I love this word, woke. Technically, I guess you could say it’s a verb in the past tense, as in “I woke up and saw the light,” but recently it’s been used as an adjective to inform the present, as in “I am woke to the reasons my people came to this country and I am not proud of it anymore!” But when I think about craft, and what it means to me, which is pretty much everything—it’s a doctrine and a commitment, it’s a mantra and a fail-safe, it’s better than a cocktail or a joint or a church service—I must start with this old word newly used, this word “woke.” Because most of all, I think that craft is about being awake.
In her keynote speech at the Goddard MFAW Vermont residency, @r3reiko talks about craft and urgency: “the truth we need to speak, the warning we need to impart, the redemption we need to share, the beauty we see in the world, the thrill of being alive…”
I’m finishing a book at the moment, and I recently discovered that I hate a chapter title. Hate it. Loathe it. Despise it. Hate hate hate it. Were it alive, I would kill it, then do everything in my power to bring it back to life, just so I could kill it again.
Last month, two beloved writers, Meena Alexander and Louise DeSalvo, made their transitions into a fully spiritual existence. Meena was 67. Louise was 76. Both, in addition to authoring numerous books, were Distinguished Professors at Hunter College, CUNY. Each, in their own way, helped to shape my path as a writer.
Today my first book is “officially” released unto the world. The Shame of Losing was picked up by Red
Hen Press fall of 2015, so here I am, three years later, wondering how to be a book marketer meanwhile
not choke on my own self-promotional worry tears.
I didn’t know how obsessed I was with the world – with the actual word world – until I went through my last book of poems and saw that I used the word at least 30 times. Actually, another poet told me I used it 30 times but of course I went back and counted the words myself (because they were my words) to see if this was true. I’d never done anything like that – count how many times a word got used. I wonder if other poets do this?
“Shadow Child has lots of monsters, hauntings, ghosts. But that is not where the real peril comes from. My monsters are the guilt and sorrow kind. They rise out of despair, helplessness. They are a manifestation of “dis-ease”; and they are invisible. Hidden.”
I’ve never kept a diary. At least not since I was eight, when my father bought two blank journals and suggested that he and I spend time together every evening writing in our diaries. For several weeks we did just that, sitting side by side on the living room couch and recording the events of the day. One day I came home from school and found my diary in the wrong place on the bookshelf. When I inquired about this, my dad said, “I have to admit something to you. I was so curious about what you’ve been writing that I couldn’t help myself, so I went in your room and read it.”
…disability is too often excluded in discussions of diversity, a good deal of which, for good reason, focuses on race. This silence is especially noteworthy because disability crosses racial, gender, sexuality, class, and national boundaries.
The Writer gave our very own all-faculty compilation, Alchemy of the Word, a nice shout-out. Congrats to all, especially the editors: Aimee, Kenny, and Nicky
“I get it: I keep trying to build cathedrals when I should be building yurts.”
On Writers, Writer’s Block, Generosity, Creativity and Community
I just started rehearsals for a ten-day workshop a relatively new play of mine: BORN IN EAST BERLIN. The workshop is at TheatreWorks in Palo Alto. I decided to blog the first day.
Whenever you bump up against a writing situation that feels impossible, remember the Sugar Balloon, and all the experimentation, tenacity, innovation, determination, and risk that it took to arrive at this floating answer to a once-thought-impossible question.
The paragraph or so of writing in preparation for this post I began on an empty page of an old, located notebook, one that flips vertically like a police ticket or meter maid book, but unlike law enforcement trappings