Announcing New Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Faculty

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is delighted to announce that Heidi Pitlor and Laura van den Berg will be joining us as full faculty on our upcoming retreats and workshops, and that Lily Hoang and Frederick-Douglass Knowles II will be our newly appointed Summer 2016 Teaching Fellows.  More about our new faculty and teaching fellows and their talented work in fiction, editing, publishing, nonfiction, poetry, and performance can be found below:

49zoqdckHeidi Pitlor received her B.A. from McGill University in Montreal and her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Emerson College. She eventually became an editor and later a senior editor at Houghton Mifflin (now Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). She has been the series editor of The Best American Short Stories since 2007. Her writing has appeared in such publications as Ploughshares, The Huffington Post, and Labor Day: True Birth Stories by Today’s Best Women Writers.

LauraCandidPhotoLaura van den Berg was raised in Florida and earned her M.F.A. at Emerson College. Her first novel, Find Me, published by FSG last yearwas selected as a “Best Book of 2015” by NPR, Time Out New York, and BuzzFeed, among others. Find Me was longlisted for the 2016 International Dylan Thomas Prize. She is also the author of two collections of stories, What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us (Dzanc Books, 2009) and The Isle of Youth (FSG, 2013). What the World was a Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection and shortlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. The Isle of Youth was named a “Best Book of 2013” by over a dozen outlets, including NPR, The Boston Globe, and O, The Oprah Magazine; a finalist for the Frank O’Connor Award; and received The Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts & Letters and the 2015 Bard Fiction Prize. Laura lives in Brooklyn with her husband and dog, and she is currently at work on a new story collection and a new novel, both forthcoming from FSG. Beginning in the fall of 2016, she will be a Briggs-Copeland Lecturer in Fiction at Harvard.


Lily Hoang is the author of five books, including A Bestiary (winner of the inaugural Cleveland State University Poetry Center’s Nonfiction Contest) and Changing (recipient of a PEN Open Books Award). With Joshua Marie Wilkinson, she edited the anthology The Force of What’s Possible: Writers on Accessibility and the Avant-Garde. She is Director of the MFA program at New Mexico State University. She serves as Prose Editor at Puerto del Sol and Editor for Jaded Ibis Press.

Frederick-Douglass Knowles IIFDK is a poet, educator and activist involved in community education and the performing arts. He has competed on two National Poetry Slam Teams and served as the 2011 Connecticut Slam Team coach. His works have been featured in Poems on the Road to Peace: A Collective Tribute to Dr. King Volume 2Peabody Museum of Natural History by Yale University Press, The 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: Poetry and Prose on HIV/AIDS from the Black Diaspora by Third World Press. Frederick-Douglass is currently an Assistant Professor of English at Three Rivers Community College where he infuses English Composition with social injustice.

Please give a warm welcome to our new CWW Faculty!  We’re excited to have such wonderful writers join our team!

~ Cambridge Writers’ Workshop

Apply to Barcelona & South of France & Granada, Spain Writing Retreats by May 30!

Rolling submissions for our Summer in Barcelona & South of France (July 18 – 26, 2016) & Summer in Granada, Spain (July 28 – August 5, 2016) Writing Retreats will be open until May 30, 2016 on!

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Summer in Barcelona & South of France Writing Retreat  will take place from July 18-26, 2016, and the cost of the workshop is $3950, which includes lodging and breakfast in Barcelona, Spain and Narbonne, France, transportation from Barcelona to Narbonne, craft of writing seminars, and writing workshops.  Writers can also enjoy the full retreat program for $2950 with a shared lodging option. Writers can also attend the program for a retreat & manuscript consultation-only option (with private room) for $2150.

The retreat allows writers, both new and experienced, the opportunity to learn from and work alongside award-winning authors and editors. Participating writers will find themselves honing their craft and expanding their writing skills as they work on existing or brand new projects.  The retreat will be held at the Sercotel Amister Art Hotel Barcelona (Avinguda Roma, 93-95, 08029 Barcelona, Spain) and Hotel Novotel Narbonne Sud (130 Rue de l’Hôtellerie, 11100 Narbonne, France). Faculty includes Bret Anthony Johnston(fiction), David Shields (nonfiction, book-length essay), Diana Norma Szokolyai(poetry, nonfiction), and Rita Banerjee (poetry, fiction).

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. Work on your existing manuscript, or look to the beauty and warmth of Granada to inspire all-new projects.

The 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. Our Andalucían writing retreat will take place from July 28-August 5, 2015, and the cost of the workshop is $3950, which includes lodging and breakfast, a tapas tour of Granada, craft of writing seminars, and writing workshops.  Writers can also enjoy the full retreat program for $2950 with a shared lodging option. Writers can also attend the program for a retreat & manuscript consultation-only option (with private room) for $2150.

The retreat will be held at the Hotel Guadalupe (Paseo de la Sabica, 30, 18009 Granada, Spain). Faculty includes David Shields (fiction, book-length essay), Alexander Chee (fiction), Rita Banerjee (poetry, fiction), and Diana Norma Szokolyai (poetry, nonfiction).


Only Limited Seats Available for Newport Writing Retreat


Only a few seats remain for the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Spring in Newport, Rhode Island Writing & Yoga Retreat!  The application deadline has been extended to April 15, 2016.  We encourage candidates to apply as soon as possible as registration will close once the retreat has sold out.  Please visit our Newport Retreat page to see when registration has closed.

Our Spring in Newport, Rhode Island Writing & Yoga Retreat will take place April 22-24, 2016, in Newport, RI.  Participants will enjoy craft of writing seminars taught by award-winning authors Jade Sylvan (fiction, nonfiction) and Diana Norma Szokolyai (poetry, nonfiction). Certified yoga instructor Elissa Lewis will guide daily breath-focused movement and meditation classes.  More information about our Spring in Newport, Rhode Island Writing & Yoga Retreat can be found at

CWW Spring and Summer Writing Application Retreats Deadline: April 15, 2016

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is excited to be hosting three retreats in spring and summer 2016!

The first, our Spring in Newport, RI Yoga & Writing Retreat, is slated to take place April 22-24, 2016 in Newport, RI.  Participants will work on new and existing writing projects alongside award-winning authors Diana Norma Szokolyai (poetry, nonfiction) and Jade Sylvan (fiction, nonfiction), and practice yoga with Elissa Lewis.  For more information and to apply to our Newport retreat, visit  Applications for this retreat are due April 15, 2016.

Our Summer in Barcelona and South of France Writing Retreat is slated to take place July 18-26, 2016.  Participants will spend three days in Barcelona, Spain and four days in Narbonne, France.  They will work on new and existing writing projects alongside award-winning authors Bret Anthony Johnston (fiction), David Shields (fiction, book-length essay), Rita Banerjee (poetry, fiction), and Diana Norma Szokolyai (poetry, nonfiction).  For more information and to apply to our Summer in Barcelona and South of France Writing Retreat, visit  Applications for this retreat are due April 15, 2016.

Our Summer in Granada, Spain Writing Retreat is slated to take place July 28-August 5, 2016.  Participants will work on new and existing writing projects alongside award-winning authors David Shields (fiction, book-length essay), Alexander Chee (fiction), Rita Banerjee (poetry, fiction), and Diana Norma Szokolyai (poetry, nonfiction).  For more information and to apply to our Summer in Granada, Spain Writing Retreat, visit  Applications for this retreat are due April 15, 2016.

5 Ways the Practice Of Yoga is Like the Art Of Writing: A Conversation Inspired by the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop

6169907365_6e87d5e1f7_oIn “5 Ways the Practice of Yoga is Like the Art of Writing,” writer Ko Im connects the two arts. The comparison came out of a conversation with the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop, which often combines yoga and writing – two wonderfully creative, nourishing processes. The full article can be read here.

Ko Im is a freelance writer, lifestyle enthusiast, voice over artist and yoga instructor in New York City. She is author and narrator of Broke, not Broken — a digital travel memoir.

Cambridge Writers’ Workshop teams up with Shakespeare & Company, Paris (July 23, 2015)

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is proud to announce that we will be hosting Guggenheim Fellowship and two time NEA fellowship recipient David Shields for a reading at Shakespeare and Company Bookstore in Paris. The reading will take place as part of our Summer in Paris Writing Retreat on Thursday July 23, 2015 from 7 p.m. – 8 p.m.  Rita Banerjee will introduce and moderate the event, which will feature David Shields and his French translator, Charles Recoursé, performing the dialogue of Shields and Caleb Powell from I Think You’re Totally Wrong: A Quarrel.  The performance will be followed by a discussion of collage and the literary essay by Shields and Recoursé, followed by a Q&A portion, which will be lead by Diana Norma Szokoloyai.

David Shields is the internationally bestselling author of twenty books, including Reality Hunger (named one of the best books of 2010 by more than thirty publications), The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead (New York Times bestseller), and Black Planet (finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award). Forthcoming are War Is Beautiful (powerHouse, November 2015), Flip-Side (powerHouse, March 2016) and Other People (Knopf, 2017). The recipient of Guggenheim and NEA fellowships, Shields has published essays and stories in the New York Times Magazine, Harper’s, Esquire, Yale Review, Village Voice, Salon, Slate, McSweeney’s, and Believer. His work has been translated into twenty languages.

Shakespeare and Company became the “literary culture in bohemian Paris” after it was opened by George Whitman in 1951. The English-language bookstore was frequented by many Beat Generation poets like Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs, as well as other writers like Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller. The bookstore regularly hosts poetry readings and houses young writers.

To apply for the Summer in Paris Writing Retreat (July 22-30, 2015), visit and send an application by May 25, 2015.

Newport Writing & Yoga Retreat 2015 – April 5, 2015

While some of the participants enjoyed a session of Energizing Yoga with Elissa, Norma slaved away in the kitchen making French toast for the Farewell Brunch. Rita made red pepper scrambled eggs. Mimosas and fresh fruit made the Farewell Brunch a delicious one.

During the meal, the faculty and writers sat around the table and discussed writing goals for the future. We even vowed to stay in touch and have been hosting mini workshops each week on the Cambridge Writer’s Workshop NING member network (learn more about that here).

We were sad to see everyone leave, but can’t wait to see them at our upcoming retreats in Paris and Granada!

– Emily Smith

Newport Writing & Yoga Retreat – April 4, 2015

After Energizing Yoga with Elissa, Stephen introduced “Theater of the Impossible.”  In Stephen’s “Theater of the Impossible” workshop, we talked about the most satisfying components of watching a play: seeing the impossible unfold before us or watch as it is staged. Instead of thinking of a script as a blueprint, Stephen encouraged us to consider the script “recipe” a challenge and to think outside of it.

After Stephen’s class, Kathleen reviewed the manuscript revisions during a second session of “Reviewing Your Manuscript for Publication” and read from her own book: With Robert Lowell and His CircleYou can watch Kathleen read here:

The writers took a much deserved break after Kathleen’s class and explored historic Newport during the afternoon.  Workshops resumed with Stephen’s “Against Aristotle: New Structures for New Stories.” We discussed the traditional Aristotelian story structure. Then we began breaking the rules with new ways of storytelling through interpolation (like Charles Mee’s Iphigenia 2.0), tessellation (like Carson Kreitzer’s Flesh and the Desertand the looped stack narrative (like Jason Grote’s 1001).

Norma finished out the day of workshops with a second session of “Your Voice: Bringing your Page to Performance.” We shared our work salon style in the living room. Both Claire Ince’s performance piece and Saundra Norton’s can be heard below.

At the end of the night, we made an impromptu group performance in response to “Too Many Cooks”—a crazy parody of sitcom opening credits.

– Emily Smith

Newport Writing & Yoga Retreat – April 3, 2015

We started Day 2 bright and early with Energizing Yoga taught by Elissa Lewis. Our belief is that yoga can clear and prepare the mind for writing during the day. Elissa rounded out yoga with aromatherapy using a citrus-scented essential oil.

The first set of workshops began with Rita Banerjee‘s “Literary Taboo.” Each participant drew two pieces of paper from a bowl with a word like “crocodile” or “femme fatale” on each. Each sheet also included a list of taboo words, which each writer was forbidden to use in writing about the words they had selected. For example, a writer who drew “spaceship” wasn’t allowed to use the words “portal,” “fly,” “aliens,” or “planetary.”

In Stephen Aubrey‘s “Weirding the World” workshop, we learned that the script isn’t a flat work of literature or a description in poetry of another world but rather another world passing before us in time and space. While language is part of this world, the rest of it is space. And before we populate space, we must create it.  During the afternoon, some writers stayed at the house to work on their pieces. Others explored Newport’s beaches and enjoyed the warm spring weather.

Executive Art Director Diana Norma Szokolyai taught us to own our voices during “Your Voice: Bringing your Page to Performance” in the evening. We watched performance poets like Anne Waldman (Uh-Oh Plutonium!) and Saul Williams (List of Demands) and then practiced using unusual instruments to add depth to our own work. Participant Claire Ince took to the thumb piano and Saundra Norton used a music box to add mystery to her poem (see Day 3 post for their work).

The final workshop for the day, “Developing Your Manuscript for Publication,” was led by Kathleen Spivack. The participants were asked to read their work out loud. After carefully reviewing each participant’s manuscript and giving individual feedback, Kathleen assigned a revised draft due from everyone for the next day.  After a hard day’s work, the whole group went out to dinner at the Brick Alley Pub in historic downtown Newport!

– Emily Smith

Newport Writing & Yoga Retreat – April 2, 2015

After arriving at the Newport, Rhode Island retreat location—a Cape Cod style home nestled into a quiet neighborhood near the beach—we kicked off the retreat with a champagne toast and the Welcome Dinner. Our delicious dinner was catered by Pasta Beach and made by a chef from Bologna, Italy. We had food for days!

After dinner, CWW Executive Creative Director Rita Banerjee and Executive Artistic Director Norma Szokolyai broke the ice with the Evocative Object workshop. Each participant was asked to randomly pick an object out of a bag, then attempt to write a description of it. Trying to guess each person’s object inspired future writing and a lot of laughter! To our surprise, many of the objects (like a mini topiary) were wedding favors.

Following the workshop, we broke for the night and got some sleep in preparation for the exciting workshops held on Day 2.

– Emily Smith