In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, the Academy of American Poets has featured a series of poems by modern and contemporary Asian American poets and writers. Rita Banerjee’s poem “Sleep,” which was the Academy of American Poets’s Poem-a-Day on November 30, 2017, is one of the featured audio poems this month on Poets.org. Check out “Sleep” (from Rita Banerjee’s collection Echo in Four Beats) and all the featured Asian American writers on the Academy of American Poets.org!
The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is celebrating the publication of CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing today!
CREDO (C&R Press, May 15, 2018) is edited by writers and CWW co-directors Rita Banerjee and Diana Norma Szokolyai and assistant editors Alexander Carrigan and Megan Jeanine Tilley. CREDO advocates for the empowerment of female, LGBTQ+, and other marginalized literary voices, with essays and manifestos that cover a wide range of subjects, including transgender poetics, world literature and aesthetics, collage and appropriation, and the politics of place. By presenting a triad of creative writing manifestos, essays on the craft of writing, and creative writing exercises, CREDO bridges the theoretical, political, and aesthetic perspectives on contemporary writing with practical and accessible writing advice. Our incredible CREDO contributing authors are some of the most exciting voices in contemporary poetry, fiction and non-fiction and will leave you feeling inspired.
Kazim Ali \ Forrest Anderson \ Rita Banerjee \ Lisa Marie Basile \ Jaswinder Bolina \ Stephanie Burt \ Alexander Carrigan \ Sam Cha \ Melinda J. Combs \ Thade Correa \ Jeff Fearnside \ Ariel Francisco \ John Guzlowski \ Rachael Hanel \ Janine Harrison \ Lindsay Illich \ Douglas Charles 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 \ Nell Irvin Painter \ Robert Pinsky \ Kara Provost \ Camille Rankine \ 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 L. Szilágyi \ Diana Norma Szokolyai \ Marilyn L. Taylor \ Megan Jeanine Tilley \ Suzanne Van Dam \ Nicole Walker \ Allyson Whipple \ Shawn Wong \ Caroll Sun Yang \ Matthew Zapruder
On Saturday, May 19, the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop will celebrate the 90th Anniversary of the Grolier Poetry Book Shop at the Grolier Poetry Festival in Harvard Square. CREDO contributing authors Kathleen Spivack, Kevin McLellan and the CWW’s co-director and CREDO editor, Diana Norma Szokolyai will read. Diana Norma Szokolyai will also be teaching a CREDO workshop where copies of CREDO will be available for purchase. Stop by between 1-4 p.m.!
CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing can be purchased through C&R Press, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
(from “Pygmalion & the Slippers”)
At its core, the Echo in Four Beats is about Ovid’s myth of Echo and Narcissus, which serves as a fitting allegory for poetry in general, but also the landscape previously-described. A dualism within the speakers of these poems is a dualism of acceptance and rejection, of sequences of flight and iterations of home…
We were like that—lanterns in the midday sun,
laughter against a white-noise wind, tongues
circling salt-water stories, cliffs cocooned by the afternoon, cameras
catching harbor fish, reptiles, serpents, impossible possibilities–
Much of the experience where these transformations are derived, carried by the mythic allegories the poet’s subtle adaptations of ancient lessons, is tangibly encountered in place and culture. While the back cover of Echo in Four Beats contains a quote by Jaswinder Bolina describing the book as “post-national,” I believe the antithesis is far more obvious. This is a book collecting poems that encounters and elevates individual nations, individual cultural histories, and appreciates them through their intertwining. In the ways the otherness in Echo and Narcissus is an otherness of affection and difference, so too is the distinct origins of the spaces and roots presented in this book.
Poet Christina M. Rau reviews the “Must-Read Poetic Voices from Split This Rock 2018” on Book Riot and features Rita Banerjee’s new poetry collection Echo in Four Beats (Finishing Line Press, March 2018). She writes:
Split This Rock is an organization that “celebrates poetry that bears witness to injustice and provokes social change.” Every two years, they host a festival. This year, I was fortunate enough to attend its readings, workshops, and panels. In the tumultuous socio-political landscape of the United States today, poetry filled the air in DC. Voices rang out, speaking to a vast array of issues. Here are some of the voices we should be paying close attention to.
On my own panel, “Fantasy as Reality: Activism and Catharsis through Speculative Literature,” I was fortunate enough to sit beside Marlena Chertock and Rita Banerjee. Chertock uses her experience with skeletal dysplasia as a bridge to science writing. She spoke of a project she’s currently working on about imaging the future during climate change. Her current collection that includes a proposed application to NASA is Crumb-Sized: Poems. Banerjee’s work comes from a slant of decolonization and celebrating diverse writers. Echo In Four Beats is her latest project that re-imagines mythologies through language and power shifts.
This small round-up of voices is only a fraction of what Split This Rock had to offer. Line after line, moment after moment, action unfolded through poetry and then a literal walk to the White House in support of students protesting against gun violence. Reading these collections is one way to start to see a bigger picture of who we are as citizens of the world. That’s a great way to keep alive the conversations that began and continued at this festival.
Read the whole article on Book Riot here.
On Saturday June 2, 2018, the Grolier Poetry Book Shop, the oldest poetry bookstore in the United States, will be celebrating its 90th Anniversary in Cambridge, MA. In order to celebrate 90 years of literary and intellectual activity, the Grolier will be hosting The Grolier Poetry Festival, featuring street performances, writing workshops, literary readings, food, and books in Harvard Square. The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is delighted to be featured at the Grolier Poetry Festival on June 2 in Harvard Square. Join us for our featured readings, performances, and CREDO Workshop! The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop’s new anthology CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos & Sourcebook for Creative Writing (eds. Rita Banerjee & Diana Norma Szokolyai, May 15, 2018) can be pre-ordered form C&R Press here! Information about our events and writers are posted below:
Location: Outside Plympton St,
Between Mass Ave & Bow Street
Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA
Diana Norma Szokolyai is author of Parallel Sparrows (honorable mention for Best Poetry Book, 2014 Paris Book Festival), Roses in the Snow (first runnerup, Best Poetry Book, 2009 DIY Book Festival), and a feminist rewriting of a classic fairytale for Brooklyn Art Library’s The Fiction Project, entitled Beneath the Surface: Blue Beard, Remixed. Szokolyai’s poetry and prose has been published in MER VOX Quarterly, VIDA Review, Quail Bell Magazine, The Boston Globe, Luna Luna Magazine, Up the Staircase Quarterly, and has been anthologized in Other Countries: Contemporary Poets Rewiring History, Teachers as Writers & elsewhere. Her edited volume is CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos & Sourcebook for Creative Writing (C&R Press, 2018). She’s founding Executive Artistic Director of Cambridge Writers’ Workshop. Szokolyai is author of Introduction, and the essay “What’s At Stake?” in CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing (C&R Press, May 2018).
Kathleen Spivack’s novel Unspeakable Things was released by Knopf in early 2016. Her previous book, the memoir With Robert Lowell and His Circle: Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Elizabeth Bishop, Stanley Kunitz and Others was published by the University Press of New England in 2012. Her chapbook, A History of Yearning, won the Sows Ear International Poetry Chapbook Prize in 2010, and she recently received the Allen Ginsberg, Erika Mumford, and Paumanok awards for her poetry. Her book won the New England Book Festival and London Book Festival Prizes. Published in over 400 magazines and anthologies, Kathleen’s work has been translated into French. She has held grants from the National Endowment for the Arts; Massachusetts Artists Foundation; Bunting Institute; Howard Foundation; Massachusetts Council for the Arts and Humanities; is a Discovery winner and has been at Yaddo, MacDowell, Ragdale, Karolyi, and the American Academy in Rome. In Boston and Paris she directs the Advanced Writing Workshop, an intensive training program for professional writers. She has taught at conferences in Paris, Aspen, Santa Fe, Burgundy, Skidmore, and on the high seas, (Holland American Line). Spivak is the author of the Craft of Writing essays, “The Writing Exercise: A Recipe” and “Words As Inspiration” in CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing (C&R Press, May 2018).
Kevin McLellan is the author of Ornitheology (The Word Works, 2018), Hemispheres (Fact-Simile Editions, 2018), [box] (Letter [r] Press, 2016), Tributary (Barrow Street, 2015), and Round Trip (Seven Kitchens, 2010). He won the 2015 Third Coast Poetry Prize and Gival Press’ 2016 Oscar Wilde Award, and his poems appear in numerous literary journals. Kevin lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. McLellan’s essay, “Attributes: A Prompt,” can be found in the Exercises section of CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing (C&R Press, May 2018).
In honor of National Poetry Month and its final day of celebration, poet Rita Banerjee, her tattoo, and her poem “Paper Men” from Echo in Four Beats (Finishing Line Press, March 2018) are featured today (Monday, April 30, 2018) on Tattooed Poets. Since 2009, over 320+ tattooed poets, including Joy Harjo, Carl Phillips, Eileen Myles and Noelle Koch, have appeared on Tattooed Poets in celebration of National Poetry Month.
And today, on this final day of celebration, poet Rita Banerjee explains the history behind her tattoo:
“By my senior year of college, I had been tapped into a secret society. When dusk fell over New Brunswick, we wore our dark robes long, accompanied by tawny-colored hats, as we tagged skulls and messages on the sidewalks across Rutgers College. Our secret society, which had been modeled after Skull and Bones and Quill and Dagger, had existed in our quiet but peculiar corner of New Jersey for over a hundred years. Paul Robeson, Ozzie Nelson, Al Aronowitz, Dick Standish, and Rebecca Quick were all members. We let our black robes and anonymity guide us. We wore our mystique close to the vest. Only a handful of deans and administrators kept the roster of our names. And so, in senior year, we easily flitted between the worlds of academic and cultural excellence and our shadow selves. But in May, during our graduation ceremony, our identities would officially be revealed to our fellow classmates and graduating seniors. So before we left the banks of the Old Raritan, broke our clay pipes, and signed our names inside the bell tower of Old Queens, we decided to take up one last dare. One evening, between finals and graduation, we took a trip to Montclair at night. I was the designated driver, and I was in charge of transporting my fellow skulls to a rather funky tattoo parlor in town. I was only there to hold hands and offer encouragement. Just half of us were willing to take the plunge and get a tattoo after all. But before the night was over, I, too, had been persuaded. While other members of our secret society got skulls emblazoned on their biceps and buttocks, I got the words ‘Spectemur Agendo’ inscribed on my lower back. The phrase was from Ovid, from The Metamorphoses. In Book VIII of The Metamorphoses, Ajax the fearless, exclaims: ‘Denique (quid verbis opus est?) spectemur agendo!’ That is, ‘Finally (what is the use of words?), let us be judged by our actions!’ A beautiful and terrifying sentiment. The perfect challenge for a writer: What is the power of words, dear poet? Let us be judged by our actions.”
And offers a sample poem:
Paper Men xeroxing epiphanies at 5¢ a page, the messiah standing next to me has been speaking the word of hope and rage for 37 years. with 4000 books living in his mind, he’s international, a sage who hands me a song of California. and anaheim—anaheim—been on my mind for seven straight minutes. why? 7 for luck and anaheim for memories not mine. brushing the tattoo of a carnivale, he says there isn’t a circus in the world he hasn’t been to. and he’d like to be called Nesmith if you don’t mind. and when he says Nesmith, i think of mike and white out. white out morning after crash—seven days of meditating Tantric verse and I crashed, crashed for six long hours at the highest level of understanding and do you understand me, child, when I say, I cannot describe it to you? the Supreme spoke to me and I had something to say. and this I’ve said for years. and when his eyes ask, believe me, i do ’cause there isn’t a story i haven’t believed in. and when i nod yes, he says, I have found in your eyes a kindred spirit. and i think of the paper man i once met on an island. in my back-pocket wallet, the name Yoshida’s inked, hand-pressed on rice-white paper. Yoshida sighed once, look at the color of our women—hair the color of the sun—there is no space for dark anymore. just the shade of this paper store and the wait, the wait for a word-maker to pass by. and so he tells me of Korea, the blasphemy of emperors disgraced, and the beauty of his wife when she wakes him. we talk and talk and talk of the greatness of rome, sartre, and curry. and somehow beneath the talk, i can hear his heart. and tonight after kissing another man of verse, i walk down white halls with a book of words on my head, and think. today, i met a poet.
Read the full post on Rita Banerjee, her tattoo, and poem “Paper Men” on Tattooed Poets here.
“Paper Men” originally appeared in the literary journal Objet d’Art and is featured in Rita’s new collection Echo in Four Beats (Finishing Line Press, March 2018).
In honor of the Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation and Witness (April 19-21, 2018), the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop will be hosting its reading Disobedient Futures at the Colony Club in Washington D.C./ this Friday, April 20, 2018 from 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm. Disobedient Futures will feature readings from Rita Banerjee, Alex Carrigan, Marlena Chertock, and Christina M. Rau .
To get to the reading at the Colony Club, please take the Green line Metro towards Greenbelt and exit at the Columbia Heights Station, then walk to 3118 Georgia Ave NW, Washington DC 20010.
Rita Banerjee is the editor of CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing (C&R Press, May 2018) and the author of the poetry collection Echo in Four Beats (Finishing Line Press, March 2018), the novella “A Night with Kali” in Approaching Footsteps (Spider Road Press, 2016), and the poetry chapbook Cracklers at Night (Finishing Line Press, 2010). 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 Academy of American Poets, Poets & Writers, Nat. Brut., The Rumpus, Painted Bride Quarterly, Mass Poetry, Hyphen Magazine, Los Angeles Review of Books, Electric Literature, VIDA, Objet d’Art, KBOO Radio’s APA Compass, and elsewhere. She is the Executive Creative Director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop. She is the judge for the 2017 Minerva Rising “Dare to Speak” Poetry Chapbook Contest, and she is currently working on a novel, a book on South Asian literary modernisms, and a collection of lyric essays on race, sex, politics, and everything cool.
Alexander Carrigan is the Communications and PR manager for the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop and has been with the organization since 2014. He is currently an associate editor with the American Correctional Association. He has had fiction, poetry, reviews (film, TV, and literature), and nonfiction work published in Poictesme Literary Journal, Amendment Literary Journal, Quail Bell Magazine, Luna Luna Magazine, Rebels: Comic Anthology at VCU, Realms YA Literary Magazine, and Life in 10 Minutes. He lives in Alexandria, VA. Carrigan is the author of “First Person Perspective Flash Fiction Prompts” in the Exercises section of CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing (C&R Press, May 2018).
Marlena Chertock has two books of poetry, Crumb-sized (Unnamed Press, 2017) and On that one-way trip to Mars (Bottlecap Press, 2016). She lives in Washington, D.C. and uses her skeletal dysplasia and chronic pain as a bridge to scientific poetry. Her poems and short stories have appeared in Breath & Shadow, The Deaf Poets Society, Noble/Gas Quarterly, Paper Darts, Rogue Agent, Wordgathering, and more. Marlena often moderates or speaks on panels at literary conferences and festivals. She serves as the Communications Coordinator for the LGBTQ Writers Caucus. Find her on Twitter at @mchertock.
Christina M. Rau is the author of the sci-fi fem poetry collection, Liberating The Astronauts (Aqueduct Press, 2017), and the chapbooks WakeBreatheMove (Finishing Line Press, 2015) and For The Girls, I (Dancing Girl Press, 2014). Her poetry has also appeared on gallery walls in The Ekphrastic Poster Show, on car magnets for The Living Poetry Project, and in various literary journals both online and in print. She is the founder of the Long Island reading circuit, Poets In Nassau, and has read and run workshops for various community groups nationwide. She teaches English and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College where she also serves as Poetry Editor for The Nassau Review. In her non-writing life, she teaches yoga occasionally and line dances on other occasions.
Our readers Rita Banerjee, Marlena Chertock, and Christina M. Rau will also be hosting a panel during Split This Rock, entitled “Fantasy As Reality: Activism & Catharsis in Speculative Writing,” which will be held at National Housing Center Room B (1201 15th Street NW, Washington, DC 20005) on Saturday, April 21 from 9-10:30 am. The Fantasy As Reality is described below:
“This panel will demonstrate how non-realist poems and prose can offer a space for political critique and empowerment. We will ask audience members about their own speculative writing and reading experiences and offer prompts to those who wish to work on similar future writing. Speculative and science fiction are often stereotyped as futuristic, extraterrestrial, and fantastical romps through universes using space travel, time travel, and super-advanced technology centered on white cis males. However, women, non-binary, and activist writers of speculative literature are purposefully subverting this stereotype, diversifying and owning the fantastical worlds that they imagine. Speculative literature, at its core, is about giving voice to ‘The Other.’ Speculative writing, in prose or poetry, focuses on not only imagined realities of the future, past, and present but also gives voice to bodies and individuals who are disabled, alien, marginalized, menial workers, and other traditionally neglected voices. Sci-fi and fantasy characters and voices can—and should—represent the underrepresented to create a sense of community as well as to challenge injustices in our real world.”
We hope to see you at some of our events at Split This Rock !