What were you born to do? Remind yourself in the most loving and encouraging way you possibly can. (10 minutes)
This evening, the melody to “Winter in America” by Gil Scott-Heron began to play in my head. I found a version on YouTube and I’ve been playing it and listening more intently than I ever have to the lyrics, some of which follow:
“Yeah, and the people know, people know it’s Winter in America
And ain’t nobody fighting cause nobody knows what to save,
Save your soul, Lord knows
From Winter in America”
I’ve been working on a poem about the “elephant in the room,” those things that are large and almost engulfing us, and yet we avoid acknowledging them, talking about them, sharing with one another that we see, feel and hear them. And something about it being “winter in America” and “nobody knows what to save” are anything but an elephant in the room for many of us these days. One of my mentors has encouraged me to keep going, to write the poem. And it’s not an easy poem to write. And this evening, I am once again putting one foot in front of the other, listening to Gil Scott-Heron and writing about that elephant.
Gil Scott-Heron begins the song with these lyrics:
“From the Indians who welcomed the pilgrims
And to the buffalo who once ruled the plains
Like the vultures circling beneath the dark clouds
Looking for the rain
Looking for the rain”
Glenn Ingersoll and I will be reading our poetry (plus a surprise) tomorrow at Expressions Gallery in Berkeley. Hosted by Marty Williams and BAWP.
There is so much noise within and around these days, with social media posts, voices and beings buzzing around in the workplace, drivers on edge, free floating anxiety. And yes, the U.S. election cycle that ends (hopefully) on Tuesday November 8 has contributed to a lot of it, but I get the feeling that there is a lot more going on. And there is definitely a lot more going on in the world that we are all a part of.
In order to help myself navigate these churning waters, I’ve created mantras that directly connect me to writing. That’s my calling, so I have to work with myself to pull back from the fracas.
Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:
What do I have to say?
Do I want to enter this particular conversation?
How can I add to the conversation?
How can I begin a new conversation?
What narrative do I want to be a part of?
What narrative do I want to create?
Are there tools that you have been using to focus your Self and your writing practice? If so, I’d love to hear from you.
Yesterday’s reading, interview and discussion at the Berkeley Public Library, Claremont Branch was thoroughly enjoyable. From my audience of curious and writerly folks, to being drawn to read poems about my family members, friends and neighbors from my ‘growing up days’ in Brooklyn, the hour we spent together was a gift!
The questions asked were those of folks who write and are quiet about it, those who are experienced writers and teachers, and those who wanted to know more about the poems I read and about poetry in general.
Many thanks to the Glenn Ingersoll and the Berkeley Public Library for asking me to be part of the Clearly Meant Series. You made my experience yesterday enjoyable and supported me wonderfully in publicizing the event by providing chapbooks, flyers and a Facebook event page linked to the library’s events calendar. It was this writer’s dream event!
Photos to come (lots of them) and many thanks to Jain Williams for rising to the occasion of the sudden and surprising role of event photographer. Jain, you might want to consider using the camera as an income producing side project (smile).
I will be reading some of my poems, talking with host and fellow poet Glenn Ingersoll and engaging in discussion with the audience (you) at the Claremont Branch of the Berkeley Public Library, 2940 Benvenue@Ashby, tomorrow, June 25, 2016 from 2-3 pm.
This is my neighborhood library and I’m very happy to be reading there again. Please join me!
More details below:
I will be reading poetry with John Curl at Alameda Island Poets Series this evening, 7-9 pm.
Frank Bette Center for the Arts, located at 1601 Paru St., corner of Lincoln Ave. and Paru. It is a large, yellow Victorian House that is an art gallery.
We’ll be surrounded by lots of visual art and you can be there, too. You’re invited!
I am both excited and honored to be one of the featured poets at this annual poetry festival held this year on Saturday May 16th from 11 am – 5 pm at Berkeley City College.
Many thanks to poets Sharon Coleman and MK Chavez for herding the cats and handling publicity.
There will be readings, publishers, poetry books, and lots of hometown pride! You won’t want to miss it.
Poet and activist Rafael Jesus Gonzalez will be honored for a lifetime of poetry and social justice.
The poster is gorgeous, don’t you think?