|“Sharing our solutions to common problems, telling our tales of the less-expected, helping each other grow—that is what WC&C is all about.” —Jerod Santek
| Welcome to the February 2017 WC&C Quarterly
Membership Associate, AWP
2017 is an exciting year for AWP. We will be holding our 50th AWP Conference & Bookfair this month. 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.
We have some information about WC&C representation at AWP’s conference in this newsletter. With over forty events identifying as being WC&C-related, our annual WC&C group meeting, our evening reception, and a special panel on funding and resource building, this is sure to be an exciting conference for you. I look forward to speaking with you at some point, whether it is at our group meeting, at the evening reception, or running into each other in DC. In this issue, we also hear from a Rita Banerjee, who discusses the successes Cambridge Writers’ Workshop has had building community near and far.
As a reminder, you can view past issues of the WC&C Quarterly in your account. If you have not yet joined the private WC&C Facebook group, please join today. The Quarterly and Facebook group are here for you to share your experiences with each other.
Best of luck to all of you as we move forward through 2017. As always, I encourage you to share your stories, advice, concerns, and questions with each other through the WC&C Quarterly. I hope you enjoy the issue!
| Helping Each Other Grow
2017 WC&C Scholarship Competition
Our WC&C Scholarship Competition is currently under way! The annual scholarship awards three winners $500 to attend or participate in any of our WC&C member programs. Our 2017 judges are: Brian Oliu (Creative Nonfiction), Naomi J. Williams (Fiction), and francine j. harris (Poetry). Submissions can be made through AWP’s Submittable page through March 30. Winners will be notified by May 15. Please spread the word about this competition, as it serves to promote awareness of all of our WC&C members. Questions about the competition can be directed to email@example.com.
WC&C at #AWP17
There are several events at AWP’s conference in Washington, DC, that we want to encourage you to attend:
Thursday, February 8 from 10:30a.m. to 11:45 a.m.: “Doing Good Better: Resources for Nonprofit Literary Organizations.” A panel has been put together specifically to discuss improving resources for our WC&C groups. This panel will be on in Room 202B of the convention center. Representatives from leading national organizations will discuss strategies in board development, fundraising, assessment, and evaluation and more. Facilitated by WC&C Chair, Jerod Santek, and AWP Membership Director, Diane Zinna, the panel includes Kim Patton from the Foundation Center, Andy Davis from BoardSource, Jessica Flynn from the National Endowment for the Arts, and Taylor Craig from National Arts Strategies.
Friday, February 10 from noon to 1:15 p.m.: WC&C Meeting. Our annual meeting will take place in Capital & Congress, Marriott Marquis, Meeting Level Four. This meeting is your chance to meet with AWP staff, your board representative, and other WC&C directors to talk about issues that pertain to WC&C members and their programs.
Friday evening, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.: The WC&C Public Reception. Join us in the Tulip Room of the Marriott Marquis for a public gathering to celebrate the incredible work being done at writers’ conferences, centers, festivals, retreats, and residencies across the US and internationally. Come have a drink and some snacks, learn more about these programs, and connect with their directors. Drink tickets will be handed out at the WC&C meeting earlier in the day.
Over forty events have self-identified as being related to WC&C. We encourage you to take a look at the list of these events while considering what panels to attend.
|Tales of the Less Expected
Writing from the Fringe: Cultivating Writing Communities on Retreats and Abroad
Executive Creative Director, Cambridge Writers’ Workshop
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.”
During the following two years, as our enrollment expanded, the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop held “Writing and Yoga Retreats” at the Château de Verderonne in Picardy, France. Tucked away in the French countryside on the grounds of a château that was known to host the soirées of Marie Antoinette, the library of the Enlightenment thinker Claude-Adrien Helvétius, and one of the last remaining theatres from the French classical period, students on our Verderonne retreats had a chance to produce their new writing within a historically evocative, countryside setting. Our 2015 Summer in Paris and Summer in Granada, Andalucía were equally relaxing and exciting retreats. On these retreats, our participants not only created work which responded to French and Spanish cultures, but they also had a chance to develop their manuscript projects and receive feedback from award-winning writers and acclaimed instructors such as David Shields and Peter Orner.
Evelyn Lampart, one of our writing students from Paris, recently wrote of her experience at the retreat, “I have such sweet memories of our time together in the beloved city of Paris, France. Sad for all that has taken place since, and [I] feel blessed that my time with you was so full of joy... and a kind of innocence.” Another Paris writing participant, David McLeod said of our writing instructors, “David Shields was great at talking about the purpose of any experiments one might want to make—and likewise how there’s no need to feel compelled to make gestures in one’s work that serves no purpose, just because it feels traditional or familiar. Rita was crazy well-read, and able to draw excellent illustrations of ideas when necessary. Norma was immensely thorough in giving feedback in workshops / responding to questions.” And another participant on our 2015 Summer in Granada Writing Retreat noted how quickly writing communities and friendships between writers formed while being abroad. Of her experience, Judy McAmis wrote, “I definitely feel that it has opened doors and avenues for me in writing communities both nearby and outside of my area.”
One of our most successful retreats stateside was held in Newport, Rhode Island in April 2016. Over the course of a long weekend, writers met to take workshops, craft of writing seminars, and writing studio sessions with award-winning authors Kathleen Spivack, Stephen Aubrey, Rita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai. Elissa Lewis taught yoga at our Newport retreat as well. Classes on “finding your voice,” “what’s at stake,” “building worlds in theatre and fiction,” and advanced poetry and memoir workshops were offered. Judy Young, one of our participants said that what she enjoyed most about our Newport retreat was “being with such nice and creative multi-genre writers.”
The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop aims to foster creativity and community within our writing retreats stateside and abroad. In Newport, Rhode Island, our group of writers formed a tight-knit community and bonded as we shared lodging, meals, and cliff-side walks together. Saundra Norton, one of our Newport participants, said that what she enjoyed most about our yoga and writing retreat was “being in a community of writers—sharing a house, lectures, discussion, writing prompts, performance, time to play, cliff walks—living and breathing language intensely and joyously.” Claire Ince, a playwright and one of our participants, said of our Newport retreat that she enjoyed “being around creative people [and having] the space to play…It definitely had the feel of an old-time salon.” Christina M. Rau, a poet whose new chapbook was inspired by our Newport retreat, wrote of our instructors: “Norma, Rita, and Stephen (you guys!) have been incredibly resourceful—you all know so much stuff—and supportive.” After our Spring writing retreat in Newport, Rhode Island, all of our participants joined the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop NING Membership Site where they networked with other CWW writers, shared and commented on each other’s work, and responded to our weekly writing prompts and announcements.
Witnessing our communities of creative writers grow in confidence in their ability to navigate through American and international creative writing communities has been inspiring. And witnessing many of our writers succeed in publishing books, poems, short stories, essays, and articles has been priceless.
| Solutions to Common Problems
Questions to the Group
Feel free to send any responses to the below questions, or questions of your own, to firstname.lastname@example.org for inclusion in the next issue of WC&C Quarterly.
What do you see as the greatest challenge for your organization in 2017? What do you see as a potential great success?
|Be Featured in Our Next Issue!
We encourage you to submit your short articles, photos, and questions for the next WC&C Quarterly to email@example.com. Submissions should be no longer than 1,000 words. The next issue will go out in May 2017. We will be accepting submissions through April 30, 2017.
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