Summer in Granada, Spain Writing Retreat Class Schedule and June 1, 2017 Deadline!

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The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop’s Summer in Granada Writing Retreat will take place from August 2-6, 2017. 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. 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. The retreat offers multi-genre workshops, as well as craft seminars and time to write. The faculty includes award-winning writers Tim Horvath, Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich, Rita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai. Genres include fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.  To apply, please submit an application at http://cww.submittable.com by June 1, 2017.

Schedule of Classes:

Character Development & the Law of Desire (with Rita Banerjee)

Femme fatales, gumshoe detectives, star-crossed lovers, wicked stepmothers, wise fools, empathetic anti-heroes: dynamic and archetypal characters can be key to making a good story or lyrical piece tick and pulling in the reader deeper into your creative work. In this workshop, we will discuss how dynamic and archetypal characters can help structure stories, propel narratives forwards, and how each character’s desire provides interesting ethical dilemmas and emotional spectrums to narratives and verse. We will learn about the building blocks of creating strong, unforgettable characters, discuss the connection between desire and plot, and learn how playing with persona can help liberate nonfictional stories and lyrical poems. 

Writing from the Senses (with Tim Horvath)

Memorable writing often engages the senses first and foremost, immersing us in a character’s perceptions and sensations, and thus allowing us to dwell inside that character’s perspective. In this class, we’ll strive to make our writing more wholly and richly embodied by engaging the senses directly, building our abilities to depict each individually like a muscle group, and eventually intertwining them in synesthesia for the fullest effect. We explore each of the senses in turn by looking at exemplary instances where a writer is able to conjure the sense effectively.  We’ll take focused walks, taste local foods, do ekphrastic writing in museums, and attempt to capture sounds from that of traffic to flamenco guitar to the idiosyncratic grain of the individual human voice in multiple languages. This class also cuts across genres, shifting seamlessly between poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, grounding each in an embodied experience of the world. When we travel abroad, our senses are generally enlivened to begin with, and so you can think of this class as a way to translate that enhanced awareness into equally vivid words on the page.

The Storyteller’s Voice (with Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich)

Of all types of prose, personal narrative is perhaps the most inherently voice-driven. After all, the reader is essentially choosing to spend a lot of time with you, the author. Too often, the writer’s desire to be relatable on the page results in a watered-down, bland voice, when a distinctive voice is what’s needed to keep the reader engaged. (As V.S.Pritchett put it, in memoir, you get no credit for the living—it’s all in how the living’s told.) So how can you find—and sharpen—your narrative voice? Will it be crisp like Didion’s? Humorously exaggerated like Sedaris’s? Lyrically gritty like Ballantine’s? We’ll look at exceptional examples of voice in memoir and personal essays, and diagnose what makes them so successful. We’ll discuss ways to identify and amplify whatever yours is, working to make it even more distinctive. Come prepared with an essay or chapter draft to work on.

Leyendo Intensamente: Writers Reading Spanish/Latin American Literature in Translation (with Tim Horvath)

It is a given that writers must learn to read closely, with attention to nuance and craft, to unravel the methods by which other writers have managed to tell stories effectively and adapt them for their own purposes. In this class, we’ll focus on writers in Spanish and Portuguese, from canonical authors like Borges, Marquez, Valenzuela, Cortázar, and Lispector to contemporary luminaries and up-and-comers such as Eduardo Halfon, Valeria Luiselli, Javier Marías, and Laia Jufresa. We’ll swerve through techniques of developing metafiction and surrealism, magical realism, and philosophical fiction, and blending these with realism where suitable. We’ll also explore the fraught, infinitely rich topic of translation, discussing its complexities really and the ways that understanding the innumerable decisions involved in bringing a work into another language can shed light on the act of “translating” any experience or concept from mind or world onto the page, i.e. writing itself.

Life Isn’t A Book Structure: Strategies for Shaping Memoir (with Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich)

Even the wildest life, recounted straightforwardly from memory, will suffer from what Sven Birkerts calls “the coma-inducing effect of ‘and then.’” Good memoirists know this. So they reach into literature’s bag of tricks and find other ways to keep the pages turning: they speed time up in some places and slow it down in others; they layer two or more threads; or perhaps they find a structure that helps evoke the book’s meaning. All these considerations are part of shifting from thinking about your life as a life to thinking about the book as a book. But how can aspiring memoirists ready themselves to make that leap? In this session we’ll discuss strategies and approaches, as well as break down the choices made by a few published memoirists as they turned memory into literature. Then we’ll do a few exercises to help free you to do the same with your own material, turning life into art.

Featured Faculty:

tim_horvath_authorphotoTim Horvath is the author of Understories (Bellevue Literary Press), which won the New Hampshire Literary Award, and Circulation (sunnyoutside). His stories have appeared in Conjunctions, Fiction, The Normal School, Harvard Review, and elsewhere. His story “The Understory” won the Raymond Carver Short Story Award, and “The Conversations” earned a Special Mention in the 2014 Pushcart Prize Anthology; he is also a recipient of a Yaddo Fellowship. He teaches in the BFA and low-residency MFA programs at the New Hampshire Institute of Art, where he coordinates the Visiting Writers Series. He is currently at work on The Spinal Descent, a novel about contemporary classical composers, as well as a second short story collection.

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Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich’s first book, THE FACT OF A BODY: A Murder and a Memoir, is forthcoming from Flatiron Books (Macmillan) in May 2017, as well as from publishers internationally. The book layers a memoir with an investigation into, and recreation of, a 1992 Louisiana murder and death penalty case. For her work on the book, Marzano-Lesnevich received a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and a Rona Jaffe Award, and has twice been a fellow at both MacDowell and Yaddo. Other scholarships and fellowships received include those from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Millay Colony for the Arts, Blue Mountain Center, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center, Djerassi Resident Artists Program, the Studios at Key West, Vermont Studio Center, and the Alice Hayes Fellowship for Social Justice Writing from the Ragdale Foundation. Her essays appear in The New York Times, Oxford American, Iowa Review, Hotel Amerika, The Rumpus, and the anthologies True Crime and Waveform: Twenty-First Century Essays by Women, among many other publications, and were recognized “notable” in Best American Essays 2013, 2015, and 2016. She was educated at Harvard (JD), Emerson College (MFA), and Columbia University (BA) and now teaches at Grub Street, a nonprofit writing center in Boston, and in the graduate public policy program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

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 first collection of poems, 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. Finalist for the 2015 Red Hen Press Benjamin Saltman Award and the 2016 Aquarius Press Willow Books Literature Award, she is currently working on a novel, a book on South Asian literary modernisms, and a collection of lyric essays.

480540_535092196513183_901741364_nDiana 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. 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). Her poetry-music collaboration with Flux Without Pause, “Space Mothlight,” hit #16 on the Creative Commons Hot 100 list in 2015. 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,  and elsewhere, as well as anthologized in Other Countries: Contemporary Poets Rewiring History, Always Wondering, and the International Who’s Who in Poetry 2012. She is currently at work on her next book and an album of poetry & music.

applyDeadline: June 1, 2017

CWW Presents: Fertile Ground for Celebration at the Democracy Center, Cambridge, MA – May 5, 2017 * 7-9 pm

CWW Presents: Fertile Ground – A Literary & Musical Celebration
7 p.m. – 7:45p.m. Literary Readings/Performances

– intermission & book/album signing-
8 p.m. – 9 p.m. Musical Performances

Join us for a night of creative writing & music by and for diverse voices from NYC to Boston! Our evening will feature lyrical readings and musical performances by Matthew Wallenstein, Rita BanerjeeErini S. Katopodis, Sounds in Bloom (Diana Norma SzokolyaiDennis Shafer), Fawn (Anne Malin Ringwalt and Will Johnson) and Elizabeth Devlin, and will take place at the Democracy Center in Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA.

Tickets are available for pre-purchase in advance on Eventbrite, and will be available for purchase at the door starting at 6:30 PM. Sliding scale: $5-10. Your ticket helps us support the artists and the Democracy Center. Please note that the Democracy Center is not wheelchair accessible.

Here’s more about our performers:

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Matthew Wallenstein‘s writing has been published by the University of Chicago, the University of Maine Farmington, Bowling Green Sate University and others. He lives in a small Rust Belt town. “Tiny Alms,” his new release, covers a range of topics from growing up in poor rural New Hampshire to mental illness to the deportation of his wife. It is his first book and was Published by Permanent Sleep Press.

 

 

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 first collection of poems, 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 edited volume, CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing, will release in March 2018.  She is currently working on a novel, a book on South Asian literary modernisms, and a collection of lyric essays.

Erini S. Katopodis is a Greek-American poetry, fiction, and music writer from Los Angeles, CA. She’s graduating from Emerson College with a BFA in Fiction this May. Erini loves her music to be dreamy, folky, and intimate, with a touch of the strange, and loves making new sounds with new people. Performing with her are Shelby Marnett and Rob Luzier.

 

 

 

Sounds in Bloom (Diana Norma Szokolyai & Dennis Shafer)

Parisian literary life and contemporary art & music laid the groundwork and inspiration for Sounds in Bloom, a poetry-music-movement-art ensemble co-founded by poet Diana Norma Szokolyai & saxophonist Dennis Shafer in 2006. The Boston Globe has called their work “avant-garde.” Originally participating in David Barne’s Spoken Word nights in Paris and featured by Paris Soirees Salons, Sounds in Bloom now performs in NY, Boston and & Paris. Some places they have performed include The Firehouse Space, Pete’s Candy Store, Barbès, The Boston Conservatory, The Outpost, Theatre Salle Edmond Michelet, and the Cité International des Arts.

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Fawn is Will Johnson and Anne Malin Ringwalt. Combining elements of banjo, guitar, ukulele, synth and poetry, the duo explores the often-ignored spaces between pre-established genres. Fawn’s debut EP, “Neither Dog Nor Car,” was released on November 5, 2016, and their first music video, for “Good Earth,” premiered on NPR’s All Songs Considered TV in January 2017.

 

 

 

Elizabeth Devlin, with her haunting combination of lilting voice and enchanting Autoharp, is a self-produced NYC singer- songwriter. Devlin defies traditional musical structure with many of her songs, building miniature narratives and magical worlds where characters, fantasies and time collide. Devlin has toured nationally, internationally, & performs in venues throughout NYC’s 5 boroughs. “Orchid Mantis,” her newest full-length album, was released in February 2017 at Sidewalk Café’s Winter Anti-folk Festival in NYC.

CWW’s CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos & Sourcebook for Creative Writing (C&R Press) Launches on March 7, 2018!

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is proud to announce that CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writingedited by Rita Banerjee and Diana Norma Szokolyai, and produced by the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop (with assistant editors Alexander Carrigan and Megan Tilley), will be published on March 7, 2018 by C&R Press.  C&R Press began in 2006 as a literary press committed to publishing books from new and emerging writers.  C&R Press is interested in supporting authors whose thoughtful and imaginative contribution to contemporary literature deserves recognition and support. C&R Press’s catalogue includes exciting new poetry, fiction, nonfiction, as well as reportage/journalism.

CREDO. I believe. No other statement is so full of intent, subversion and power. A Credo is a call to arms. It is a declaration. A Credo is the act of an individual pushing back against society, against established stigmas, taboos, values, and norms. A Credo provokes. It desires change. A Credo is an artist or community challenging dogma, and putting themselves on the frontline. A Credo is art at risk. A Credo can be a marker of revolution. A Credo, is thus, the most calculating and simple form of a manifesto.

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop’s CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing is a raw look at what motivates 21st century authors. CREDO is a triad of creative writing manifestos, essays on the craft of writing, and creative writing exercises. These manifestos interrogate and harken back to the modernist manifestos of the early 20th century. The second section of CREDO focuses on craft of writing essays that examine the writing process with candid vulnerability. The third section includes writing exercises, which are meant to challenge and incite creativity.

CREDO is our declaration against violence and limitations of free speech. Our CREDO focuses on transgender poetics, world literature and aesthetics, collage and appropriation, and the politics of place. The anthology bridges the theoretical and the practical with accessible writing advice, and its ultimate mission is to inspire innovative writing and to provoke it. CREDO features writing from contemporary authors such as Kazim Ali, Forrest Anderson, Rita Banerjee, Lisa-Marie Basile, Jaswinder Bolina, Stephen Burt, Alexander Carrigan, Sam Cha, Melinda Combs, Thade Correa, Jeff Fearnside, John Guzlowski, Rachael Hanel, Janine Harrison, Lindsay Illich, Douglas C. Jackson, Caitlin Johnson, Christine Johnson-Duell, Jason Kapcala, Richard Kenney, Eva Langston, John Laue, Stuart Lishan, Ellaraine Lockie, Amy MacLennan, Kevin McLellan, E. Ce. Miller, Brenda Moguez, Peter Mountford, Robert Pinsky, Kara Provost, Jessica Reidy, Amy Rutten, Elisabeth Sharp McKetta, David Shields, Lillian Ann Slugocki, Maya Sonenberg, Kathleen Spivack, Laura Steadham Smith, Molly Sutton Kiefer, Jade Sylvan, Anca Szilágyi, Diana Norma Szokolyai, Marilyn Taylor, Megan Tilley, Suzanne Van Dam, Nicole Walker, Allyson Whipple, Shawn Wong, Caroll Yang, and Matthew Zapruder.

Stay tuned for our upcoming launch & book tours for CREDO!  For inquiries and reading engagements regarding CREDO and publications by the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop, Inc., please contact our agent, Natalie Kimber at The Rights Factory.

CWW Summer in Granada Writing Retreat Faculty Alexander Chee featured in The New York Times

Last year author Alexander Chee joined the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop as our fiction instructor for our 2016 Summer in Granada, Spain Writing Retreat. Now Chee has been chosen as one of four authors to share stories of how love and travel intersect for The New York Times’s debut Love Issue. The his essay, “In Spain, Secrets and a Possible Betrayal,” Chee recounts traveling to Granada during the summer with a former boyfriend, referred to as M. in the piece. In the essay, Chee writes:

M. loved poets, wrote poetry, sometimes wrote me poems, and his favorite poets all seemed to have met violent or tragic deaths, including Lorca. The day we visited Lorca’s house in Granada, we found the whole of it kept much as it was when he was there. I noticed the roses in the vases were almost gone, ready to be replaced, while roses bloomed outside. I imagined the poet had planted them, or at least tended them, but I didn’t want to ask in case it wasn’t true. I can still see the shrug as the tour guide said, “Yes, he was the son of a wealthy man,” a detail I wrote down in my notebook, along with how we all then looked at the beautiful wooden desk that seemed like a boat. I didn’t know why the guide said that and still don’t. Just as I don’t know why a book of his poems on the desk that day was open to “Poet in New York” — his other city.

Lorca’s murder had made him Granada’s presiding ghost. If his body had vanished at the hands of fascist murderers, he was everywhere there now, his face and words on mugs, T-shirts, restaurant menus and graffiti nearly anywhere you looked.

Unlike M., I already spoke Spanish. I needed to go to Paris and London to research my second novel, so we planned a summer trip across Europe to combine our aims, beginning with me in London and Paris, where he would join me, then Granada, beginning in July and concluding in late August…

M. had chosen our apartment because it was opposite the Alhambra, the magnificent historic Moorish palace on the hill across from our neighborhood, the Albaicín. The Darro ran between us. Our roof patio was opposite a simple mirador with a fountain, where there always seemed to be people playing guitar and smoking marijuana, with whom we exchanged waves. The apartment was simple and clean, its magnificence concentrated in the patio view of the palace and the city. Each room was on a different floor off a spiral staircase, the apartment as winding as the hill it was on. We left and returned by climbing a series of winding footpaths and side streets, and if I was confused, at night, I was always able to follow the guitar music home…

M.’s days at the school began early and were long, and left to my own devices, I would write for a few hours and then walk through the side streets, where I mapped the ancient cathedrals, most of which had been mosques before the expulsion of the Muslims, and then had the traditional breakfast of bread with tomate, a fresh tomato purée on toast, and olive oil. In Granada, there are usually two kinds of olive oil on the tables to put on, it seemed, anything you ate, but especially for this.

Read Alexander Chee’s full essay on his summer spent writing in Granada here.

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Summer in Granada Writing Retreat will take place from August 2-6, 2017.  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.  During the retreat, we will be staying at the Hotel Guadalupe, just a short walk from the Alhambra.  The retreat offers multi-genre workshops, as well as craft seminars and time to write. The faculty includes award-winning writers Tim Horvath, Alexandria Marzano-LesnevichRita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai. Genres include fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.  The cost of the retreat is $2950, which includes tuition, lodging, and daily breakfast.  Apply at cww.submittable.com by May 1, 2015!

Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Presents: Fawn (Boston, MA)

A few weeks ago, the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop hosted a night of poetry and music at the beautiful Church of the Covenant for our first CWW Presents event in Boston, MA.  The Church of the Covenant offer a massive yet warm and welcoming space to all who enter. We sat in the pews amongst others gathered to appreciate art in all its forms and listened to the art of Audrey HarrerJanaka Stucky , and Fawn.

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The night was opened with Audrey Harrer, a composer, harpist, and vocalist who bridge the gap between traditional music and new technology to create haunting melodies that linger with you long after the notes have dissipated into the air. As she plays on the harp or sings during her performance, Audrey records the melodies and melds them into her work, creating harmonies and dissonances that create music that fills the space of a cathedral.

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As Audrey left the stage, Janaka Stucky stood before us. Janaka is an American poet, the founding editor of Black Ocean, and the poetry journal Handsome. He opened his performance with poetry that both commanded the attention of his audience, but turned to soft intimacy that knocked the wind out of the audience with each new poem. He talked to the audience almost conversationally at one point, and we laughed for a moment, unknowing that a conversation about mechanics would turn to poetry of an army of insects made out of his own body. His performance that evoked imagery that was both unnerving yet so personal reached into a part of people that we are almost afraid of acknowledging, the mortality of our bodies but the permanence of what we leave behind.

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The final performance of the night was by the light, melodious strings and vocals of the group Fawn, led by Anne Malin Ringwalt and Will Johnson, who released their debut EP Neither Dog Nor Car in the November of 2016. Their music, a balance struck between the strings of ukulele, banjo, and guitar is so carefully struck with synth it is seamless, yet symbiotic in its need for the other. One song performed was a version of Amazing Grace whose lyrics had been changed to a version the created a connection with the air in our lungs and its connection with the world we inhabit that nearly brought me to tears. It is the nature of their music’s composition and lyrics that brings light into turmoil and releases the tension that comes with the passage of time.

Voice is the oldest way to tell our stories, words and sounds passed down from generation to generation that linger long in memory. We are so grateful to these artists for sharing their voices and music with us, and the Church of the Covenant for giving us such a beautiful welcoming space to share the art of music with the city of Boston.

Our next CWW Presents evening will take place on Friday May 5, 2017 at the Democracy Center and will feature poetry, fiction, and music performances by Elizabeth Devlin, Diana Norma SzokolyaiErini Katopodis, and Rita Banerjee!  Stay tuned for more information on our upcoming CWW Presents evening in Cambridge, MA!

Photos by Yasmina Hilal

Shannon O. Sawyer
CWW Media Development Intern

Laissez les bons temps rouler! 🎶 🎉 Join our 24-hour Writing #BakeOff Live on Twitter!

Dear Writers,

Greetings from sultry New Orleans!  Our Spring in New Orleans Writing Retreat kicked off on Thursday evening with writers descending on NOLA from all four corners of North America.  After a lovely orientation, meet and greets, and a discussion of our current writing projects, we were off to dine and wine and roll our sleeves up!  On Friday, after a home-made breakfast, Rita Banerjee kicked off our writing seminars with a class on “Character Development and the Law of Desire.”  From Hamlet to Tennessee Williams to Ben Percy and Siri Hustvedt, Rita and her students investigated what made their narratives and characters really tick, the charge between dynamic and typed, masked characters, and how many names desire could take.  Writing prompts and heated exchanges abounded, followed by a break-out writing session and then a Louisiana lunch.  In the afternoon, Emily Nemens taught a wonderful class on “The Art of Storytelling,” in which she examine the interplay between visual images, sculptures, artifacts, architectures, and the maps of streets and things, with the very process of creating evocative lyrical and narrative writing.  After her seminar and prompts, our writers took a tour on the grand Mississippi, shuttling ourselves against a moody blue sky and scatting waves to the delightful and decadent French Quarter in downtown New Orleans.  There we posed as Americans in Paris in Cafe du Monde, grabbing coffee with chicory, fresh beignets, and swapping techniques about speculative fiction and narrative craft for POC. We followed through, with a walking art and historical tour of New Orleans, in which Emily Nemens guided us to the homes and haunts of literary giants such as Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, and Anne Rice, introduced us to the local visual art scenes and galleries of New Orleans, strolled us past cemeteries and cathedrals, and narrated the history of how sugarcane and slavery had helped build the lofty, neoclassical homes of the Garden District.  After toasts over roti and jerk curry at a wonderful local Caribbean restaurant, we were back home to write and plot and think.

Our second day of classes kicked off with Diana Norma Szokolyai’s class, “Writing in the Lyric Register,” in which she examined the relationship between music, writing, and improvisation.  She discussed how writers quantify the lyric register and gestures of other writers with Kazim Ali’s Anais Nin: An Unprofessional Study, and discussed how writers from the French Troubadours to Maya Sonenberg used the lyric register to structure and charge their creative work.

And in just one hour, we will be launching out 24-hour creative writing bake off with playwright and Princeton Hodder Fellow, Dipika Guha.   Dipika writes, “A bake-off is a playwriting exercise or writerly dare popularized by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Paula Vogel.  The dare is to write a play in a fixed span of time 24 hours in response to a list of shared elements. We will begin with a seminar on Saturday when we’ll visit our playwriting toolbox and look at devices, forms and structures available for our use.  At this meeting we’ll choose six elements to include in our writing drawn from the city of New Orleans, seeking inspiration from its architecture, history and myths. After the seminar you will go away and write until the next evening.  On Sunday over food and drink, we will read your bake-offs together and celebrate your progress. Bake-offs are not critiqued.”

We welcome all of our writers and readers from around the world to join our 24-hour creative writing bake-off remotely and on-line.  If you would like to participate in our 24-hour bake-off challenge, please tweet to us @CamWritersWkshp with the tag #BakeOff.  The challenge of the Bake-Off is simple: write 1 complete narrative (as a play or screenplay, a short story or novella, a novel if you dare, an essay or collection of essays, or a series of linked poems or collection) in a span of 24 hours.  Your work must have a beginning, middle, and end, and you must complete the challenge with 24 hours.  The clock starts at 1 pm Central Time on Saturday March 25, and ends exactly at 1 pm Central Time on Sunday March 26.  So join us, and tell us about your work and process with the tag #BakeOff at @CamWritersWkshp.  Happy Writing!

Et bon courage, mes amis!

Rita Banerjee
CWW Creative Director
New Orleans – 3.25.17

 

Spring in Portland Writing Retreat Class Schedule & March 25, 2017 Deadline!

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The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Spring in Portland Writing Retreat will take place from April 22-24, 2017.  While you’re in the home of writers Cheryl Strayed and Ursula K. Le Guin, feel free to go bicycling and explore the terrain, hike, or relax at local cafes for people watching—no matter how you choose to spend your time, this city is full inspiration. We will be staying in the Alberta Arts District during the retreat, an area that is sure to inspire our participants and help them create.  The retreat offers multi-genre workshops, as well as craft seminars and time to write. The faculty includes award-winning writers Adam Reid Sexton, Kerry Cohen, Rita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai. Genres include fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. The deadline to apply is March 25th, 2017.

Schedule of Classes:

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Writing in the Lyric Register (with Diana Norma Szokolyai)
In this writing workshop, we will practice writing in the lyric register, expanding our writing into descriptive, poetic prose.  We will look intensively at writing “the moment,” slowing down and unpacking a single moment.  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.

Structuring Your Short Story or Novel (with Adam Reid Sexton)
From the time of Homer to the present day, writers have provided stories with the same basic shape – narrative structure, it’s called.  Regardless of content, the result of that structure is a kind of reading machine that people feel compelled to experience from start to finish.  In this course we learn the elements of classic story structure, as well as how much those elements can be varied without damage to your short-story, novel, or memoir.  Learn how to structure stories so potential readers of your work become actual readers.

Writing Memoir Honestly (with Kerry Cohen)
Annie Lamott famously wrote, “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” If only it were that easy! In this course we will examine the many challenges of writing about other people in memoir. We will discuss some anecdotes from memoir authors, address students’ concerns about their own memoirs, and we will complete writing exercises that will allow for practice in writing about ourselves and others honestly and ethically.

Science: Fiction – Building Literary Worlds  (with Rita Banerjee)
In this class, we will explore how the fabric and rules of literary worlds in realist and speculative fiction are created.  By examining the parameters of social and behavioral codes, human interactions and psychology, and the materiality of worlds, we’ll explore that volatile space where truth and lie meet, where conflicts crystallize, and where storytelling disturbs and delights.

Writing the Personal Essay (with Kerry Cohen)
Personal essays allow us to understand one another as fellow humans, to see ourselves in each other. They give us ways to know something in a new way, thereby expanding our understandings of ourselves. They are, in my mind, a key to living a self-examined life; and who wants to live another way? In this course, we will examine select essays by authors for their craft, their purpose, and their effect. Students will brainstorm ideas, write, workshop, and share their own personal essays, resulting in a polished piece by the end.

Playing with Point of View (with Adam Reid Sexton)
What’s the best point-of-view strategy to use when writing a particular work of fiction or creative nonfiction – first-person central, or third omniscient?  Second-person (“you”) – or even first person plural (“we”)?  This course breaks down the complicated, challenging topic of POV in storytelling, employing mini-lectures, in-class exercises, and short readings by contemporary masters like Jeffrey Eugenides and Lorrie Moore, to turn point of view from an obligation into an opportunity.  POV can be fun!

Featured Faculty:

kerrycohen
Kerry Cohen
is the author of 10 books, including the bestselling  Loose Girl:  A Memoir of Promiscuity and Girl Trouble: An Illustrated Memoir, her most recent book, which came out October 2016. Kerry is faculty at the Red Earth Low Residency MFA program and is a practicing counselor. She lives with her family in Portland, Oregon.

 

adamsextonAdam Reid Sexton teaches writing at Yale University, where he is a Lecturer in the English Department, a Critic on the faculty of Yale’s School of Art, and a Silliman Residential College Fellow.  He has taught writing at Columbia University and the New School, and he has lectured at the Folger Shakespeare Library, the University of Pennsylvania’s Kelly Writers House, and the University of Alabama, where he delivered the Hudson Strode Lecture in the Age of Shakespeare.  Sexton is the author of Master Class in Fiction Writing: Techniques from Austen, Hemingway and Other Greats, and with a team of graphic artists, he has adapted four of Shakespeare’s tragedies as manga (Japanese-style graphic novels).  His anthology Rap on Rap was acquired by Harvard’s W.E.B. Dubois Institute for African and African American Research, while Desperately Seeking Madonna is in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Library and Archive.  Sexton’s fiction, essays, and reviews have been published in the Bellevue Literary Review, the Mississippi Review, and Off Assignment, as well as the Boston Phoenix, the New York Times, and the Village Voice.  For four years Sexton curated a reading series at KGB Bar in New York City.  He has been interviewed on writing and literature by the New York Times, the Washington Post, Time, and npr.com, and one of his classes was broadcast on BBC Radio.

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 first collection of poems, 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. Finalist for the 2015 Red Hen Press Benjamin Saltman Award and the 2016 Aquarius Press Willow Books Literature Award, she is currently working on a novel, a book on South Asian literary modernisms, and a collection of lyric essays.

DianaNormaDiana Norma Szokolyai is a writer and Executive Artistic Director of Cambridge Writers’ Workshop. 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. Her poetry-music collaboration with Flux Without Pause led to their collaboration “Space Mothlight” hitting #16 on the Creative Commons Hot 100 list in 2015, and can be found in the curated WFMU Free Music Archive. Szokolyai’s work has been recently reviewed by The London Grip and published in Quail Bell Magazine, Lyre Lyre, The Fiction Project, The Boston Globe, Dr. Hurley’s Snake Oil Cure, The Dudley Review and Up the Staircase Quarterly, as well as anthologized in The Highwaymen NYC #2, Other Countries: Contemporary Poets Rewiring History, Always Wondering and Teachers as Writers. Szokolyai earned her Ed.M. in Arts in Education from Harvard University and her M.A. in French Literature from the University of Connecticut, while she completed coursework at the Sorbonne and research on Romani writers in Paris. She is currently at work on three books and recording an album of poetry & music.

applyDeadline: March 25, 2017

AWP Exclusive: “Writing from the Fringe: Cultivating Writing Communities on Retreats and Abroad” feat. the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop

wcc-quarterlyThe AWP WC&C Quarterly recently featured an article on the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop: “Writing from the Fringe: Cultivating Writing Communities on Retreats and Abroad” feat. the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop.”  In the the quarterly, editor Kenny Lakes writes:

Whether you just joined in 2017, or you have been with us for years, thank you for being a part of AWP. We are excited to see what the next fifty years bring.  In this issue, we hear from a Rita Banerjee, who discusses the successes Cambridge Writers’ Workshop has had building community near and far.

An excerpt from Rita Banerjee’s essay follows below:

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop (CWW) began as a creative writing community in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Formed by graduate students at Harvard University in 2008, the workshop was meant as a forum for fostering communities of dedicated writers and encouraging creative expression in the literary arts. Since the organization’s inception, the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop has been all-inclusive and open to all emerging and established writers, first in the Cambridge and Boston area, and now in Brooklyn, Manhattan, across the United States, and also abroad. Since 2008, the organization has been run by directors Rita Banerjee and Diana Norma Szokolyai.

In 2011, the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop expanded to include online creative writing courses and writing retreats. We have participated in the Mass Poetry Festival, the Brooklyn Book Festival, Brooklyn Lit Crawl, Manhattan Lit Crawl, and the AWP Conference. All writers, from amateurs to professionals, who are looking for a serious writing community, are welcome to join the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop.

In 2012, the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop hosted its first writing retreat abroad at the Château de Sacy in Picardy, France, a rural country enclave just forty-five minutes outside of Paris. The focus of the workshop was on “Writing and Eco-Living,” and during our retreat in Sacy, our participants enjoyed fresh meals from the organic potager of the Château de Sacy, daily craft of writing seminars and writing workshops, and outings around Picardy. On our retreats, our instructors and participants have hailed from Australia, the US, the UK, France, Germany, and the Philippines. At our Sacy workshop, one of our participants began writing a poetry collection inspired by gaming and also produced a second manuscript about France, WWII, and the memory of her father. Another participant produced a wonderful series of lyric essays and memoirs on fleet week, public swimming pools, and interracial relationships in 1940s Brooklyn.  On our first workshop abroad, one of our participants Gloria Rich said, Norma and Rita gave a fabulous writers’ workshop at Le Petit Sacy, France. Their knowledge, enthusiasm and caring were exemplary. I will definitely continue to take workshops with them…I was totally inspired, will continue to write and hopefully participate with them in their forthcoming programs.” …  Read Rita Banerjee’s full essay here.

Bluestockings presents A Night with Kali: A Reading by Rita Banerjee – March 12, 7pm, NYC

bluestockingsnyc

A Night with Kali:
A Reading by Rita Banerjee

Bluestockings
172 Allen Street, NY 10002

Sunday March 12, 2017
7:00 – 9:30 pm

Rita Banerjee’s novella, “A Night with Kali,” in Approaching Footsteps, has just been released on Kindle Books and in Print by Spider Road Press. In Rita Banerjee’s novella, “A Night with Kali,” two people from different classes, a taxi driver called Tamal-da and his well-to-do passenger meet under unusual circumstances. Stuck together in a flood in the middle of a monsoon hitting Kolkata, Tamal entertains his bored, out-of-town passenger by telling her the story of his life. As he explains how he ended up hustling the mean streets of Kolkata, how he abandoned his rural village, and why he left his family of fishers behind, Tamal spins a tale that is both mundane and fantastic. Built on the tradition of Bengali ghost stories, Tamal’s coming-of-age tale depends as much on the supernatural as on the possibility or impossibility of human connection.

“Two novellas stand especially tall: A Night with Kali, by Rita Banerjee, begins with a taxi ride through Kolkata during a monsoon and soon develops into an entertaining story-in-a-story supernatural tale reminiscent of classic Indian literature.  In 136 Auburn Lane, novelist Donna Hillevokes a mysterious Harlem boarding house in the 1930’s, where a down-and-out woman has one final chance to rescue her pitiful existence.” -Gay Yellen

“’A Night with Kali’” by Rita Banerjee was a pair of ghost stores-within stories-within a story, set in Kolkata and the surrounding villages. The voice was distinct but unobtrusive and created a cozy familiarity with the narrator. The setting was also particularly vivid, but never got bogged down in exposition – rather, well-placed details sprinkled throughout made me feel like I’d lived in the area all my life. This was my favorite of the four, partly because it was the most upbeat. That may sound strange for a ghost story, but it works.” – MJL

Biography:

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 first collection of poems, 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. Finalist for the 2015 Red Hen Press Benjamin Saltman Award and the 2016 Aquarius Press Willow Books Literature Award, she is currently working on a novel, a book on South Asian literary modernisms, and a collection of lyric essays.

Reminder: Upcoming Deadlines for Spring & Summer Writing Retreats

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is offering scholarships in the amount of $100 – $200 for our Spring and Summer Writing Retreats in New Orleans (March 23 – 26, 2017), Portland, OR (April 22-24, 2017), and Granada, Spain (August 2-6, 2017).  Deadline for our first Scholarship Applications is March 5, 2017.  Apply at http://cww.submittable.com!

WRITING RETREATS with the supportive faculty of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop will take place in New Orleans (March 23–26), Portland (April 22–24), Granada, Spain (August 2–6), and Rockport, MA (October 13-15). Faculty include Dipika GuhaEmily NemensAdam Reid SextonKerry CohenRita BanerjeeTim HorvathAlexandria Marzano-LesnevichMaya Sonenbergand Diana Norma Szokolyai. Genres include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, playwriting, and hybrid.  First scholarship applications due by March 5, 2017 at http://cww.submittable.com!

  • 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).

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Spring in New Orleans Writing Retreat will take place from March 23-26, 2017, and will coincide with the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival.  Known for its Spanish and French architecture, live jazz, cajun food, and street festivals, New Orleans offers an inspirational and one-of-a-kind environment for creative writers. During the retreat, we will be staying in the lovely Algiers Point neighborhood, just a short ferry ride away from the Historic French Quarter.  Our retreat features multi-genre workshops, as well as craft seminars and time to write.  The faculty includes award-winning writers Dipika Guha, Emily Nemens, Rita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai. Genres include playwriting, nonfiction, fiction, and poetry.  The cost of the retreat is $750, which includes tuition, lodging, and some meals.

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Spring in Portland Writing Retreat will take place from April 22-24, 2017.  While you’re in the home of writers Cheryl Strayed and Ursula K. Le Guin, feel free to go bicycling and explore the terrain, hike, or relax at local cafes for people watching—no matter how you choose to spend your time, this city is full inspiration. We will be staying in the Alberta Arts District during the retreat, an area that is sure to inspire our participants and help them create.  The retreat offers multi-genre workshops, as well as craft seminars and time to write. The faculty includes award-winning writers Adam Reid Sexton, Kerry Cohen, Rita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai. Genres include fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.  The cost of the retreat is $750, which includes tuition, lodging, and some meals.

And the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Summer in Granada Writing Retreat will take place from August 2-6, 2017.  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.  During the retreat, we will be staying at the Hotel Guadalupe, just a short walk from the Alhambra.  The retreat offers multi-genre workshops, as well as craft seminars and time to write. The faculty includes award-winning writers Tim Horvath, Alexandria Marzano-LesnevichRita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai. Genres include fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.  The cost of the retreat is $2950, which includes tuition, lodging, and daily breakfast.

applyFirst Deadline: March 5, 2017