Why writers need community

It’s well established that writing is a solitary art form. It takes discipline and focus to forgo the social events and TV shows in order to slowly compose and polish a poem or short story or essay. And there are lots of books and blogs and, probably, TED Talks about how to make that happen. I mean, there’s an entire month — November — dedicated to writing a novel in 30 days.

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Beat writers at a cafe in New York City. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

But what’s equally important to the writer’s life — and this is less-often discussed — is community. I’ve spoken about this, recently, to creative writing students at my alma mater and a writing/marketing class, and was met both times blank stares and skepticism and protest. And I get it. We’re all too busy and meeting new people is weird and we’re comfortable with our own writing voice/style/process and don’t need outside input. Only, the thing is, we really do. Here’s why: Continue reading

Sponsor me during Mountain of Words

Now through Nov. 17, I’m participating in the fourth annual Mountain of Words, a Write-A-thon to support the work of Asheville Writers in the Schools and Community. I’ll be writing like a madwoman. You can help by sponsoring me.

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This organization changes lives through engaging children, teens and families with innovative writing and arts programs for those too often overlooked and unheard. Programming is centered in communities of color and provide learning and healing spaces where powerful voices can be shared and amplified to create a more just and equitable world.

Your donation will help to fund:
• an online magazine program for youth of color, who produce Word on the Street/La Voz de los Jovenes, a bilingual online arts and culture platform for youth.
Family Voices, a family writing and arts program for schools and community programs.
Artist mentor residencies in schools, afterschool, summer and community programs .

Click the link below to sponsor me for the amount you feel comfortable in giving. All donations are tax-deductible.

DONATE HERE

Want to send a check? Make it out to Asheville Writers in the Schools, mail to P.O. BOX 1508 Asheville, NC, 28802 and put my name in the memo line!

THE SHORTEST DAYS

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“October black birds and cornfields” by Linda Storm

Because I am so happy for you and the life you made
beautiful from the scraps of what we were given. What

we thought were scraps but maybe was our precious
inheritance. I can see it, the guy on Antiques Roadshow —

the blond twin — saying, “This is a national
treasure,” and opening a forged metal box of red maple

leaves, tart apples, snow sky, the calls of Canada geese
winging in formation. Getting the hell out of there. That place Continue reading

REGENERATION

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There’s a candy wrapper and an unused match
on the bathroom floor. A covert picnic,
abandoned. I’ve come here to press my face
against the cool white tile. Summer is ruthless

today in its death throes. Where hurricanes can’t
touch land, the earth quakes. Where the flood water
doesn’t rush in, the earth burns. How
should I reinvent myself in the this exodus

from one season into the next? This liminal space
where even the mirror is a blank uncertainty.
I travel with less baggage these days, casting
ballast off like sin. Even my bones

grow lighter. I should be densely built
for the long winter; I am the dry ligaments
of a skeletal wing. A thing of parchment,
exhalation, the cellular memory of flight.

Danger comes easy

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The best beer I ever drank was a Sol tallboy
from a styrofoam cooler in a neighborhood park
in Merida. It was Carnival in Mexico
but that particular block party could have been simply
someone’s birthday. Still, a teenage boy
sold me the can, ice cold, almost

frozen. There was a parade that day — floats
for hours blasting pop music. Drag queens
in tall wigs and short skirts threw kisses
like candy. You wouldn’t think there’d be
so many queens in Mexico, or maybe it’s no
surprise. And ordinary, too, how the police Continue reading

Music venues shouldn’t be white spaces. Not even accidentally.

What is the responsibility of venue bookers, music promoters, club owners, and festival organizers to create a platform for artists of color? It’s a tricky conversation to introduce, because there are so many issues — ticket sales, popularity, potential tokenism — but I think it’s more important to have the conversation than to be graceful about it.

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Photo by Jorge Salgado from this year’s Neon Desert Festival

So I’ll start here: Asheville, where I live, is a predominantly white town with a nationally recognized music scene and a high per-capita number of excellent concert halls and listening rooms. But peruse the lineup of at least three of the most popular venues in town and you’re lucky to find one person-of-color-led act in any given month. I recently browsed the calendar for one such music hall that lists no artists of color from September through December. Continue reading

By a hare

A retelling of an Asian rabbit myth, excerpted from a longer poetry cycle on which I’m working. 

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1830s-era French natural history print

Black-naped hare, meadow creature, keeps his language
secret. No one around here speaks rabbit. When the beggar
asked for alms, the monkey gathered fruit, the otter brought fish
and the jackel stole a pot of milk. The rabbit only knew
how to harvest grass, so it threw itself on the cooking fire.

But the beggar transformed himself into Sakra, ruler of the Devas
and rewarded the rabbit for his selflessness by placing him
on the moon. It was better than death by immolation,
but it was far away, and cold at night, and there was no grass
at all. And no one spoke rabbit there, either.