Summer in Paris 2018 Writing Retreat: Day Six

July 30 was the final day of the Summer in Paris 2018 writing retreat. Faculty and writers shared their work and discussed their writing goals for the future. The week was fueled by each individual’s creativity, collaboration, and exploration of the city around us. We ended the week feeling inspired and grateful to our new community of fellow writers.

We will bring all of the creative energy and inspiration from our Paris to our August retreat in Granada, Spain.

Summer in Paris 2018 Writing Retreat: Day Four

Saturday, July 28, was a full day for our retreat faulty and participants. In the morning our guest faculty member Kristina Marie Darling taught her “Prose, Poetry, and Micro-Fiction” workshop. This course focused on prose poetry, meaning prose that draws from the extensive tradition, formal repertoire and literary devices that readers associate with poetry. Questions explored in class included: How can poets effectively and economically use the tools of fiction in their craft? What formal variations on the prose poem are possible? And how can prose poems compliment work written in more traditional poetic forms? Students ended the class with drafts of their own prose poetry or micro-fiction.

In the afternoon, CWW director Rita Banerjee held her workshop “Flâneurs, Essays, and Provocateurs.” Before meeting for Rita’s workshop, the participants were given a writing assignment where they were asked to spend 30 minutes “flaneusing or flaneuring” around Paris or Versailles in order to observe as much as they could about the people, places, animals, things, order, disorder or culture they were saw around them. These observations and experiences were then translated into a central question or thought that then became the beginning of an essay. Students were then asked to write until they found a solution to their central question or until they discovered an epiphany hiding in their work.

Following Rita’s workshop, faculty and writers traveled to Versailles where they explored the palace and gardens of the Chateau de Versailles. The Chateau de Versailles is perhaps best known as the residence of Louis XIV, who installed the Court and government at Versailles in 1632. Versailles is considered one of the greatest achievements of French 17th century art. The group ended their evening with an illuminated fountain and firework show in the gardens.

Summer in Paris 2018 Writing Retreat: Day Three

The morning of Friday, July 27 began with the first session of guest faculty member Kathleen Spivack’s “Memory and Memoir” workshop. Kathleen’s class focused on how writers can work with memory, nostalgia, the other, and ourselves and explored the role of memory in writing.

In the afternoon the group traveled to Musée d’Orsay for Diana Norma Szokolyai‘s workshop, “Ekphrasis: When Writing Confronts Visual Art.” Prior to the ekphrasis workshop, writers were asked to ponder several questions: How does writing about visual art combine both creative and critical processes? How can we use ekphrasis to jumpstart our own creative process?  How can ekphrasis help us explore the emotional world and perspectives of the Other? And how does ekphrasis reveal deeply personal and internal reflection by examining a creation external to ourselves? In addition to these musings, participants also wrote poems inspired by various pieces of art.

The day ended with more explorations around Paris, individual writing time, and preparations for Kristina Marie Darling’s class on “Prose Poetry and Micro-Fiction,” Rita Banerjee’s class on, “Flaneurs, Essays, and Provocateurs,” and a trip to Versailles.

Summer in Paris 2018 Writing Retreat: Day One

Wednesday, July 25, marked the first official day of our 2018 Summer Writing Retreat in Paris! The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop directors and faculty prepared for the arrival of writers and scouted the neighborhood for the group.

 

During their exploration, Rita Banerjee and Diana Norma Szokolyai enjoyed galettes from La Crêperie Bretonne and stumbled upon a poem on Blvd Edgar Quinet.

 

Paris faculty, Kristina Marie Darling and Kathleen Spivack, arrived and instructors and participants had an orientation and luncheon together on the patio at La Baraka (authentic Moroccan restaurant.)

Following dinner, the group paid a visit to Amorino for some gelato and settled in at Hôtel Denfert-Montparnasse, home of the retreat for the next week.

CWW Creative Director Rita Banerjee’s poem “Sleep” feat. on the Academy of American Poets as a Poem-a-Day

Rita Banerjee‘s poem “Sleep” is featured on the Academy of American Poets as their Poem-a-Day for Thursday, November 30, 2017.  “Sleep” is part of Rita Banerjee’s new collection of poems Echo in Four Beats (FLP, 2018).  Combining elements, rhythms, and personas from American jazz, blues, and ragtime, poet Rita Banerjee presents a modern-day spin on the love story of Echo and Narcissus in her debut full-length poetry collection, Echo in Four Beats.  But in this story, told in four parts, Echo is more than just a fragment, she is a Sapphic voice that speaks, foretells, forestalls, and repeats Echo in Four Beats, which was a finalist for the Red Hen Press Benjamin Saltman Award, the Three Mile Harbor Book Prize, the Aquarius Press/Willow Books Literature Award, will be released by Finishing Line Press on February 2, 2018.  “Sleep” was inspired by a recent trip to Taiwan.  Of the experience and poem, Banerjee writes:

‘Sleep’ explores the space where human agency or communication seems impossible until an unexpected moment of connection or surprise occurs, often between two people, often through art.  A few years ago, I had the honor of traveling through Jinshan, Taiwan. At a monastery, I attended a conference on Buddhism. Outside the temple grounds, English held no cachet. Jinshan was famous for its hot springs and pools of captive koi. I watched them move through the water without a sound, and began writing this poem. One day, I got lost in a local marketplace. To ask for directions home, I tried speaking in Japanese. A woman selling herbs and flowers answered. She had been forced to learn Japanese as a schoolgirl during the occupation of Taiwan. After independence, she never thought the language would come in handy again, especially not in the twenty-first century, especially not while talking to a Bengali American traveler like me. We talked, our conversation halting, full of sorrow and surprise, for nearly an hour.”

To read the full poem, please visit the Academy of American Poets here.

Rita Banerjee is the author of Echo in Four Beats, forthcoming from Finishing Line Press in February 2018. She is the Executive Creative Director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop and teaches on modernism, art house film, and South Asian aesthetics and literary theory at the Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich in Germany, where she currently lives.

Rita Banerjee to judge the 2017 Minerva Rising “Dare to Speak” Poetry Chapbook Contest – Deadline: December 1, 2017

Poet, editor, professor and Executive Creative Director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Rita Banerjee will judge the 2017 Minerva Rising “Dare to Speak” Poetry Chapbook Contest.

Minerva Rising is an independent literary press, celebrates the creativity and wisdom in every woman by giving them space to tell their stories and to tell them well.   This year’s contest embodies and embraces the theme “Dare to Speak” by opening up the Minerva Rising annual chapbook contest to writers whose voices have been suppressed.  If your poetry speaks a message that has never been heard before, the Universe is ripe to listen.  Now is the season to Dare.

Writers are invited to submit 14-36 pages of a chapbook-length poetry manuscript (along with a table of contents and acknowledgements page) to Minerva Rising by December 1, 2017.  Winner receives $250 and 10 copies of chapbook.  More information on contest available here.  Submission fee is $20.  Applications open at minervarising.submittable.com.

Rita Banerjee is the editor of CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing (C&R Press, March 2018) and the author of the poetry collection Echo in Four Beats (Finishing Line Press, February 2018), which was a finalist for the Red Hen Press Benjamin Saltman Award, Three Mile Harbor Poetry Prize, and Aquarius Press / Willow Books Literature Award, the novella “A Night with Kali” in Approaching Footsteps (Spider Road Press, 2016), and the poetry chapbook Cracklers at Night (Finishing Line Press, 2010). She received her doctorate in Comparative Literature from Harvard and her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington, and her writing appears in the Academy of American Poets, Poets & Writers, Nat. Brut.The ScofieldThe Rumpus, Painted Bride Quarterly, Mass Poetry, Hyphen Magazine, Los Angeles Review of BooksElectric Literature, VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, AWP WC&C Quarterly, Queen Mob’s Tea House, Riot Grrrl Magazine, The Fiction Project, Objet d’Art, KBOO Radio’s APA Compass, and elsewhere. She is the Executive Creative Director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop and teaches at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München in Germany.  She is currently working on a documentary film about race, voyeurism, and intimacy in the United States and in France, a novel about a Tamil-Jewish American family in crisis during a post-authoritarian regime, and a collection of essays on race, sex, politics, and everything cool.