I was invited by online arts and culture magazine HOLLER to be an Observer in Residence for a week in January. It was an fun challenge to post a photo and up to 300 words describing what I was thinking about or inspired by that day.
This is a snippet from Day Five:
There are tiny altars everywhere. I’ve started to notice them, focus in on them. A Buddha in a tattoo studio, a crystal scattering light on a window sill, a bell calling us to the present moment, a murmuration of starlings swooping, in formation, in the deep blue of evening.
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At long last my short story, Catching Out, which won the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize, has been published. You can read it in the 2018 edition of the The Thomas Wolfe Review or, more immediately, you can read it in full here:
Granted, it wasn’t everyone who showed up to the gym in flannel and work boots, but Nevada Bloom could just as well have been carrying a sign to say she didn’t belong. Not there, and not anywhere, really. The night before she’d shaved the hair on the left side of her head clear down to the scalp. The prickle of stubble that snagged the threads of her stocking cap would grow back blond, a poor match for the feathery black strands still covering the right side of her head. But she was okay with the dichotomy.
Nevada shoved her hooded sweatshirt into a locker and quick-changed into ratty track shoes, mainly because work boots made too much noise on the treadmill. The soccer moms in their pink tops and grey knee pants stared at her as it was. She also kicked off her black jeans so she was just skinny, hairy legs in green running shorts. Denim chafed after a few minutes of jogging. It was a problem she’d have to address another day, though the point was not to have to jog for very long. Not if she did it right the first time. Continue reading
“In a lot of places in the United States, you can still get a degree in English literature and not have to study any people of color,” says poet, author and educator Frank X Walker.
This postcard of a child with a book is from the The East Riverside Photographs Collection associated with the East Riverside urban redevelopment project of Asheville. Photo courtesy of Special Collections, UNC Asheville
“It’s part of the whole master narrative that displays the idea of a hierarchy in our society, that suggests whose work in this culture is more valuable. And it’s not women or people of color.”
I spent several months working on a three-part series about the history of black writers in Western North Carolina, and why the voices of those artists have been excluded from the dominant narrative.
Find Part 1 here (with quotes from Walker, UNC Asheville history professor Darin Waters and Asheville-based author Monica McDaniel); find Part 2 here (with quotes from authors Meta Commerse and Ann Woodford and poet Glenis Redmond); and find Part 3 here (with quotes from poets Nicole Townsend, James Love and Damion Bailey and author Charles Blount).
This is a myth we often buy into as writers: that it’s solitary work. The stereotype is romantic — the novelist or poet locked into a small room, hunched over a typewriter, pouring inspired verse onto a page. Genius happens in solitude. Friends can be found and parties attended after the writing is published. Whenever that happens.
I don’t buy it.
Sure, we all need periods of quiet and focus to get our work done. But if writing is such a solo endeavor, why do we writers often get so much done in a class or workshop or write-in or group? Company — the right kind of company — bolsters creativity because it energizes and inspired and reminds us that we’re not alone. Others know this path, others can relate to our struggles, others appreciate our efforts and we will not languish in obscurity because we’ve already arrived in community. Continue reading
Join us at the Asheville Fringe Arts Festival. The Literary Circus will stage two performances of Flying Clothes & Prose — two sets of spoken word pieces inspired by clothing, complete with costume changes and musical accompaniment by Nights Bright Colors.
Photo by Vickie Burick
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.
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
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.
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.
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!