Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Back from Macondo--Part One

Macondo! What a magical word--and what a magical experience this summer's Macondo Writing Workshop in San Antonio was! I was in a workshop called Casa/Hearth/Diaspora with Marjorie Agosín and Ruth Behar as leaders. Other workshop members were Richard Blanco, Celeste Guzman Mendoza, Margo Chavez-Charles, Toni Margarita Plummer, Vincent Toro, Levi Romero, and Rachel Jennings. This group of writers was awesome! Ruth and Marjorie were extremely generous with their time and attention to our work, and they were full of fun and corazon. My fellows in the workshop were a diverse and highly accomplished set of writers who were all pursuing ambitious writing projects involved with the workshop's theme. Some were working in poetry as I was, some in fiction, and some in creative nonfiction, but all of us were trying to define, find, or recreate home and roots in our work. And through the loving respect and careful attention we gave each other's work, we came to consider each other familia. It was difficult at the end to say goodbye to these people I hadn't known just a week earlier.

The Casa/Hearth/Diaspora Workshop Family
Vincent, Celeste, Toni, Richard, Ruth, Marjorie, Levi, Margo, me, Rachel

If that had been all Macondo was, it would have been a gift, but Macondo is even more. Vincent Toro, who was in my workshop, runs a summer youth program for a local arts center and had asked others coming to Macondo if we would be willing to come work with his young people one morning. Six of us said "yes," so Wednesday morning we rose early and made our way downtown to the theatre where Vincent's teens were waiting for us. We thought we were going to teach them something about writing and maybe a little about performing their writing. Boy, were we mistaken! These kids are already dynamite young writers and performers. They performed a small fraction of their usual show to our enthusiastic cheers. We read some of our work to them and later shared some writing exercises we've found helpful. San Antonio must be so proud of these young people!

Charles, JP, Ching-In, Jessica, Joslyn, and me with Vincent's whole group of talented kids

And there was still much more to Macondo. I'll have the second part of this up tomorrow.

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