Newsy stuff up top. Extraordinary writer stuff below.
I have been waiting for some news necessary to get going with the re-release of my novella, The Stories of Devil-girl, but while our intrepid Devil-child is currently in a holding pattern, there is some light in the cave. I am anxious to get this recording to you, and to send a portion of the proceeds to Women for Women International and to the Somaly Mam Foundation, as I mentioned earlier. So, news very soon. D-g is a survivor, and will be not be quiet.
I am happy to let you know that I have been awarded an Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board to continue work on my novel-in-progress, History Artist, and so would like to thank the Arts Board and the National Endowment for the Arts. It is so easy for me not to apply for such things, and I want to acknowledge my dear friends, including Indigo Moor, Kathleen Spivack, Amy Fisher, Bronwyn Mills, Sherry Quan Lee, Demetria Martinez, Marilise Tronto, Marcia Fine, Maya Gonzalez, Annie Lewis, Phyllis Johnson, and so many more who have constantly supported, yelled at, pushed me to the edge, edited, nudged, and affirmed that my work is of value and that I should apply for whatever I feel will help me get it heard, and get it done. And so should you.
I want to let you know that my Mentorship with Intermedia Arts is done, and will be celebrated with 2 readings January 7 and 9 at Intermedia in Minneapolis. I will be reading both nights as will Mentors Louis Alemayehu and Jude Nutter, and the stars will be the participants of the fall 2007 Writer to Writer Program. For information on the reading, http://www.intermediaarts.org/pages/programs/literary/lit_cal.php
The group I have worked with in this program has been a joy, a real pleasure. I want to acknowledge them: Gregory Chamberlin, Kathryn Holmquist, Robert Karimi, Debra Stone, Meghan Stotko, and Mary C. Yang. A pleasure.
Some wonderful news is that I will be doing another Mentorship with a small group of fiction and memoir writers beginning in March; details will be available here soon, and at Intermedia’s website http://www.intermediaarts.org/
I will begin teaching an online course on February 25 for Writers.com called Claiming Our Stories: Working with the Power of Autobiography and Autobiographical Fiction. Please check out the course description and class outline at http://www.writers.com/achtenberg.html and consider signing up for it soon. I mean, sooner.
And here’s news about a wonderful new collection of poetry by extraordinary writer Kathleen Spivack. Moments of Past Happiness was edited by Ifeanyi Menkiti, owner of the Grolier Poetry Book Shop in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and published by Earthwinds Editions Press. Kathleen is a Fulbright Professor in Paris, a Pulitzer nominee, and an international writing coach. A friend and student of Robert Lowell, she has written about workshop members Sylvia Plath and Ann Sexton. Stanley Kunitz hailed her poetry as “rich in feeling and texture, compassionately aware and vividly articulated”. This is Kathleen’s sixth book — here’s how you can get it — go to http://www.grolierpoetrybookshop.org/ or email email@example.com or call 617.547.4648 or http://www.earthwindseditions.com/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 617.889.0253.
Please do support this venture from Grolier Books, which has supported poets and poetry for so many years.
Cecilia Woloch says, “The poems speak to us all, in a voice that’s courageous and direct and warm and deeply human.” D.H. Melham says, “Each poem is a discovery.”
I am going to get my copy. What I need to say about Kathleen’s work goes beyond her impressive credentials. Ok, picture a regular old classroom at a campus with lots of green. Skidmore College, actually, last June for the annual conference of the International Women’s Writing Guild. I get to the 9 am class with Rainelle Burton, whose smile and talent and smarts is unbeatable, and I hear she plays Nina Simone in her class. I teach at 10:30, so I am hovering in my chair gearing up for soon. And something happens, really happens.
Kathleen does one of her poems from The Jane Poems, a sequence of spoken songs, she writes, published in 1974, which she has performed with music in many places, before and after the Vietnam War. Nina Simone is singing, “Ne me quitte pas” — don’t leave me, a cry to her lover, from the play Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris. Kathleen does this poem with the song, “Jane’s child her precious her onliest.” We are all tired and have been too social and starting to close a bit; too much, you know, too many people, and suddenly we are electrified. Nina Simone’s cry to a lover becomes that eternal and deep cry, that deep knowledge and fear of the mother for how the world takes our children, and we know when this spoken song was first performed, and we know now, going toward the 5th anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War, these deep and global fears, and we each know that call, that plea, don’t leave me, ne me quitte pas, and there is Kathleen’s voice and these compelling words and Nina, oh, Nina, singing more than singing, and Rainelle there making the magic of connection for us all, and we go deep. Ok, we are crying. Women all over the room, crying. Tough women. Can’t be fooled women. Heard it before women. Something in the marriage of it all, in the moment, and the container of grief and love we forget we hold as we walk through the day, bursts. Thank you, Kathleen, and Rainelle, and the astonishing forever Nina Simone.
Enough. It is true. It did happen. Ask anyone who was there.
Book-buying. Still quite in fashion.
Peace to you,