Pride Month: CWW Manager Alex Carrigan on Washington D.C.’s Equality March


I recently moved to the D.C. area for a new job, and one of the things I was most excited about with the area was the opportunity to see and do new things in a large city. Living in this area, I’d be able to see concerts, films, shows of all kinds, and the sort of social activism that I normally wouldn’t see in towns I lived in before. It wasn’t that I lived in places without these events and attitudes, but they weren’t to the scale that excited me.

I wasn’t able to go to the Women’s March back in January. I was in the midst of a move, and driving up to the area was a bad idea. I had to make due with looking at photos on Facebook of people I knew who were able to go, including members of my family. The only other social event I went to was the Climate Change March, but I ended up there accidentally and felt somewhat detached.

When I heard there was a march for LGBT+ rights, I knew I had to go. I knew that no matter what, I had to go. Last year, I started openly identifying as an LGBT man, and that openness made me want to start getting involved. I began watching more queer media, I started to go to LGBT+ events, and I wanted to start expressing myself in ways that allowed me to explore different facets of myself, both heterosexual and homosexual.

Thus, I prepared for the Equality March on June 11, 2017. First was assembling my marching look. I knew there would be people in much crazier outfits that I couldn’t seek to compete with, so I settled for a shirt I got from Charlottesville Pride 2016. I had some beads I got from the Pride Parade the day before (and from other Pride/LGBT+ events in the last year or so), and I had some buttons I got from the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop’s Writers in Resistance reading at AWP 2017. I also had some nail polish for my fingers, mostly cause I like how my nails look painted, and I did eye black with some red lipstick I had, paying slight homage to Shoshanna from Inglourious Basterds.

The most important part of it all (aside from sunscreen, sunglasses, and water) was the sign. I knew I wanted a sign to carry. Signs stood out, signs get photographed in crowd shots, and they’re also just really fun to make. I wanted to make one that referenced queer media, mostly cause I’m a total nerd, but also because I knew these were the people who would understand whatever I put on there. I had spent months going back and forth on what to do. I had considered Venus Xtravaganza’s famous line “You’re just an overgrown orangutan” from the film Paris is Burning, as well as Trinity Taylor’s “I call ‘Shade!'” line from season 9 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. I knew pieces like these would be popular and seen throughout the march, but I mostly changed my mind because of my extremely limited artistic abilities. Plus, I saw someone else do the Trinity Taylor one, and they had a much better looking sign.

I finally settled on a line that wouldn’t raise any concern from the elderly, conservative neighbors in the new apartment I just moved into: “Not today, Satan!” The line was uttered by drag queen Bianca Del Rio in season 6 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. For those who don’t know, Bianca is a drag insult comic who has described herself as “Don Rickles, but in a dress, and prettier and not as old.” After winning season 6, she became one of the more known subversive comics in LGBT+ media. No one is safe at a Bianca Del Rio show. Everyone will probably be offended by a few jokes, but find themselves laughing at them anyways. Bianca Del Rio is the kind of person I admire because of her ability to say whatever she wants, make it funny, and show enough intelligence, wit, class, and soul that she ascends most insecurities and can float through the most ugly of situations with her head on right and zero fucks to give.

So naturally, she was the perfect person to emulate for this march. Also, because fire is way easier to draw than a human being.

Getting to the march, I was worried about the responses I’d get on the bus or the subway. Fortunately, everone on the bus didn’t care, and when I got to the subway, I saw more people heading to the march, so I was in good company. I even got to chat with a nice girl named Miriam on the way there. I wish I didn’t lose her upon arriving, because she was a very smart and kind person who would have been a good friend to make at the event. And after all, I had just moved to the area, so I am up for making new connections.

Once I joined the line and we started to march, that’s when the rush came in. I got a taste of it in the Climate Change March, but I really felt it here. I walked with all kinds of queer individuals from all over the country. I saw people from Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, and even from outside the country. I saw people who were calling out members of the Trump administration, such as Jeff Sessions, Betsy DeVos, and Jared Kushner.

And like me, I saw a lot of people taking various figures as icons for the march. Not only did I see other RuPaul’s Drag Race queens represented via signs, I saw signs using images of figures like Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia, The Babadook, and more. Even the sign I chose resonated with a lot of people. Not only did people ask me to let them take my picture (which allowed me to show off my Bianca Del Rio bitchface), but I also had people look at me and cheer “Not today, Satan!” to which I shouted back “Not today!”

What I also found interesting was the chosen route and how it related to the march. Along the way, we walked past the White House. I could see figures on the roof, no doubt wanting to see if anyone would go too far with the march. People would stop on the march, look out the White House, and chant things like “Shame! Shame! Shame!” The whole way, I could also see notable Washington D.C. monuments like the Washington Memorial, and the Capitol Building, which is where the march ended.

What I took away from this event (aside from a bit of sunburn) was a perfect blend of social activism, popular culture, meme theory, and historical relevance. I saw men, women, and children from all over the nation marching together for the sake of equality and to fight against a system that would try to install a travel ban and would pull out of the Paris agreement. I saw the use of images used in creative ways and to play with the idea of icons.

But what I mostly felt was proud. I felt like every person I saw with a stitch of rainbow on them was a friend. I felt so comfortable and joyous surrounded by all kinds of people who were so comfortable expressing themselves and using that expression to call for change. I saw gay couples holding hands, I say gay couples walking with their children, I saw people of various races and creeds coming together to make a stand. And through all of that, I felt so much bigger than I am, and it made me want to continue to be a part of this community. It made me want to pay attention to these matters, and it made me want to be willing to get out of my home and do something about these issues.

I really hope to do more with the D.C. gay community in the future, even if it’s just going to a drag show in the city. At the very least, I hope something like this happens again next year, because I would love more time to prepare something fun and exciting for the march.

And if anyone tries to stop me, I’ll just say “Not today, Satan! Not today.”

— Alexander Carrigan, CWW Manager


CWW Presents: Writers in Resistance – An AWP 2017 Reading – Washington D.C.

The Association of Writers and Writing Programs will be hosting its annual writers conference in Washington DC from February 8-11. As in past years, the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop will be present at the conference, with a table at the book fair at Table 361-T. There, we will have information about our 2017 writing retreats, our internships, publications, and a ton of other goodies.

We will also be hosting three author signings at the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Table 361-T during the AWP 2017 Conference. The schedule for author signings at our table is as follows:

Tim Horvath: Thursday February 9, 1-2 pm
Diana Norma Szokolyai: Friday February 10, 11 am-12 pm
Rita Banerjee: Saturday February 11, 11 am- 12 pm

As per tradition, we will also be hosting a reading during the conference. The CWW will be hosting a reading at Upshur Street Books on Friday February 10, 2017 from 5pm – 6:45 pm. The reading will be hosted at Upshur’s event space at Third Floor, 4200 9th St NW Washington DC 20011 (above Slim’s Diner). We have eight fabulous readers ready to present their work, including members of our executive board, faculty from our upcoming writing retreats, and some of our CWW friends. Our reading list includes the following:

ritabanerjee-smRita Banerjee
is 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, Mass Poetry, 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), is forthcoming 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 collection of lyric essays.

beach-jensenJensen Beach is the author of two collections of short fiction, For out of the Heart Proceed, and most recently, Swallowed by the Cold. His stories have appeared A Public Space, the Paris Review, and The New Yorker. He teaches in the BFA Program at Johnson State College, where he is fiction editor at Green Mountains Review. He is also faculty in the MFA Program in Writing & Publishing at Vermont College of Fine Arts. With this family, he lives in Vermont.



Anna-Celestrya Carr is a Metis/Anishinaabe artist, filmmaker, writer, dancer and speaker.  She graduated from both the Vancouver Film School and the National Screen Institute’s New Voices program in Canada. While at NSI she created Dreamcatcher: A short dramatic fantasy of Aboriginal mythology.  In 2012 she created Tik-A-Lee-Kick, an honest and candid telling of a young Aboriginal woman’s perspective on the role of the Little People funded by the Video Pool Aboriginal Media Art Initiative. She has previously attended the University of Manitoba School of Art.  Shehas worked for the National Film Board of Canada and Urban Shaman Contemporary Aboriginal Art Gallery.  Anna-Celestrya focuses her creative energy on her Aboriginal roots and on advancing the rights of Aboriginal women in North America. She has worked with many organizations and institutions to promote human rights and peace. The artwork that she is best known for is The Men’s Banner Project. This work is a combination of interactive performance and installation, about which she also lectures.

Alex Carrigan is originally from Newport News, Virginia and currently resides in Upper Marlboro, MD.  He graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in print/online journalism and a minor in world cinema.  He is currently an managing intern for the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop, as well as a contributing writer for Quail Bell Magazine.  He has written articles for The Commonwealth Times and has had work featured in Luna Luna Magazine. He is also a creative writer and have had work published in Amendment Literary Journal, Life in 10 Minutes, Realms YA Fantasy Literary Magazine, and in Poictesme Literary Journal, of which he was a staff member for four years, two years in which he was deputy editor-in-chief.

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.


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.


Emily Nemens is coeditor and prose editor of The Southern Review, a literary quarterly published at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Her editorial work has been featured in Writer’s Digest, draft: a journal of process, and on, and her selections from The Southern Review have recently appeared in Best Mystery Writing 2016 and Best American Nonrequired Reading 2015. She studied art history and studio art at Brown University, and before moving to Louisiana to pursue an MFA in creative writing at LSU, she lived in Brooklyn and worked in editorial capacities at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Center for Architecture. Alongside her editorial work, Emily maintains active writing and illustration practices. Her fiction and essays have recently appeared in The Gettysburg Review, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and n+1, and she is working on a linked story collection about spring training baseball. As an illustrator she’s collaborated with Harvey Pekar on a Studs Terkel anthology, painted miniature portraits of all the women in Congress, and recently published her first New Yorker cartoon. Follow her at @emilynemens.


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.


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