Last week, our Spring in Newport, Rhode Island Writing & Yoga Retreat took place from April 22-24. Highlights of the retreat included featured faculty member Jade Sylvan’s class, Writing Yourself Naked. Sylvan, author of acclaimed memoir, Kissing Oscar Wilde (2013) and writer/producer of the upcoming Spider Cult: The Musical (2016) took the time to sit down with Cambridge Writers’ Workshop’s Alyssa Goldstein Ekstrom for an interview. Read below the interview people and check out our Spring in Newport, Rhode Island recap! And don’t forget, you have until May 30 to register for our Summer Writing Retreats in Barcelona & South of France (July 18-26, 2016) and Granada, Spain (July 28- August 5, 2016)!
Alyssa Goldstein Ekstrom: You just taught a class on our Newport retreat called Writing Yourself Naked. What was your experience in Newport like and did you have a favorite part of the retreat?
Jade Sylvan: Honestly, my favorite part was getting to know the writers and what they were working on. It’s great to get out of my own echo-chamber and learn with people from all over with different backgrounds who I’d never meet otherwise.
AGE: You’re an award-winning poet, author, screenwriter, producer, and performance artist. What do you think it is that drives you to keep on creating?
JS: Habit. What else would I do with my feelings?
AGE: The Boston Globe called you a “risqué queer icon.” Do you feel being labeled an icon, and more importantly, a queer icon, puts more pressure on you when it comes to creating new work or does it perhaps aid you in your creative process or does it have no bearing on what you do at all?
JS: I think it’s funny more than anything. Whenever people write about me it always feels like they miss the point, but I guess it’s good to be written about. I like attention but I’m an introvert. Writer’s curse.
AGE: You wrote a memoir titled Kissing Oscar Wilde. Was writing a memoir more than challenging than you expected it to be and what surprised you most about writing it?
JS: It was very hard to write something personal and honest and what surprised me most about it was how it changed and in some cases deepened my relationships with the other people in the book. I learned a lot about communication from that experience.
AGE: What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about writing a memoir?
JS: Just write what happened.
AGE: Congratulations on Spider Cult: The Musical which will be held at the Oberon in Cambridge, MA June 24 & 26! It its description it says it is “the apocalyptic lesbian sci-fi horror burlesque musical of the century.” What inspired you to write this script?
JS: People always say to “write what you know.” Well, I know about religion and lesbian orgies and pseudo-science and boobs.
AGE: Finally, aside from Spider Cult: The Musical, do you have any other upcoming projects you can tell us about?
JS: I’m working on a supernatural erotic thriller and a short YA story, but I can say no more!
Jade Sylvan (they/them/their), called a “risqué queer icon” by The Boston Globe, is an award-winning author, poet, screenwriter, producer, and performing artist heavily rooted in the literary and performance community of Cambridge and Somerville, Massachusetts. Jade’s most recent book, Kissing Oscar Wilde (Write Bloody, 2013), a novelized memoir about the author’s experience as a touring poet in Paris (sponsored by a travel grant from The Foundation of Contemporary Arts), was a finalist for the New England Book Award and the Bisexual Book Award. Other work has appeared in The Washington Post, Buzzfeed, The Toast, Mudfish, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, and many other publications. Jade has toured extensively, performing their work to audiences across the United States, Canada, and Europe. They are currently overseeing the production of their first full-length stage play, Spider Cult: The Musical, opening June 24th, 2016 at Oberon Theater in Harvard Square.