You know how everything you really want to do takes longer than you planned? Consider that the story of a writer. As well the story of this blog writer. There is something in store which has to do with my novella, The Stories of Devil-girl, and soon, I will be letting you know that news.
In the meantime, I have some other news. First, I will be doing an online class starting February 25th for Writers.com/Writers on the Net, called Claiming Our Stories: Working with the Power of Autobiography and Autobiographical Fiction. This is a 10-week course, Part One of Two, for writers of both memoir/creative nonfiction and fiction, at all levels of experience. I have done some of the material in these workshops in Manhattan, Santa Fe and Albuquerque, Michigan, and in Eleanor Roosevelt’s Cottage in Hyde Park, and am currently in planning for other venues throughout the country. I recommend it for people who haven’t worked with me, and for those who have, since I will be offering individual feedback as well as weekly written “lectures” of this material that zips by during workshops and retreats, and calls for being revisited. Note, as well, the testimonials of individual clients who have worked with me on their memoirs and other full-length books. Enough! For a full description of this online course, please go to http://www.writers.com/achtenberg.html
A lovely thing for me: publisher/editor Alison Ross of Clockwise Cat: A Progressive Literary Magazine online, has written a review of my 2nd book of poetry, The Stone of Language, which appears in Issue #5 of Clockwise Cat. This webzine, says Alison, “encapsulates in its poetry, fiction, essay, polemic, review and visual art offerings a sense of ‘timely timelessness.’ As such, the webzine features works that are progressive in spirit, and not too mired in traditional forms or ideas.” To check out and to submit work to Clockwise Cat, please go to http://www.clockwisecat.blogspot.com/ and to see why I am so pleased with this review of my poetry, please go to http://clockwisecat.blogspot.com/2007/11/book-review-by-alison-ross.html
As is the way of the web, I crossed cyberpaths with an interesting poet I would like to mention here. Nimah Ismail Nawwab is a writer, photographer, activist, lecturer, and internationally recognized poet, the first Saudi Arab woman poet to be published in the United States. Nominated a Young Global Leader of the Young Global Leaders Forum, an affiliate of the World Economic Forum (WEF), she joined 175 people from 50 countries at the Forum to address global issues. She seeks to build bridges of understanding and was recently dubbed a ‘cultural ambasadress’ and a ‘voice for Arab women’. Her poetry has been published on several websites, translated into numerous languages, included in anthologies and taught at schools and colleges in Arabia, the U.S., Canada, Singapore, Japan, India and elsewhere.
Nimah says, “From child slavery to forced divorce, from conflict to peace, freedom and control… the inspiration to compose drives the themes and form of the poems….As a poet I feel compelled to cover emerging issues despite their controversial nature….” You can purchase her first book of poetry, The Unfurling, which has already sold 5000 copies, at http://www.amazon.com/
Nimah also says that because of the powerful effect of her mentors on her work, she has now taken up mentoring young writers in workshops and individually, in person and long distance, and believes that her work with multinational groups is a wonderful way of giving back to the global community of writers and all the people they impact. She is now updating her website http://www.nimahnawwab.com/ to include resources for writers, poets, and photographers, so check that out as well.
I have to say, that while writers have often had the reputation of being reclusive and even quite selfish (that sounds rather appealing, doesn’t it?), I am continually struck by the generosity of writers who teach and mentor others, by their commitment to writers who will live beyond them, and their ability to help build community that takes on a life of its own. Working in this spirit is the wonderful poet Sherry Quan Lee of Minnesota, author of the memoir in verse Chinese Blackbird, the chapbook A Little Mixed Up, and the forthcoming How To Write A Suicide Note: serial essays that saved a woman’s life. Sherry says, “As a writer I often wonder if my writing gets better as my life gets better or if my life gets better as my writing gets better. I do know that I have been writing about identity for almost thirty years and the writing and the life depend on each other….I started writing about identity when I went to a feminist bookstore and realized there were no books about me, a mixed race woman, Black and Chinese. I wrote poem after poem which eventually became a chapbook, A LITTLE MIXED UP, published by Guild Press in the early 80s.” Her current workshops, Stories That Save Lives: an interdisciplinary workshop for women of color, are profound events that make room for so many of us outside the boxes of “recognized” identity, so many of us who have been culturally and historically disappeared, and come from people who have survived the literal forms of genocide. Her workshops are helping to build an enduring community of writers in Minnesota. Check out her extraordinary blog, used for her workshops, at http://blog.lib.umn.edu/leexx065/writingmulticulturalidentity/
What can I say? Sometimes we just have to take a deep breath and celebrate ourselves.
Peace to you, writers.