Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Winter Update, 2007

Dear Ones,

Hope your new year is off to a happy and fruitful start. After a month on the road in the midwest and southeast, I'm back in L.A. for the spring semester at USC. My classes this fall went beautifully -- I realized how much I love being in the classroom, and how good for my soul it is for me to be with young people -- so I'm looking forward to the new term. I'll have a somewhat lighter teaching load, both at USC and in the low-residency MFA program at Western Connecticut State, so I hope to be able to focus as much of my time and energy as possible on my own work, though of course there's never quite enough time ...

I'm still working on the prose project about my travels in Poland and my family history, and also trying to put the finishing touches on a new book-length manuscript of poems. My chapbook, Narcissus, will be out from Tupelo Press in the fall of '07, and there's some work to be done on that, too.

While I'm continuing to limit the amount of time I devote to private teaching and other workshops, my schedule will allow me to take on one or two new private students in February -- get in touch if you want to talk about that, and keep in mind that I require a three-month commitment in advance.

There's also a plan in the works for a bi-monthly private workshop in L.A. starting in February and running through the end of April. I'll let everyone know those details as they emerge, but it's likely the workshop will be held on Saturday or Sunday, will focus on close critique, and will be limited to 10 or 12 poets who've studied with me before and are prepared to work at an "advanced" level, in terms of craft. If you want to be considered for the workshop, let me know which of the above-mentioned times might work best for you.

Because I'm limiting the number of workshops I lead and the number of participants in each, I've made the decision to reserve those spots for writers who've previously worked with me and are already on my workshops list, and to those referred by someone on that list. Anyone who hasn't been in a workshop with me before will be asked to submit a sample of their work and a brief bio, by way of application. It's not my aim to be exclusive, but to foster a certain intensity, intimacy and chemistry in the workshops.

Happily, my academic schedule will allow me to travel in March, and again when the semester ends in late April, so I'll be offering several workshops "abroad." Registration is now open for my Creative Writing Workshop at Centro Pokkoli in Vitorchiano, Italy (to be held in early March), and registration for the Paris Poetry Workshop (in May) will open in late February. While the workshop in Italy is open to writers working in all genres, and offers a somewhat secluded creative environment, the Paris workshop is focused on poetry and takes place within the lively English-speaking Paris poetry community -- two very different experiences. My intention with these international workshops is to introduce friends and fellow writers to one another, to connect people and places I love, to build bridges between creative communities so that we can all keep expanding our horizons. Additional notices about both workshops will be coming soon ...

I'll also be traveling in Poland, Ukraine and Turkey this year, and hope to offer a workshop in Istanbul in fall 2007. Announcement of that workshop should be out by early summer 2007.

In July, I'll be in Idyllwild, as usual. This year's "distinguished" guests at Summer Poetry in Idyllwild will be esteemed poets Marilyn Nelson and David Lehman; the marvelous Terrance Hayes will be back with us as a teaching poet, along with Eloise Klein-Healy, Richard Garcia, Natasha Trethewey, myself, and David St. John, who'll be leading a special week-long workshop on the chapbook manuscript. Watch for a new electronic newsletter on Summer Poetry in Idyllwild, coming this winter, and check the Idyllwild Arts website (www.idyllwildarts.org) for registration and other information. The workshops -- especially David's workshop on the chapbook -- are bound to fill very early this year.

Finally, I'm looking for an assistant to work with me one day a week (minimum of five hours, preferably on Saturday) in Los Angeles. The ideal person would have great organizational and administrative skills, familiarity with Macintosh computers, plus lots of initiative and creativity. The job involves helping with the administrative tasks involved in running workshops, setting up systems for keeping track of registrations and expenses, updating my website and mailing list, assisting with author questionnaires and other publication-related tasks, and generally holding down the fort in Los Angeles while I'm on the road. Someone with good research skills would also be a blessing, as I could use assistance on the Poland/family history project in that regard. I'm willing to pay well and/or offer free workshop tuition to whomever fills the bill. If you think this might be you, or you know someone who might be a good candidate, please let me know.

As ever, I hope your creative work is going beautifully, and that this new year brings peace and plenty and happiness to us all.

All best,
Cecilia

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Summer Update

Dear Ones,

For those of you who haven't already heard, I'll be returning to Los Angeles more-or-less full-time, more-or-less "permanently," this fall. (Though an old friend wrote to me recently, "You're not abandoning your gypsy life, you're just fooling everybody for a little while--a totally Tsigan thing to do.") I'll be settling back into my apartment on Whitworth Drive in a couple of weeks, and will start teaching in the undergraduate creative writing program at USC almost immediately. I'm wildly grateful for this opportunity, and for the schedule, and for the structure I hope it will afford me for getting more of my own work done...

Some other wonderful news is that the chapbook manuscript I put together while I was at the castle-on-the-sea this winter has been chosen winner of Tupelo Press's Snowbound Competition, and will be published by Tupelo. So now I have the "core" around which to begin assembling a new book-length collection. I also hope to be able to get back to work in a serious way on the long prose project.

All of which is to say that I'm not sure, at this point, how much additional teaching/workshop-facilitating I'll be taking on. In addition to my classes at USC, I'll be continuing to teach in the Western Connecticut State low-residency MFA program, as well as directing the Idyllwild program. And I'm still working with a few people privately, as well. So I'll decide, once I've settled into some kind of routine in L.A. -- probably by late September -- whether or not that will leave me time to offer a private workshop Chez Whitworth. If I did, it would be a twice-monthly evening or Saturday group, dedicated to close-critque and limited to ten participants whom I'd ask to make a minimum two-month commitment. If that's something you might be interested in, please let me know. I should also know by late September if I'll be able to take on any more private students, but anticipate that would be two or three, at most, and have already begun a waiting list.

As to workshops abroad, the academic schedule at USC will allow me to continue to offer several overseas workshops a year, and I'm currently considering a number of options, and would love to have feedback from you as to which you might find appealing and might consider attending. Your input would help me decide which are most feasible, since I can't (can I?) do them all. Here are the options, as they stand now:

The Paris Poetry Workshop -- This is a "definite," as the workshop has had a very successful four-year run already, and is always so much fun. It will most likely be held in mid- to late-May in 2007. The cost is approximately $800, exclusive of travel and lodging and meals, for a week of workshops, seminars and readings that includes the anglophone Paris literary community.

Poetry Workshop at Chateau de la Napoule, France -- This is my "castle-on-the-sea" in the south of France, about 15 minutes from Cannes. The administration there is very excited about the possibility of my bringing a group of 10-12 poets for a week-long workshop. We would be housed in the villa -- a beautiful old mansion next to the castle and also facing the sea -- which also has two big rooms for meetings and readings, a kitchen, laundry facilities etc... A fee of approximately $1,500 would cover workshop fees, room and board. The train station is right across the street, which makes getting to the beautiful nearby towns and villages a snap. I would hold this workshop sometime in June 2007, if there's sufficient interest.


Creative Writing Workshop at Centro Pokkoli, Vittorchiano, Italy -- We had a fabulous time in Vittorchiano this past March, so I'd be happy to hold a workshop here again. This would be a mixed-genre group, limited to 10-12, staying in The Hotel Piccolo Opera, which is "basic" but sparklingly clean and offers rooms with private baths and full board -- delicious home-cooked, multi-course Italian meals. The workshop meets in the "centro" in a charming medieval village just a few minutes away by hotel van. We'd have time for excursions to nearby hill towns in the region, which is called the "Tuschia" -- catacombed with ancient Etruscan tombs -- and is about an hour and a half from Rome by train or shuttle. I would try to hold this workshop again in late March, during the academic spring break, and the fee would be approximately $1,500, including workshops, lodging, meals and at least one excursion. This past year, we also had opportunities to get together with ex-pat writers living in the area.

Poetry Workshop in Istanbul (or in a Turkish Holiday Village) -- I have a Turkish friend who's been researching possibilities and options for offering a workshop in Istanbul, which is asolutely thrilling to me. My friend has also offered to help me make contacts with writers living in Istanbul, and she would serve as our local facilitator. A week-long workshop in Istanbul would cost approximately $900, exclusive of travel and meals and lodging, though my friend and I would make arrangements for a group discount at a reputable hotel. (Istanbul prices for meals and lodging are comparable to Paris.) Istanbul seems to me cosmopolitan, ancient, gorgeous, and I'm very excited about it ...

However, my friend has also discovered another option: meeting at a seaside holiday resort on the Aegean near Izmir, Turkey. This latter option would allow us to have a more "secluded," retreat-like experience. It would also likely be less expensive, overall: a fee of approximately $1,600 would cover fees, lodging and meals. The resort also offers activities such as tennis, volleyball, horseback riding, a disco in the evening, opportunities for excursions to places like the ancient city of Epheseus.

If we can pull it together for this year, and if there's sufficient interest, I could probably offer a workshop in Turkey in late June 2007. If not, perhaps the following year ...

Creative Writing Workshop in Sydney (or the Blue Mountains), Australia -- An Australian friend who's recently moved back to Sydney has offered to help put together a workshop there, or in a beautiful, pristine resort area called The Blue Mountains. This would be a mixed-genre group, again limited to 10-12, and meeting for a week. If held in Sydney, the fee would be approximately $800, exclusive of lodging and meals. If held in The Blue Mountains, we should be able to work out a package deal that would include lodging and meals for approximately $1,500. My friend, Sarah Potter, who's a writer and scientist, would help faciliate contacts with the local literati, too. The best time for a workshop in Australia would be early December. If there's sufficient interest, this could happen in late 2006, or in 2007.

So, that's the lowdown. Please let me know if you have any thoughts about any of these workshops. I hope your writing is going well, and life, and that our paths cross again soon.

All the best,
XO
Cecilia

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Itinerary Update

Apr. 6 - 10 -- London

April 10 -- fly from London to Louisville, KY via Atlanta

Apr. 10-17 -- Kentucky, with family

April 17 -- fly from Louisville to Los Angeles, via Atlanta

April 17 - 24 -- Los Angeles

Apr. 20 -21 -- La Jolla

April 21 -- reading in LaJolla w/David St. John

April 24 -- fly from Los Angeles to London, via Atlanta

April 25 -- Arrive London; train to Totnes (southwest England)

April 26 - 29 -- lead workshops at Dartington in Totnes

April 29 - May 1 -- London

May 1 -- return to Paris

May 1 - June 1 -- Paris

May 14 - 19 -- Paris Poetry Workshop

May 22- 26 -- Writers' Journal workshop, WICE, Paris

And that's what I know for now ...

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Paris Poetry Workshop, 2006

Dear Ones,

It's a pleasure to invite you to join me in my favorite city in the world for the fifth Paris Poetry Workshop, May 14- 19, 2006.

Over the past several years, the workshop has become a tradition in the English-speaking Paris poetry community, offering poets from the U.S., Canada and Europe the opportunity to come together for a week of intensive workshops, lectures and readings. If you've been to Paris, you already know about the inspiration and stimulation of the senses it offers; this is a chance to see and experience, to absorb and be absorbed by, a side of Paris not readily accessible to the average tourist -- an opportunity to spend time in Paris as a poet among poets. Participants generate new work, hone their craft, share and support one another's creative endeavors, make new friends and expand their literary horizons. I invite you to become part of this exciting and vibrant community.

Here are the plans as they've come together thus far ...

This 5th Paris Poetry Workshop will begin with a welcoming reception and dinner at the private home of Adrian Leeds, situated in a 17th-century building in the historical Marais district, on Sunday evening, May 14th. This informal gathering will give you all a chance to meet one another and to mingle with the local literati -- English-speaking poets who make their homes and their poems in Paris. Long time resident Adrian Leeds will give an orientation to the city, including tips on how to get around and how to get along happily with the French. I'll distribute copies of the full schedule for the week's activities.

I'll personally lead the daily workshop sessions from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. The workshop will meet in a private apartment in the lively and very Parisian neighborhood of the 3rd arrondissment. Participants will be guided through a series of writing exercises designed to generate new work specifically related to the sights and sounds of Paris and each poet's experience there. The group will provide feedback on the new work, and we'll also conduct close-critique of works-in-progress participants will bring along with them for that purpose.

We'll break for lunch at 1 p.m., so that everyone can explore the neighborhood and enjoy a mid-day meal at one of the many cafes and restaurants in the area, or you can simply pick up a baguette sandwich at a boulangerie and head to the park.

In the late afternoon, we'll gather again at the beautiful Rose The tea room for a series of craft talks led by Paris-based poets and writers such as poet and Paris Editor of Tin House Heather Hartley, poet/novelist Jennifer Dick, poet/essayist Ellen Hinsey, and others who'll share their work and their personal and creative relationships to Paris. You'll also have a chance to sample some of the best desserts you've ever tasted, so bring an appetite.

Mid-week, on Wednesday, we'll break from the regular workshop schedule so that participants can relax and enjoy a free day in Paris. Canadian poet/journalist and long-time Paris resident Lisa Pasold will offer an optional walking tour of literary Paris for those who would like to see the haunts and homes of such literary luminaries as Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, James Baldwin and Collette.

In the evenings, there will be readings at venues throughout the city, including the famous and historical left bank bookstore, Shakespeare & Company. Readings will feature Paris Poetry Workshop faculty, poets from the Paris poetry community, and the poets of the Paris Poetry Workshop -- i.e. you! All readings are open to the public, and the audiences in recent years have been increasingly large and diverse and appreciative.

The workshop limited to 12 participants and is open to poets at all levels of development. I'm personally extending this invitation to poets who have worked with me previously; however the workshop is open to all interested poets on a first-come, first-served basis. Those who haven't participated in my workshops are requested to submit three sample poems prior to registration via e-mail to CeciWo@AOL.com.

The cost: $835/person (cash or check). Includes all workshop fees, afternoon and evening lectures and activities, welcoming cocktail and dinner. It does NOT include other meals, local transportation, air fare or lodging. Participants in afternoon sessions at Rose The will be expected to purchase their own coffee or tea, as well as dessert, if so desired.

Early Registration Discount: $735/person. If you choose to register and pay in full by March 1, 2006, you'll receive a $100 discount, making the total fee for the workshop $735.

Please bear in mind that keeping the workshop this affordable for participants means that I'm not able to get involved with making travel arrangements or serving as a tour guide. I will, however, do all I can to help you have a great time in the city I love best ...I strongly suggest that you plan to arrive in Paris on the Saturday prior to the workshop, so that you have time to rest and relax and overcome jet-lag before the activities begin, and that you plan to stay through the Saturday after the workshop ends, so that you'll have another full day to enjoy Paris before flying home on Sunday.

Recommendations of inexpensive hotels, short-term rental apartments and restaurants will be provided, as well as information on getting from the airport (Charles de Gaulle, airport code "CDG") into the city. Reservations for accommodations can be requested for a fee of $25/person.

Registration/Deposit:The workshop will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. A $200 deposit will hold your place in the workshop, and full payment will be due by March 15, 2006.

Cancellation Policy:Cancellations received on or before April 1, 2006, will receive a full refund, less a $100 processing fee. From April 1 through 15, 2006, a refund of 50% per person will be given. After April 15, 2006, the workshop fee is non refundable. If you cancel due to medical reasons that are covered by your purchased travel-insurance policy, we will advise the insurance company that your travel and conference or seminar fees are non refundable. Any refunds issued by the insurance company will negate any credit due.

To register, or for further information, please write to me at CeciWo@AOL.com with "Paris Poetry Workshop" in the subject line. For further information and regular updates, please go to http://www.parlerparis.com/poetry/parismay2006.html

Looking forward to seeing you in Paris!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Cecilia's Itinerary

December 18 - 31, 2005 -- Kentucky (with family)

January 1 - 7, 2006 -- Danbury, Connecticut (Western Connecticut State University, MFA Program in Writing winter residency)

January 7, 2006 -- depart NYC to Paris, France

January 8, 2006 -- Paris

January 9 - Feb. 17, 2006 -- Southern France (residency at La Napoule International Retreat for Artists)

February 3 - 6, 2006 -- Geneva, Switzerland (Geneva International Writers Conference Feb. 4 - 5)

I'll remain in Europe through late June 2006, though I hope to make one visit back to the eastern U.S. in early spring.

Tentative plans for Europe:

late Febraury '06 -- Paris and/or Switzerland (Basel and/or Zurich)

March 2006 -- Warsaw, Poland

March 26 - April 1, 2006 -- Creative Writing Workshop at Centro Pokkoli, Vitorchiano, Italy

April 2006 -- London and southern England

April & May, 2006 -- Paris, France (The Paris Poetry Workshop will be May 14 - 19, 2006)

June 2006 -- The Carpathians (Poland) I'll return to the west coast of the US in early July, in time for the summer program in Idyllwild , California.

That's what I know so far ...

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Back in Paris

16 Sept. 2005
Paris

The past few weeks, since my mother's death, seem mostly a blur, though a few moments stand out vividly:

Carine and I lifting the dead bouquets and wreaths from the mound of my mother's grave, and piling them into the back of my truck. The two of us getting Chloe off for her first day of first grade at Roby. I sat Chloe on top of the vanity in the bathroom, brushed her hair until she was awake. Meanwhile, Carine was making breakfast. We smelled something burning and found her in the kitchen, holding a smoking PopTart aloft. "You made it. You burned it. You eat it," Chloe said. Between the two of us, we managed to get her dressed and fed, then I walked her up the street to school.

Leaving Shepherdsville for Atlanta, stopping at Mary's beauty shop in the late afternoon, when everyone always stops in. Rachel with Kylie Pearl; the local cop who's Mary's good friend; assorted mothers and their daughters still in their school uniforms. Chloe didn't want me to go, and then she said she wanted to go with me. She locked herself in the cab of my truck and Mary's friend Heather had to lure her out with an offer to take her to the store. But Chloe had hidden my gearshift knob, and by the time I found it, stashed in the console with my cd's, they were back from Bullitt County Supermarket. Chloe stood on tiptoe and kissed me goodbye through the window of my truck, and I finally drove away. Her fingerprints still on the window.

Stopping in Nashville to spend the night with Sandy in a fancy hotel. We went out to a songwriter's showcase (at the bar of a Best Western Motel) and then came back and ordered room service at midnight, talked until 2 a.m. The next day we had lunch with her manager, Miles, and by the time I got on the road, it had started to rain. Katrina was on the way ... It got so bad that I had to pull off the highway and spend an hour at a Waffle House; drenched by the time I got to the door, the waitress waiting inside with a towel. A couple of motorcyclists were waiting out the weather, too, and we all sat around with the waiters and waitresses in a couple of corner booths, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes.

A few days later, sitting in the belvedere at the top of Eve's house on the Chattahoochee, watching the storm with Chante. She'd driven down from North Carolina to spend a weekend in Atlanta, visiting friends, and it wasn't hard to talk her into spending the night with us at Eve's. We made a bed up for her in the belvedere -- her "tree house" -- so that she could listen to the frogs and crickets and wind all night. She said she was too excited to sleep. Told me she wakes up every day and tells herself, "This is the day the Lord has made." Her doctors still can't find the source of the cancer, haven't changed their prognosis, don't expect her to live to see Christmas. But I refuse to accept it and she says that's fine with her. She looks luminous, with or without her wig. Every time I reach for my mother and start to keel over, I think of Chante, her arms around me, and try to stand up straight.

Someone said, "No more heartache, please." The devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the death of New Orleans. The obscenity of the Bush administration's ineptitude and corruption. The sense that my whole country, the whole world, seems to be falling apart. The sense that, with my mother gone, there's no solid ground under me anymore.

Leaving Atlanta again for a quick trip back to Shepherdsville, the bed of my pick-up loaded with boxes from my storage space. A couple of southern gentlemen had insisting on loading it up for me, and then I hadn't bothered to tie anything down. So I was driving north on I-75 and looked in my rearview mirror to see the downtown skyline growing distant and a box full of lingerie from my last marriage tumbling out of the bed behind me -- silk nightgowns and lacy bras sailing out over four lanes of traffic. I laughed and said a little prayer that no one would be so flummoxed by lingerie flying across his windshield as to cause an accident. But it was quite a metaphor ...

On the flight from Atlanta to Paris, the young Frenchman sitting beside me smiling when his dinner tray was set down in front of him. He picked up the wedge of cheese and cradled it in both palms and brought it up to his lips and kissed it. Then he turned to me and said, "I've been three months in Guatemala." "No cheese in Guatamala?" I asked. "Not like this," he said. Ah, the French.

So I've settled into my little studio on rue des Filles du Calvaire and Paris is gray and windy and it's good to be anywhere.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The October Paris Poetry Workshop

Dear Friends and Fellow Poets,

It's with real pleasure that I invite you to join me in my favorite city on earth for the 4th Paris Poetry Workshop, October 2 - October 6 2005. Anyone who's been to Paris already knows about the inspiration and stimulation of the senses the city affords; and this is a chance to see and experience, to absorb and be absorbed by, a side of Paris not readily accessible to the average tourist -- an opportunity to spend five days in Paris as a poet among poets.

Over the past several years, the success of each Paris Poetry Workshop has contributed to the creation of an expanding international community of poets writing in English, who come together from all parts of the world to generate new work, hone their craft, share and support one another's creative endeavors. I invite you to become part of this exciting and vibrant community.

Here are the plans as they've come together thus far ...

This 4th Edition of the Paris Poetry Workshop will begin with a welcoming reception at the private home of Adrian Leeds, situated in a 17th-century building in the historical Marais district, on Sunday evening, October 2nd. This informal gathering will give you all a chance to meet one another and to meet many of my Paris-based writer-friends and mingle with the local literati -- English-speaking poets who make their homes and their poems in Paris.

Long time resident Adrian Leeds will give an orientation to the city, including tips on how to get around and how to get along happily with the French. I'll distribute copies of our workshop notebook, which will include a full schedule for the week's activities.

I will be leading workshop sessions from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. I'll take participants through a series of writing exercises designed to generate new work specifically related to the sights and sounds of Paris and each poet's experience here. The group will provide feedback on the new work, and we'll also conduct close-critique of the works-in-progress participants will bring along with them for that purpose.

A light lunch will provided and, in the afternoon, we'll gather for a series of talks and discussions about poetry and the creative process led by a number of Europe-based poets and writers, including poet/memoirist Jeffrey Greene, poet and Paris Editor of TIN HOUSE, Heather Hartley, poet and translator Sarah Luczaj, poet/novelist Kathleen Spivack, and others who'll share their work and their personal and creative relationships to Paris.

Mid-week, on Wednesday, we'll break from the regular workshop schedule to spend a day with Paris poet and teacher Jennifer Dick. Jen will lead a workshop on ekphrastic poetry that will include a visit to one of Paris' many art museums. This outing is optional.

In the evenings, there will be readings featuring Paris Poetry Workshop faculty at the famous and historical bookstore, Shakespeare & Company, poets from the Paris poetry community, and the poets of the Paris Poetry Workshop (i.e. you!) another evening. Last spring's reading by workshop participants at a Paris pub proved to be one of the highlights of the literary season.

To register for the workshop and a complete schedule, visit the Parler Paris website. Looking forward to having you there with us in Paris for this exciting event!