retreat included craft of writing seminars and creative writing workshops, literary tours of Paris, daily yoga and meditation classes, and one-on-one manuscript consultations. We were also joined by Guggenheim Fellowship recipient and New York Times bestselling author David Shields, who taught workshops about collage, appropriation, and collaboration. CWW directors Rita Banerjee and Diana Norma Szokolyai taught workshops on stakes and building character, and also led workshops for participants to share their work and use the Liz Lerman method for critiquing writing. We live blogged our Paris retreat on our website, so feel free to check it out and see our workshops, as well as our excursions to Shakespeare and CompanyVersailles and Au Chat Noir. We were really happy to experience this with all of our participants, who traveled from all over the U.S, as well as England and Australia, to come write and explore Paris with us.

In Granada, wrote in the city’s winding streets, absorbed its Moorish history, and were inspired by its evocative landscapes. The retreat included craft of writing seminars and writing workshops and yoga classes. We were joined by Guggenheim Fellowship recipient and Pushcart Prize winner Peter Orner, who led a workshop on Spanish literature. Diana Norma Szokolyai led workshops on voice and stakes, while Rita Banerjee led a workshop on narrative development. We also live blogged this trip, so you can see all the exciting things we did on this trip, such as seeing Poeta in Nueva York and shopping for fans.

We hosted a Brooklyn Bookend Reading at Muchmore’s during The Brooklyn Book Festival. Some of the writers had emerged onto the literary scene with a bang, while others had recently published their first or second books, and had received prestigious awards in the past. The event was moderated by Diana Norma Szokolyai and included writers Rita Banerjee, Jonah Kruvant, Brandon Lewis, Elizabeth Devlin, Lisa Marie Basile, Jessica Reidy, Gregory Crosby, Matty Marks, and Emily Smith.

In November, we also hosted our annual Pre-Thanksgiving Writing & Yoga Cleanse. The two day event kicked off with yoga lessons from Elissa Lewis, followed by creative writing workshops and craft seminars from Jessica Reidy. Our Pre-Thanksgiving Writing & Yoga Cleanse was an opportunity for the participants to cleanse themselves mentally, spiritually, and creatively before the bustling holiday season.

In 2015, we continued our work on CREDO Anthology of Manifestos & Sourcebook for Creative Writing. The collection will feature personal writer manifestos, essays on writing advice, and writing exercises to help spur creativity. Our staff has greatly enjoyed critiquing and conversing with writers on this publication, and more information about publication will be announced in the upcoming year.

In 2015, we welcomed our second round of interns to the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop, and these interns include the wonderful Emily Smith, Casey Lynch, and Alyssa Goldstein, all of whom have helped the CWW greatly this year. They’ve helped manage our social media and written up posts about our events, shown their talent for graphic design and corresponding with writers and hosts in French, Spanish, and English, and have provided much valuable assistance on our retreats and literary events this year.  We’re excited to have Emily, Casey, and Alyssa, on our team, and we can’t wait to show you what they’ve helped us plan for 2016!

This was also a good year for our individual staff members getting published. CWW co-director Rita Banerjee had her poetry published in Quail Bell MagazineRiot Grrrl Magazine, and The Monarch Review. Her interview with CWW visiting professor and Guggenheim Fellowship recipient David Shields was published in Electric Literature. CWW co-director Diana Norma Szokolyai reported for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts on”The Defensive Male Writer.”  CWW Executive Board Member Jessica Reidy‘s “Why the Pyres are Unlit” was released in Drunken Boat’s Romani Folio and her poetry was nominated by The Poetry Blog for “Best of the Net.” Managing Intern Alex Carrigan had his work published in Strike! and Quail Bell Magazine and Managing Intern Emily Smith became a Contributing Blogger for Ploughshares.

While 2015 proved to be a very exciting year for all of us, our staff is quite ready to move on to our next round of exciting events. The CWW will once again table at AWP in Los Angeles from March 30-April 2, 2016, and will be announcing our AWP Reading in downtown Los Angeles shortly!

Join us April 21-24, 2016 for our second annual Spring in Newport, Rhode Island Writing Retreat. Our Newport retreat offers the opportunity for writers of all genres and levels to work alongside award-winning authors & editors to hone their craft and expand their writing skills, while working on new or existing projects. In the past, faculty has included internationally renowned author and writing coach Kathleen SpivackStephen Aubrey, Diana Norma Szokolyai, Rita Banerjee, and Elissa Lewis.

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Summer in Narbonne & Barcelona Writing Retreat will take place July 18-26, 2016. The retreat offers participating writers of all genres and levels to work alongside award-winning authors and editors. Participating writers will hone their craft and expand their writing skills, while working on new or existing projects.  There will also be time to explore the city of Barcelona, Spain and the beaches of Narbonne, France.  Our past France retreats have included David Shields, Diana Norma Szokolyai, Rita Banerjee, Jessica Reidy, and Elissa Lewis as faculty members.

And from July 28-August 5, 2016, join the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop on our summer writing retreat to the cultural oasis of Granada, Spain. 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. Or, indulge in delicious Andalucían cuisine and traditional Arab baths. Work with world-renowned authors on your manuscript, or look to the beauty and warmth of Granada to inspire all-new projects.  In our past Granada retreat, faculty has included Peter Orner, Rita Banerjee, Diana Norma Szokolyai, and Elissa Lewis.

We hope you are all as excited for our 2016 events as we are.  Information on our upcoming 2016 retreats and readings will be going live in January 2016!  If you have any questions we may not have answered, you can email us at info@cambridgewritersworkshop.org, and for inquiries, please email the CWW Directors, Rita Banerjee and Diana Norma Szokolyai, at directors@cambridgewritersworkshop.org.  You can also follow us on FacebookTumblr, and Twitter for more information and updates on any of these events. We look forward to making 2016 a year full of creativity, writing, and renewal, so join us as we make 2016 rock!

— Emily Smith & Alex Carrigan, CWW Managing Interns

Cambridge Writers’ Workshop at AWP 2015 Recap!

CWW Intern Alex Carrigan manning the booth at AWP 2015.

From April 9-11, the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop was present at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs 2015 conference in Minneapolis, MN. Our organization was there with multiple goals in mind, from promoting our CREDO anthology to presses at the event to advertising our summer retreats in Paris and Granada. Our group was fortunate enough to be upgraded from a table to a full booth, giving us more room to work with and allowing visitors to see more of our materials and programs. Visitors were able to take flyers, CWW buttons, and even contribute to our daily exquisite corpse poems.

CWW Exec Board member Jonah Kruvant sold his new book, “The Last Book Ever Written,” at our booth.

Our staff for the event included CWW intern Alex Carrigan, who helped set the booth up and ran around networking with various publishers and presses. Executive Board member Jonah Kruvant was also at our table on Friday and Saturday. At the table, Kruvant sold and signed his new book, The Last Book Ever Writtena dystopian satire just released from PanAm Books.

Dena Rash Guzman and Leah Umansky, friends of the CWW, also were also present at our table for selling and signing their works. Umansky sold her Mad Men inspired chapbook, Don Dreams and I Dream, along with her book Domestic Uncertainties. Guzman was there with her poetry collection called Life Cycle, and both authors promoted the CWW-sponsored reading on Saturday.

Leah Umansky and Dena Rash Guzman signed their works at our table on Friday.

Leah Umansky and Dena Rash Guzman signed their works at our table on Friday.

On Saturday, the CWW headed over to Boneshaker Books for our scheduled reading “Books and Bones at Boneshaker Books.” The event featured twelve readers. Along with Carrigan, Kruvant, Guzman, and Umansky, readers included Anca Szilagyi, Micah Dean Hicks, Michele Nereim, Bianca Stone, Jessica Piazza, Jess Burnquist, Sheila McMullin, and Brenda Peynado. The two hour reading featured a great mix of poetry, short fiction, and book excerpts.

We had a great time at AWP, and we can’t wait to see you next year at AWP 2016 in Los Angeles!