Queen Mob’s Tea House features Rita Banerjee’s new fiction, “Darling Marie”

DarlingMarie
“This corner of Valencia seemed gray and abandoned but in the middle of all this nothingness, Marie could imagine that door, in another time, opening up into a dimly lit cigar-centered room, covered by umbrella lamps and French boudoir wallpaper.  The windows next to the entrance would be opaque and flickering…There was gunpowder and the unknown behind it, and in her hand, she held the black-lacquered fan and its secrets…”

The current issue of Queen Mob’s Tea House features Rita Banerjee’s neo-noir story, “Darling Marie.”

Rita Banerjee received her doctorate in Comparative Literature from Harvard and her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington.  Her writing has been published or is forthcoming in the Los Angeles Review of BooksElectric Literature, VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, AWP WC&C Quarterly, Riot Grrrl Magazine, Objet d’Art, and on KBOO Radio’s APA Compass in Portland, Oregon.  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 2016.  Creative Director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop, she is currently working on a novel, a book on translation and modernisms, and a book of lyric essays.

Sabor y Cultura: Cambridge Writers’ Workshop AWP 2016 Reading – April 1

CWW-AWP2016ReadingThe Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is coming to Los Angeles for the AWP Conference (March 30 – April 2, 2016)!  Last year’s AWP  was a success with our bookfair table and reading at Boneshaker Books.  This year, you’ll be able to find us at Table 1157 and find information regarding our upcoming Spring in Newport, Rhode Island (April 22-25, 2016) Summer in Narbonne & Barcelona (July 18-26, 2016), and Summer in Granada, Spain (July  28-August 5, 2016) Writing Retreats.

We’ll also be hosting our AWP Reading at Sabor y Cultura (located at 5625 Hollywood BlvdLos Angeles, CA 90028) on Friday, April 1, 2016 from 4-7 pm.  Featured Readers include Rita BanerjeeJess BurnquistJulialicia CaseAriana KellyGwen E. KirbyKatie KnollEllaraine LockieOndrej PazdirekHeather Aimee O’NeillBrenda Peynado, Esther Pfaff, Jessica PiazzaJonathan ShapiroEmily Skaja, and Emily Smith.

 

Der Spiegel features Rita Banerjee’s “War is Beautiful: An Interview with David Shields”

DerSpiegelOver the holidays, Germany’s Der Spiegel and Perlentaucher: Das Kulturmagazin featured Rita Banerjee’s piece from Electric Literature: “War is Beautiful: An Interview with David Shields.”  On Shields’s new book and Banerjee’s interview, Der Spiegel wrote:

“Etwas skeptisch liest Tim Parks im Blog der NYRB den neuen Essay von David Shields “War Is Beautiful”, der die New York Times anklagt, mit ihren Kriegsfotos den Krieg zu ästhetisieren. Ganz von der Hand weisen kann Parks das nicht: “Es ist beim Durchblättern dieser Fotos kaum zu leugnen, dass sie ihre Gegenstände mit voller Absicht ästhetisieren – und auf den Betrachter somit anästhesierend wirken. Das sind Glamour-Bilder, gemacht, bewundert zu werden und keine Dokumentarbilder, die der Gewalt und dem Horror Unmittelbarkeit geben… Kurz: Wir sind weit entfernt von den nüchternen Schwarzweißbildern, die den Vietnamkrieg in der selben Zeitung illustrierten.” Parks Gegeneinwand liegt in einer Frage: “Ist es uns überhaupt möglich, dieser Verwandlung der Bestie in eine Schönheit zu entkommen?” Rita Banerjee hat schon im November bei electricliterature ein Interview mit Shields zu dem Buch geführt.”

The text can be translated as:

“In the NYRB Blog, Tim Parks somewhat skeptically reads the new essay by David Shields, War is Beautiful in which [Shields] accuses the New York Times of aestheticizing war with their war-photos.  Parks cannot totally dismiss [Shields’s claim]: “When leafing through these photos, one can scarcely deny that they [NYT] with full intention aestheticize their materials and in doing so, anesthetize the viewer.  These are Glamour-photos, made to be admired and are not Documentary-photos that give immediacy to horror and violence… In short, we are far from the sobering black and white photos of the Vietnam War, which were depicted in the same newspaper.”  Parks’s counter-argument lies in the question: “In this transformation of the beast into beauty, is it possible for us to escape at all?”  Rita Banerjee already conducted an interview with Shields about [his] book via Electric Literature in November.”

Read more about Der Spiegel‘s culture and media reviews here.

Electric Literature – “War is Beautiful: An Interview with David Shields”

WarisBeautifulEarlier this month, I sat down with David Shields to interview him about his new book, War Is Beautiful: The New York Times Pictorial Guide to the Glamour of Armed Conflict (powerHouse Books 2015). During our conversation, Shields spoke about the New York Times’s use of sanitized, sensually inviting front-page photography to glamorize the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; these photos—in Shields’s view—desensitize readers to the cruelty and violence of these wars.

David Shields is the author of international bestsellers and critically acclaimed books, including The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead (Knopf 2008), Black Planet (Three Rivers Press 2009), and Reality Hunger: A Manifesto (Knopf 2010), which argued for the obliteration of the distinction between fiction and nonfiction, the overturning of laws regarding appropriation, and the creation of new forms for a new century. Over the past several years, Shields’s work has become increasingly political.

Rita Banerjee:  The images of war in the book are very provocative. For example, in the Nature section, in the photo where you’re looking at a beautiful field of flowers and then you see the helmet of a soldier, it’s shocking. It grabs you. And even in the “Paintings” section, many of the images are so aesthetically inviting.

David Shields:  They look like Abstract Expressionist paintings. They might as well have been painted by Rothko or Pollock.

RB:  Reading War is Beautiful, you realize how cleaned up American media is. It’s weirdly Puritan, weirdly sanitized.

DS:  It’s quite striking how this process happened over the last couple of decades. First of all, the rise of digital culture so that a picture could be sent instantaneously from the battlefield to the Times. Second of all, the advent of color photography on page A1 (starting in October 1997).

In the book’s afterword, Dave Hickey points out how serious and great war photography was from Mathew Brady in the Civil War all the way through Robert Capa during World War II and, say, Tim Page in Vietnam. And basically what happened during World War II was the rise of something he calls the “swipe photograph”—the quick photograph that conveys a quick, blurry image; for example, Capa, with his famous picture of a fallen Spanish soldier during the Spanish Civil War. And then what Hickey argues is that with the rise of Abstract Expressionism, people like Diebenkorn, Rothko, Pollock, Gerhard Richter, the swipe image became a huge part of Abstract Expressionism. And now war photographs are not based on what the war photographer is actually seeing in war. Rather, he or she is trying to reproduce Abstract Expressionist tropes—swipe-image gorgeousness.

All of these pictures from the New York Times are remarkably hollow and bloodless, composed, and abstract. All of these photographs have come, to a staggering degree, from art history.  These pictures are beautiful but dead.

RB:  I was really struck by your commentary in the beginning of War Is Beautiful. You raise the point, Is the Times complicit in selling a certain kind of narrative to the United States? That is, the Times promotes its institutional power as a protector or curator of a death-dealing democracy. Who is responsible for it? We all are. We are all inscribed in that death-dealing democracy.

Maybe that’s why we’re so accepting of capitalism as well. We don’t see the devastation. If people are dying of chemical poisoning in an Apple factory in China, how much do we care? The same with Iraq or Afghanistan. As Americans, we’re so used to the idea of distance. When the political world is distant from us, not only are we desensitized and numb to it but it’s almost as if we’re watching cinema or playing in a video game; there’s even a certain aspect of pleasure in a weird way. We have power and yet we’re at such a great distance from what’s going on and what’s going down.

DS:  I try to make this emphatically clear via the book’s opening epigraph from Edmund Burke: “When danger or pain press too nearly, they are incapable of giving any delight, and are simply terrible; but at certain distances and with certain modifications, they may be, and they are delightful, as we every day experience. The cause of this I shall endeavour to investigate further.” Capitalism, distance, aesthetic pleasure, drone voyeurism are all part of one complicated cocktail. You’ve summarized it very well; it’s clearly capital that’s driving all this. We take pleasure in the privileged distance that capitalism buys.

Read the rest of the interview on Electric Literature.

National Write-a-Novel Month 2015 Writing Workshops & Write-Ins at the Munich Readery – November 7, 14, 21, 28

RoyalTypeWriterDuring November, The Munich Readery will host workshops and write-ins for writers developing or working to complete a book-length manuscript. We’ll kick off the month by hosting a workshop with Rita Banerjee on “Life and Lived Stories” and the craft of nonfiction and fiction writing on Saturday, November 7. Writers will bring in their project proposals and ideas for a book-length project to be reviewed in class. We’ll review a text that blurs the line between fact and fiction and can serve as a launching pad for building longer narratives. Beginning writers also welcome.  On the next three Saturdays, November 14, 21, and 28, The Munich Readery will host special “write-in” sessions, during which writers will work on their book-length projects.  Rita Banerjee will meet individually with writers during these sessions to discuss their projects and progress.  Rita will help writers set goals for each write-in, and the sessions will conclude with self-assessments and a question and answer period.  Workshop Fee: €30/workshop.  Email Lisa at the Munich Readery to enroll at store@themunichreadery.com

Location: The Munich Readery, Augustenstraße 104, 80798 München
Saturday November 7 – Life & Lived Stories Workshop (9 am – 12 noon sharp) [SOLD OUT]
Saturday November 14, 21, 28 – Write-ins (9 am – 12 noon sharp)

Rita Banerjee received her doctorate in Comparative Literature from Harvard University and teaches at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich.  Her writing has been featured in VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, Riot Grrrl Magazine, Poets for Living Waters, The Fiction Project, Objet d’Art, and on KBOO Radio’s APA Compass in Portland, Oregon. Her first collection of poems, Cracklers at Night, received First Honorable Mention for Best Poetry Book at the 2011-2012 Los Angeles Book Festival.  Creative Director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop, she is currently working on a novel and a book of lyrical essays.

Rita Banerjee featured in Poets & Writers Magazine (March/April 2015)

PWWriters such as Rita Banerjee, David Shields, Peter Orner, Kathleen Spivack, Diana Norma Szokolyai, Stephen Aubrey, Jessica Reidy, and yoga instructor Elissa Lewis are featured in the March/April 2015 Writers Retreats Issue of Poets & Writers Magazine for their instruction in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, playwriting, screenwriting, and yoga the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop’s Newport, RI Writing & Yoga Retreat (April 2-5, 2015), Summer Writing Retreat in Paris (July 22-30, 2015), and Summer Writing Retreat in Granada, Andalucía, Spain.  In this special issue of Poets & Writers, the “Conferences & Residencies” section features the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop 2015 Spring and Summer Creative Writing Retreats in New England, France, and Spain.   Here’s some more information on each retreat:

 

 

CWW Newport, RI Writing & Yoga Retreat (April 2-5, 2015)

NewportThe 2015 Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Writing & Yoga Retreat will be held from April 2 to April 5 at the historic Inn Bliss in Newport, Rhode Island. The retreat offers workshops in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, as well as craft seminars, manuscript consultations, time to write, daily yoga and meditation classes, and local excursions. The faculty includes poets and prose writers Rita Banerjee, Kathleen Spivack, and Diana Norma Szokolyai; and prose writer Stephen Aubrey. The cost of the retreat is $650, which includes tuition, shared lodging, and some meals. Using the online submission system, submit five pages of poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction with a $5 application fee by February 20, 2015. Apply at cww.submittable.com

CWW Summer Writing Retreat in Paris (July 22-30, 2015)

ParisThe 2015 Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Summer in Paris Writing Retreat will be held from July 22 to July 30 at the Hôtel Denfert-Montparnasse in Paris. The retreat offers workshops in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, as well as craft seminars, one-on-one manuscript consultations, time to write, daily yoga and meditation classes, and local excursions. The faculty includes poets and prose writers Rita Banerjee, Kathleen Spivack, Jessica Reidy, and Diana Norma Szokolyai; and fiction and nonfiction writer David Shields. The cost of the retreat is $2,950, which includes tuition, lodging, and some meals. Using the online submission system, submit five pages of poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction with a $5 application fee by May 5, 2015.  Apply at cww.submittable.com

CWW Summer Writing Retreat in Granada, Andalucía, Spain (August 3-10, 2015)

alhambra-granada-spain-900x1440The 2015 Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Summer in Andalucía Writing Retreat will be held from August 3 to August 10 at the Hotel Gar-Anat in Granada, Spain. The retreat offers workshops in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, as well as craft seminars, time to write, daily yoga and meditation classes, and local excursions. The faculty includes poets and prose writers Peter Orner, Rita Banerjee, Diana Norma Szokolyai, and Jessica Reidy. The cost of the retreat is $2,950, which includes tuition, lodging, and some meals. Using the online submission system, submit five pages of poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction with a $5 application fee by April 20, 2015.  Apply at cww.submittable.com

Storytelling & What’s at Stake Writing Workshop at the Munich Readery – Mar 8 [SOLD OUT]

storytellingSunday March 8, 2015 * 14:00-17:00
The Munich Readery, Augustenstraße 104, 80798 München

What makes a story tick? What makes a hero embark on a journey filled with the promise of adventure and the inevitability of peril? If you are trying to figure out the central, driving force of your story and how to structure and propel your narrative forward, this workshop is for you! We will explore what makes every character tick and react in terms of her personal, professional, social, and political investments. We’ll also look at how understanding what’s at stake can help a writer to further engage readers by developing central conflicts and tensions that help make a story unique and memorable.  So if you’re working on a short story, novel, screenplay, theatre play, lyrical essay, memoir or narrative poem and are trying to figure out what’s at stake in your work, join us on March 8.  Participation in this workshop is limited to 15, and advance registration is required. To register, send an email to Lisa at: store@themunichreadery.com. Workshop Fee: €30.  This workshop is currently sold out.

Register by March 15 for CWW Writing Retreat in Newport, RI ( April 2-5, 2015)

CWW-Newport-March15DeadlineJoin the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop April 2-5, 2015 for our first annual springtime writing & yoga retreat at the historic Victorian “Inn Bliss” in beautiful and gilded Newport, Rhode Island.  Our Newport retreat offers the opportunity for writers of all genres and levels to work alongside award-winning authors & editors to hone their craft and expand their writing skills, while working on new or existing projects. Famous for its seafood and coastline, we chose this location for its inspiring beauty and history. During free sessions in the afternoon, take a mansion tour of gilded-era Newport, visit the Newport Museum, listen to some Newport jazz classics, or just relax beside the ocean watching the sailboats and let the stunning location influence your writing.  Faculty includes internationally renowned author and writing coach Kathleen Spivack (fiction, poetry, nonfiction), Stephen Aubrey (playwriting, screenwriting), Diana Norma Szokolyai (poetry, nonfiction), Rita Banerjee (poetry, fiction), and Elissa Lewis (yoga, meditation).  If you’d like to join us in Newport, please apply online at cww.submittable.com by March 15, 2015.  More info: cww.nyc

Echo in Four Beats – An Evening of Poetry & Fiction by Rita Banerjee – Feb 7, 2015

EchoSaturday February 7, 2015 * 19:00-20:30
The Munich Readery * Augustenstraße 104 München, Germany

Join the Munich Readery for an evening of original poetry and fiction by writer and creative writing instructor, Rita Banerjee. Rita Banerjee will be reading from her poetry collection, Cracklers at Night, and her new poetry manuscript, Echo in Four Beats. She will also read excerpts from her novel manuscript, Mélusine, as well as her selections of her short fiction.

ritaRita Banerjee is a writer and creative writing instructor at the Munich Readery. She received her PhD in Comparative Literature from Harvard University and her writing has been published in Poets for Living Waters, The New Renaissance, The Fiction Project, Jaggery: A DesiLit Arts and Literature Journal, Catamaran, Amethyst Arsenic, The Crab Creek Review, The Dudley Review, Objet d’Art, Vox Populi, Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure, and Chrysanthemum. Her first collection of poems, Cracklers at Night, received First Honorable Mention for Best Poetry Book at the Los Angeles Book Festival. Her novella, A Night with Kali, was digitized by the Brooklyn Art-house Co-op. She is Executive Creative Director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop, and her writing has also been recently featured in VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, Quail Bell Magazine, Speaking of Marvels, and on KBOO Radio’s APA Compass in Portland, Oregon.