Friday, November 20, 2009

"Voicing the Spiritual Self: The Interfaith Language of Doubt and Belief " at The Writers Place last night

Here I am opening the evening and welcoming our audience of 60+ to The Writers Place on behalf of the board. This TWP event is just one of a number of events that take place all over Kansas City for the Festival of Faiths put on annually by the KC Interfaith Alliance. This is the second year we've done this at TWP.

Donna Ziegenhorn from Festival of Faiths welcomes and announces some of the final FOF events.

Lee Slusher (Stumbling Deer) plays inspirational Native American flute throughout the early part of the program.

Lewis Diuguid, Kansas City Star editor, author of two books and one of Kansas City's primary voices of reason and tolerance, served as the evening's emcee.

Two of the event's authors, Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg and Diane Glancy, in the audience at the beginning of the evening.

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, poet laureate of Kansas, begins the evening's readings. "I've ventured into midrash on this, the traditional Jewish practice of reinterpreting Old Testament stories. Or if you want to be academic, you could call it a feminist revisionist subversive postcolonial recreation."

Diane Glancy, Cherokee writer extraodinaire, reads a short essay that takes us flying the Great Plains with her. "Often people ask me to speak on Native American spirituality, which I do, but when they ask me to speak on my own, I speak of Christianity. They're always disappointed."

Karta Purkh Singh, practicing Sikh since the early 70s, reads a meditation dialogue with his mind and a list of rules for life. "Sweat some each day. ... Serve someone else, the most humble person you know."

Xánath Caraza, one of our great Latino Writers Collective writers, reads poetry in Spanish and English about key moments in her life. "When I came to the United States, I suddenly became a woman of color. In Mexico, I was just a woman--with challenges, of course. Now, I found I was a woman of color, and I thought--how wonderful! I can be purple or gold or green or whatever color appeals to me that day since I am a woman of color."

Natasha el-Scari reads from her poem, "I Am a Citizen of the World." "You're going to have to change the color and shape of that box if you want to put me in it."

Bukeka Shoals graces the end of the evening with her powerful voice and original music.

This was a remarkable evening of talent and diversity of voice and approach to spirituality. Alejandro Siqueiros, cultural attache to the Mexican Consulate, attended and said, "This was marvelous. I have never seen anything like it. The different voices and different beliefs! It was a wonderful and enlightening evening."

And all I can say is, Amen!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I've been remiss in my blog correspondence lately, due to extreme busy-ness. But for a quick catch-up, here goes.

I was thrilled and delighted to receive the Midwest Voices and Visions Award, given by the Alliance for Artists Communities and the Joyce Foundation. This will give me a month-long stay at Ragdale and a substantial stipend. I'm very honored and grateful for this tremendous gift of time to write and so looking forward to the month of February at Ragdale.

I'm doing final edits and proofing on my novel, Every Secret Thing, and hope to have it off to the editor right after Thanksgiving. So wish me luck, everyone.

I've been working hard on the Latino Writers Collective's fourth annual reading series, our biggest and best ever. Last year's will be tough to follow with the wonderful Sandra Cisneros, but we hope to keep on in the vein of success we've been mining since we began in 2007. I'll put up the schedule and bios and other info on the blog this weekend.

Sponsored by MARCHAbrazo Press, the Latino Writers Collective is reading in Chicago on Saturday, December 5, at 6:30 pm at Latte on Lincoln. Just found out about the big party the Guild Complex is giving for my pal, Ellen Placey Wadey, later that same night and hope to work things out so that, after our reading, we can join literary Chicago as they honor Ellen for all her wonderful years of work in guiding the Guild Complex's literary activities. If you're in Chicago, come out and see us first, though. I'm bringing up eight of the Collective's finest readers, and Chicago's in for a big surprise! A wide variety of voices and styles of poetry and short fiction--and kick-ass presentation.

And finally, on Monday, November 30, at 7:00 pm, wonderful poet and editor, Maria Melendez, will read at The Writers Place, 3607 Pennsylvania, as part of Park University's Ethnic Voices Series.

Maria Melendez is the new editor/publisher for Pilgrimage magazine and lives in Pueblo, Colorado. She has taught creative writing and American literature at Utah State University and Saint Mary's College in Notre Dame, IN. Her work in community outreach and education includes five years as a poet-teacher in K-12 classrooms with California Poets in the Schools, and three years as writer-in-residence at the UC Davis Arboretum, where she taught environmental writing workshops for the public. Her poetry collection How Long She'll Last in This World (University of Arizona Press, 2006), received Honorable Mention at the 2007 International Latino Book Awards and was named a finalist for the 2007 PEN Center USA Literary Awards. Flexible Bones, her third collection of poetry, is forthcoming from the University of Arizona Press in 2010.

Join us if you can!