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Browsing articles by " Stacy"
Mar 27, 2020
Comments Off on Decay

Decay

I hold on as long as I can.

May 9, 2016
Comments Off on AWP 16

AWP 16

The Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference I attended in Los Angeles has been over a month ago but I’m still talking about it to friends and family.  Particularly the story that I swear to goddess I am not embellishing, the story where I coached my shy extroverted me to find Claudia Rankine in a crowded room to introduce myself, the un-embellishment where she met my “thank you for your artistry” with a nod/a smile/& then a slight rub of my upper arm and said how she liked my shirt!  We later shared a quick chat on a bench after she signed CITIZEN; I briefly shared my own experiences at a graduate poetry seminar, how it was my night for critique, and the lily white room went dead SILENT.  She shook her head, knew all too well that it happens, partially the subject of her AWP16 keynote address.

And oh how proud I was of my good friend Aja Couchois Duncan who shared the podium in the joint reading that evening.  Me (I learned through a professional development marketing talk) the black shy extrovert sitting in the front row, even playing technician when poets didn’t know what to do with the mike.  This was my first AWP, and I was not prepared for the hella overwhelming 20,000 writers, publishers, and media blitz.  But I found my way with hugs and smiles from Cave Canem fellows, and pep talks from mentors Caroline Goodwin and Maxine Chernoff, and a wonderful evening supporting Aja’s work.

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Feb 3, 2013
Comments Off on Sister Soldier Speaks! is marching on… February 20th, UCSF Mt Zion 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Sister Soldier Speaks! is marching on… February 20th, UCSF Mt Zion 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Members of the 6888th Central Directory Battalion (CDDB), the military’s only unit of black women to serve overseas, pass in review during a parade, Birmingham, England 1945, Gladys Thomas Anderson Collection, Women’s Memorial Foundation Collection.

 

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Jun 25, 2012
Comments Off on Poetry Warriors & Other Such Heroes

Poetry Warriors & Other Such Heroes

My wife & sister both said on separate phone calls that I sounded good this week, sounded like I was floating.  We can blame the floating on the Cave Canem summer retreat I attended outside of Pittsburgh this week.  A hard (not soft) break from work, untethered – no Blackberry, no webmail in the cloud.  This type of letting go is usually unexpected when in a position of partially being the glue to an operation.  (check in, check email, answer back, call back, if you’re unlucky dial into a conference call 3,000 miles away – but I couldn’t possibly call my retreat a retreat if I stayed on the work grid.)  I did use a grey ethernet cable to jack in and set my “out of office” message up on day 2.

The Unexpected – #1 sleep deprivation

I came prepared as a first year fellow to write & write.  I just didn’t know how writing would go.  I am a slow flow-er.  I have written one or two poems as exercises in 30 minutes, and that one or two flash pieces have actually been published without a lot of heavy handed editing.  Usually doesn’t happen that way for me.  Partially because I haven’t been disciplined enough to set a regular date with myself and push a  timer button to work my writing out.  But at Cave Canem the right before bed or hang out on a bench to 4 in the morning fellowship reminder is “10 at 10 in the bin.”  A poem a night, 10 copies printed and ready for a three hour workshop by 10 am the next day no matter what time you went to bed 11 pm (hah!), 2 am (maybe), 3:45 am (too often.)

The Unexpected – #2 mentored craft talk

I came prepared to see Cave Canem founders Toi Derricotte & Cornelius Eady, the 2012 faculty Thomas Sayers Ellis, Nikky Finney, Terrance Hayes, Angela Jackson, with guests Amiri Baraka & Nikki Giovanni.  I did not come prepared to be with the faculty; I did not come prepared to hear loving gestures in their questions signaling (you might want to take a closer look at this part.)  In one case Terrence asked out the starting gate “why is this a poem?” in a tone that suggested we would engage in a brief (welcome) philosophical discussion on the elements of poetry.  Truth is the tell was – nice job bro but this thing here on the Buffalo Soldier on the western border is a personal essay…  I did not expect Nikki Giovanni to ask to come sit in our workshop, then ask me a question “Til Pharoah and Tell Pharaoh, is that what you meant?”  On the solid, secure in my work but a little star struck,  I answered, “yes” not a bit unsure if my telling Nikki & the class til meant until and tell meant say something about something.  Reading between the lines, those soft faculty questions were a telegraph to the deeper craft talk they often danced around in terms of going all in or not – perhaps you should make that more clear so your reader knows it ain’t a typo.

The Unexpected – #3 star struck – black poetry rock stars & legends

Yes, I brought cash to buy books for signing.  My only disappointment was not having enough greenbacks to buy one of each!  And the readings – I made sure to get front row seats so I could be, see, & hear everything these wonderful poets had to share.

Amiri asked, “where you from?”  (a question I think he asks everyone to break the awkward ice when signing a book for a complete stranger clearly in the state of AWE.)  “LA originally but I live in San Francisco,”  he responded with a wicked chuckle. “LA is an awful place.  Don’t know why anyone would want to live there.”  Underneath, I agree with a smile and walk away from the extended line with a signed copy of Razor.

 The Unexpected – #4 City of Asylum Pittsburgh

I had not heard of the City of Asylum in Pittsburgh & sister organizations/projects before Cave Canem.  Thank you Toi for your involvement on the board & connecting your fellows to the mission of this important work providing housing to writers in-exile.

The Unexpected – #5  tears, terror, ferocity dancing at 2 in the morn, teaching a few samba moves.
And now, writing this post on US Air’s Go-Go network – I hope the unexpected will continue in the pages of my writing journal.
Thank you Cave Canem!
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