"One intensive month…raised my writing to a new level of focus and inspiration…"
As a full-time freelance writer, I found my fiction writing always taking a backseat to work-for-hire. Giving myself one intensive month at Paris American Academy — working with brilliant instructors in a lively community — raised my writing to a new level of focus and inspiration. Our teachers John, Lauren, Lise and Rolf gave of themselves fully. Their insights were so in-the-moment and spot-on that nothing about their teaching was rote. They and the guest lecturers filled us with their spirit and enthusiasm.
And an enthusiastic bunch we were. From a Philly restaurateur who slowed her pace to live abroad and write, to a teacher from Beirut driven by poetry and art, to an entrepreneur from Bangalore whose passion for business was trumped by the short story, we all came to PAA with the resolve to be ever-better writers. During 30 days in our own orbit, we shared stories and poems, critiques and praise, wine and, yes, even song. Of course, this was all made pitch-perfect by Paris. Parties on Rue Saint Jacques and the Seine, jazz and conversation at Café Universel, the flowing wines at Le Baron Rouge, strolls along Rue Mouffetard and Ile Saint-Louis, and writing for hours at Luxembourg Gardens — these are moments I savored. There is, perhaps, no place on earth more suited to creative exploration, celebration and introspection than Paris. And, for me, no place more welcoming and engaging to study the craft than PAA.
— Stacey Resnikoff (PAA '12), freelance writer, Boston
"The faculty are kind and thorough…they're on your side, they want you to succeed…"
The Paris writing program is fabulous. I was intrigued when I walked in on the first day and found people of all ages, backgrounds, countries and cultures sitting beside me in the orientation room. There was 21-year-old me from Atlanta sitting next to 20-year-old Andrea from Australia, who was sitting next to 60-year-old Aravind from India. But what began as something unusual became one of the most rewarding and unique aspects of spending the summer at the Paris American Academy writing program. Unlike other writing programs, this isn't really a 'college-only' program — it's for people who are serious about writing and serious about spending time with other writers. I learned more surrounded by all these different kinds of people than I would've learned at any college program. They have real-world experience, real-life experience, and they so excited about sharing it.
The faculty are kind and thorough, and they each have something different they're bringing to the (writing) table. What is so wonderful is the feeling that they are on your side, and they actually want you to succeed as much as you want to succeed. The readings at Café Universal and the weekly soirees are something extra that make it an experience of a lifetime. I think Paris American Academy is the perfect way to experience Paris as a writer. It gives you the tools and the experiences to make your time in Paris something that will give you (and your writing life) joy for years to come.
— Andrew Bezek (PAA '12), Yale College class of 2013
"I met amazing people from different backgrounds who were here to grow as writers…"
I came to the Paris American Academy with one expectation: to be inspired to write again. It sounded perfect: one month of writing in the world’s most literary city. What I discovered was a group of intellectuals, teachers, designers, university students, and professionals who were seeking other like-minded individuals. I met amazing people from different backgrounds who were here to grow as writers. I also met four inspiring teachers: Rolf, Lauren, John and Lise, who challenged my thinking and helped me understand that writing really is a craft.
I learned that writing should be practiced every day and what better place to begin than the streets of Paris. My observations and thoughts turned into stories and poems. Each person in the program brought their own perspective and their unique style of writing to both the workshops and the classroom sessions. The feedback and support that rotated in each workshop and class ensured that I came out of this month with one realization…I could write!
— Rania Jaber (PAA '12), classroom teacher and MA in Anthropology, Beirut
"We all became a community both inside and outside the classroom…"
It is almost a rite of passage for an aspiring writer to spend a summer in Paris, and studying here left me with no questions as to why the great American writers found their inspiration in this city. Combine the incredible location with incredible people, and you are guaranteed to find inspiration and improve your writing skills at the Paris American Academy. I came to the PAA after three years of intensive undergraduate study in Creative Writing, and even though I had done countless workshops, I quickly realized how special the PAA truly is. First of all, it has four wonderful teachers, who are as passionate about helping their students as they are about their own writing. Also, I felt so privileged to be with a group of fellow students that were as committed to their craft as I am. Everyone at the PAA is there because they choose to be there, because they love to write and are determined to get better. I cherished the opportunity to spend an entire month surrounded by people who shared my passions.
The other amazing part about studying at PAA was the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and of all ages. The ability to receive feedback from people with such varying backgrounds gave me insight about my work that I’d never had before. We all became a community both inside and outside the classroom. All of these things helped me bring my writing to a new level but above all, being there — surrounded by wonderful people and writers and the enriching history of Paris — reminded me why I love writing so much in the first place. The program re-ignited my passion for words, and for that I am forever grateful.
— Molly Sprayregen (PAA '12), 21 years old, University of Pennsylvania class of 2013
"I feel I have a creative skill that will serve me for the rest of my life…"
As a new writer, The Paris American Academy Creative Writing Workshop has been instrumental in giving me confidence and easy-to-absorb instruction. My focus has been the short story, both fiction and non-fiction, but I have ventured into poetry as well. The cross-pollination of learning about all genres has helped me understand the short story better, improving my work immensely. My learning curve has been rather steep, and I attribute this to the extraordinary professors, John, Rolf, Lise and Lauren. Each has their specialties and different ways of teaching, but they dovetail perfectly. I think I will be able to publish this coming year, and am happy about that, but more importantly to me, I now feel I have a creative skill that will continue to serve me for the rest of my life, and hopefully, others.
— Lauren T. Klein (PAA '11 and '12), 57 years old, San Francisco
"A wonderful and deeply enriching experience…"
A month at the Paris Writer's Workshop is a wonderful and deeply enriching experience. The program stands out from others of its kind in several important ways.
For a start, it runs for a full month. This is both rare and important. It not only allows students and professors to come to know one another, but also allows for deep and genuine exploration both of students' writing and of the various texts used for study. In addition, the time allows for significant interaction amongst students and for a series of one-to-one conferences with professors, both of which add significantly to the whole experience.
The second great strength of the Paris American Academy writing workshop is its interdisciplinary approach. The Workshop welcomes both fiction and non-fiction writers as well as poets. While it is not mandatory for students to take all the classes offered, it is a real advantage if they choose to do so. The program is designed for the instruction in each discipline to complement the others. Taking advantage of them not only exposes students to different teachers and approaches, but gives a deep and well rounded experience in creative writing. In addition to classes and workshops, the teaching modules are complimented by specially designed field trips and practical instruction in public reading, an aspect of writing all too often ignored. Weekly student-led readings and a final public reading at Shakespeare and Co. are an additional highlight.
The format of the Paris Writer's workshop means that it is ideally suited to writers of all abilities. I had already published when I decided to attend, but others who were there had not. The quality of the teaching and the structure of the course was such that we all benefited equally. The whole experience was enriched by both the outstanding quality of the teaching, and the diverse background of the students, all of whom brought something different to the experience.
I came away from the month I spent at The Paris Writer's Workshop invigorated, inspired, and humbled. I am very much looking forward to coming back!
Lucretia Grindle (PAA '08), author of The Villa Triste, The Nightspinners, and other novels
"The perfect way for an aspiring writer to experience Paris…"
The creative writing class at the Paris American Academy was the perfect way for an aspiring writer like myself to experience Paris. The writing tutors were better than any teachers I have ever had at my university in America. They are insightful and passionate about helping students of all experience levels, and our work in seminars and one-on-one meetings profoundly improved my approach to writing. The program cultivated a stimulating and lasting community of writers the students and tutors I met in Paris continue to communicate and support one another in all of our new writing endeavors.
Aside from the writing classes, the American Academy itself could not be more perfect. The building is located in the heart of Paris's historic writing culture. Every day I walked the same streets and wrote in the same cafes that Ernest Hemingway frequented when he lived in Paris. Furthermore, the American Academy is the most economic way to study writing in Paris. The Academy's students receive the same opportunities offered by other English-based writing courses for about half the price.
As usual, Hemingway said it best: "If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast." Studying creative writing in Paris was one of the greatest experiences of my life. The American Academy was integral in providing me a feast of memories and experiences that I will carry forever.
Joe Masterman (PAA '09), Harvard University, Class of 2012
"The intelligence, creative energy, and camaraderie reinforced my drive…"
Being six years post-undergrad, the prospect of applying to MFA programs this fall felt daunting. I figured that a summer workshop would be the best way for me to fine-tune both my writing portfolio and literary volition and I might as well do so in Paris.
As it was, this somewhat whimsical decision turned into among the better experiences of my life. Beyond issuing a depth of knowledge concerning the craft of writing in all its forms, the faculty managed to communicate their varied experiences in instructive and compassionate ways. They did what all good teachers are meant to do, reminding and inspiring their students about the purpose of the subject, and the moment at hand.
Of course, what really made this workshop a profound experience was the interaction with my peers. The intelligence, creative energy, and camaraderie I found in the others at the program reinforced my drive toward graduate studies. Being around a community of writers is what it's all about, and I cherish the friends I made at the Paris American Academy writing workshop.
Julia Moore (PAA '09), 28 years old, USA
"Unusual is the faculty interaction with students…"
I have great things to say about all the teachers at the Paris American Academy writing workshop. John Biguenet is brilliant at modeling story construction and analyzing a poem, and he reinvigorated my efforts at writing poetry and fiction. Rolf Potts is a marvel at teaching how to sculpt a travel essay to its critical core. Guiding us through Pere Lachaise cemetery and other Parisian quarters, Lauren Grodstein taught us how to better observe details, which we evolved into short pieces.
Unusual, too, is faculty interaction with students over a wine or beer at a café, or John and his wife leading a group on art or shopping quests. The pinnacle? The weekly readings, especially at Shakespeare & Co.!
Cass McGovern (PAA '07 and '08), 64 years old, USA
"A single month at the PAA took my craft to a whole new level…"
In the summer of 2006, I quit my job as a Chicago stock exchange trader and moved to Europe. My first stop was at the creative writing workshop at the Paris American Academy.
I had taken a number of writing courses as an undergraduate at Northwestern University, and was very impressed that a single month at PAA took my craft to a whole new level. The teachers Rolf, John, and Lauren were passionate about their work, and more importantly, passionate about their teaching. They consistently put in extra time in order to help me develop as a writer and discover and refine my style. The month in Paris in a supportive community of writers was a great start to my expatriate life.
For the following three years, I continued to live abroad, accumulating stories and life lessons. When it came time to write about them, I could not think of a better place to do so than at PAA. I returned in July 2009 to complete the program for a second time, and was pleased once again.
Mike Fong (PAA '06, '09 and '12), Chicago
"I cannot imagine a better way to experience Paris…"
The Paris American Academy and its writing professors showed me the magic of living and writing in Paris. From the moment I landed to the day I left, the PAA provided all the instruction and guidance needed to make my stay as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.
Paris has so much to offer in and of itself, but the PAA writing workshop is what made my sojourn in the city truly unforgettable. I cannot imagine a better way to experience Paris.
Misha Habib (PAA '09), Islamabad, Pakistan
"We had a 'community of practice'…"
I had a wonderful time in Paris
At the Academy’s writing workshop
I found that I could write some poetry
Meter, rhythm and rhyme were fine by me.
We had a 'community of practice'
Where we critiqued, supported and talked
Rolf, John and Lauren guided and mentored
And our work was read at a famous place.
We were welcomed in the Latin Quarter
By good people in the bars and cafes
Where we ate and drank, or simply just sat
Made notes and regarded the populace.
So spend a good month at l'academie
Listen to, and learn from the creative muse
Work with others and established authors
And write your compelling, definitive piece.
Darelle Duncan (PAA '09), retired school principal, Australia