CWW Presents: WORD — A Brooklyn Book Festival Reading

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop will be hosting a reading during the annual Brooklyn Book Festival in Brooklyn, New York. The reading will be held on Saturday, September 15 at WORD Bookstore (126 Franklin St. Brooklyn, NY 11222) from 7 pm to 8:30 pm. Come visit our reading to hear from ten amazing authors who will be sharing some of their latest work.

Check out our incredible reading list:

 

Stephen Aubrey is a Brooklyn-based writer and dramaturg. He is co-artistic director and resident playwright of The Assembly theater company. His plays have been produced at The New Ohio Theater, The Living Theater, The Flea Theater, The Collapsable Hole, and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. His writing has appeared in Electric Literature, Publishing Genius, and The Brooklyn Review. He teaches creative writing and literature in the CUNY system.

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

Lisa Marie Basile is the author of APOCRYPHALand the chapbooks Andalucia and war/lock. She is the editor-in-chief of Luna Luna Magazine, and her poetry and essays have appeared in PANK, Tin House, Coldfront, The Nervous Breakdown, The Huffington Post, Best American Poetry, PEN American Center, Dusie, The Ampersand Review, and other publications. She’s been featured in the NY Daily News, Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls and on Ravishly.com. She holds an MFA from The New School and is working on a poetic novella. Basile is the author of “Dispelling the Myth of the Poet” in CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing (C&R Press, May 2018).

Madeleine Barnes is a poet and visual artist from Pittsburgh living in Brooklyn. She is a doctoral fellow at CUNY’s Ph.D. Program in English, and the recipient of a New York State Summer Writers Institute Fellowship, two Academy of American Poets prizes, and the Princeton Poetry Prize. Her second chapbook, Light Experiments, is forthcoming from Porkbelly Press this year, and her protest embroideries were recently featured in Boston Accent Lit. She serves as Poetry Editor at Cordella Magazine.

Alexander Carrigan is the Communications and PR manager for the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop and has been with the organization since 2014. He is currently an assistant editor with the American Correctional Association. He has had fiction, poetry, reviews (film, TV, and literature), and nonfiction work published in Mercurial StoriesPoictesme Literary Journal, Amendment Literary Journal, Quail Bell Magazine, Luna Luna Magazine, Rebels: Comic Anthology at VCU, Realms YA Literary Magazine, and Life in 10 Minutes. He lives in Alexandria, VA. Carrigan is the author of “First Person Perspective Flash Fiction Prompts” in the Exercises section of CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing (C&R Press, May 2018) and was one of the anthology’s assistant editors.

Elizabeth Devlin, with her haunting combination of lilting voice and enchanting Autoharp, is a self-produced NYC singer- songwriter. Devlin defies traditional musical structure with many of her songs, building miniature narratives and magical worlds where characters, fantasies and time collide. Devlin has toured nationally, internationally, & performs in venues throughout NYC’s 5 boroughs. “Orchid Mantis,” her newest full-length album, was released in February 2017 at Sidewalk Café’s Winter Anti-folk Festival in NYC.

Jonah Kruvant’s successful first novel, The Last Book Ever Written, a dystopian satire set in a futuristic society where creativity is illegal, was published by PanAm Books in April 2015. His work has also appeared in Digital Americana, On the Verge, Bewildering Stories, Fiction on the Web, the Scarlet Leaf Review, and LIMN Literary and Arts Journal. I received an MFA degree in Fiction from Goddard College. Read about my work, book tour, and blog at www.jonahkruvant.com.

Emily Smith is currently an MFA student in nonfiction at Columbia University. Her work has appeared in The Rumpus, Buzzfeed, Brooklyn Magazine, and many others. She’s previously worked as a Contributing Blogger for Ploughshares and a reviewer at Kirkus Reviews. You can follow her on Twitter at @esmithwrites.

 

DianVersion 2a Norma Szokolyai recently received honorable mention  in the 87th Annual Writers’ Digest Writing Competition for her poem “Shadows of the Pantry,” based on the experiences of her grandmother in war-torn Hungary, which will be featured in the Writers’ Digest Collection forthcoming in November 2018. She is the editor of CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos & Sourcebook for Creative Writing (C&R Press, 2018). She’s also founding Executive Artistic Director of Cambridge Writers’ Workshop. Her poetry chapbook, Parallel Sparrows, received honorable mention for Best Poetry Book at the 2014 Paris Book Festival and her first poetry collection, Roses in the Snow placed first runner-up for Best Poetry Book at the 2009 DIY Book Festival. She is also author of a feminist rewriting of a classic fairytale for Brooklyn Art Library’s The Fiction Project, entitled Beneath the Surface: Blue Beard, Remixed. Szokolyai’s poetry and prose has been published in MER VOX Quarterly, Snapdragon Journal, VIDA Review, Quail Bell Magazine, The Boston Globe, Luna Luna Magazine, Up the Staircase Quarterly, and has been anthologized in Other Countries: Contemporary Poets Rewiring History, Teachers as Writers, Always Wondering, and Our Last Walk. 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.

Amanda TorontoAmanda Toronto received her Ph.D. in English and American literature from New York University where she focused on contemporary American literature, art, and religion. She lives with her family in New York City and is at work on her first novel.

 

Devynity Wray is a Black Expressionist (artist, writer, performer, and poet) who graduated from the Fiorello LaGuardia High School of Music & Arts and Performing Arts with an Arts Regents Diploma. She also earned her Bachelor’s of the Arts Cum Laude in Africana, Puerto-Rican and Latino Studies from Hunter College.  Devynity was a slam team member with the Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe in 2002 which placed 3rd that year at the National Poetry Slam Contest. Her poem “Black Girl Manifesto” has also been published in Hill Harper’s critically acclaimed Letters to a Young Sister. Born and raised in Queens, New York, Devynity’s work embodies an amalgam of her intimate experiences growing up as a woman of color in the inner city and the struggles of its inhabitants. She is currently working on projects in music, video and on the page that will piece all that she has to offer into coherent experiences for her audience.

 

We hope to see you there!

 

New York Premiere of Dipika Guha’s Play – Mechanics of Love – at the Paradise Factory (September 8 – 24, 2016)

DipikaGuha-MechanicsofLoveThe Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is proud to announce the New York premiere of Mechanics of Love, a new play by the talented playwright Dipika Guha, a CWW affiliate and dear friend.  Mechanics of Love, which is produced by To-By-Four Productions, a female-driven theatre and film production company dedicated to making work by women, for everyone, and directed by Elena Araoz, will play at the Paradise Factory in New York City from September 8 – 24, 2016.

In the play, a man who forgets everything falls in love with a ballerina who forgets nothing. That is, until she falls in love with him. And his wife. And the mechanic. This rapidly moving, madcap comedy explores how we love, who we choose, and the cost of making sense of it all.  On Mechanics of Love, Mina Morita writes:

“Written with a finely tuned and absurd lilt, wry poetry, and unnerving humor, her plays break open character stereotypes piece by piece to reveal the shared and vulnerable underbelly of our humanity. She creates worlds that exist beyond the traditional psychological realism of most American theatre, and employs the poetry of unexpected pairings and motives to capture a more truthful human experience.  Love is that intangible force that has assured the growth of humankind and our survival, driven the creation of entire industries, and caused artists to go mad trying to capture its essence. In Mechanics of Love, Guha unveils ‘a mythical European city, pressed up against a communist state’ that has recently fallen. The citizens are suddenly awakened to the possibility of being anyone, or falling in love with anyone… and everyone! It is a moment when cultural norms are being rewritten.”

Dipika Guha’s Mechanics of Love had its world premiere at the Crowded Fire Theater in San Francisco, CA in February 2016.  The cast of this mad-cap love dramedy includes actors Victoria Frings, Anastasia Olowin, Eric Miler, and Sathya Sridharan.  Performances will be held at the Paradise Factory (64 E 4th St, New York, New York 10003) and will take place on Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30pm and Friday and Saturday at 8pm with matinees on Saturday, September 17 & 24 and Sunday, September 11 & 18 at 2pm, and an opening night performance on Monday, September 12 at 7:30pm. Tickets are available online at www.tobyforproductions.com or by calling 1-800-838-3006.

DipikaGuhaDipika 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 Fellowship with The Lark Playwrights Development Center, A Room of Her Own and Hedgebrook. Her plays include I ENTER the VALLEY (Upcoming; Theatreworks New Play Festival, Finalist Ruby Prize ’15); THE ART of GAMAN (KILROY LIST 2016, Upcoming: Berkeley Rep Ground Floor), MECHANICS of LOVE (Crowded Fire Theatre) and UNRELIABLE(developed at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre). She is currently under commission from South Coast Rep, Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Playwrights Horizons Theatre School.

Her work has been developed at Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, The Atlantic Theatre Company, the Drama League, Cutting Ball Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, New Georges, Roundabout Underground, Shotgun Players, Red Bull Theatre, Leviathan Theatre, Naked Angels, The Cherry Lane Theatre, One Coast Collaboration, The Sam French OOB Festival, The 24 Hour Plays on Broadway and the Tobacco Factory (UK) amongst others. She’s been awarded residencies at the Hermitage Artist Residency, Djerassi Resident Artists Program, SPACE at Ryder Farm, McCarter Theatre’s Sallie B.Goodman Residency, Ucross Artists Residency and the Rasmuson Foundation in Sitka, Alaska. She’s an alumnus of Ars Nova Playgroup, the Dramatists Guild Fellows Program, Soho Rep W/D Lab, the Women’s Project Lab & the Ma-Yi Writer’s Lab.

Dipika received her BA in English Literature from University College London, was a Frank Knox Fellow at Harvard University and received her MFA in Playwriting at the Yale School of Drama under Paula Vogel. She 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 in San Francisco. Despite a long run in the United States she still drinks tea. 

Bazodee – a film by Claire Ince (CWW Alumna) reviewed by Anna-Celestrya Carr

Bazodee: a state of dizziness or confusion often used with regards to love or infatuation. In other words, caught up in a magical moment. I experienced this last week when I attended the international premier of Bazodee at the Playstation Theater, in the heart of Time’s Square.

Bazodee is a film combining the styles of a Bollywood musical, the American rom-com and the cultural aspects of the Caribbean. Dubbed “Trini-wood” by members of the cast.  The story is of Anita Panchouri (Natalie Perera), the dutiful Indian daughter of a deep-in-debt businessman (Kabir Bedi), who is about to marry a family friend and wealthy Londoner (Staz Nair) when a chance encounter with a local singer, Lee de Leon (Soca music star Machel Montano in his film debut) sets things askew. After failing to become internationally known as a musician in London, Lee returns home to Trinidad disheartened.  In search of a muse, Lee agrees to perform at the engagement party for both families. Unable to deny their mutual attraction, and with the excitement of Carnival approaching, Anita must now choose between the answer to her family’s financial prayers and the possibility of real love.

Bazodee stars legendary soca and calypso artist Machel Montano, along with internationally acclaimed actor Kabir Bedi, Staz Nair, Natalie Perera, and scene stealers Valmike Rampersad, Cindy F. Daniel and Chris Paul Smith.

Representing the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop (CWW), I stood in line next to Roger Paperno, the director of the music video “I Forget,” one of the original songs written for the film. The line attending the premiere extended to Broadway and down the block. The pre-show reception continued past 7:30pm while people filled the theatre. In attendance were television, print and online media from several South Asian countries as well as from Europe and the US that covered the red carpet as Machel Montano and other main actors arrived.

Susanne Bohnet, CEO of Serafini Pictures and Producer of Bazodee, opened the night with “We at Serafini Pictures, we are here to bring you relevant stories from a view point which has nothing in common with the white supremacy of Hollywood. We believe to honor who we are and to celebrate who we are. Our films will feature in the leading rolls Africans, African Americans, Asians, West Indians, Latinos, the LGBT community and everybody who we feel deserves a strong voice and an authentic viewpoint. Bazodee is a passion project of many; it’s a film we’re very proud of.”

Directed by Todd Kessler, former show runner and a co-creator of Blue’s Clues. The cinematography captured the atmosphere of Carnival and the striking beauty of Trinidad and its people. The film boasts a full cast of people of color. Every actor in Bazodee is authentic, and their actual background is close, if not identical, to the background of the character they are playing. Most of the actors in the film are Trinidadian, which I found refreshing as compared with the standard Hollywood whitewashed rom-coms.

The film was a labor of love that was in development for 10 years. It was written by Claire Ince, who is an alumna of the 2015 Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Spring in Newport, RI Writing Retreat, where she workshopped the script.  All of us at the CWW are so proud of her and happy to see such a worthwhile project come to fruition.  I, myself am an alumna of the 2016 CWW Spring in Newport Writing Retreat, so it was a unique experience to be able to attend the event as a fellow CWW Newport alumna.

The film is a universal love story, one could say a bit cliché, but set against the backdrop of Carnival on the vivid, colorful islands of Trinidad and Tobago, it becomes fresh.  The film’s themes include unity and honesty triumphing in the face of adversity. The story has potential to be a serious drama exploring the struggle of an inter-racial/cultural relationship and the sacrifice Anita experiences for the sake of her family. However, Bazodee has a lightheartedness throughout.

Watching the film, I realized that as an Indigenous woman, I’ve never been in a theater that had an audience almost completely of people of color. It was incredible to witness the audience react to and connect with a film that was made predominantly for them. Sitting in the theater, there was a dialogue between the screen and the people. I believe there is a real sense of freedom when people are able to see themselves represented in media. The small moments of female friendships had the women in the audience cheering. Scenes that were written for the audience were a riot. One man yelled out “informer!” at a confrontational point of the movie.

The on-screen chemistry between Montano and Perera was believable and they looked good together. The most impressive performance was from UK-based Trini actor Valmike Rampersad. His creepy, uptight, lurking, always suspicious character Nikhil provided the gravity and suspense to the film. He was as charming off screen as he was villainous onscreen.

Soca is the heartbeat of the film. The music felt like another character throughout the story. Most of the musical numbers were taken from Montano’s discography reinterpreted and remixed for film. Passionate and beautiful. The film is a good introduction to soca music.

The most obvious flaw in the film was with the editing. There were some continuity issues, and there were points that could have been brought up earlier in the film that would have made the ending more authentic. However, that didn’t stop the film from being entertaining and becoming a valued part of Trinidad’s filmography.  The premiere ended with an after party and special live performance by Machel Montano and Friends.

Bazodee opens in movie theaters across the United States on August 5, 2016.

Anna-Celestrya Carr, CWW Media (Audio/Visual) Development Intern

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And from July 28-August 5, 2016, join the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop on our summer writing retreat to the cultural oasis of Granada, Spain. Located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains in Andalucía, Granada is one of the gems of Spain and has inspired writers from Washington Irving to Salman Rushdie to Ali Smith. Let the old city stimulate your writing with its winding streets, Moorish history, and evocative landscapes. Or, indulge in delicious Andalucían cuisine and traditional Arab baths. Work with world-renowned authors on your manuscript, or look to the beauty and warmth of Granada to inspire all-new projects.  In our past Granada retreat, faculty has included Peter Orner, Rita Banerjee, Diana Norma Szokolyai, and Elissa Lewis.

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

— Emily Smith & Alex Carrigan, CWW Managing Interns

November 2015 Pre-Thanksgiving Yoga and Writing Cleanse Review

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Last weekend, the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop continued its tradition of hosting a Pre-Thanksgiving Yoga and Writing Cleanse, this time at Sacred Sounds Yoga in Manhattan. Just like with previous years, the CWW offered participants the chance to cleanse their minds and bodies through yoga, and come out feeling rejuvenated and ready to write later on in the two-hour session.

The event commenced on Saturday, November 21st, at two p.m. Located on Bleecker Street, Sacred Sounds Yoga was our generous host for the weekend. After being provided with yoga mats, blocks, blankets, and bolsters, we were ready to begin. The first hour of the Yoga and Writing workshop consisted of our yoga instructor, Elissa Lewis, guiding us through not only a wide variety of yoga exercises and poses, but also breathing techniques geared towards achieving a sense of peace and tranquility.  Elissa made sure that with every pose, we concentrated on our breathing.

For those of us who were either new to yoga or returning after a period of prolonged absence, Elissa explained each exercise and demonstrated the transition from one pose to another. Some of the poses we did included downward facing dog, warrior II, peaceful warrior; low lunge, high lunge, lunge twist, cow pose, and cat pose.

We concluded the yoga portion by writing how we felt after doing yoga. What was the one central emotion or thought surrounding us? I must say, as a fellow participant,  it was so relaxing and revitalizing that when it came time to say “Namaste,” and move on to the writing portion, we were more than ready to get our creative juices flowing.

In the second half of our Saturday cleanse, Jessica Reidy demonstrated how to write creatively by incorporating the sense of sight, of smell, of touch, and of taste. To aid us with this particular workshop, Jessica had pears, which she cut up and handed out to us.

To start the exercise off, Jessica read a poem written by an author who used the very same techniques we were about to.  We were asked what we thought the poem was about and what really stood out to us. After that discussion, we moved along to the pears.

With our pears on hand, we were asked to examine them. What did they look like? Did they trigger any particular memory? What did they smell like? How about their touch? What did they taste like? As we explored each sense, we took notes, assigning words to the different categories we had just talked about. We were then asked to – with the use of our notes – write for about ten minutes, and thus create either a poem or a story that captured the essence of the pear. It didn’t necessarily have to be a memory or anything connected to our own lives. It just needed to be a creative piece.

With the little time we had left over after writing, a few of us (including myself) shared our pieces. After each person read, Jessica asked those of us who had listened what had jumped out at us from the story or poem. And was there any particular detail we wished the writer would expand upon?

The yoga and writing festivities continued onto Sunday, November 22nd, the second and final day of the workshop. Once again, Elissa did an hour of yoga, and Jessica did an hour of writing.

After two fun-filled days of yoga and writing, guests who attended the cleanse found themselves not only with a renewed sense of self and a clear mind, but also really great ideas for future stories, as well as extremely helpful writing tools. As with all of our workshops and retreats, we sincerely hope that those who joined in on the fun had a wonderful time, and of course, that they join us for any writing retreats we have in the future.

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Jessica leading the writing workshop.

CWW Pre-Thanksgiving Writing & Yoga Cleanse (Sacred Sounds Yoga, NYC, November 21-22, 2015)

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Join the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop for a Pre-Thanksgiving Writing & Yoga Cleanse at Sacred Sounds Yoga in New York City. We hope you’re as excited for this event as we are! Registration is currently $30 per day in advance or $35 on the day of the workshop.  REGISTER HERE

SATURDAY Nov. 21 & SUNDAY Nov. 22 * 2pm-4 pm

163 Bleecker Street, 2nd Floor
(b’twn Sullivan & Thompson Streets)
New York, NY 10012
T: 212.533.YOGA (9642)
E: info@sacredsoundsyoga.com

  • Yoga with Elissa Lewis
  • Writing Workshops with Diana Norma Szokolyai and Jessica Reidy

Join our 3rd annual Pre-Thanksgiving Yoga & Creative Writing Cleanse. As the leaves are changing colors, bring some of those transformations into your life.  Before re-uniting with family for lots of heavy food and holiday affairs (along with the cheer and stress that comes along with it), treat yourself to a weekend of creative writing & yoga.  If you’re participating in #NaNoWriMo 2015, come join us, rejuvenate your creative juices, and enjoy working on your novel in a relaxing environment!  The writing workshop is for all levels of writers and open to all genres.

Elissa Lewis will begin class each day with a gentle vinyasa flow to relieve stress in the body followed by restorative poses, essential oils and yoga nidra. She will focus on the ajna chakra, or our “third eye,” the lens which we see the world through.  This asana is ideal for “opening up the third eye” so that we’re intuitive, imaginative, and able to visualize. Then, writing instructors Diana Norma Szokolyai Jessica Reidy will lead you in generating new material for existing or potential writing projects.

Faculty Information:

DianaNormaDiana Norma Szokolyai is a writer/interdisciplinary artist/educator and Executive Artistic Director of Cambridge Writers’ Workshop. She frequently records her poetry with musicians and has collaborated with several composers, such as Jason Haye (UK), Sebastian Wesman (Argentina), Peter James (UK), Julie Case (US), Jeremie Jones (Canada), Claudio Gabriele (Italy) and David Krebs (US). Her poetry-music collaboration with Flux Without Pause led to their collaboration “Space Mothlight” hitting the Creative Commons Hot 100 list twice in 2015, and can be found in the curated WFMU Free Music Archive. Her writing on literary communities was the subject of a monthly feature on HER KIND by VIDA: Women in the Literary Arts and an interview on the same topic was featured in Quail Bell Magazine in May 2014. 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 has also been published in Quail BellInternational Who’s Who in Poetry 2012, Lyre Lyre, The Boston Globe, Dr. Hurley’s Snake Oil Cure, Polarity, The Fiction Project, Up the Staircase Quarterly, The Dudley Review, and elsewhere. Her writing has been anthologized in Always Wondering, The Highwaymen NYC #2, Other Countries: Contemporary Poets Rewiring HistoryThe Cambridge Community Poem, and Teachers as Writers. She co-­curates a poetry-music series, performs in CHAGALL PAC, and is an interdisciplinary performance artist with the Brooklyn Soundpainting Ensemble. She lives in Brooklyn, NY and holds an Ed.M degree in Arts in Education from Harvard, as well as an M.A. in French literature from UConn.

Jessica Reidy is a mixed-Romani (Gypsy) heritage writer from New Hampshire. She earned her MFA in Fiction at Florida State University and a B.A. from Hollins University. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart, and has appeared in Narrative Magazine as Short Story of the Week, The Los Angeles Review, Arsenic Lobster, and other journals. She’s a staff-writer and Outreach Editor for Quail Bell Magazine, Managing Editor for VIDA: Women in the Literary Arts, Visiting Professor for the Cambridge Writer’s Workshop retreats, and Art Editor for The Southeast Review. She also teaches yoga and occasionally still works her family trades, fortune telling and dance. Jessica is currently working on her first novel set in post-WWII Paris about Coco Charbonneau, a half-Romani burlesque dancer and fortune teller of Zenith Circus, who becomes a Nazi hunter.

ElissaLewisElissa Lewis is the Yoga & Arts Coordinator of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop.  She began her journey with yoga in 2006, when she moved to France and made the practice part of her daily routine. She saw yoga as a lifestyle, not only a class, helping her to clear her mind and have more compassion for herself and others. In 2010 she moved to New York and completed her teacher training at Laughing Lotus, a creative, soulful yoga studio that teaches the student to ‘move like yourself.’ She’s taught private and group classes in Manhattan and Brooklyn ever since. Visit her websitefor informative yoga sequences and information.

You can also email us at directors@cambridgewritersworkshop.org if you have any specific questions. Follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Tumblr for more information and to learn more about upcoming events.

Baba’s Ghost : A Review of Alex Mahgoub’s Baba – A New York Fringe Festival Play


In this one-person show, Baba, performer and writer Alex Mahgoub takes the audience through the story of his father’s murder when Mahgoub was only ten years old. Through piecing together the splinters of this violent event, he recognizes how his perceptions of masculinity, power, and his own identity were shaped in response. In his artist statement, Mahgoub writes that he was “haunted” by this story before he wrote it, that he still finds himself sobbing on stage with genuine emotion even after performing the well-received show so many times at various theatres and festivals. Baba was voted favorite solo show and favorite performance of the Capital Fringe Festival in Washington DC by DC Metro in July 2015, and all of his performances in the New York Fringe Festival from August 15-29th were entirely sold-out. The dramatic delivery of Mahgoub’s loss of his Baba changes his life and perception of the human experience from an early age, and births the ghost which Mahgoub must still learn from throughout his teen and adult years. Watching Mahgoub’s performance does not, however, feel like an exorcism but rather like witnessing someone learning to live with that ghost.

Mahgoub’s Baba (Arabic for father), takes the role of his primary teacher. From early childhood, Baba is larger than life–a superhero. He’s the Egyptian James Dean on a motorcycle, the immigrant who came here with nothing and built himself an empire, redolent of the Cool Water cologne scent of masculinity. He’s the leather jacket and gold medallion pinnacle of manliness, and teaches his son the reality  of money, hard work, and success. Because his father died in an act of bravado that perhaps could have been avoided, he sees his father undone by the same pride that made him appear so invincible. Mahgoub begins to question the authenticity of his father’s machismo and begins to define himself against it. He was going to be the nice guy. At the same time, both the pressure and inspiration of his father’s expectations for his son, what is is to be a man, linger.

This specter of masculine power hits home the complicated father-son dynamics that many children experience: striving to live up to a father’s expectations, viewing his father’s word as the ‘last word,’ and wondering how a ‘traditional man’ would act. That image of unquestionable masculine authority is eventually shattered when a child learns that the father figure is fallible. And still, Baba’s ghost follows his son throughout his decision-making and  the winding path of his career. Mahgoub wonders what his Baba would think of the man he’s become, and at the same time ruminates on the loss of ever knowing. It is a loss conjured in such a way that the audience feels and can connect with, knowing it’s a loss we will one day go through, if we haven’t already.

The play weaves between the stated and understated, casting the most difficult topics to the realm of memory and flashback while the easier, more quotidian details of life are expressed primarily through expository monologue, suggesting that while there is an acute awareness and acceptance of the darkest parts of his reality, he is still processing the trauma at the root of his being. Rather than addressing his concerns about what his macho father would think of his sexuality through exposition, he takes the audience through a vivid flashback to winning a sterling silver necklace for being the top saleschild in his school’s fundraiser, and coming home wearing it with pride. His father demands that he takes it off because, “Necklaces are for faggots,” and Mahgoub casts the necklace in a river, desperate to be rid of the epithet. This memory arises later in his twenties, after his first kiss with a charming man he meets at a party, and while he does not ask himself what his father would think of his bisexuality, the audience feels his concern. In this way, the harshest aspects of his life are not intellectualized–they are presented in raw fragments of memory, resurfacing as he’s triggered in the present. The performance is in many ways a trauma narrative, fluctuating between accepting and looking away from overwhelming events and experiences through text and subtext, exposition and flashback, the bare nerves of suffering and the cloak of humor.

The balance between levity and darkness is particularly striking: alternating between the starker memories of loss and fear, and then cartoonish caricatures of his sister, mother, father, and other people in his life. And while the audience did not always laugh when the script perhaps expected us to, we had the authentic experience of watching a person reconcile tragedy through humor when he is the only one who can laugh, even through the observer’s thoughtful silence, because to go on, he must laugh. And not coincidentally, the jokes that made the audience laugh loudly preceded the most scarring recollections. But this is how we live with ghosts– the ghosts of expectation, of loss, and of a past that can only be evoked through art. By the end of the show, the audience feels that Mahgoub has struck an ever-shifting reconciliation between his father and the overbearing question of what it is for him, Alex Mahgoub, to be a man. “My father lived his life with his chest out, ready for the fight. I live my life with my heart open, ready to be the nice guy.”

Keep an eye out for his upcoming book #SelfieGeneration. Find out more at http://www.babatheshow.com and http://www.alexmahgoub.com/

– Jessica Reidy & Viktor Pachas

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!

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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.

Schedule for CWW Pre-Thanksgiving Yoga and Creative Writing Cleanse

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Hello everyone! We’re about a week away from our Pre-Thanksgiving Yoga and Creative Writing Cleanse at Ashtanga Yoga Shala. We hope you’re as excited for this event as we are. There are still spots to register, which you can do here. We’ve just released our schedule for the two day event. It’s $50 a day, but you should try to come to both days.  Here’s the schedule for the weekend:

* SPECIAL OFFER: Register BETWEEN 11 p.m. Mon 11/17 & 11 p.m. Thurs. NOV. 20 for $35 /day ( or $75 for both)*

SATURDAY Nov. 22:  2pm-4 pm

*  YOGA with Elissa Lewis
*  “The Art of Witholding in Creative Writing” with Jessica Reidy
*  Raw Juice Cleanse
*  “Sense of Smell, Memory, & Narrative Part I” (includes an aromatherapy session with essential oils) with Diana Norma Szokolyai

SUNDAY Nov. 24: 2 pm-4pm

*  YOGA with Elissa Lewis
*  “The Art of Revision” with Jonah Kruvant
*  Raw Juice Cleanse
*  “Sense of Smell, Memory, & Narrative Part II” (includes an aromatherapy session with essential oils) with Diana Norma Szokolyai

Here’s some info about the people involved with the workshop:

Diana Norma Szkoloyai is author of the poetry books Roses in the Snow and Parallel Sparrows (Finishing Line Press). Her writing and hybrid art have appeared in Lyre Lyre, Dr. Hurley’s Snake Oil Cure, The Fiction Project, Teachers as Writers, Polarity, The Boston Globe, The Dudley Review, Up the Staircase, Area Zinc Art Magazine, Belltower & the Beach, and Human Rights News. Founding Literary Arts Director of Chagall Performance Art Collaborative and co-director of the Cambridge Writer’s Workshop, she holds an Ed.M from Harvard and an M.A. in French Literature from the University of Connecticut.  She is also a certified reiki healer and uses essential oils aromatherapy daily.

Norma will be leading a two part workshop over the weekend, using aromatherapy as part of her workshop “Sense of Smell, Memory, and Narrative.”

Elissa Lewis is the Yoga & Arts Coordinator of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop.  She began her journey with yoga in 2006, when she moved to France and made the practice part of her daily routine. She saw yoga as a lifestyle, not only a class, helping her to clear her mind and have more compassion for herself and others. In 2010 she moved to New York and completed her teacher training at Laughing Lotus, a creative, soulful yoga studio that teaches the student to ‘move like yourself.’ She’s taught private and group classes in Manhattan and Brooklyn ever since. Visit her website for informative yoga sequences and information. Elissa will be leading our yoga workshops at this event.

Jessica Reidy is a mixed-Romani (Gypsy) heritage writer from New Hampshire. She earned her MFA in Fiction at Florida State University and a B.A. from Hollins University. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart, and has appeared in Narrative Magazine as Short Story of the Week, The Los Angeles Review, Arsenic Lobster, and other journals. She’s a staff-writer and Outreach Editor for Quail Bell Magazine, Managing Editor for VIDA: Women in the Literary Arts, Visiting Professor for the Cambridge Writer’s Workshop retreats, and Art Editor for The Southeast Review. She also teaches yoga and occasionally still works her family trades, fortune telling and dance. Jessica is currently working on her first novel set in post-WWII Paris about Coco Charbonneau, a half-Romani burlesque dancer and fortune teller of Zenith Circus, who becomes a Nazi hunter.

Jessica will lead a workshop on Saturday titled “The Art of Withholding in Creative Writing.”

Jonah Kruvant is one of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop’s  NYC area program organizers and is also a teacher, performer, writer, and student of the world.  He used to live in Costa Rica, where he wrote a popular blog, “From Gaijin to Gringo: Living Abroad in Costa Rica.”  His writing has been published in Digital Americana, and you can read about his adventures in Latin America here: http://costaricagringo.blogspot.com/.

Jonah will be leading a workshop on Sunday called “The Art of Revision.”

Alex Carrigan is from Newport News, Virginia and attended college at Virginia Commonwealth University.  He graduated this year with a degree in print/online journalism and a minor in world cinema.  He is currently an intern for the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop, as well as Staff Film Reviewer for Quail BellMagazine.  He has written articles for The Commonwealth Times and has had work featured in Luna Luna Magazine. He is also a creative writer and has had work published in Amendment Literary Journal and in Poictesme Literary Journal, of which he was a staff member for four years, two years in which he was deputy editor-in-chief.

Alex will be assisting with the running of the weekend event, ensuring everyone has all the materials and juice they need.

If you would still like to sign up, click here to learn how to sign up. You can also email us at directors@cambridgewritersworkshop.org if you have any specific questions.  Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr for more information and to learn more about upcoming events.

LitCrawl Manhattan: Literary Masquerade – Sept 13, 8pm – presented by the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop

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Featured in Time Out New York!  

Literary Masquerade

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop hosts a literary masquerade with writers and performance artists Gregory Crosby, Diana Norma Szokolyai, Jonah Kruvant, Elizabeth Devlin, Rita Banerjee, and Nicole Colbert. Original readings and performances will be intermingled with musings on masks from Pessoa, Kierkegaard, Descartes, Dickinson, de Beer, and more. There will be masks. There will be libations. There will be paint and skin.  Join us at LitCrawl Manhattan.

SAT.  SEPTEMBER 13 * 8:15 p.m.
One Mile House, 10 Delancey St., NY, NY 10002

Gregory Crosby is the author of the chapbook Spooky Action at a Distance (2014, The Operating System); his poetry has appeared in numerous journals, including Court Green, Epiphany, Copper Nickel, Leveler, Sink Review, Ping Pong, & Rattle. In 2002, as a poetry consultant to the City of Las Vegas, he was instrumental in the creation of the Lewis Avenue Poets Bridge, a public art project in downtown Las Vegas. His dedicatory poem for the project, “The Long Shot,” was subsequently reproduced in bronze and installed in the park, and was included in the 2008 anthology Literary Nevada: Writings from the Silver State (University of Nevada Press). He is co-editor of the online poetry journal Lyre Lyre and currently teaches creative writing at Lehman College, City University of New York.

Diana Norma Szokolyai is a writer/performance artist/educator. She teaches 9-12 year-olds in a Montessori learning environment, and is also Artistic Director of Cambridge Writers’ Workshop, where she teaches and organizes writing and yoga retreats for adult writers. 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 has poetry forthcoming in the anthologies The Highwaymen NYC Annual # 2 and Other Countries: Contemporary Poets Rewiring History and has also had her fiction, essays, and poetry published in The Fiction Project, Lyre Lyre, The Boston Globe, Dr. Hurley’s Snake Oil Cure, and Always Wondering, among others. She performs with Parallel Sonic, ChagallPAC, and the Brooklyn Soundpainting Ensemble.

Elizabeth Devlin is a modern day renaissance woman, if not composing music for the solo, autoharp wielding, singer-songwriter act, ELIZABETH DEVLIN, she can be found crafting Illustrations/Graphi¬cs at DEVLIN DESIGN AND ILLUSTRATION, playing electric bass and singing as front woman for Brooklyn based rock band, VALVED VOICE, or curating a fresh new line-up for the THE HIGHWAYMEN NYC, a Brooklyn based, monthly, poetry reading series that meets on the full moon.

Rita Banerjee is a writer, and received her PhD in Comparative Literature from Harvard University. She holds an MFA in Poetry and her writing has been published in Poets for Living Waters, The New Renaissance, The Fiction Project, Jaggery, The Crab Creek Review, The Dudley Review, Objet d’Art, Vox Populi, Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure, and Chrysanthemum among other journals. Her first collection of poems,Cracklers at Night, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2010 and received First Honorable Mention for Best Poetry Book at the 2011-2012 Los Angeles Book Festival. Her novella, A Night with Kali, was digitized by the Brooklyn Art-house Co-op in 2011. She is a co-director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop, and her writing has been recently featured on HER KIND by VIDA: Women in Literary Artsand on KBOO Radio’s APA Compass in Portland, Oregon.

Jonah Kruvant is a writer, teacher, and student of the world. He received his Bachelor’s degree from Skidmore College, his Master’s degree in Teaching from Fordham University, and his MFA degree in Creative Writing from Goddard College. After living abroad in four different countries, Jonah settled in New York. The Last Book Ever Written is his first novel. Visit his website at www.jonahk.net.

Nicole Colbert (“Harlequin Loves Columbine”) teaches English at Kingsborough Community College-CUNY. She takes fiction writing classes with Rachel Sherman in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn. Her non-fiction work, including interviews & reviews, has appeared in the Village Voice, Park Slope Reader, and New York Spirit Magazine. As a former dancer and choreographer, she still enjoys performing. She is the proud mother of two very creative children.