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 7: “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?

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 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).
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CWW Summer in Granada Writing Retreat- Aug. 3 2017: Character Development & Writing from your Senses in the City of Pomegranates

Granada. City that is a feast for the senses, city that pulls you into its perfumed streets, filled with the foglight of frankincense and the pepper of flamenco music.  We started Thursday off with an intensive class taught by Rita Banerjee on Character Development & the Law of Desire.  After breaking for lunch and some time to write our character sketches, we re-convened for Tim Horvath’s class on Writing from Your Senses. During the class, we examined a variety of literary texts, as well as sampled tantalizing chocolate from a world class chocolatier and some handmade by CWW Artistic Director Diana Norma Szokolyai just days before in a chocolate factory in a small mountain village, Mijas.  Cacao, ginger, chile, sea salt, essential oil of lemon, corn nuts, blueberries…these were just some of the flavorful notes that we tasted.  As we went through all of the senses, we were surprised by some I Hate Perfume scents that evoked literary landscapes from novels or particular seasons and decades.  At night, we went on a tapas tour and enjoyed sampling local sangria, wine, tinto de verano, clara (lemonade and beer) and cañas.  The colorful street markets were a delight to explore as we sampled local cheeses and tapas.  It was a day full of sensorial experiences to feed our writing.

-Diana Norma Szokolyai, Granada

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 Board Member Gregory Crosby’s poem “A Volta” feat. on Nevada Public Radio

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is delighted to announce that Gregory Crosby, a member of our Executive Board, has a stunning new poem, “A Volta,” featured on Nevada Public Radio.  Crosby writes:

A Volta

The old man folded his newspaper
& asked, “Can God make a prison so
secure even He can’t break out of it?”
Well, what do you think the universe is?
We’re all on the yard together; only
some of us, those who thirst & grasp after
power, labor under the impression
that we’re the guards. A little bird flew by,
too fast to identify. The coffee
cooled past the point of no return… unless
you asked the waitress for a warm-up.
There’s always a point of return; it’s just
that you may not be the one to turn back, to
twist your head to catch one last glimpse of grace.

Read “A Volta,” on Nevada Public Radio here.

Gregory Crosby is a member of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Executive Board and the author of the chapbooks Spooky Action at a Distance (2014, The Operating System) and the forthcoming The Book of Thirteen (2016, Sylph Press); his poetry has appeared in numerous journals, including Court Green, Epiphany, Copper Nickel, Leveler, Sink Review, Ping Pong, & Rattle. He teaches creative writing at Lehman College, City University of New York.  You can follow him on Twitter here.

Echo in Four Beats – poetry debut by Rita Banerjee – forthcoming in February 2018

Combining elements, rhythms, and personas from American jazz, blues, and ragtime, poet Rita Banerjee presents a multi-lingual, 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 and the Aquarius Press/Willow Books Literature Award, will be released by Finishing Line Press on February 2, 2018.  The poetry manuscript will be available for pre-order on Finishing Line Press’s website from October 10 – December 8, 2017.  On Rita Banerjee’s poetry, the following writers have written:

“Rita Banerjee’s poems are an acrobatic music, a swinging erudition, a hip lyric to make shape of Whitman’s ‘ostent evanescent,’ a phrase he uses to conjure the metaphysical projections of the physical world. Banerjee, with thrilling compression and off-beat breaks, fashions a multi-dimensional America…With wit, play, consonance, anagram, assonance, the unexpected rhyme, Banerjee offers, in this short collection, a material, feminist, postcolonial critique of where we are as a nation, what we are made of, what we fail to make, and what we can make of language regardless…’ – Patrick Rosal, author of Brooklyn Antediluvian, My American Kundiman, and Uprock, Headspin, Scramble, and Dive

“’I had no roam / no hope to / call a // road’” writes Rita Banerjee, but I don’t believe her for a second. This is a mobile and hopeful speaker, capable of making her home in a rail car heading out of Manipal just as easily as she inhabits Renoir’s Bougival. Throughout, the worldliness is laced with heartache, in search of “’some solace that would heal the lines / between blue and continent.’” ~ Srikanth Reddy, author of Voyager and Facts for Visitors

“Rita Banerjee’s poems spin the reader into a world of tightly packed imagery that leaves us gasping at the edge of violent endings or floating in wondrous, ancient silences. With lyric intensity, delicacy, and humor, she has the capacity to make places and sounds palpable, taking the reader on a journey from Harlem to the Himalayas. This is a new voice of hypnotizing and rare beauty.” ~ Diana Norma Szokolyai, author of Parallel Sparrows and Roses in the Snow

ritabanerjeeRita Banerjee is the Executive Creative Director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop and teaches at Rutgers University.  She received her doctorate in Comparative Literature from Harvard and her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington, and her writing appears in Poets & Writers, The Rumpus, Painted Bride Quarterly, Mass Poetry, Hyphen Magazine, Los Angeles Review of BooksElectric Literature, VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, AWP WC&C Quarterly, Queen Mob’s Tea House, Riot Grrrl Magazine, The Fiction Project, Objet d’Art, KBOO Radio’s APA Compass, and elsewhere. Her poetry chapbook, Cracklers at Night (Finishing Line Press), received First Honorable Mention for Best Poetry Book of 2011-2012 at the Los Angeles Book Festival, and her novella, A Night with Kali, in Approaching Footsteps (Spider Road Press), released in November 2016.  Her debut poetry collection, Echo in Four Beats, which was a finalist for the Red Hen Press Benjamin Saltman Award and the Aquarius Press/Willow Books Literature Award, will be released by Finishing Line Press on February 2, 2018.  And 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 currently working on a novel, a book on South Asian literary modernisms, and a collection of lyric essays.

Cambridge Writers’ Workshop feat. in The Independent (UK)

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is delighted to be featured in the British newspaper, The Independent, in their recent feature article, “World of Books: Ready to Write Your Own Best-seller?”  The article focuses on the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Summer in Granada Writing Retreat (Aug 2-6, 2017), and quotes Jennifer Howard’s feature from The Washington Post:

You’ve spent too many summers reading novels, isn’t it about time you started to write one yourself.  Jennifer Howard selects the best of the world’s writing retreats:

Summer in Granada is part of a series of retreats created by writers Rita Banerjee and Diana Norma Szokolyai. They describe their retreat model as a kind of roving salon, with previous sessions in Paris and at a chateau in Picardy, among its envy-inducing locations. “All of these places have a very alive and electric culture, a culture that exists on the streets, in the imagination,” Banerjee says.

To read the complete article, please visit the The Independent’s British edition here.  Applications and scholarships for our Summer in Granada Writing Retreat (Aug 2-6, 2017) are open until June 20, 2017.  Please apply at cww.submittable.com.

Granada2017PosterJune6 copy

Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Summer in Granada, Andalusia, Spain Writing Retreat featured in The Washington Post

Original illustration by Lisk Feng for The Washington Post

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is delighted to be chosen as one of the six best writing retreats for the summer in their recent feature, “When You’re Ready to Move from Summer Writing to Summer Reading.”  In the article, journalist Jennifer Howard writes:

Your boss doesn’t care if you finish your novel. Your partner would rather not hear about the memoir you’ve been threatening to write. Feeling discouraged? It may be time to escape the creativity-quashing grind and reconnect with your muse in a lovely locale.

Whether you like Midwestern lakes or Icelandic hot springs, there’s a writers retreat for you. Here are half a dozen programs where you can spend quality time with your journal or get started on the next bestseller:

For culture connoisseurs

If tapas and flamenco are more your thing, the Summer in Granada retreat, sponsored by the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop, promises a warm cultural bath: “Let the old city stimulate your writing with its winding streets, Moorish history, and evocative landscapes,” the website says.

Summer in Granada is part of a series of retreats created by writers Rita Banerjee and Diana Norma Szokolyai. They describe their retreat model as a kind of roving salon, with previous sessions in Paris and at a chateau in Picardy, among its envy-inducing locations. “All of these places have a very alive and electric culture, a culture that exists on the streets, in the imagination,” Banerjee says.

This summer, participating writers will enjoy an “experiential tour” alongside workshops and writing sessions. Fiction writer Tim Horvath will teach a “writing from the senses” class that includes a visit to a “museum of smells,” a visit to a chocolatier and a tapas tour. “No matter how intellectual writing gets, you always want to draw in the senses and immerse the reader,” he says. (Did we mention chocolate?)

Cost/duration: $2,950; four nights. Some scholarships available.

To read the complete article, please visit the The Washington Post website here.  Print versions of the article will be available on June 11, 2017.

Applications and scholarships for our Summer in Granada Writing Retreat (Aug 2-6, 2017) are open until June 20, 2017.  Please apply at cww.submittable.com.

CWW Summer in Granada Writing Retreat Scholarship Deadline – June 20, 2017

Granada2017PosterJune6 copyWe are offering scholarships in the amount of $500 – $650 for our Summer in Granada, Spain Writing Retreat (August 2-6, 2017).  Deadline for Scholarship Applications is June 20, 2017 for Granada, Spain.*

For writers who are minorities, parents, and students. Please simply indicate your scholarship category and a one paragraph statement indicating need of financial support in your cover letter.

applyDeadline: June 20, 2017

* Apply Early, Limited Scholarships *

WRITING RETREATS with the supportive faculty of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop will take place in Granada, Spain (August 2–6) and Rockport, MA (October 13-15). Faculty for our 2017 retreats include Tim Horvath, Dipika Guha, Emily Nemens, Adam Reid Sexton, Rita Banerjee, Diana Norma Szokolyai, Kerry Cohen, Maya Sonenberg and Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich. Genres include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, playwriting, and hybrid.

  • Diversity Scholarship
    Diversity scholarships will be offered to minorities who show a commitment to creative writing.  In your one-page cover letter, please describe how our writing retreat would make a difference in your writing life. Include a short bio (150-200 words).
  • Student Scholarship
    Student scholarships will be offered to students (both undergraduate and graduate, full or part time) who show a commitment to creative writing.  In your one-page cover letter, please describe how our writing retreat would make a difference in your writing life. Include a short bio (150-200 words).
  • Writer/Parent Scholarship
    Writers/Parent scholarships will be offered to writers who show a commitment to creative writing and are raising children (infant through college).  In your one-page cover letter, please describe how our writing retreat would make a difference in your writing life. Include a short bio (150-200 words).

applyDeadline: June 20, 2017

* We are extending our scholarship deadline for those who read about our Summer in Granada Writing Retreat in the Washington Post & Boston Voyager feature articles this month 🙂

CWW Recommends: Lit & Culture Scenes in Portland, OR

This April, I joined an amazing group of writers at the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop 2017 Spring in Portland Writing Retreat, hosted in the Alberta Arts District. During our brief weekend, we enjoyed an inspired writing session at the (not so) Secret Library located in the historic Heathman Hotel; an afternoon exploring Powell’s, Portland’s most well-known bookstore that occupies a full city block and boasts a collection of one million books; and a public reading from local author Paul Dage at the American legion hall on Alberta Street.

I have been lucky enough to call Portland my home for the past year. Before moving here, I spent more than a decade living on the east coast, and have found Portland to be a different kind of city. If you’ve seen Portlandia, you know what I mean. From the outside, what usually stands out is Portland’s weirdness, often compared to the likes of Austin and Pittsburgh for its quirky locals and offbeat places (a museum of vacuums, abandoned schools/banks/jails turned into bars, and a vegan strip club, just to name a few). On the inside, Portland is a gem of a city that prides itself in many things: environmental consciousness, craft brewing, and a farm-to-table ethos – local bacon jam, local salt, local ketchup, local coffee roasters, and I could go on forever. Most of all, Portland is a city of passion, arts, and community, which frequently celebrates its indie authors, publishers, and artists. So in today’s post, I’m happy to share a few recommendations on the best places to write, discuss books, and otherwise soak up the creative life here in Portland.

— Angie Walls

Mother Foucault’s Bookshop

This beloved indie bookshop sells new and used books, and proud of its bookish, low-tech environment (cash only, no cell phones, and they don’t have a website). With floor-to-ceiling wood bookshelves, a small stage, a back room for book groups, Mother Foucault’s is a great spot to get lost reading. They host several readings and events for writers, poets, and performers, including this summer’s Last Thursdays of Humanity – an open stage for storytellers to respond to the current state of America.


Literary Arts

Literary Arts is a thirty-year-old nonprofit literary center in Portland that offers valuable programs and support services for writers. They celebrate local authors with the Oregon Book Awards and Fellowship programs, offer creative writing workshops, and build community around literature through lecture series and author events. Every November, they host the city’s biggest book festival called Wordstock, an entire day of fifty on-stage readings, writer panels, pop-up signings, and book fair.

Liars’ League PDX & Backfence

In addition to poetry slams, Portland has a few groups hosting spoken word open mics. The Liars’ League originally formed in London and has spread to NYC, Hong Kong, and Portland. Every month’s event is based on a theme like “East and West” and “Willpower and Shame.” The League picks the best  short fiction and then casts actors to reach them at the live event. And in the past week, the Liars’ League PDX will be part of The Archive Project, a collaboration between Literary Arts and OPB Radio that features recordings from lit/poetry slams and other live literary events around Portland.

Rimsky-Korsakoffee House

One of my favorite writing spots, the Rimsky-Korsakoffee House is one of the oldest coffee houses in the city and is full of oddities including a coffin centerpiece and self-rotating tables. Inside a Victorian house in Southeast Portland (formerly a warehouse and industrial neighborhood that now offers hip eateries and shops), Rimsky’s is great for a late-night writing session, complete with coffee and to-die-for desserts and live classical music. According to owner Goody Cable, “the house is haunted by it former tenants, a pair of writers who bore witness to the Russian revolution.”

Crystal Ballroom

Originally built in 1914 as Cotillion Hall to host dance revivals and popular music artists during the Great Depression, the Crystal Ballroom continues to be one of Portland’s top music venues. Even after decades of changes, the building has managed to maintain its unique character, in its high ceilings, murals, chandeliers, wide-arched windows, and restored “floating” dance floor. In addition to bringing in local and national bands, the ballroom also hosts its 80s and 90s dance parties that have been drawing crowds for the past ten years.

Saturday Market

Portland’s Saturday Market has been around for nearly forty-five years, and every Saturday, Portlanders come to explore the open-air market in Old Town. This market showcases more than 250 local arts, crafts, and food vendors: handcrafted soaps, mosaic art, oil paintings, vegan bakeries, eco-friendly jewelry, and more.

First Thursdays

Originally a gathering of art collectors and dealers, this is the place to discover Portland’s thriving art scene. In the heart of the Pearl District, First Thursdays draws thousands into the area’s thirty-plus art galleries spread over eight city blocks, so you can meet local sculptors, painters, photographers, collectors, and others over wine and a shared love of art. Come summertime, the closed-off blocks come alive through live music, beer, food, and new friends.

Revolution Hall

Revolution Hall is a performing arts venue and concert hall. It’s housed in what used to be the Washington High School building in Southeast, which was abandoned after the ‘80s and later renovated as a performance venue in 2013. It’s hosted local bands from Portland’s Mississippi Studios among a variety of national and international acts – from blues to grassroots to British indie rock. While most of the calendar is filled with bands, they host other exciting events like comedy, live author events (in Feb, an Evening with Activist/Journalist Dan Savage) and live radio productions, including Cheryl Strayed’s Dear Sugar radio show and LiveWire (a popular live variety show).

Angie Walls is a short story writer, novelist, and screenwriter who grew up in Springfield, Missouri, near the Ozarks. Many of her stories explore contemporary themes of identity, isolation, and helplessness in the Midwest. She is the award-winning screenwriter and director behind Redmonton, an original web series inspired by her hometown, and has published stories in various journals including Cutthroat, East Bay Review, Summerset Review, Halfway Down the Stairs, The Helix, Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review, The Griffin, and Stirring. Her short story “Things We Should’ve Said” received an honorable mention from Glimmer Train, and one of her essays will be published in Carve Magazine. In 2017, she will be releasing a new book of short stories, Anywhere But Here.  Angie Walls is an alumna of our 2017 Spring in Portland Writing Retreat.