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WICE’s Paris Writers Workshop Returns for a Weekend of Fun and Inspiration

Screenshot 2021-06-08 at 12.10.45
Dimitri Keramitas has been the director of the Paris Writers Workshop for the past five years, as well as the director of the creative writing program at WICE. He speaks to us about this year’s edition of the workshop. (for more information please see the WICE website)

a Paris Writers News interview

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PWN: What is special or new about this year’s Paris Writer’s Workshop ?

DK: First, it’s not the “full-fledged” PWW, which is every two years, the next one taking place in 2022. This year we’re having an off-year event called the PWW Writing Weekend.

So it’s a smaller event?

Compared to the regular PWW, yes. However, it’s actually more than a weekend. It runs 4 days, Friday to Monday, June 25 - 28. Also, we’ve expanded the program since the first Writing Weekend. There are two master classes instead of one. Three one-hour writing-craft talks instead of two.

Will it be an on-line event?

Yes. I realize some people may be “Zoomed out”.  And Paris is slowly returning to normal, with more people getting vaccinated, restrictions being relaxed. But we can’t make rash

predictions so the event will still be virtual. After more than a year of virtual events, we

know how to do it reasonably well, and the public knows what to expect. We do hope to go

“live” next year. And there are tentative plans to wind things up with a “live” reading and outdoor reception if things go well.

And in terms of the content? Any particular themes?

The master classes are about new beginnings, which is appropriate for our period. Samantha Chang looks at beginning the novel, on a technical level. What is the best way to open the

story, to hook the reader. Should it be linear, or jump in the middle? The right start should lead organically to what comes next, and carry us along for a few hundred pages!

And Nicola Keegan focuses on the creative and motivational aspects, stimulating your imagination, finding your voice. Plus getting out of your rut if you’re in one, breaking free of writers block. All of us who write have experienced this and it can be pretty dire if you’re dealing with it alone. If Samantha focuses on the first words on the page (or in the file), Nicola looks at what comes before those words: the writer’s mindset.

The talks seem very different from each other. Is there any common thread there?

We didn’t think of that when we were putting them together. But looking at them now, they all deal with bridging gaps of one kind or another. Our poets, Jennifer K. Dick and Geoffrey Nutter, look at collage and other techniques for bridging the gaps between cultures and languages. Alecia McKenzie speaks about settings that transcend borders in fiction. And creative nonfiction specialist Lise Funderburg covers something different, more technical: bridging fiction and nonfiction. When to do so—and when not to.

The emphasis seems more on and/and than either/or—though not always.

Well, our instructors are teachers in distinguished institutions—Iowa, NYU, Rutgers. But they’re also veteran writers. So I don’t think they’re bound by theory. I’d say the emphasis is very hands on. The same is true of the panel.

What’s this year’s topic?

Navigating the Small Presses. We often use that “navigating” motif for the panels. Writers have lots of challenges finding their way in the publishing world, which is increasingly diverse, not to say confusing. The panel is focusing on small houses, not really alternative publishing, which we’ve dealt with before. But there’s a lot of diversity in smell press publishing. We’ll be dealing with it from every angle: we’re featuring authors, publishers, agents, journal editors. It’s pretty comprehensive.

Has it been difficult organizing the PWW this year?

It’s a bit peculiar, in view of the pandemic and lockdowns. On one hand, we’ve gotten used to the situation, and have been able to handle things skilfully, if I say so myself. But like everyone we’re tired of the “old new normal”, and are eager to go back to the “old real normal”! The great thing is we’ve learned to be flexible and collegial. On the whole it’s been enjoyable.

Is there anything you want to say on the practical side of the event?

Well, interested persons can go to the WICE site (www.wice-paris.org) for details. If they want to register, our on-line system is very user-friendly. If you have a specific question you can write to me at creativewriting@wice-paris.org. The entire package is 350 euros, which is pretty reasonable considering what’s on offer.

If you say so yourself.

I just said it!

Learn more about WICE at https://www.wice-paris.org

 


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