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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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CWW’s CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos & Sourcebook for Creative Writing (C&R Press) Launches on March 7, 2018!

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is proud to announce that CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writingedited by Rita Banerjee and Diana Norma Szokolyai, and produced by the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop (with assistant editors Alexander Carrigan and Megan Tilley), will be published on March 7, 2018 by C&R Press.  C&R Press began in 2006 as a literary press committed to publishing books from new and emerging writers.  C&R Press is interested in supporting authors whose thoughtful and imaginative contribution to contemporary literature deserves recognition and support. C&R Press’s catalogue includes exciting new poetry, fiction, nonfiction, as well as reportage/journalism.

CREDO. I believe. No other statement is so full of intent, subversion and power. A Credo is a call to arms. It is a declaration. A Credo is the act of an individual pushing back against society, against established stigmas, taboos, values, and norms. A Credo provokes. It desires change. A Credo is an artist or community challenging dogma, and putting themselves on the frontline. A Credo is art at risk. A Credo can be a marker of revolution. A Credo, is thus, the most calculating and simple form of a manifesto.

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop’s CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing is a raw look at what motivates 21st century authors. CREDO is a triad of creative writing manifestos, essays on the craft of writing, and creative writing exercises. These manifestos interrogate and harken back to the modernist manifestos of the early 20th century. The second section of CREDO focuses on craft of writing essays that examine the writing process with candid vulnerability. The third section includes writing exercises, which are meant to challenge and incite creativity.

CREDO is our declaration against violence and limitations of free speech. Our CREDO focuses on transgender poetics, world literature and aesthetics, collage and appropriation, and the politics of place. The anthology bridges the theoretical and the practical with accessible writing advice, and its ultimate mission is to inspire innovative writing and to provoke it. CREDO features writing from contemporary authors such as Kazim Ali, Forrest Anderson, Rita Banerjee, Lisa-Marie Basile, Jaswinder Bolina, Stephen Burt, Alexander Carrigan, Sam Cha, Melinda Combs, Thade Correa, Jeff Fearnside, John Guzlowski, Rachael Hanel, Janine Harrison, Lindsay Illich, Douglas C. Jackson, Caitlin Johnson, Christine Johnson-Duell, Jason Kapcala, Richard Kenney, Eva Langston, John Laue, Stuart Lishan, Ellaraine Lockie, Amy MacLennan, Kevin McLellan, E. Ce. Miller, Brenda Moguez, Peter Mountford, Robert Pinsky, Kara Provost, Jessica Reidy, Amy Rutten, Elisabeth Sharp McKetta, David Shields, Lillian Ann Slugocki, Maya Sonenberg, Kathleen Spivack, Laura Steadham Smith, Molly Sutton Kiefer, Jade Sylvan, Anca Szilágyi, Diana Norma Szokolyai, Marilyn Taylor, Megan Tilley, Suzanne Van Dam, Nicole Walker, Allyson Whipple, Shawn Wong, Caroll Yang, and Matthew Zapruder.

Stay tuned for our upcoming launch & book tours for CREDO!  For inquiries and reading engagements regarding CREDO and publications by the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop, Inc., please contact our agent, Natalie Kimber at The Rights Factory.

Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Recommends: Winter 2015 – Books to Keep You Warm

EveningSnowatKanbara
Hello everyone!  Happy Valentine’s Day!  We hope you’re all enjoying 2015 and staying warm through all that snowy weather!  To celebrate February and the snowy tidings of 2015, our CWW staff has written about their favorite reads to keep you warm through this winter season!  Some of these works that have inspired our own writing and changed how we think and see the world, and other works have just stayed with us, entertained, or made us stop, stare, or smile for a little while.  Special thanks to Stephen Aubrey, Rita Banerjee, Alex Carrigan, Gregory Crosby, Katy MillerDavid Shields, Emily Smith, Christine Stoddard, Diana Norma Szokolyai, and Megan Tilley for sending in their favorite winter lit picks & recommendations! – Alex Carrigan (Curator)

CWW Winter 2015 Lit Picks:

pillowman theThe Pillowman by Martin McDonagh
(Recommended by Stephen Aubrey)

In an unnamed totalitarian nation, a Kafka-esque fiction writer called Katurian is detained and questioned by two policemen after a string of gruesome infanticides resembling dark fairytales Katurian has written. As Katurian seems unconcerned about the ramifications of his art, the police officers—playing a twisted game of “good cop/bad cop”—inform Katurian that his intellectually-disabled brother Michael, who is currently being tortured in an adjoining room, has been coerced into confessing to the crimes. What follows is a harrowing meditation on our responsibility to our art and our family, one without easy answers or reassurances. Small and contained (it’s a four-person cast in two small rooms) yet with very high stakes, it’s one of the most tightly-written and surprising of contemporary plays. It’s also funnier than any play centered around murdered children has any right to be, that’s Irish theatre for you.

91gug5d5wlL._SL1500_A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit
(Recommended by Stephen Aubrey)

Rebecca Solnit is one of the most interesting nonfiction writers around today. As both a writer and an activist, she’s made a career exploring issues related to the environment and its impact on politics, our sense of place, art, and society. In A Field Guide to Getting Lost, perhaps her finest work and certainly the best introduction to her formidable intellect, Solnit explores her own past in a series of linked essays as she explores questions of identity and the importance of the unknown. In a wonderful instance where form imitates function, the essays don’t necessarily build to a cohesive argument so much as they meander from Solnit’s Russian Jewish ancestors to her own youthful dabbling in punk rock and experimental film to a love affair she once had with a desert recluse. Each is tinged with a painterly lyricism that makes the settings Solnit writes about as vivid as the people who occupy them. Come with no expectations; simply agree to follow Solnit wherever she leads you and you will find this a perfect book to get lost in.

whereeuropebegins_300_411Where Europe Begins by Yoko Tawada
(Recommended by Rita Banerjee)

Yoko Tawada is a force of nature.  She has mastered the art of defamiliarizing the familiar whether it be language, gender, the facets of the body, or the interplay between imagination and reality.  She is a master of writing fiction, memoir, and gorgeous lyrical essays in both Japanese and German (for which she’s won the Akutagawa Prize and Goethe Medal, respectively), and she’s given some impressive speeches in English quoting Japanese, German, and even Italian idioms and literary texts at free will.  (I had a chance to see her recently at Munich’s 2014 Shamrock festival and was floored by her performance and also later when she spoke to me in Japanese!)  Where Europe Begins explores the strangeness and uncertainty one encounters when looking at things just a little too closely.  In these short stories and musings, one’s body, one’s relationships and feelings towards others, one’s language, and even one’s existence become irrevocably uncanny and peculiar.

Akashic’s Noir Series
(Recommended by Rita Banerjee)

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A few years ago, I picked up my first Akashic Noir Series book in the famed City Lights Books in San Francisco while I was working on my dissertation at Berkeley.  I selected San Francisco Noir 2: The Classics because for every flower in someone’s hair, San Francisco was also pretty cold and gritty, and the ghosts of Dashiell Hammet, Jack London, and Mark Twain seemed to hang around downtown, just lurking in the air.  And this volume did not disappoint.  Frank Norris’s chilling, uncomfortable view of Chinatown still haunted in “The Third Circle,” and you could see why Hitchcock was so mesmerized by the city by the bay.  Flitting back to Cambridge for work, Boston Noir also provided a delightful read.  Don Lee’s “The Oriental Hair Poets” seemed especially à propos in the atmosphere of Cambridge.  The story centers around two female Asian poets who compete with one another for men and literary accolades, attempting to sabotage each other’s poetic careers and prestige, until something goes horribly wrong…

TreadwindsTreadwinds by Walter K. Lew
(Recommended by Rita Banerjee)

During my MFA days, Walter K. Lew’s Treadwinds was a poetry collection that I returned to again and again.  Like Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s novel Dictée, Lew’s Treadwinds was unique and powerful for its unusual collage-like form and ability to breakdown and rethink linguistic barriers.  Lew presents poems written in English alongside phrases and texts written in Japanese, Korean, and Chinese in order to demonstrate the narratives of colonial occupation, immigration, and cultural assimilation felt by Koreans and Korean-Americans in the 20th century.  He juxtaposes images from film, photography, news stories, and idioms from folk songs, jazz, and old family anecdotes and tales of trauma to convey the complexity and multifaceted voice of the Korean in the modern era.  In the namesake poem, “Treadwinds” language and grammar itself breakdown as Lew explores what it means to return, hungry and dwindled, to home and “the sounds of spring.”

moon-mountain-banerjeeMoon Mountain
by Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay

(Recommended by Rita Banerjee)

Moon Mountain or Cāndēr Pāhaṛ  (চাঁদের পাহড়), is a famous Bengali novella by the much-loved Bengali novelist, Bibhutibhushan Bandopahdyay (author of the renowned novel Pather Pāncālī, which was later made famous on the silver screen by Satyajit Ray).  Set between 1909-1910, Moon Mountain focuses on the story of Shankar Roy Chowdhury, a young Bengali man, who goes to Africa and winds up working for the Uganda Railway.  Hungry for adventure, Shankar meets a strange cast of imperialists and prospectors from Britain, Portugal, Holland, and elsewhere as they try to exploit the riches of Africa and its people.  One prospector, the Portuguese Diego Alvarez, a Kurtz-like figure, tells Shankar about his trials and misfortunes hunting for diamonds in the caves of the Moon Mountain, a legendary place deep in the jungles of Richtersveldt, which is haunted and guarded by a spirit called bunyip.  Shankar then has to decide whether or not he will follow Alvarez and his thirst for adventure with open eyes or with eyes wide shut.

tolstoy-family_happinessFamily Happiness by Leo Tolstoy
(Recommended by Rita Banerjee)

There’s really nothing like setting the mood for Valentine’s Day in the middle of a snowy winter than reading some dark, deeply existential Russian Literature.  Leo Tolstoy is a master of examining the minutae of social relationships and the unpredictably psychology of human behavior.  In “Family Happiness,” he takes a hard look at romance and bourgeois obsession of finding the perfect romantic partner and creating the façade of the perfect family.  The story follows Masha, a young seventeen-year-old girl, and Sergey, her much older would-be paramour as they engage in a courtship which leads to “romance” and a very unexpected ending.

PoeticScientifica Poetic Scientifica by Leah Noble Davidson
(Recommended by Rita Banerjee)

Leah Noble Davidson’s poetry collection, Poetic Scientifica, is a beautiful experiment.  The collection follows the breakdown of a romantic relationship as it simultaneously explores memories of past sexual violence, individual agency, and female empowerment.  In doing so, Poetic Scientifica explores the roles of double-identities, mirror images, Norma Jeane & Marilyn Monroe, beauty, and its lovelorn echo.  Perhaps, the charm and play of Davidson’s work can be best described by the hidden poem in her collection which introduces all others: “Oh careful readiness, oh cinders in the jaw / you: fountains of birdsong and / velvet ropes, aspiring Marilyns / maybe I covet you / the way you would have me, do so / Climbing into our story / we build your image together / a person to love, an echo / of the anecdotes strangers tell each other / I can not hate you for being the bathtub / I drain my culture into / for shining myself into / so many lights.”

JulesVerne-VoyageExtraodinaire Voyages Extradonaires by Jules Verne
(Recommended by Rita Banerjee)

When I was studying at the Sorbonne, I would always carry a Poche paperback of a Jules Verne classic with me and would devour it as I made my way through the undergrounds of Paris each morning.  Some of my favorite reads were Voyage au centre de la Terre, Vingt milles lieues sous le mer, De la Terre à la Lune, and Paris au XXe siècle.  While the stories were familiar from childhood, there was just something about cracking a secret code or cipher with Axel and Lindenbrock in French.  The scope and worldview of Verne’s novels, which are set in Baltimore, Hamburg, Paris, China, and India, was also impressive as was his mastery of the scientific romance genre.  Characters in his novels always seemed to be at the brink of discovery, whether in realizing the potential or limitations of science and technology or in understanding the potential and limitations of their own humanity.  The future could materialize crystal clear in a Verne novel, full of possibilities and full of failures.  And now as I am writing my own futuristic novel, it’s wonderful to go back to the pillars of modern day science fiction with writers like Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, and try to find answers to those big and scary questions like, “what is science?” “what is fiction?” and “what might tomorrow bring?”

schomburg-themansuitThe Man Suit by Zachary Schomburg
(Recommended by Rita Banerjee)

The Man Suit is a memorable, must-read collection of poems by Zachary Schomburg.  The poems in The Man Suit dance a fine line between melancholy, dark humor, and unnerving absurdity.  Images of forests, monsters, stars, death, white and black telephones, music bands, and theatre pepper the collection.  And stories of late barons, experiments gone awry, John Wilkes Booth and Abraham Lincoln, and a singular tale of a lost love and a girl named Marlene appear, disappear, and remix like constellations across the page.  Read in another way, Schomburg’s collection takes a hard look at the values of Americana and the changing shape of the American social and political landscape in the waning years of the Bush presidency.  In “Last President of a Dark Country,” the speaker of the poem, states “Trying being the last president of a dark country.  It is lonely as hell here.  You should come. / …if you are careful, you can find the railing.  It will lead you to a dimly-lit hole that you can climb down into.  You’ll find me there, most likely.  I’ll be working on my last presidential address.  It will be a list of everything that haunts me.  No matter how much you ask me to read it, I probably won’t.”

Haunted511a1mqxnhl-_ss500_ by Chuck Palahniuk
(Recommended by Alex Carrigan)

This short fiction anthology by Chuck Palahniuk was every bit as morbid, disgusting, and shocking as I hoped it would be, with tons of awesome stories involved. The novel’s frame story is a bunch of writers going on a writing retreat where they spend three months locked in an old theater with all the amenities provided by the benefactor and his assistant. They all individually get the idea to write a tale about how they were held captive and tortured, each going about destroying their new home and forcing themselves into acts of mutilation, cannibalism, and murder. The stories in the book are all written by a character in the story and cover a variety of subjects from angry feminists to reflexology to masturbation accidents. This book really gripped me because all the stories are so unique and weird. It’s also very postmodern in design, something I’m always a fan of and want to attempt in the future.

{D89C61A6-9DA2-409A-9A9E-ADFD027A9D27}Img100Riotous Assembly by Tom Sharpe
(Recommended by Alex Carrigan)

This was a book I had to grow up to read. It’s a book my father loved a lot and told me about when I was younger. The story, detailing the incompetence of the racist police force in an Apartheid South Africa town, is a screwball satire showing how a crime of passion was turned into a full-blown political scandal due to how just darn stupid everyone is. It’s satirical, funny, and full of political commentary. It’s also a book with a really creative writing style and humorous voice that Sharpe uses when describing events. It will have you looking at elephant guns differently, so you should check it out.

wernerherzog_guidefortheperplexedWerner Herzog: A Guide for the Perplexed
by Paul Cronin

(Recommended by Gregory Crosby)

It’s a huge series of conversations with Herzog about his film and career, but it’s also the only self-help book any artist will ever need, whether they make films, write, paint or engage in any creative endeavor that requires courage, persistence, and endurance. Herzog is also dryly funny in only the way a German can be.

 

the_dream_songspicThe Dream Songs by John Berryman
(Recommended by Gregory Crosby)

If you’re suffering from heartache and pain and want to know how to sing the blues, you should avail yourself of John Berryman’s The Dream Songs. It sounds like hyperbole, but this was a book that more or less saved my life when I was at my lowest point.

 

 

81XbzO1loHLEverything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
(Recommended by Katy Miller)

Opening with the ominous sentence “Lydia is dead,” Everything I Never Told You unspools the deep, psychological layers of the Lee family as they deal with loss and tragedy. For the first half of the novel, Ng tells the reader only sparse details about Lydia herself—the oldest child of Chinese-American James Lee and his white wife Marilyn—and focuses instead of the dreams and disappointments of her parents. Set mainly in the 1970s midwest only just after the Supreme Court overturned the interracial marriage ban in 1967, Everything I Never Told You beautifully captures the quiet desperation of crushing familial expectations coupled with heartbreaking loneliness. Ng deftly writes the inner life of the five family members and how difference affects each one, expertly weaving their voices into the suspenseful narrative.

41FP9H01AjLThe Thing Around Your Neck
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

(Recommended by Katy Miller)

The characters in this 13-story collection are just as vivid as those in Adichie’s marvelous novels. The majority of these narratives are written from a female perspective, and Adichie fully explores their struggles to settle into American lives, their complex relationships, and their diverse motivations in beautiful detail. A thoughtful writer, she delights in revealing uncomfortable observations, such as in the inner monologue of a Nigerian waitress in Connecticut in the titular short story: “He told you he had been to Ghana and Uganda and Tanzania, loved the poetry of Okot p’Bitek and the novels of Amos Tutuola and had read a lot about sub-Saharan African countries, their histories, their complexities. You wanted to feel disdain, to show it as you brought his order, because white people who liked Africa too much and those who liked Africa too little were the same—condescending.”

51A1wj3p3eL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The Book of Embraces by Eduardo Galeano
(Recommended by David Shields)

Galeano marries himself to the larger warp-and-woof by allowing different voices and different degrees of magnitude of information to play against one another. A mix of memoir, anecdote, polemic, parable, fantasy, and Galeano’s surreal drawings, the book might at first glance be dismissed as mere miscellany. But upon more careful inspection, it reveals itself to be virtually a geometric proof on the themes of love, terror, and imagination. This is perhaps best exemplified by this mini-chapter: “Tracey Hill was a child in a Connecticut town who amused herself as befitted a child of her age, like any other tender little angel of God in the state of Connecticut or anywhere else on this planet. One day, together with her little school companions, Tracey started throwing lighted matches into an anthill. They all enjoyed this healthy childish diversion. Tracey, however, saw something which the others didn’t see or pretended not to, but which paralyzed her and remained forever engraved in her memory: faced with the dangerous fire, the ants split up into pairs and two by two, side by side, pressed close together, they waited for death.”

A1ShzwjgyDL._SL1500_Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust
(Recommended by David Shields)

This is the book that I think of as mattering the most to me ever, but I read it more than thirty years ago and find that I have trouble re-reading it now. Seems sad—do I still love it, did I ever love it? I know I did. Has my aesthetic changed that much? If so, why? Does one resist that alteration? I think not. The book still completely changed me, still defines me in some strange way. Proust for me is the C.K. Scott-Moncrieff translation in paperback, its covers stained with suntan oil since I read all seven volumes in a single summer (supposedly traveling around the South of France but really pretty much just reading Proust). I came to realize that he will do anything and go anywhere to extend his research, to elaborate his argument about art and life. But his commitment is never to the narrative per se, it’s to the narrative as a vector on the grid of his argument. That thrilled me and continues to thrill me—his understanding of his book as a series of interlaced architectural/thematic spaces.

41Mm2ZM0NvL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_For Love & Money by Jonathan Raban
(Recommended by David Shields)

For twenty-plus years I’ve been showing drafts of my books to Jonathan, who within days of receiving the manuscript will call and not only insist that it can be so much better but show me how. For Love & Money, which he calls “only half a good book,” is one of my favorite books ever written—a brutal, ruthless coming-of-age-of-the-author disguised as a miscellany of essays and reviews. Jonathan comes out of what is to me a distinctly British tradition of showing respect for the conversation by questioning your assertion rather than blandly agreeing with it. He’s exhaustive and disputatious, never settling for received wisdom or quasi-insight. More than anyone in my life, he encouraged me to think off-axis about “nonfiction.”

rent-girl-michelle-teaRent Girl by Michelle Tea
(Recommended by Emily Smith)

Rent Girl is a gritty and blunt graphic novel/memoir that focuses on Michelle Tea’s history as a prostitute in the early 90s.Throughout the novel, Tea is unapologetically honest about her many shocking exploits: appeasing her clients — one a self-proclaimed warlock — to a terrible case of crabs, Tea never shies away from reality.

margaret_atwood_the_handmaids_taleThe Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
(Recommended by Emily Smith)

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood follows the story of Offred, a handmaid living under a totalitarian Christian regime responsible for usurping the United States. The novel explores how women gain agency, especially under a government that enforces trope-like roles: wives, handmaids (surrogate mothers) and Jezebels (prostitutes).

 

51SvR6tvD2LGather Together in My Name by Maya Angelou
(Recommended by Christine Stoddard)

This year we lost one of the greats. Her stunning life inspired not only poetry but prose. Gather Together in My Name is an autobiographical account of Angelou’s early years as a single mother shortly after World War II in a deeply segregated America. A story of hope and redemption, it’s the perfect read to inspire you to seriously reflect on your own flaws and make meaningful and sincere New Year’s Resolutions.

 

948009Intimacy by Jean-Paul Sartre
(Recommended by Christine Stoddard)

This collection of four short stories and a novella is complex and unnerving. All of the stories deal with intimacy or, more aptly, the lack thereof. They deal with sex, perversion, sensuality, and ugly truths. My personal favorite is the first story “Intimacy,” for which the collection is named, because of its stream of consciousness, changing narrators, and obsession with hypocrisy in love. Intimacy is a great winter read because it will chill you to the bone, not for its otherworldliness but for its raw portrayal of reality.

Unknown-4The Theory of Everything (dir. James Marsh)
(Recommended by Diana Norma Szokolyai)

Would I be wearing my heart on my sleeve if I admitted to crying upon just seeing the trailer to this film?  After watching the film in its entirety, I saw that this was not just a historical tearjerker, but a deeply moving and realistic account of the life and love between Stephen and Jane Hawking.  Of the movie, Stephen Hawking has said that it was “broadly true” (Variety.com) and that, at times, he felt as though Eddie Redmayne was himself.  Indeed, the actor has done such a marvelous job that he is nominated for a 2015 Oscar for best actor in a leading role—we shall see at the end of February if he gets this well deserved award.  After watching this film, you will feel closer to the emotional world of cosmologist Stephen Hawking, one of the greatest minds of our time.  The hope, heartbreaking honesty, and intensity of Stephen and Jane’s story will rekindle your faith in the true potential of the human spirit.

safe_amy_king_0I Want to Make You Safe by Amy King
(Recommended by Diana Norma Szokolyai)

Amy King’s poems examine the delicate boldly.  The visual imagery is unforgettable and leaves the reader with impressions to ponder long afterwards.  Consider these lines and you’ll understand: “I can’t imagine the heart anymore/now that it presses my ribs apart,/a balloon of such gravity I ache for stars in a jar,/wasps whose love reminds be of fireflies tonight.”  King is the 2015 recipient of the prestigious Women’s National Book Association Award.  John Ashbery described her poems in I  Want to Make You Safe as bringing “abstractions to brilliant, jagged life, emerging rather than out of the busyness of living.”  The book was also one of the Boston Globe’s Best Poetry Books of 2011.  Read it!

Unknown-5Someone Else’s Vows by Bianca Stone
(Recommended by Diana Norma Szokolyai)

I first heard Bianca Stone read at the Couplet reading series in Manhattan, organized by Leah Umansky.  Her poems seemed so ripe, containing an urgency.  In reading Someone Else’s Wedding Vows, you’ll enter a world of vulnerability and fireworks, where the past and present converge in a magnificent display of words. Here is an excerpt from her poem “The Future is Here”: “Man burns at a certain degree/ but I always burned a little slower./ When I went into school/ I left a trail of blackened footprints/ to my classroom of spelling words,/ never starred. At the end of the earth/ we’ll be locked in our own spelling mistakes,”.  Read this book.  It will make you question the world around you in beautiful ways.

Unknown-6Prelude to a Bruise by Saeed Jones
(Recommended by Diana Norma Szokolyai)

I recently heard Saeed Jones read at The Difficult to Name Reading Series run by Ryan Sartor.   I was immediately hooked.  His voice was electrifying, his delivery so precise and rich.  I bought the book from him immediately after the reading and devoured it.  Jones started his reading saying that his poems were the cross section of where race, sexuality and America meet.  Reading his work, you can certainly see him examining that triad so effectively.  Take his title poem:  “In Birmingham, said the burly man—/Boy, be/a bootblack./Your back, blue-back./Your body,      burning./I like my black boys broke, or broken./I like to break my black boys in.”   He is a 2013 Puscart Prize Winner and is now up for a National Book Critics Circle Award.  Reading this book will change you—it is that important.

11529868The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson
(Recommended by Megan Tilley)

This 2013 Pulitzer Prize winner by Adam Johnson follows a citizen of North Korea through his rise and fall in North Korean society. The author read first hand accounts of defectors from the Hermit Kingdom and also travelled to North Korea to better acquaint himself with the unique political and social situation in the country. This is not a light read, but is a great choice for those interested in North Korea and in first hand accounts from the country. Meticulously researched and beautifully crafted, this is a novel that will change the way you look at North Korea.

51EvRAIqG0LThe Poisoner’s Handbook by Deborah Bloom
(Recommended by Megan Tilley)

Written by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Deborah Bloom, The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York is a fascinating look into the beginnings of forensic medicine. Organized into sections by poison, the book details not only crime cases involving that poison, but also the politics surrounding forensic medicine and the advances in medical science made by the tireless advocates of this new branch of crime investigation. A great book for anyone interested in true-crime, medicinal history, or Prohibition, it’s an easy and fascinating read.

CWW Interview with Stephen Aubrey, Newport, Rhode Island Instructor & Playwright

stephen AubreyThe Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is proud to introduce Stephen Aubrey, who will be teaching classes on theatre, performance, screenwriting, and playwriting at our Writing and Yoga Retreat in Newport, Rhode Island (April 2-5, 2015).  The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop’s Megan Tilley sat down to interview Stephen Aubrey.  Check out Megan’s interview with Stephen below, and be sure to apply for our Newport Retreat by February 20, 2015!

We-Cant-Reach-You-Hartford

MT: How did you get into playwriting?  What were some of the early plays or performances which inspired you to write?

SA: My life as a playwright owes more to serendipity than anything else. Growing up, theater had always interested me. I was obsessed with Spalding Gray and I hung out with a lot of the theater kids in high school, but my complete incompetence as an actor meant that I was usually an audience member rather than a performer (save for one disastrous turn as Francis Nurse in The Crucible in 11th grade). Playwriting (and writing in general) never exactly occurred to me as something I could do.

In college, I took a lot of philosophy and history courses, which exposed me to a wealth of interesting stories and ideas and very slowly, I became interested in writing short stories my senior year of college. About this time, I was approached by a director I knew from a fiction workshop I was taking. She was interested in developing a documentary play about a historical event and asked me if I knew of any good source material. After batting around a couple of ideas, I told her about the Hartford Circus Fire of 1944. She was hooked on the idea immediately and we decided to round up a couple of actors and co-write the play.

I thought this was going to be a one-shot deal. I really thought of myself as an academic and was seriously considering getting a PhD in history after I graduated college. Slowly, however, writing got its claws in me. We brought our play to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival that summer where it was well-received and nominated for a prestigious award. When I came back from Scotland, I moved to New York and started thinking seriously about writing plays. The group of people who traveled to Scotland asked me to write another play to perform the next summer and we slowly coalesced into a theater company.

Since I came to playwriting somewhat late, most of the formative plays in my life haven’t been ones I studied in a classroom (though I love some plays I happened to study in school, mostly the Greeks and Shakespeare) but rather, ones I saw performed when I first moved to New York. I didn’t have very much money when I first came to the city. All those big sexy expensive shows were out of the question so I ended up exposing myself to the weird, scrappy stuff you can find downtown where the tickets cost the same as a beer at one of the ritzy joints. When I had been at the Fringe Festival doing my show, I had seen the TEAM’s Particularly in the Heartland which really blew me away (I think I’ve ended up seeing it 5 times in total in a bunch of different theaters over the years) and showed me how adventurous and alive and surprising theater could be. Nearly 10 years later, it’s still one of the most amazing pieces I’ve seen. So when I was trying to acquaint myself with what was happening in the theater world, I sought out more people like the TEAM. After seeing a few shows that interested me, I started lurking around theaters that I thought were curating interesting work–The Ontological-Hysteric [R.I.P.], The Ohio, PS122–and becoming aware of groups like Elevator Repair Service, 13P, and Pig Iron that were doing things I found really interesting. I think I learned a lot from these groups, but above all, my downtown education taught me to take risks and embrace the idiosyncrasies of my voice, things that are in abundance downtown and less so once you get above 14th street.

Daguerrotype

MT: You’re the cofounder of The Assembly Theater Company in New York – what lead you to create the group, and how has it impacted your writing?

SA: The simplest explanation for why I created the group was that it was the easiest way to make theater in New York. Especially when you’re just starting out and have very limited resources, it really does take a village to make a play. Doing it alone is, well, lonely. It can be incredibly discouraging for the first few years as you try to break into the community and are dealing with expensive yet somehow filthy black boxes you can only half-fill with friends and loved ones you’ve coerced into buying a ticket. It helps to have comrades.

I was lucky enough to find a group of collaborators in college who have similar interests and aesthetic senses and whom I genuinely care about. We formed the company fresh out of college; there have been some personnel changes as we all learned what the life of a young theater artist entailed, but a core group has remained over the years which has been a wonderful resource to have as I tried to find my artistic identity.

As we’ve grown and developed as a company, we’ve worked towards a truly collaborative way of working together that has become fundamental to the way I think about my writing. After my first few plays, I became disenchanted with the way new plays were developed and also with the way that certain voices (namely straight white men like myself) were overrepresented. At the same time, I was being exposed to a lot of alternative ways of making work–chief among them devised theater–that seemed new and fresh. The Assembly’s four artistic directors are a director, a designer, an actor, and a writer (that’s me); the idea is that by working together as equal partners in series of development periods over the course of a year or two (rather than the typical new play process in which a playwright writes a script, a director decides to work on it and then hires a cast and crew who rehearses for a few weeks) we can create plays where every part of the production is realized in harmony. Even more recently, we’ve been working with group-writing where I write the script along with the actors so that as they get deeper into their characters and make interesting discoveries, we can integrate these into the script.

I’ve found that working this way has really opened up my writing. The plurality of voices and concerns you have to contend with when working in this way can be really overwhelming and intimidating, but it’s incredibly satisfying when it all comes together. It can get messy and heated sometimes in the rehearsal room, but the kind of work I’m creating now–where I’m a main voice, but by no means the primary one–seems important to me. I think we live in a complicated world, one where we need to be aware of and sensitive to alternative perspectives, especially ones that we don’t normally encounter on stage.

OntologicalHysteric

MT: You’ve written plays that have been performed at venues from The Ontological-Hysteric in Manhattan to The Brick Theater in Brooklyn. What was the process like for putting on plays at these venues?

SA: When I first started, my company had to work very hard to find theaters to do our plays in. Being curated by a theater was ideal, but more often than not, we had to rent the theater (which is a huge financial burden). I was very lucky to be able perform in venues like The Brick or The Ontological-Hysteric; both of those came about by applying to programs or festivals like the Short-Form Series or the Video Game Festival. In those instances, the theater was given to me free of charge (though I was financially responsible for everything else). There were a few other fortuitous opportunities like the year-long residency The Assembly had at Horse Trade Theater Group, but for the most part, putting on a play at a venue in New York requires producing it yourself. At least at the beginning, that’s going to be the case. But these things tend to snowball. If you produce a play yourself, and you invite the right people to come see it (or the right people wander into the theater on their own, which is a rare, but beautiful thing), it’s possible that you will be accepted to a festival or residency somewhere down the road. Making a career from theater is largely about using each opportunity to springboard to the next. Once you start generating interest in your work, things get a little easier.

But what has been true throughout is that, even if we were given the space, my company has always been responsible for making the play happen. We have been responsible for finding a cast and design team, for doing the brunt of the fundraising, grant writing and marketing (or paying for our own press agent if we had the money). I’m also forgetting a thousand other small, obnoxious tasks that also fall to us. It’s a DIY world. Making theater requires initiative and a bit of humility; you may be the Writer, but you also have to be The One Who Takes a Vacation Day to Drive the U-Haul to The Storage Unit in New Jersey and Sit in Traffic for the Better Part of the Afternoon. Unless you’re at a theater with a lot of money and resources, that’s the reality of theater.  

MT: How would you compare your writing process for fiction versus screenwriting?

SA: In my mind, the difference is about a visual language versus a written language. In fiction, you can get so much deeper into a character’s mind. You can linger or digress in a way that screenwriting or playwriting cannot. Fiction necessarily requires narration which is something that doesn’t usually work on the screen. A voice-over is so often the sign of an insecure screenwriter, someone who isn’t thinking about a visual language. Because when you’re writing for the screen, you need to be thinking about the audience’s gaze. “Show, don’t tell” is one of those writing cliches I hate throwing around, but it’s an essential tip for screenwriting. Whether it’s through sharp dialogue or a clever structure, you need to find a way to dazzle the senses.

MT: What kinds of workshops are you planning to offer at our Newport, Rhode Island Retreat, and what would you say is the most important part of the workshop experience?

SA: I’m offering three workshops at Newport: one on world-building and the importance of defining space in playwriting and screenwriting; one on “impossible theater,” which is all about pushing yourself away from Realism and thinking in terms of visual and symbolic gestures; and a third on Aristotelian and anti-Aristotelian narrative structures and the opportunities that each affords a writer.

I think the most important part of the workshop experience is meeting other writers. Writing can be a lonely pursuit at times and community is very important. It’s helpful to know that there are other people also sitting at their desks staring at a blinking cursor for hours at a time. Sharing your work with other writers also exposes you to a lot of different styles and perspectives; other writers can show you tricks and tactics and solutions that would never have occurred to you. Finding your co-travelers is an immensely important task and the workshop is a great place to do it.

MT: What advice do you have for budding playwrights and screenwriters?

SA: The most important piece of advice I can give is: Learn how to produce your own work. It’s very difficult to find people willing to take a chance on your writing, financially or artistically, if you’re untested. No one is going to believe in your work, in your words, more than you. You are your own best ambassador for your art, and you need to learn how to present it and talk about it. If you keep at it, people will begin to pay attention, but they need to see your work first. You can apply to contests and festivals (in fact, you should apply to contests and festivals), but it takes a lot of time and patience to work through the system. You could spend that time waiting for a response, or you can take the matter into your own hands and make the work you want to make.

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.

Happy New Year 2015 from the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop!!

CWW-NY2015 Happy New Year 2015 from the directors and staff of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop! We hope you’re all as excited for 2015 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 2015!

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop had a wonderful year in 2014.  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 2014 Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference in Seattle, WA in February. At AWP 2014, we got a chance to announce our CREDO Anthology of Manifestos & Sourcebook for Creative Writing, promote our new literary internships,  and discuss our Summer 2014 Château de Verderonne Yoga & Writing Retreat, and our AWP 2014 A Night at the Victrola Reading. At AWP 2014, CWW Directors, Rita Banerjee and Diana Norma Szokolyai signed copies of their books, Cracklers at Night and Parallel Sparrows, respectively.  And our A Night at the Victrola, featuring readings from authors such as Rita Banerjee, Diana Norma Szokollyai, Peter Mountford, Anca Szilágyi, Nancy Jooyoun Kim, Pattabi Seshadri, Susan Parr, Johnny Horton, Talia Shalev, Leah Umansky, Dena Rash Guzman, Kevin Skiena, Jessica Day, and Carrie Kahler.  Our AWP 2014 literary reading was even featured in Vanguard Seattle as a top AWP reading event.

After AWP 2014, we were off to our annual writing and yoga retreat to the Château de Verderonne in Picardy, France. The event, which was featured in Poets and Writers and Quail Bell Magazine, was a chance for writers to spend two weeks in the French countryside, participating in writing workshops and craft of writing seminars, yoga classes, and culturally tours of Paris and Chantilly. 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.

Our New Yorker members also hosted an event as part of LitCrawl Manhattan in September 2014.  Our Literary Masquerade featured readings of poetry, noir, science fiction, and original songs from Diana Norma Szokolyai, Rita Banerjee, Gregory Crosby, Elizabeth Devlin, Jonah Kruvant, and Nicole Colbert.

We also hosted an annual Pre-Thanksgiving Yoga and Writing Cleanse in November 2014. The two day event kicked off with yoga lessons from Elissa Lewis, followed by fresh juice cleanses, and creative writing workshops and craft seminars from Diana Norma Szkolyai, Jessica Reidy, and Jonah Kruvant.  Some of the creative writing classes included on the retreat included “The Art of Withholding,” “The Art of Revision” and “Sense of Smell, Memory, and Narrative.”   Our Pre-Thanksgiving Yoga & Writing Cleanse was an opportunity for the participants to cleanse themselves mentally, spiritually, and creatively before the bustling holiday season, and was even featured in a piece in Quail Bell Magazine.

In 2014, we also began 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 our featured writers will be announced shortly.

In 2014, we also welcomed our first interns to the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop, and these interns include the wonderful  Alex Carrigan, Katy Miller, and Megan Tilley, all of whom have helped the CWW greatly this year. They’ve helped manage our social media and written up post about our events, critiqued and edited submissions for CREDO, 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 Alex, Katy, and Megan on our team, and we can’t wait to show you what they’ve helped us plan for 2015!

This was also a good year for our individual staff members getting published. Quail Bell Magazine featured plenty of creative writing from our staffers, including Jessica Reidy’s essay on novel research in Paris, Norma and Rita’s Mis/Translation poems, Megan Tilley’s poem “Puddle,” and Alex Carrigan’s poem “When I First Saw Her.” Reidy also had a series of trauma poems featured in Luna Luna Magazine and Tilley was featured in FictionvaleSzokolyai was also named one of twenty Romani authors you should be reading by VIDA and published in the anthology Other Countries: Contemporary Poets Rewiring History.

While 2014 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 Minneapolis from April 8-11, 2015 You can find us at the AWP 2015 Bookfair at Table 954. We will also be planning an offsite reading, and more information about that will come as we get closer to the event.

Join us April 2-5, 2015 for our first annual springtime Writing & Yoga Retreat in beautiful and gilded Newport, Rhode Island.  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.  Faculty includes internationally renowned author and writing coach Kathleen Spivack (fiction, poetry, nonfiction), Stephen Aubrey (playwriting,  screenwriting), Diana Norma Szokolyai (poetry, nonfiction), Rita Banerjee (poetry, fiction), and Elissa Lewis (yoga, meditation).  Registration closes on February 20, 2015 and spots are limited, so sign up on cww.submittable.com as soon as you can.

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Summer in Paris Writing Retreat will take place July 22-30, 2015 in 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 where we will stay is full of charm and our Moroccan themed classroom will offer a wonderful oasis to practice the writing life.  Faculty includes internationally renowned author and writing coach Kathleen Spivack (poetry, fiction, nonfiction), David Shields (fiction, book-length essay), Diana Norma Szokolyai (poetry, nonfiction), Rita Banerjee (poetry, fiction), and Elissa Lewis (yoga, meditation).  If you’d like to join us in Paris, please apply online at cww.submittable.com by May 5, 2015.

And from August 3-10. 2015, 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.  Faculty includes Rita Banerjee (poetry, fiction), Diana Norma Szokolyai (poetry, nonfiction), Jessica Reidy (fiction, poetry) and Elissa Lewis (yoga, meditation).  If you’d like to join us in Granada, please apply online at cww.submittable.com by April 20, 2015.

We hope you are all as excited for our 2015 events as we are. If you have any questions about our upcoming retreats, please view the pages linked above. 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 Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter for more information and updates on any of these events. We look forward to making 2015 a year full of creativity, writing, and renewal, so join us as we make 2015 rock!

– Alex Carrigan & Rita Banerjee

Megan Tilley’s “Puddle” feat. in Quail Bell Magazine

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is proud to announce that Megan Tilley’s poem, “Puddle,” is featured in the new issue of Quail Bell Magazine.  Megan Tilley, one of the one of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop’s interns has been instrumental in planning the CWW’s upcoming Pre-Thanksgiving Yoga, Writing, and Juice Cleanse Retreat in Quail Bell Magazine (November 22-23). In the interview, the CWW shares tips on creating a creative discipline of writing, yoga, and self-care.  If you are interested in the CWW’s Pre-Thanksgiving Yoga, Writing, and Juice Cleanse Retreat, there is a limited time reduced registration fee. It will only last until Thursday, November 20th at 11 p.m., so apply now! – Jessica Reidy

Puddle
by Megan Tilley

I.
The bodies around me dream of poppies, draped half-lidded across scratchy couches. Science fiction is all that plays on the television, and I watch tin can space crafts drift in and out of stars, fingers of both hands on two different pulses to make sure there’s still life in their veins. I can feel the wet thumping through the pad of my thumb as space flashes by me and I wonder if this is how god feels.

II.
When the azaleas are in bloom we go walking among the fires of their blooms, grass soft underfoot. Golden bourbon sings in our veins, softening in the shadows and the sunlight that shines through lazy-branched oaks. There are notches in the park from the great war, where men hung like the wind chimes on my grandmother’s porch. She drinks sweet tea like it was water from Jordan, says words so gentle they melt in your mouth like rose hips.

III.
Summer closes. The trees bear heavy fruits, skin smooth under grasping palms. He takes a bite, juice running along his jaw, autumn sweet. We dangle our feet over rock edges, where fish dappled orange and yellow gape pink mouths wide. He says how sad it is that they their pond is all they know. I look to the north, at a horizon unsmudged by mountains, at the trees still summer-bleached forming a cup of its own, a puddle shimmering in unending sun where we swim day after day, pretending it’s the ocean.

CWW Intern, Megan Tilley’s writing featured in Fictionvale

Our inFictionValetern, Megan Tilley, has a short story coming out in thelatest episode of Fictionvale!  She would like to thank their wonderful staff and editors for giving her this opportunity.  Megan Tilley is a recent graduate from Florida State University with a degree in Creative Writing.  She has been published in The Rectangle, The Kudzu Review, and Wiley Writer’s online podcast.  She was senior editor at Live Music Media for three years, and also edited for The Kudzu Review.  Writing and editing has always been her passion, and Megan is excited to be able to expand her experience with editing, among other things, while working with the Cambridge Writer’s Workshop.