CWW Spring in New Orleans 2018 Writing Retreat – Recap!

This spring the Cambridge Writer’s Workshop held their retreat in the vibrant city of New Orleans. The weather was amazing and felt like a breath of fresh air to all of the snow we had experienced in this unusually long winter. We stayed in a gorgeous two-story house across the river from the French Quarter in Algiers’s Point.

The retreat started with a night of games and fun during orientation which helped stir everyone’s creative side!

Classes for this retreat showcased: “Rasa: Emotion & Suspense in Theatre, Poetry, and (Non)Fiction” taught by Rita Banerjee; “What’s At Stake?” taught by Diana Norma; and a two-part course on both finding a literary agent and building a literary platform taught by special lecturer Natalie Kimber, a literary agent from The Rights Factory. The classes were as fun as they were informative and educational.

In our free time, we played a group game of Werewolf, sought out local food and drink, saw local sites, listened to jazz in the French Quarter, and most importantly wrote!

The 48-hour Writing Bake Off has become a staple of the CWW, and this trip produced some amazing work by our writers! As per the usual rules each writer had 48 hours to write around twenty pages of work while incorporating elements as chosen by the fellow writers. This Bake-Off needed to include:

  • Pastel Colored Houses
  • The Powdered Sugar from the Beignets
  • Gentrification
  • Trumpets
  • A “Big Easy” Attitude
  • “Widow-Maker” Trees

Here are some excerpts of what our writers came up with.

Gina Anderson “The Baby Sitter”

I kicked open the door. The creature looked like a Doris Day reject. It held the baby outstretched over the crib readying to extract its soul. “Unhand that child!” I demanded. I’m sure my command came out in a chirpy, garbled mess instead of low demonish.

The woman lowered her palm over the tiny chest of the babe, swaddled up in a blue blankie, as a threat. She opened her mouth up in an unnatural yawn and let out a low hum. The move shut the door behind me and blasted me against it.

The babe was silent. It made no moves to protect itself. This demon babe was rumored to have unimaginable powers. Did the creature stun it with some sort of ability unnatural to this realm?

Very well. If it was going to fight dirty, then the crutches and the pants were coming off. I quickly unwrapped my bandaged legs and feet, releasing my claws, but also thoroughly confusing the possessed creature. I picked up one of the crutches and detached one of the components that doubled as a stake. I only had two left and I only had two shots at getting it right.

The creature stretched the face of its possessed body in that yawn again, but this time it spewed a chemical mist. I coughed to prevent the toxic fumes from entering my lungs. Hey, I’m a birdie with delicate sensibilities. Damn it! These guys just kept upping the threats.

 

Adi Hernández “Untitled Bake-Off”

Julio had been off sleeping, reading, and doing just about god-knows-what those three weeks nobody could find him, and in-between it all, he would find himself staring out through the window hoping he would one day go back to what he thought he could remember life to be. Since the accident, since the weather that day long ago, since his brother’s death, he stayed in the upper room of a pastel house that had somehow managed to stay intact. He had been stuck there, paging through the same three books he hadn’t read in a while, but he was beginning to think, maybe a trip outside could spare him from having to read them all over again. They made him sick to remember again.

To remember his hometown in Managua, Nicaragua. To remember the days when he and his brother would simply drop the bags of groceries they carried home to run off to the beach at the sight of a glimmer of water. To remember the nights outside their home eating papaya and waving off the heat those summer days created. To remember his mama and papa spending nights together cooking for the rest of the family just before they would have “uninvited” guests over. To remember his brother’s laugh when he fell into the pond searching for the sea serpent that supposedly lived there. To remember them again, and to realize they were too far to offer any help like he knew they would.

“It’s what I get… I guess.” he thought to himself.

Deb Jannerson “Poems”

first sight 

the only track in my discman’s 56-sleeve carrier that mentioned new orleans was about hookers.

i slipped the disc into its wide plastic mouth anyway, lit a funk ribbon between my ears as
the seventh-circle seraphim perched back from the trolley window, uninterrupted by its muffled bass.

removed from blood context, i offered myself to the necklace-strewn widowmaker branches, to the creaky car film-reeling academic excuses, to the jester-drunk women embracing on quarter corners.

agnostic phantoms marbled my barrier, warmth wet as a lover, leaned through anthony kiedis to hiss there is something here for you to find.

8/28/05

with two more weeks until the
begrudging unlock of the ivory tower, i
regressed into the house of the soot eagle

where i unset through the ticking, then
shattered offscreen.

in a vertiginous spot of mirror-image cruelty:
it really will be a canal street! the
sourdough words would not mix with
her fault-ridden lips.

my brain disappeared, impotent.

i had left its dormant shadow on
the opposite end of the interstate, and
almost expected it to survive.

 

Gary Zeiss “Thank You for Riding with Jesus”

I rode with Jesus the other day. Ten glorious, spirit filled miles. They were fun-filled, too. Yes, I was touched by the son of God himself, and sitting in the back seat of his 2014 Blue Passat (7EAD313), I felt as if I were being whisked away from all my cares.

Jesus asked if I believed in him. How could I say no?  He was sitting there, in the flesh, right in front of me. He would move his hands and the car would turn. He would move his feet

and the car would accelerate or slow down. Of course, Jesus was right there with me, every moment of this journey.

Good thing I became a believer quickly. The 405 was in one of its usual crowding phases, and Jesus was pulling motorcycle like lane splits. Give him this — he could drive like hell. While I was in his holy presence, the day seemed to get brighter. It was if the darkness relented to the holy glory of dawn.

I definitely felt as if I was being touched by an angel — and not just any angel, but the big J. We got off the 405 at La Tijera.

Jesus laid on the horn at the driver in front of us.

No effect.

“No turn on red” I said, pointing to the sign.

“That’s for you folks, not the son of God!” he laughed, almost rear-ending the Explorer with Utah plates that was standing at the light.

I almost thought I heard him mutter a curse word or two at the careful driver in front of us. I knew just then, What Would Jesus Do in traffic?  He’d be just like one of us — pissed off

at the slow driver in front of him, impatient, and ready to honk and curse at a moment’s notice. I felt very close to Jesus at that moment.

Matthew Bargas “Credo: On Truth”

“What is truth,” Pontus Pilate asked. The answer may not be as simple as most would think. In

this day and age of fake news and real news the question is just as relevant as it ever was. Our digital technology can fabricate anything, creat compelling arguments supporting or condemning anything anything, and who is to decide what is real and what is fake.

Aside from science and math, are there any universal truths, or are all truths relative? We hold these truths to be self evident? Really? What does that mean. If life liberty and pursuit of happiness are self evident why is there so much death and destruction, so much oppression, so much misery in our world. How about the divine right of kings? That ‘truth’ was believed by everyone centuries ago. Who knows what everyone will believe in the future?

And there is this excerpt from the song, Wonderful from the musical Wicked:

“We believe all sorts of things that aren’t true. We call it history. A man is called a traitor or a liberator. A rich man is a thief or a philanthropist. Is one a crusader or an invader. It’s all in which label is able to persist. There are precious few at ease with moral ambiguities. So act as though they don’t exist.”

 

Rachel Kurasz “Widow Maker Trees”

I ran into my house and locked the door. I was fine, I just drank too much, I told myself. The wind howled, branches were scratching at my door. I went to my bedroom and laid down on the bed hoping to get a good night’s sleep and deal with the hangover in the morning. The scratching sounds continued and sounded as if they were right at my bedroom door.

I was scared, I was drunk, and I finally decided I needed to say the prayer, fuck it, being foolish was better than ending up like that poor woman’s corpse.

“As I lay me down to sleep I pray…” Shit. “As I lay me down to sleep I pray…” Fuck.

The scratches grew louder.

“As I lay me down to sleep I pray…” I was so drunk and scared that I had completely forgotten the damn prayer. I kept repeating the first line over and over again. And then I saw it. I saw a small branch crawling through the space in the door frame. I prayed faster.

All in all, it was a wonderful trip full of fun, food, and productivity! The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop’s new anthology CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos & Sourcebook for Creative Writing (eds. Rita Banerjee & Diana Norma Szokolyai, May 15, 2018) can be pre-ordered form C&R Press here!  Until next time, stay wonderful NOLA!

–Rachel Kurasz, CWW Media & Communications Intern

Apply to the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Spring in New Orleans (April 13-16) Writing Retreat by March 20!

Apply to the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Spring in New Orleans (April 13-16, 2018) Writing Retreat by March 20, 2018 on cww.submmittable.com!  Known for its Spanish and French architecture, live jazz, cajun food, and street festivals, New Orleans offers an inspirational and one-of-a-kind experience for writers.  Our retreat features multi-genre workshops, as well as craft seminars and time to write.

The faculty includes award-winning writers & a top NYC literary agent: Rita BanerjeeDiana Norma Szokolyai, and Natalie Kimber. All genres welcome. Genres include playwriting, nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. The cost of the retreat is $1200, which includes tuition, lodging, and some meals.

If you’d like to join us in NOLA, please apply by March 20, 2018 by submitting 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 info of Two Personal References (Name, Email, Address, Phone, Relationship to Applicant)

Due to limited seats, early applications are encouraged. Applications are due March 20, 2018.

apply

Deadline: March 20, 2018

Schedule of Classes:

Featured Faculty:

Natalie Kimber is an Associate Literary Agent at The Rights Factory, and started her career in publishing as an assistant to Muriel Nellis at Literary and Creative Artists Inc., and later worked at Georgetown University’s Booklab, where she developed academic and trade book proposals, fiction titles, and edited books for New Academia PublishingShe joined with The Rights Factory in 2014, helping the Toronto based agency expand its operations in New York.  She represents a wide array of writers in the adult trade fiction and nonfiction space, and particularly favors books that showcase truly creative writing and books that unveil meaningful new ways to see the world and ourselves in it. She currently lives in Weehawken, NJ, overlooking the Hudson River and Manhattan, where she founded the Weehawken Writers and Artists Studio with a view to help creatives of all kinds collaborate, learn, and share their creative process through workshops and events.

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, May 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.

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).

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. This amount is non-refundable. The remainder of tuition will be due by March 15, 2018. Our standard and preferred method of payment is PayPal invoice. You can also mail us a check.

What is included in tuition?

  • creative writing workshops
  • craft of writing seminars
  • lodging in NOLA
  • breakfasts & some other meals
  • walking tour of downtown New Orleans and Cafe du Monde

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

Yes. The tuition-only option is $675.  For more information, please inquire at info@cambridgewritersworkshop.org.

What are accommodations like?

During the retreat, we will be staying in the lovely Algiers Point neighborhood, just a short ferry ride away from the Historic French Quarter.  Writers will be staying at our retreat house and at a hotel nearby.  Rooms at the retreat house will be provided to early registrants first.

 

Application Deadlines for Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Writing Retreats in New Orleans, Paris, and Granada Approaching!

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Spring in New Orleans Writing Retreat will take place from April 13-16, 2018. Known for its Spanish and French architecture, live jazz, cajun food, and street festivals, New Orleans offers an inspirational and one-of-a-kind environment for creative writers. During the retreat, we will be staying in the lovely Algiers Point neighborhood, just a short ferry ride away from the Historic French Quarter.  Our retreat features multi-genre workshops, as well as craft seminars and time to write.  The faculty includes award-winning writers and literary agent Rita BanerjeeDiana Norma Szokolyai, and Natalie Kimber. There will one-on-one consultations with our literary agent, and workshop genres include nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. If you’d like to join us in New Orleans, please apply online at cww.submittable.com by March 20, 2018.

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Summer in Paris Writing Retreat will take place from July 25-30, 2018.  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!   The faculty includes award-winning writers Kathleen Spivack, Kristina Marie DarlingRita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai.  Genres include poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. If you’d like to join us in Paris, France, please apply online at cww.submittable.com by June 1, 2018.

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Summer in Granada Writing Retreat will take place from August 1-6, 2018 in 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 on your existing manuscript, or look to the beauty and warmth of Granada to inspire all-new projects.  Faculty includes Tim Horvath (fiction), Rita Banerjee (poetry, fiction), and Diana Norma Szokolyai (poetry, nonfiction).  If you’d like to join us in Granada, please apply online at cww.submittable.com by June 15, 2018.

To learn more about our upcoming writing retreats, visit the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop table (T403) at the AWP Bookfair in Tampa, FL from March 7-10, 2018!

Applications Open for CWW Spring in New Orleans Writing Retreat (April 13-16, 2018)!

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Spring in New Orleans Writing Retreat will take place from April 13-16, 2018.  Known for its Spanish and French architecture, live jazz, cajun food, and street festivals, New Orleans offers an inspirational and one-of-a-kind experience for writers.  Our retreat features multi-genre workshops, as well as craft seminars and time to write.

The faculty includes award-winning writers & a top NYC literary agent: Rita BanerjeeDiana Norma Szokolyai, and Natalie Kimber. All genres welcome. Genres include playwriting, nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. The cost of the retreat is $1150, which includes tuition, lodging, and some meals.

If you’d like to join us in NOLA, please apply by March 20, 2018 by submitting 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 info of Two Personal References (Name, Email, Address, Phone, Relationship to Applicant)

Due to limited seats, early applications are encouraged. Applications due March 20, 2018.

applyDeadline: March 20, 2018

Featured Faculty:

Natalie Kimber is an Associate Literary Agent at The Rights Factory, and started her career in publishing as an assistant to Muriel Nellis at Literary and Creative Artists Inc., and later worked at Georgetown University’s Booklab, where she developed academic and trade book proposals, fiction titles, and edited books for New Academia PublishingShe joined with The Rights Factory in 2014, helping the Toronto based agency expand its operations in New York.  She represents a wide array of writers in the adult trade fiction and nonfiction space, and particularly favors books that showcase truly creative writing and books that unveil meaningful new ways to see the world and ourselves in it. She currently lives in Weehawken, NJ, overlooking the Hudson River and Manhattan, where she founded the Weehawken Writers and Artists Studio with a view to help creatives of all kinds collaborate, learn, and share their creative process through workshops and events.

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, May 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 received her doctorate in Comparative Literature from Harvard and her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington.  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.

Version 2Diana 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).

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. This amount is non-refundable. The remainder of tuition will be due by March 15, 2018. Our standard and preferred method of payment is PayPal invoice. You can also mail us a check.

What is included in tuition?

  • creative writing workshops
  • craft of writing seminars
  • lodging in NOLA
  • breakfasts & some other meals
  • walking tour of downtown New Orleans and Cafe du Monde

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

Yes. For more information, please inquire at info@cambridgewritersworkshop.org.

What are accommodations like?

During the retreat, we will be staying in the lovely Algiers Point neighborhood, just a short ferry ride away from the Historic French Quarter.  Writers will be staying at our retreat house and at a hotel nearby.  Rooms at the retreat house will be provided to early registrants first.

CWW Alumni News: Aaron Graham’s “Blood Stripes” to be published by Sundress Publications

AaronGrahamPhotoWe’re thrilled at the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop to hear that Aaron Graham’s manuscript, Blood Stripes, will be published in 2019 by Sundress Publications. Aaron, an alumnus of our 2017 New Orleans workshop, hails from Glenrock, Wyoming, which boasts seven bars, six churches, a single 4-way stop sign and a population of 1159. He has twice served as editor of the Squaw Valley Review and is currently the assistant poetry editor for The Tishman Review. Aaron is a veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq where he served with the The Marine Corps Human Intelligence and Counterterrorism Task Force Middle East as an analyst and linguist. He is an alumnus of Squaw Valley Poets and the Ashbury Home School and was the Cecilia Baker Memorial Visiting Scholar at Seaside Writers. His poetry has won the Penumbra Prize and f(r)iction Magazine’s Best Poem for Summer 2017. He has also been nominated for Best of the Net. Aaron is currently finishing his Ph.D. in Literature at Emory University, hosting elaborating tea parties for Disney Princesses and his daughter Alexi and holding down an English Lectureship at Kennesaw State University.

Proposal

So marry me with my guns
on and with a big bag of
earth plant a couple of
morning lights some solar
lights, the kinds
that often come up stolen.
We have a headstone, a big one,
So put bricks down, dig the dirt
in between. I put flowers there ever
since I bought that plot to be buried
in.

I wore my best wig, and put her Mole
on my heel. My brother brought his actor
friends and they performed late into each
night
and gave away pink umbrellas.
A week before her birthday, we held her
wake and we didn’t know that at a birthday
wake there is a raising, then a lowering of
the casket.

Aaron Graham

CWW Spring in New Orleans Retreat Faculty & Playwright Dipika Guha Awarded Princeton Hodder Fellowship

Congratulations to our 2017 Spring in New Orleans Faculty and playwright Dipika Guha for being one of five artists selected for the Princeton Hodder Fellowship.  Hodder Fellows may be writers, composers, choreographers, visual artists, performance artists, or other kinds of artists or humanists who have, as the program outlines, “much more than ordinary intellectual and literary gifts.”

Dipika Guha will join the ranks of former fellowship recipients including novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and playwright Will Eno.  As a Hodder Fellow, Guha will be working on a play about the history of partitions, homelands, and the politics of migration.

Dipika Guha is a playwright raised in India, Russia, and the United Kingdom. She was the inaugural recipient of the Shakespeare’s Sister Playwriting Award with the Lark Play Development Center, A Room of Her Own, and the Hedgebrook Women Playwrights Festival. Her play The Art of Gaman was developed at the Ground Floor at Berkeley Rep and topped the Kilroys List 2016. Her other plays include I Enter the Valley (Theatreworks New Play Festival 2016, Ruby Prize Finalist 2016), Mechanics of Love (Crowded Fire Theatre, Two by For, SIS Productions), Blown Youth (published by Playscripts), and The Rules (San Francisco Playhouse). Recent commissions include Yoga Play for South Coast Repertory Theatre and a translation of The Merry Wives of Windsor for Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Upcoming commissions include a play for Playwrights Horizons Theatre School, the McCarter Theatre’s Princeton Slavery Project, and in collaboration with Jeremy Cohen a new play for ACT. Guha is currently a playwright-in-residence at the Playwrights Foundation and an artist-in-residence at the Orville Schell Center for Human Rights at Yale Law School.

Laissez les bons temps rouler! 🎶 🎉 Join our 24-hour Writing #BakeOff Live on Twitter!

Dear Writers,

Greetings from sultry New Orleans!  Our Spring in New Orleans Writing Retreat kicked off on Thursday evening with writers descending on NOLA from all four corners of North America.  After a lovely orientation, meet and greets, and a discussion of our current writing projects, we were off to dine and wine and roll our sleeves up!  On Friday, after a home-made breakfast, Rita Banerjee kicked off our writing seminars with a class on “Character Development and the Law of Desire.”  From Hamlet to Tennessee Williams to Ben Percy and Siri Hustvedt, Rita and her students investigated what made their narratives and characters really tick, the charge between dynamic and typed, masked characters, and how many names desire could take.  Writing prompts and heated exchanges abounded, followed by a break-out writing session and then a Louisiana lunch.  In the afternoon, Emily Nemens taught a wonderful class on “The Art of Storytelling,” in which she examine the interplay between visual images, sculptures, artifacts, architectures, and the maps of streets and things, with the very process of creating evocative lyrical and narrative writing.  After her seminar and prompts, our writers took a tour on the grand Mississippi, shuttling ourselves against a moody blue sky and scatting waves to the delightful and decadent French Quarter in downtown New Orleans.  There we posed as Americans in Paris in Cafe du Monde, grabbing coffee with chicory, fresh beignets, and swapping techniques about speculative fiction and narrative craft for POC. We followed through, with a walking art and historical tour of New Orleans, in which Emily Nemens guided us to the homes and haunts of literary giants such as Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, and Anne Rice, introduced us to the local visual art scenes and galleries of New Orleans, strolled us past cemeteries and cathedrals, and narrated the history of how sugarcane and slavery had helped build the lofty, neoclassical homes of the Garden District.  After toasts over roti and jerk curry at a wonderful local Caribbean restaurant, we were back home to write and plot and think.

Our second day of classes kicked off with Diana Norma Szokolyai’s class, “Writing in the Lyric Register,” in which she examined the relationship between music, writing, and improvisation.  She discussed how writers quantify the lyric register and gestures of other writers with Kazim Ali’s Anais Nin: An Unprofessional Study, and discussed how writers from the French Troubadours to Maya Sonenberg used the lyric register to structure and charge their creative work.

And in just one hour, we will be launching out 24-hour creative writing bake off with playwright and Princeton Hodder Fellow, Dipika Guha.   Dipika writes, “A bake-off is a playwriting exercise or writerly dare popularized by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Paula Vogel.  The dare is to write a play in a fixed span of time 24 hours in response to a list of shared elements. We will begin with a seminar on Saturday when we’ll visit our playwriting toolbox and look at devices, forms and structures available for our use.  At this meeting we’ll choose six elements to include in our writing drawn from the city of New Orleans, seeking inspiration from its architecture, history and myths. After the seminar you will go away and write until the next evening.  On Sunday over food and drink, we will read your bake-offs together and celebrate your progress. Bake-offs are not critiqued.”

We welcome all of our writers and readers from around the world to join our 24-hour creative writing bake-off remotely and on-line.  If you would like to participate in our 24-hour bake-off challenge, please tweet to us @CamWritersWkshp with the tag #BakeOff.  The challenge of the Bake-Off is simple: write 1 complete narrative (as a play or screenplay, a short story or novella, a novel if you dare, an essay or collection of essays, or a series of linked poems or collection) in a span of 24 hours.  Your work must have a beginning, middle, and end, and you must complete the challenge with 24 hours.  The clock starts at 1 pm Central Time on Saturday March 25, and ends exactly at 1 pm Central Time on Sunday March 26.  So join us, and tell us about your work and process with the tag #BakeOff at @CamWritersWkshp.  Happy Writing!

Et bon courage, mes amis!

Rita Banerjee
CWW Creative Director
New Orleans – 3.25.17

 

Reminder: Upcoming Deadlines for Spring & Summer Writing Retreats

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is offering scholarships in the amount of $100 – $200 for our Spring and Summer Writing Retreats in New Orleans (March 23 – 26, 2017), Portland, OR (April 22-24, 2017), and Granada, Spain (August 2-6, 2017).  Deadline for our first Scholarship Applications is March 5, 2017.  Apply at http://cww.submittable.com!

WRITING RETREATS with the supportive faculty of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop will take place in New Orleans (March 23–26), Portland (April 22–24), Granada, Spain (August 2–6), and Rockport, MA (October 13-15). Faculty include Dipika GuhaEmily NemensAdam Reid SextonKerry CohenRita BanerjeeTim HorvathAlexandria Marzano-LesnevichMaya Sonenbergand Diana Norma Szokolyai. Genres include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, playwriting, and hybrid.  First scholarship applications due by March 5, 2017 at http://cww.submittable.com!

  • 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).

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Spring in New Orleans Writing Retreat will take place from March 23-26, 2017, and will coincide with the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival.  Known for its Spanish and French architecture, live jazz, cajun food, and street festivals, New Orleans offers an inspirational and one-of-a-kind environment for creative writers. During the retreat, we will be staying in the lovely Algiers Point neighborhood, just a short ferry ride away from the Historic French Quarter.  Our retreat features multi-genre workshops, as well as craft seminars and time to write.  The faculty includes award-winning writers Dipika Guha, Emily Nemens, Rita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai. Genres include playwriting, nonfiction, fiction, and poetry.  The cost of the retreat is $750, which includes tuition, lodging, and some meals.

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Spring in Portland Writing Retreat will take place from April 22-24, 2017.  While you’re in the home of writers Cheryl Strayed and Ursula K. Le Guin, feel free to go bicycling and explore the terrain, hike, or relax at local cafes for people watching—no matter how you choose to spend your time, this city is full inspiration. We will be staying in the Alberta Arts District during the retreat, an area that is sure to inspire our participants and help them create.  The retreat offers multi-genre workshops, as well as craft seminars and time to write. The faculty includes award-winning writers Adam Reid Sexton, Kerry Cohen, Rita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai. Genres include fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.  The cost of the retreat is $750, which includes tuition, lodging, and some meals.

And the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Summer in Granada Writing Retreat will take place from August 2-6, 2017.  Located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains in Andalucía, Granada is one of the gems of Spain and has inspired writers from Washington Irving to Salman Rushdie to Ali Smith. Let the old city stimulate your writing with its winding streets, Moorish history, and evocative landscapes.  Work on your existing manuscript, or look to the beauty and warmth of Granada to inspire all-new projects.  During the retreat, we will be staying at the Hotel Guadalupe, just a short walk from the Alhambra.  The retreat offers multi-genre workshops, as well as craft seminars and time to write. The faculty includes award-winning writers Tim Horvath, Alexandria Marzano-LesnevichRita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai. Genres include fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.  The cost of the retreat is $2950, which includes tuition, lodging, and daily breakfast.

applyFirst Deadline: March 5, 2017

Spring in New Orleans Writing Retreat Class Schedule & February 25, 2017 Deadline!

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The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Spring in New Orleans Writing Retreat will take place from March 23-26, 2017, and will coincide with the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival.  Known for its Spanish and French architecture, live jazz, cajun food, and street festivals, New Orleans offers an inspirational and one-of-a-kind environment for creative writers. During the retreat, we will be staying in the lovely Algiers Point neighborhood, just a short ferry ride away from the Historic French Quarter.  Our retreat features multi-genre workshops, as well as craft seminars and time to write.  The faculty includes award-winning writers Dipika Guha, Emily Nemens, Rita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai. Genres include playwriting, nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. The deadline to apply is February 25th, 2017.

applyDeadline: February 25, 2017

Schedule of Classes:

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The Art of Storytelling & New Orleans Tour  (with Emily Nemens)
A picture’s worth a thousand words, but what if there’s words with that picture? In this workshop we’ll explore the many intersections of art and writing, by considering poetry, fiction,and criticism about and including visual arts, and then look at our own works that combine language and text. Using prompts from local art and architecture, we’ll explore the range of expression from ekphrasis to graphic narratives, and put our heads together to discover the best means of storytelling for a range of different narratives. Illustration expertise is not required, but a curiosity about visual arts and how they can be employed in literary work is necessary.

Bake-Off (with Dipika Guha)

We will gather in one of the most evocative, haunting cities in the world and together write and read out loud our ‘bake-offs’. A bake-off is a playwriting exercise or writerly dare popularized by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Paula Vogel. The dare is to write a play in a fixed span of time 24 hours in response to a list of shared elements. We will begin with a seminar on Saturday when we’ll visit our playwriting toolbox and look at devices, forms and structures available for our use. At this meeting we’ll choose six elements to include in our writing drawn from the city of New Orleans, seeking inspiration from its architecture, history and myths. After the seminar you will go away and write until the next evening. On Sunday over food and drink, we will read your bake-offs together and celebrate your progress. Bake-offs are not critiqued.

Character Development & the Law of Desire (with Rita Banerjee)

Femme fatales, gumshoe detectives, star-crossed lovers, wicked stepmothers, wise fools, empathetic anti-heroes: dynamic and archetypal characters can be key to making a good story or lyrical piece tick and pulling in the reader deeper into your creative work. In this workshop, we will discuss how dynamic and archetypal characters can help structure stories, propel narratives forwards, and how each character’s desire provides interesting ethical dilemmas and emotional spectrums to narratives and verse. We will learn about the building blocks of creating strong, unforgettable characters, discuss the connection between desire and plot, and learn how playing with persona can help liberate nonfictional stories and lyrical poems. 

Writing in the Lyric Register (with Diana Norma Szokolyai)

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

Featured Faculty:

dipikaDipika Guha was born in Calcutta and raised in India, Russia and the United Kingdom. She is the inaugural recipient of the Shakespeare’s Sister Playwriting Award with the Lark Play Development Center, A Room of Her Own and the Hedgebrook Women Playwrights Festival. Her plays include  The Art of Gaman (Berkeley Rep Ground Floor ’16, KILROYS LIST ’16, Relentless Award Semi-Finalist), I Enter the Valley (Theatreworks New Play Festival ’16, Southern Rep New Play Festival‘16), Mechanics of Love (Crowded Fire Theatre, Upcoming: Two by For, NYC) and Blown Youth (Wallflower Theatricals, UK). She is currently working on Yoga Play, a commission for South Coast Repertory Theatre, a translation of Merry Wives of Windsor for Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s PlayOn Project and a play for the McCarter Theatre’s Princeton Slavery Project. Most recently her work has been developed at Playwrights Horizons, Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, Roundabout Underground, McCarter Theatre’s Sallie B. Goodman Residency, New Georges, Shotgun Players, the Sam French Off Off Broadway Short Play Festival, Southern Rep, 24 Hour Plays on Broadway and the Magic Theatre amongst others. Dipika is currently a visiting artist at the Schell Center for International Human Rights at Yale Law School and a resident playwright at the Playwrights Foundation. MFA: Yale School of Drama under Paula Vogel.  Dipika will be a Hodder Fellow in Playwrighting at Princeton University from 2017-2018.

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Emily Nemens is coeditor and prose editor of The Southern Review, a literary quarterly published at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Her editorial work has been featured in Writer’s Digest, draft: a journal of process, and on LeanIn.org, and her selections from The Southern Review have recently appeared in Best Mystery Writing 2016 and Best American Nonrequired Reading 2015. She studied art history and studio art at Brown University, and before moving to Louisiana to pursue an MFA in creative writing at LSU, she lived in Brooklyn and worked in editorial capacities at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Center for Architecture. Alongside her editorial work, Emily maintains active writing and illustration practices. Her fiction and essays have recently appeared in The Gettysburg Review, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and n+1, and she is working on a linked story collection about spring training baseball. As an illustrator she’s collaborated with Harvey Pekar on a Studs Terkel anthology, painted miniature portraits of all the women in Congress, and recently published her first New Yorker cartoon. Follow her at @emilynemens.

ritabanerjeeRita Banerjee is the Executive Creative Director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop and teaches at Rutgers University.  She received her doctorate in Comparative Literature from Harvard and her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington, and her writing appears in Poets & Writers, The Rumpus, Painted Bride Quarterly, Mass Poetry, Hyphen Magazine, Los Angeles Review of BooksElectric Literature, VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, AWP WC&C Quarterly, Queen Mob’s Tea House, Riot Grrrl Magazine, The Fiction Project, Objet d’Art, KBOO Radio’s APA Compass, and elsewhere. Her first collection of poems, Cracklers at Night (Finishing Line Press), received First Honorable Mention for Best Poetry Book of 2011-2012 at the Los Angeles Book Festival, and her novella, A Night with Kali, in Approaching Footsteps (Spider Road Press), released in November 2016. Finalist for the 2015 Red Hen Press Benjamin Saltman Award and the 2016 Aquarius Press Willow Books Literature Award, she is currently working on a novel, a book on South Asian literary modernisms, and a collection of lyric essays.

DianaNormaDiana Norma Szokolyai is a writer and Executive Artistic Director of Cambridge Writers’ Workshop. 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. Her poetry-music collaboration with Flux Without Pause led to their collaboration “Space Mothlight” hitting #16 on the Creative Commons Hot 100 list in 2015, and can be found in the curated WFMU Free Music Archive. Szokolyai’s work has been recently reviewed by The London Grip and published in Quail Bell Magazine, Lyre Lyre, The Fiction Project, The Boston Globe, Dr. Hurley’s Snake Oil Cure, The Dudley Review and Up the Staircase Quarterly, as well as anthologized in The Highwaymen NYC #2, Other Countries: Contemporary Poets Rewiring History, Always Wondering and Teachers as Writers. Szokolyai earned her Ed.M. in Arts in Education from Harvard University and her M.A. in French Literature from the University of Connecticut, while she completed coursework at the Sorbonne and research on Romani writers in Paris. She is currently at work on three books and recording an album of poetry & music.

applyDeadline: February 25, 2017

Cambridge Writers’ Workshop 2017 Writing Retreats – Deadlines Approaching!

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Thank you to everyone who joined the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop at AWP 2017 in Washington D.C. We wanted to let all our new writers and readers know about the upcoming deadlines for our Spring and Summer 2017 writing retreats.

apply

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Spring in New Orleans Writing Retreat will take place from March 23-26, 2017, and will coincide with the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival.  Known for its Spanish and French architecture, live jazz, cajun food, and street festivals, New Orleans offers an inspirational and one-of-a-kind environment for creative writers. During the retreat, we will be staying in the lovely Algiers Point neighborhood, just a short ferry ride away from the Historic French Quarter.  Our retreat features multi-genre workshops, as well as craft seminars and time to write.  The faculty includes award-winning writers Dipika Guha, Emily Nemens, Rita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai. Genres include playwriting, nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. The deadline to apply is February 25th, 2017.

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Spring in Portland Writing Retreat will take place from April 22-24, 2017.  While you’re in the home of writers Cheryl Strayed and Ursula K. Le Guin, feel free to go bicycling and explore the terrain, hike, or relax at local cafes for people watching—no matter how you choose to spend your time, this city is full inspiration. We will be staying in the Alberta Arts District during the retreat, an area that is sure to inspire our participants and help them create.  The retreat offers multi-genre workshops, as well as craft seminars and time to write. The faculty includes award-winning writers Adam Reid Sexton, Kerry Cohen, Rita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai. Genres include fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. The deadline to apply is March 15th, 2017.

And the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Summer in Granada Writing Retreat will take place from August 2-6, 2017.  Located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains in Andalucía, Granada is one of the gems of Spain and has inspired writers from Washington Irving to Salman Rushdie to Ali Smith. Let the old city stimulate your writing with its winding streets, Moorish history, and evocative landscapes.  Work on your existing manuscript, or look to the beauty and warmth of Granada to inspire all-new projects.  During the retreat, we will be staying at the Hotel Guadalupe, just a short walk from the Alhambra.  The retreat offers multi-genre workshops, as well as craft seminars and time to write. The faculty includes award-winning writers Tim Horvath, Alexandria Marzano-LesnevichRita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai. Genres include fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. The deadline to apply is March 15th, 2017.

Looking forward to seeing you this Spring and Summer.

In solidarity, and writing,
Cambridge Writers’ Workshop

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