A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Munich Creative Writers Workshop – June 23

“Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.
The lunatic, the lover and the poet
Are of imagination all compact:
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold,
That is, the madman: the lover, all as frantic,
Sees Helen’s beauty in a brow of Egypt:
The poet’s eye, in fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.”

~ Theseus, Act V, Scene 1

On Friday June 23 at 6 pm, Rita Banerjee will be teaching a creative writing workshop for Munich Creative Writers inspired by Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  For more information on upcoming Munich Creative Writers workshops and meetings, please visit their website here.

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The Reader as Critic: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about South Asian Literary Theory But Were Afraid to Ask – Rutgers University – April 20

Charulata (dir. Satyajit Ray, 1964)

A Lecture by Dr. Rita Banerjee
Department of African, Middle Eastern, South and South Asian Literatures and Languages

Thursday, April 20 * 11:30 am – 1:00 pm
Rutgers University, Academic Building 6010
15 Seminary Place, New Brunswick, NJ 08901

The creation hymn from the Rig Veda begins with a series of provocative statements and spiky questions: “There was neither non-existence or existence then…The gods came afterwards, with the creation of this universe…Whence this creation has arisen…the one who looked down on it, in the highest heaven, only he knows – or perhaps, he does not know.” In explaining the origins of the Indus Valley civilization and the universe at large, the Rig Veda’s playful, interrogative style places the burden of understanding and interpretation on the reader. The creative power of the poet, non-dualism, uncertainty, and even atheism are hinted at in these opening lines of the Rig Veda. But what makes this seminal and foundational text of Indic philosophy and oral literature especially interesting is the emphasis it places on the critical distance and interpretive lens of the reader. From the Rig Veda onwards, this gesture towards hermeneutics repeats in canons of South Asian literary theory and literature from texts such as Bharata’s yaśāstra and Kālidāsa’s The Recognition of Śakuntalā in the classical period, to the manifestos and discussions of literary modernisms emerging in Bengali, Hindi, and Indian English little magazines and literatures in the 20th century. In this talk, we will examine why Indic literature continues to place the reader in the role of a critic, translator, debater, or connoisseur. What does placing the reader in the role of the critic convey about South Asian literary theory and intellectual culture? Does the emphasis on the reader as critic reveal the deconstructive, pluralistic, or matrix-like nature of South Asian literary theory? Come join us for a rousing debate and discussion on the structural gestures and intellectual goals of South Asian literary theory.

Rita Banerjee’s “Chicago Ode” – A Mass Poetry: Poem of the Moment

masspoetry-poemofthemoment
Many thanks to Mass Poetry for featuring Rita Banerjee’s poem, “Chicago Ode,” in their Poem of the Moment section.  Mass Poetry supports poets and poetry in Massachusetts.  Mass Poetry helps ro broaden the audience of poetry readers, brings poetry to readers of all ages and transform people’s lives through inspiring verse.  A copy of the poem is included below, and you can read the full poem on Mass Poetry here.


Chicago Ode

You came quiet on
cat feet with
disregard
for minor names

Like architecture,
you remained
aortal and stung—

Colors dropped
off grids and arcs
bending like yellow,
red and unglued blue

You moved like
a river under
Boul Mich elevated
trains

undulated space,
kept sails and lovers
lit on harbor.

like bodies lit
on grass, you stood
unlike bronze

unlike concrete, too
contained in no
form, no limb
that would move

like fever
your eyes grew
catlike, calling to
strange bodies,

locking lakes in land,
you asked time to
sneeze, hiccup, to not
speak at all—

asked to linger no
longer or to
stay longer like

cracklers at night,
the firework’s parched
breath & Ferris wheel
lights that held

like ships & whistles
a cradle
without thread.

* Read the poem on Mass Poetry here.

PEN America Presents: LitCrawl NYC 2016 & CWW’s Literary Vaudeville – October 1

litcrawl3

Join the show at the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop’s Literary Vaudeville! The evening will feature tantalizing performances from writers Rita BanerjeeDiana Norma SzokolyaiMegan FernandesClaire InceEmily SmithChristina M. Rau, and Frederick-Douglass Knowles II. Enjoy the dexterity of our word-artists and their poetic & prose literary feats!

Featured Readers:

ritabanerjeeRita Banerjee is the Creative Director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop and the new Executive Director of Kundiman. 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 The Rumpus, Los Angeles Review of Books, Electric Literature, VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, AWP WC&C Quarterly, Queen Mob’s Tea House, Riot Grrrl MagazineThe 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 (Spider Road Press), is forthcoming in October 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 and book 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.

eb8tc9Emily Smith is a Managing Editing and Communications Intern for the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop. She is a Contributing Blogger for Ploughshares and holds a B.F.A. in Creative Writing from New Hampshire Institute of ArtHer work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Rumpus, Brooklyn Magazine, Refinery 29Bustle, Brevity, Luna Luna and others.

 

 


meganfernandes_newbioimage2015Megan Fernandes
 is an Assistant Professor of English at Lafayette College and teaches courses on poetry, feminist theory, and science and technology studies. She holds a PhD in English from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an MFA in poetry from Boston University. She is the author of The Kingdom and After (Tightrope Books 2015), the poetry editor of the anthology Strangers in Paris (Tightrope Books 2011), and the author of two poetry chapbooks: Organ Speech (Corrupt Press) and Some Citrus Makes Me Blue (Dancing Girl Press). Her work has been published or is forthcoming in the Boston Review, Rattle, The Adroit Journal, Pank Magazine, The Walrus Magazine, Postmodern Culture, Guernica, Memorious, the Academy of American Poets, Redivider, the California Journal of Poetics, among others.


c8yndepvClaire Ince is the writer-producer of the movie musical Bazodee. An MFA graduate of New York University’s Dramatic Writing Program, Tisch School of the Arts, Claire previously produced the reality adventure show Run’bout for AT&T/Cingular Wireless Caribbean and the children’s TV pilot The Baobab Tree (a selection of the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival.) Claire won best screenplay for Bazodee (formerly known as Scandalous!) at the Bahamas International Film Festival’s Film Residency Program in 2008.  She is also an alumna of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Spring 2015 in Newport, RI Writing Retreat.

 


13924994_1047861051976627_7319760793243653775_nChristina M. Rau
 is the author of the poetry collection Liberating The Astronauts (forthcoming, 2017), and the poetry chapbooks WakeBreatheMove (Finishing Line Press, 2015) and For The Girls, I (Dancing Girl Press, 2014). Founder of the Long Island reading circuit Poets In Nassau, her poetry has appeared on gallery walls in The Ekphrastic Poster Show, on car magnets for The Living Poetry Project, most recently in the journals Flapperhouse and Golden Walkman Magazine. She edits The Nassau Review at Nassau Community College where she teaches English full time. In her non-writing life, she practices yoga occasionally and line dances on other occasions.  She is also an alumna of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Spring 2015 in Newport, RI Writing Retreat.

 


screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-10-52-49-amFrederick-Douglass Knowles II (Yesod) is a Poet-Educator-Activist involved in Community Education and the Performing Arts. He has competed on three National Poetry Slam Teams (2x Connecticut and Brooklyn, NY). His works have featured in the Martin Luther King Jr. Anthology by Yale University Press, East Haddam Stage Company of Connecticut, The 13th Annual Acacia Group Conference at California State University, Folio– a Southern Connecticut State University literary magazine, Lefoko—a Botswana (Southern Africa) Hip-Hop magazine and Fingernails Across the Chalkboard: AIDS Anthology by Third World Press. Frederick-Douglass is currently an English Professor at Three Rivers Community College where he infuses English Composition with social injustices, such as AIDS, Poverty and War. His debut collection of autobiographical poetry, Black Rose City, was currently released by Author House.

Riot Grrrl Magazine features Rita Banerjee’s “Pygmalion & the Slippers” and “Currency”

RiotGrrrlMagazineThe current issue of Riot Grrrl Magazine features two new poems by Rita Banerjee, “Pygmalion & the Slippers” and “Currency.” 

Riot Grrrl Magazine is named after the feminist punk rock movement that began in the early 1990s.  The magazine is meant to show an appreciation for the community of women who raised their voices about gender equality, abuse and other complex issues, especially within the music scene.  The mission of the magazine is to provide entertaining and engaging content, and reflect diverse narratives.  Riot Grrrl Magazine is here to empower diverse audiences. The magazine strives to create a space for women of color, trans women, queer women, and disabled women.

Screening of Nina Paley’s Sita Sings the Blues – May 26, 2015

SitaRita Banerjee will introduce and lead the discussion for Nina Paley’s 2008 film, Sita Sings the Blues, on Tuesday, May 26 from 6-8:30 pm for the Institute for Indology and Tibetology at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München.  The screening will take place in Seminar Room 427 (Ludwigstr. 31, Munich).  The screening is part of the course Modernity and the South Asian Imaginaire at LMU.  Anyone interested in Modern South Asian literature, history, or art house film is welcomed to join the screening. “[The Rāmāyaṇa’s] hero is the blue-skinned Rama, avatar of the deity Vishnu, but Ms. Paley is more interested in Sita, his wife, whose devotion becomes both a romantic inspiration and a feminist cautionary tale [in Sita Sings the Blues]. Her adventures are narrated by three shadow puppets who speak in the accents of modern Indian English and who quibble over details and interpretations. Meanwhile, Sita, Rama and other characters from the Rāmāyaṇa are rendered in various styles, including a “Betty Boop Goes Bollywood” look for the musical numbers and an illuminated-manuscript manner for the dramatic scenes. All of this is entwined with the simpler, sadder, more drably drawn chronicle of a woman named Nina, whose longtime boyfriend, Dave, takes a job in India and eventually breaks her heart. This is a stripped-down, modernized variation on what happens to Sita, whose absolute love for Rama is repaid with suspicion, a humiliating trial by fire (to test her purity) and banishment.” – A.O. Scott, The New York Times