CWW Granada 2015 Faculty Member Peter Orner Featured in New York Times’ “Modern Love” column

peter-ornerPeter Orner, a CWW Granada 2015 fiction faculty member, writes about finding love and losing love and how even the most potent memories can vanish and change with the passage of time.

In his recent New York Times “Modern Love” column, “We Were In Our 20’s and Didn’t Have A Clue,” Orner looks back at a brief, passionate relationship he had in his 20’s in order to examine, “…the way people edit the details of their lives.” Orner shows how even though the passion and the heartbreak might fade, the instinct to reclaim these emotions and revisit the past never does. Time is the true subject of Orner’s essay; how it expands and contracts, how it has the ability to turn a happy memory into a sad one.

Even in his 20’s, when he claims to “not have a clue,” Orner recognizes that time is not exactly on the side of the couple when, after a discussion about moving in together leads nowhere, he writes, “I wasn’t going to press the issue, what was obvious was obvious. It had everything to do with time.” Eventually, Orner is able to think back on this memory without sadness, observing that his impulse to reach out to this woman now feels, “more like an obligation to a defunct emotion than something I actually wanted to do.”

Read Orner’s column here.

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Announcing Our New Editing and Communications Intern: Amanda Toronto

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is pleased to announce the newest member of our executive board. Amanda Toronto has officially joined the team as our newest Editing and Communications Intern. As the Editing and Communications Intern, Amanda will be aiding the CWW in our upcoming programming and communications projects. We’re so pleased to have Amanda join us and we can’t wait to see what she brings to the team.

Amanda 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.  You can follow her on Twitter @TorontoAmanda

Cambridge, MA Fall 2017 Creative Writing Workshops & Craft of Writing Seminars

CCAEClasses2-2017
The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is delighted announce that we will be hosting our second annual fall writing series at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education at 56 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA.  Our Craft of Writing Seminars and Creative Writing Workshops will take place on Saturday mornings from 10 am – 1 pm from September 23 – December 2, 2017.  Registration opens July 26, 2017 at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education.  Classes are $40 each.

Location:

Cambridge Center For Adult Education
56 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA

Time:

Saturdays, 10 am – 1 pm, September 23 – December 2, 2017
(Registration opens on July 26, 2017 on the CCAE Website!)

Class Schedule:

September 23: “Trance Poetry”
(with Janaka Stucky)

Many writers work in a self-induced trance state—which proves a powerful tool to access creative, free- associative, & innovative forms of consciousness. Whether you want to call it “flow,” or “meditation,” or “channeling,” there are multiple techniques artists can use to access & regulate this incredibly generative mindset. We will explore what it means to work from a trance state, ways we can safely induce trance, & look at works of writers who are known for espousing similar techniques.

September 30: “Writing Poetic Prose: Rising to the Lyric Register”
(with Diana Norma Szokolyai)

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

October 21: “Black Mountain and New York School Poetry”
(with Megan Fernandes)

In this class, we will look at different elements of the Black Mountain and New York School poetry movements. The class will analyze how the use of monosyllables, experimental syntax, stream of consciousness, prepositions, and dental consonants were employed by poets in each of these eras including Frank O’Hara and Robert Creeley. Students will be expected to draft two poems by the end of the intensive that play with the major tenets of each movement.

November 4: “Crafting Storytelling that Sticks & Compelling Characters”
(with Diana Norma Szokolyai)

When telling a story, what are the underlying structures that make people want to keep reading? We will unpack the elements of timeless stories, examining what makes them memorable. When crafting our characters, we want to inspire empathy in our readers and of course, make them believable. We will learn from the examples of bestselling authors and try our hand at several strategies to build unforgettable characters. Expect to walk away from this class with a toolkit for crafting your story.

November 11: “Me Against The World: Tupac & the Power of Hip- Hop”

(with Frederick-Douglass Knowles II)

This workshop examines the poetry and musical works of Tupac Shakur in order to delineate social responsibility in Hip-Hop culture. The seminar will explore the historical significance of Hip-Hop culture and social injustices. The class will examine Shakur’s T.H.U.G. L.I.F.E. philosophy— and his identity as the progeny of a Black Panther Political Party member. Participants will devise poems on Shakur’s turbulent, dichotomous lifestyle; addressing the question: Tupac. Menace or Martyr?

November 18: “Haiku Intensive”
(with Janaka Stucky)

Often misrepresented or only partially understood, the heart of Haiku contains many lessons and silence. This intensive will survey the history and core principles while reading ancient and contemporary examples. Multiple haiku will be written and workshopped. By the end, you will be equipped to incorporate the powerful discipline of haiku into your life, using it to hone your poetic practice and increase your daily awareness.

December 2: “See Something/Say Something: Poetry in the Age of Terror”
(with Megan Fernandes)

We live in an age of terror where suspicion is elicited from us daily. We animalize immigrants and fantasize about borders that cage us into an insular nationalism. In this class, we will read poems about how discourses of terror create environmental wastelands, subhuman protagonists, and militarized kinship. What emotional landscapes are part of this era? What kind of speakers teach us how to navigate it? Students will be expected to draft two poems by the end of class.

Featured Faculty:

Janaka Stucky is an American poet, performer, and publisher. The founding editor of Black Ocean, as well as the annual poetry journal, Handsome, he is also the author of a few poetry collections. His poems have appeared in such journals as Denver Quarterly, Fence and North American Review, and his articles have been published by The Huffington Postand The Poetry Foundation. He is a two-time National Haiku Champion and in 2010 he was voted “Boston’s Best Poet” in The Boston Phoenix.  In 2015, Jack White’s Third Man Recordslaunched a new publishing imprint, Third Man Books, and chose Janaka’s full-length poetry collection, The Truth Is We Are Perfect, as their inaugural title. Janaka’s poems are at once incantatory, mystic, and epigrammatic. His esoteric & occult influences, combined with a mesmeric approach to performance, create an almost ecstatic presence on stage.

meganfernandes_newbioimage2015Megan Fernandes is an Assistant Professor of English at Lafayette College and teaches courses on poetry, feminist theory, and science and technology studies. She holds a PhD in English from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an MFA in poetry from Boston University. She is the author of The Kingdom and After(Tightrope Books 2015), the poetry editor of the anthology Strangers in Paris (Tightrope Books 2011), and the author of two poetry chapbooks: Organ Speech (Corrupt Press) and Some Citrus Makes Me Blue (Dancing Girl Press). Her work has been published or is forthcoming in the Boston Review, Rattle, The Adroit Journal, Pank Magazine, The Walrus Magazine, Postmodern Culture, Guernica, Memorious, the Academy of American Poets, Redivider, the California Journal of Poetics, among others.

screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-10-52-49-amFrederick-Douglass Knowles II (Yesod) is a Poet-Educator-Activist involved in Community Education and the Performing Arts. He has competed on three National Poetry Slam Teams (2x Connecticut and Brooklyn, NY). His works have featured in the Martin Luther King Jr. Anthology by Yale University Press, East Haddam Stage Company of Connecticut, The 13th Annual Acacia Group Conference at California State University, Folio– a Southern Connecticut State University literary magazine, Lefoko—a Botswana (Southern Africa) Hip-Hop magazine and Fingernails Across the Chalkboard: AIDS Anthology by Third World Press. Frederick-Douglass is currently an English Professor at Three Rivers Community College where he infuses English Composition with social injustices, such as AIDS, Poverty and War. His debut collection of autobiographical poetry, Black Rose City, was currently released by Author House.

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

CWW Fall Harvest Retreat in Rockport, MA: Day Four

Sunday, October 15 was the last day of our Fall Harvest Retreat, and we made sure to make the most of it. We woke up to fog covering the area, which presented a great view as we made our final breakfast.

Over breakfast, we discussed what we took away from the retreat. We shared what we accomplished and what our goals from here on out would be. Some of us even shared the work we did for Rita Banerjee’s workshop.

After that, the fog had dissipated enough that we all moved out onto the deck to share our Bake Offs. We discussed whether or not we succeeded with the assignment, and if not what we had gotten done and what we had planned to finish. Some of us shared our work, showing how me managed to create work featuring lobster traps, Joan Baez, lavender, waves, pots, “stunned,” and whiskey stains.

Once we were done, some of us moved over to the nearby town of Salem, MA for a farewell lunch.  Every year, Salem hosts a month full of spooky and fun events with “Haunted Happenings” throughout the month of October.  As we roamed the town, we saw the streets turned into a Halloween carnival, with caramel apples, kettle corn, customized elvish ears, and skeleton swords.  Mixed in the crowd of humans, were also goblins, witches, and fantastic monsters just strolling around Salem’s haunts, like yarn shops, magic shops with potions and tarot cards or seaside cafés. The Peabody Essex Museum has an exhibit “It’s Alive! Classic Horror & Sci-Fi Art,” and some of us enjoyed exploring it, while others roamed the streets traveling through hundreds of Halloween & New Age/Occult-themed booths.

CWW Fall Harvest Retreat in Rockport, MA: Day Three

On Saturday, October 14, we had our third day of workshops. While some of us were tired from working late into the night on our Bake Offs, we still convened in our meeting space for breakfast and our first workshop. Diana Norma Szokolyai led a workshop on Writing in the Lyric Register. In this workshop, we looked over studying lyricism in writing and how paying attention to lyrical structure can improve our writings.

We also had two writing exercises for this workshop. The first was to write a scene that was slowed down to just five seconds. The second was to listen to a piece of music, Edgard Varèse’s “Nocturnal,” and to write whatever came to mind. The challenge was that we were unable to stop writing during the entire piece, leading to over 10 minutes of nonstop writing.

Once we were done, we shared our work. Some of us shed tears, others were surprised by the imagery that came from listening to the piece. When were were done, we all felt we had a better understanding of writing lyrically.

After that, we all went into Rockport for the Harvestfest. We went back to the same area from our first day to look through stalls for local bakeries and restaurants, crafts, and breweries. It was a cool, cloudy day, but it was still nice to walk around and see so much local color. And it certainly helped that all the food was extremely delicious.

We then returned home for the second part of Maya Sonenberg’s Beyond the Plot Triangle workshop. We learned more about unique ways to break through plot structure, such as writing through different formats. We even played quick games of Snakes and Ladders to see how we could use a board game to make a story. This led to a short story about two men named Razzle and Dazzle trying to get beer before all the bars in Rockport closed for the winter.

After that, we broke for dinner and to continue work on our Bake Offs. We had to finish our 20 pages by the next morning, and thus, we prepared for the final day of our retreat.

CWW Fall Harvest Retreat in Rockport, MA: Day Two

On October 13th, we had the first full day of our retreat. We started by working together to make breakfast, with CWW Artistic Director Diana Norma Szokolyai serving a veggie omelet along with fresh fruit and toast.

We then gathered for our first workshop with CWW Director Rita Banerjee’s workshop on Character Development & the Law of Desire. In this workshop, we discussed how we can create rounder, more dynamic characters. The participants looked at classic character archetypes and compared them to modern archetypes they see in literature. They were then challenged to find a character and write two scenes for them: one where they were alone and the reader could see entirely who they are, and another where that same character is confronted by one of these static archetypes.

After that, we took a break for lunch and to do some writing work. Some of us walked to the nearby Wingaersheek Beach, where the tide was low enough for us to walk far out. There we took in the beauty of the New England coast and observed people playing with their dogs and looked for any interesting shells or rocks we could find on the beach.

Once break time ended, we reconvened for our next workshop. Guest faculty member Maya Sonenberg led the first part of her workshop Forbidden Forms: Beyond the Plot Triangle. Here she brought in numerous examples of poems and short stories that played with worm and encouraged us to find ways to play around with plot and action. She even shared some interesting writing exercises that can help the reader break form and discover something new about their work.

After that, we all took a walk to a nearby beach. There, we played Literary Taboo. Each of us had to pick a word that was inspired by something we’ve experienced so far on the retreat or something we experienced on our way to and on the beach. Once we knew what our words were, we had to each write a short piece based on it that the other participants had to figure out. The only catch was that we couldn’t use the chosen word at all in the piece.

Once we all shared our pieces, this led to our Bake Off portion of the retreat. In the next 48 hours, we had to create a chapbook-length piece of work (around 20 pages) using all seven words however we pleased. We could create a book of poems, a series of short stories, or one short novella in that period of time. The words that we had to use were:

  • Lobster trap
  • Waves
  • “Stunned”
  • Joan Baez
  • Pot
  • Lavender
  • Whiskey stains

After that, we went to a lovely seafood restaurant, where we enjoyed oysters and other locally-sourced dishes. We used this to share ideas and to think about what we’d do for our Bake Off, and we all got to work.

CWW Fall Harvest Writing Retreat in Rockport, MA: Day One

On Thursday, October 12, the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop made its way to coastal New England for our Fall Harvest Writing Retreat. We arrived at our home in Gloucester and were immediately taken by the spacious rooms, large windows, and clean elegance offered by the space. We found plenty of places to sit and write, especially with the gorgeous view from our back deck.

In the afternoon, some of us went to Downtown Rockport and walked along Bear Skin Neck. We passed by small little shops selling tons of local merchandise and kitsch. We also stopped for lunch and enjoyed a meal of crab rolls and fish and chips. We spent time taking in all the views of the harbor, the adorable looking stores, and all the cute dogs walking around.

After that, we returned to our house and settled in for the evening. We made a meal of Chicken Alfredo together, then went around the table introducing ourselves. We each shared our backgrounds, our writing history, what projects we were working on, and what we hoped to gain from this retreat.

After dishes, we all went our separate ways; some went to bed, some stayed up to do some writing. Whatever we did, we all were excited for how the retreat began and for what was to come next, as our first workshops begin tomorrow.

CWW Summer in Granada – August 2 – Orientation, Toasts, Trick Candles, and Live Jazz

On August 2, the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Summer in Granada Writing Retreat officially kicked off with our merry band of writers, musicians, and instructors.  Orientation took place right out side the gardens of the Alhambra where writers had an opportunity to meet and greet their instructors.  During toasts with our poison of choice, tinto de veranos, we also celebrated the birthdays of Tim Horvath, Maggie Downs, and Leah Harris in style with pionono cakes and trick candles!  Afterwards we strolled downtown to the Plaza Nueva to rendezvous with our favorite jazz and flamenco musicians, Dennis Shafer and Victor Pachas, and enjoyed the treat of writing to their beautiful music!

Announcing New Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Faculty for Fall 2017 Workshops & Retreat

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is delighted to announce the following poets and writers will be joining our Fall 2017 Faculty for our classes in Cambridge, MA at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education (September 23 – December 2, 2017) and our Harvest Creative Writing Retreat in Rockport, MA (October 12-15, 2017).

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

meganfernandes_newbioimage2015Megan Fernandes is an Assistant Professor of English at Lafayette College and teaches courses on poetry, feminist theory, and science and technology studies. She holds a PhD in English from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an MFA in poetry from Boston University. She is the author of The Kingdom and After(Tightrope Books 2015), the poetry editor of the anthology Strangers in Paris (Tightrope Books 2011), and the author of two poetry chapbooks: Organ Speech (Corrupt Press) and Some Citrus Makes Me Blue (Dancing Girl Press). Her work has been published or is forthcoming in the Boston Review, Rattle, The Adroit Journal, Pank Magazine, The Walrus Magazine, Postmodern Culture, Guernica, Memorious, the Academy of American Poets, Redivider, the California Journal of Poetics, among others.

screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-10-52-49-amFrederick-Douglass Knowles II (Yesod) is a Poet-Educator-Activist involved in Community Education and the Performing Arts. He has competed on three National Poetry Slam Teams (2x Connecticut and Brooklyn, NY). His works have featured in the Martin Luther King Jr. Anthology by Yale University Press, East Haddam Stage Company of Connecticut, The 13th Annual Acacia Group Conference at California State University, Folio– a Southern Connecticut State University literary magazine, Lefoko—a Botswana (Southern Africa) Hip-Hop magazine and Fingernails Across the Chalkboard: AIDS Anthology by Third World Press. Frederick-Douglass is currently an English Professor at Three Rivers Community College where he infuses English Composition with social injustices, such as AIDS, Poverty and War. His debut collection of autobiographical poetry, Black Rose City, was currently released by Author House.

Janaka Stucky is an American poet, performer, and publisher. The founding editor of Black Ocean, as well as the annual poetry journal, Handsome, he is also the author of a few poetry collections. His poems have appeared in such journals as Denver Quarterly, Fence and North American Review, and his articles have been published by The Huffington Postand The Poetry Foundation. He is a two-time National Haiku Champion and in 2010 he was voted “Boston’s Best Poet” in The Boston Phoenix.  In 2015, Jack White’s Third Man Recordslaunched a new publishing imprint, Third Man Books, and chose Janaka’s full-length poetry collection, The Truth Is We Are Perfect, as their inaugural title. Janaka’s poems are at once incantatory, mystic, and epigrammatic. His esoteric & occult influences, combined with a mesmeric approach to performance, create an almost ecstatic presence on stage.

CWW Alumni News: “The One Tip that Changed My Life” by Nannie Flores

Nannie Flores at the Château de Verderonne in Picardy, France

Nannie Flores, an alumna of the 2014 Château de Verderonne Yoga & Writing Retreat in Picardy, France, writes a haunting and powerful new essay, “The One Tip That Changed My Life” for Ideiya Magazine.  In the essay, Flores tackles the taboos associated with writing nonfiction, trauma, illness, and its aftermath.  In the essay, Flores writes:

Write as if your parents were dead.” In retrospect, there was something ominous and sinister about this piece of writing advice. At the time, it seemed harmless. So I took the tip when I was in college.

While in university, I wrote two one-act plays that touched on themes such as virginity and physical and verbal abuse in relationships. My parents watched the play, and they applauded along with the audience. The writing tip worked.

On the ride back home, when all the hype was over, they made sure to say they were proud of me, but that they disapproved of certain elements in my works. “Relationships are meant to be healthy,” Mama said. Papa gave his usual silent nod.

But what’s done is done. I have already written it and I didn’t need to ask for their approval…”  

Read the full essay on Ideiya here.

Nannie Flores is a playwright and nonfiction writer based in the Philippines.  Her essays and articles have appeared in EntrepreneurCosmo.ph, ABS-CBN News, Ideiya, Spot.ph, and Philippine Daily Inquirer.  You can follow her on her blog, The Fancy Delight.